Welcome the Winter Solstice with Outdoor Family Activities

by on September 15th, 2010
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No matter what holiday or holidays your family celebrates in the winter, devote an evening to observe the winter solstice and acknowledge the changing season. The following activities are appropriate for parents and children; invite friends, relatives, and neighbors to join you.

Since it gets dark early on or near the winter solstice, you can hold your party late afternoon and everyone gets home for supper. An outdoor winter gathering is brief, just an hour or so. You can get together with family and friends without demanding a lot of time or spending much money.

Hold a Winter Holiday Party

A winter solstice gathering can be a simple outdoor evening event for your family; invite more families to your get-together for added fun. Make it clear in your invitation that this party is held outdoors, so encourage guests to dress warm and bring along blankets and chairs. If possible, have an outdoor fire where people can gather to warm up.

Make thermoses of hot cider and hot chocolate and have plenty of cups. Provide the makings for s’mores (graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate bars) and have other easy to snack on foods, such as pretzels. If you are inviting others to stay for a meal after the outdoor fun, make it a potluck and encourage people to bring stew, chili, and hearty breads.

Glow Stick Games for Kids

Glow sticks are a relatively inexpensive item that kids can incorporate into their night games and then take home as a party favor. Plan for more than you think you need as the adults will want them as well. Ask a couple of families to pick up glow sticks at party favor stores.

Glow Stick Ring Toss: Use different sized glow sticks that bend into loops (some will connect to other glow sticks to make larger hoops) that you can set on the ground or hang from low branches or shepherd’s hook plant holders. Kids can use glow-in-the-dark balls to test their aim as they toss the objects at the targets.

Glow Stick Tag: You will need an area free from tripping hazards. Use glow sticks to mark out the boundaries of the game. Each player wears a glow stick around their neck except for “It” who wears glow sticks around their wrists. Play a basic game of tag with “It” chasing after the other players. Keep a ratio of one “It” for every five players so the rounds move quickly.

Night Activities for Families

Do these activities where it is dark. If there are a lot of lights on in or near the house, players should move away so they are standing in the darkest part of the yard.

Sparks: Bite into a wintergreen Lifesaver candy. The wintergreen oils, when crushed, create sparks.

Disappearing Heads: Have individuals of similar heights break into pairs and stand at arm’s length from one another. Each person stares at the opposite person’s nose without blinking. Done correctly, the individual’s head will disappear from sight.

Coloring Pages: Print winter scenes from coloring books or the Internet onto white paper (or cardstock, for more support). Even if the kids are older, go with a picture that doesn’t have a lot of details and that is drawn with broad, dark lines. Set a coloring table away from bright lighting (the spot is good if it is difficult to discern the colors of the crayons). Provide the kids with crayons which have had the paper wrappings removed. Encourage the kids to color the pictures using the crayons that they think accurately color the picture. When done, kids can bring their drawings into the light and discover what colors they used when they couldn’t clearly see color.

A winter solstice gathering gives friends and family an opportunity to get together in a unique way … outdoors when the sky is dark. Activities that require a dark sky will entertain the kids (and maybe a few adults as well).


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