Get outdoors at Christmas

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With the dreary cold weather and all those Christmas movies and new computer games to tempt your children towards the screen, getting outside during the festive season can be tricky. But if everyone's wrapped up warm, there's still fun to be had in the great outdoors, and it's a fabulous opportunity for the whole family to join in. If you're struggling for inspiration, here are a few activity ideas to get you started.

Natural decorating
Most young ones love to get involved in the Christmas decorating, and nature provides a whole host of materials you can use to make your own festive decorations. Take the kids out into the country and get them hunting for things they can use, like pine cones, holly, ivy and fir branches. Alternatively, go out into the garden with a few water resistant items like tinsel or ribbon, and get creative decorating your outside space, or make stars out of sticks and ask them to decorate.

Festive walks
Outdoor light displays are growing in popularity in this country, and that makes for a perfect excuse to take the kids out for a Christmas Eve walk. Organise a route that will take them past all the most impressive outdoor displays at houses in the neighbourhood, and take along some warm mince pies and hot chocolate or cocoa for an outdoor treat. A post-Christmas lunch walk is an activity all the family should get involved in, so don the wellies and woolly hats before they get a chance to sink into the sofa!

Treasure hunts
What child doesn't enjoy a treasure hunt? For those lucky enough to have a sizeable garden, hide a small, wrapped gift, and have the kids take turns finding it, with brothers and sisters instructing them as to when they're 'warm' or 'getting colder'. Each time, you can hide a gift in a different area. You could also set up a trail marked with stars. At each star, the kids must perform an activity, such as doing star jumps or touching their toes, and once they reach the end, they get a small gift. For older children, geocaching, where people hide items around your local area and you must use GPS and internet clues to find the 'treasure' will encourage them to get some outdoor exercise.

Free laser tag
Just because it gets dark early, it doesn't mean the fun has to stop. Get the kids involved in a free game of laser tag, using torches. They'll have loads of fun running to avoid their opponents' light, although you will need to supervise.

Seasonal fun
In the unlikely event that we finally get a white Christmas, you're unlikely to have trouble encouraging the kids outdoors. From building snow men to having snowball fights, sledging to looking for animal tracks, there are a whole host of activities the whole family can enjoy. But even if we just get some freezing weather, you can get them outside. Many towns now have outdoor ice rinks for a few weeks at Christmas, providing a perfect opportunity for winter wonderland fun. And if you find yourself waking up on a frosty morning, get the little ones outside to blow bubbles (you can make your own with washing up liquid and water if you don't have any readymade bottles) - if it's cold enough, something rather magical happens.

Do you have any fun winter activity ideas for the children? Share your tips below...
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