6 Ways to Celebrate Winter Solstice With Kids
If you’re yearning for simple, meaningful winter holiday traditions that aren’t dominated by commercialism, excess, and the pressure to do more… look no further than the winter solstice. This longest night offers the opportunity for pure magic, especially when we celebrate it with kids. Below you’ll find a few of the ways our family loves to mark this day (and for more ideas, be sure to take a peek at these lists of 25 Winter Solstice Events in Massachusetts and 19 Winter Solstice Books for Kids that we’ve already shared).
1. Give the Gift of Warmth + Sustenance
Holiday gift giving originated at a time when community wasn’t just good for mental health, but was needed for survival. Neighbors made it through the harsh winter season by gifting warmth and sustenance to one another. If I had extra firewood, I’d give it to you. If you had extra root veggies, you would send them my way. Our family likes to honor this tradition on winter solstice. Here are a couple of simple ways to do it:
Give gifts of food to neighbors, teachers, and friends (check out Christine’s roundup of 10 Easy Homemade Food Gifts for great ideas)
Donate winter gear to a family who needs it
2. Get Outside
Our culture resists the natural energy of the fall and winter seasons. Instead of slowing down, we speed up. We stress out, trying to get all the holiday everything done. Family angst abounds and we’re tempted to overspend and overeat.
Getting outside is the antidote for us all! Our family loves heading to Habitat in Belmont year-round to look for signs of the season and that’s exactly where you’ll find us taking a solstice stroll together this week. Mass Audubon and The Trustees of Reservations offer endless opportunities for your own family outdoor adventures around the state. And if you’re looking for something more organized, our Solstice Events Roundup describes lots of family-friendly outdoor activities curated for your convenience.
3. Grab a Blanket and Read a Book by the Fire
Cozy is my favorite word, which might explain why winter-themed books are my favorite read alouds. Since we have so many of them, my kids and I put together this list of our favorite winter solstice themed stories for you. Even at 8 and a few days shy of 11, my two kids still adore every on of these books.
4. Feed the Winter Birds
Part of our family’s solstice celebration always includes caring for the animals who make New England their year-round home. It’s not as easy finding food during the winter months, so starting on solstice, we hang natural bird feeders, popcorn strings, and suet for them. Another family has taken it a step further, reading The Night Tree by Eve Bunting together, hand-making enough edible ornaments to decorate an entire tree, and sipping cocoa while making a night of it outside together. I’m feeling inspired to do the same this year!
5. Make Simple Solstice Crafts
I aim to keep little hands busy at this time of year. These simple solstice crafts help channel the nervous energy my kids get as they anticipate school vacation and holiday celebrations. Which keeps me sane, since they’re also spending more time inside as the temperatures drop!
Orange Pomanders. Nothing needed other than oranges and cloves. Simple, elegant, and the final product smells like sunshine. To make these easier for little fingers, use a toothpick or fork to make starter holes in Mandarins or Clementines that are getting a bit hard. Make patterns or keep it random. Display them all together, hang them, or place them here and there. Want a more in-depth tutorial? Simple Bites offers a lovely one.
Suncatchers. We love making loads of gorgeous stars out of kite paper to catch the light and remind us that the sun is shining and the days are about to get longer. This book, Magical Window Stars, has easy-to-follow directions from super simple to quite complex.
Paper Snowflakes. Chances are that you already know how to make paper snowflakes. But since my super crafty daughter decided this year that she’s having none of the simple square snowflakes I grew up making, here’s the tutorial she watched so she could make dozens of delicate, fanciful, round snowflakes to decorate for our solstice celebration.
6. All the Light
Winter solstice marks the longest night of the year. But even as we sink into its stillness, we rejoice in the return of light. We know the days will stretch longer and we’ll feel the sun’s warmth increasing. To that end, find a way to incorporate some love for light into your family’s day this solstice. Here are a few ideas:
Stop by one of these local events, many of which feature campfires, bonfires, or fire dancing
Gather ‘round your own backyard bonfire or fire pit with friends and family
Spend the day living by candlelight (or at least dine by it)
Find a holiday lights display to visit; here’s a roundup of a few local favorites
Does your family have a winter solstice tradition you adore? Drop a comment and share it with us, we’d love to hear about it!