making the most of holiday clean-up

Dec 31, 2011 // 4 comments // Categories: holidays, parenting, science // Tags: , , , .

holiday clean-upThe holidays have rushed in and rushed out over here, and despite a 7+ hour ride home from Pennsylvania and two people down over three days with the stomach bug, we had an amazing season.

And now that we’re home and trying–desperately–to reclaim our home and have a little fun, rather than throwing the kids in front of the tv or wii for the next few days, my husband and I really feel it’s important to use this time with our little ones as best as we can, appreciating this fleeting time while our kiddos are young and actually want to hang out with us.

Over the years, we’ve done a bit of this and that to make the most of holiday clean-up, so I thought it would be worthwhile to share some of the ways we try to sneak in some learning and family fun over holiday break.

Rather than just ball it all up and toss it in the trash, take a second to use what you’ve got!

Here’s the skinny:

backyard bird food, making the most of holiday clean-up

making the most of holiday clean-up, gift wrap bow funCut, cut, cut that wrapping paper!

  • Use Wrapping Paper (and Bows!):  Even the teeniest pieces of holiday wrapping paper can be saved and used for fine-motor practice for the little ones.  Grab a folder or a gallon ziplock bag and keep some pieces of the paper for kids to cut during the long winter months.

And bows, ribbons, and gift-wrapping fancies are so fun to use for decorating dollhouses, racetracks, or for just about anything. Or let the kids tear apart some of the bows for more fine-motor practice.

Check out my friend Allie’s Gift Wrap Pattern Sorting game–so fun and so easy!–but super for kiddos!


making the most of holiday clean-up, candy cane experimentsCandy Canes = F.U.N


  • Keep the Candy Canes for Science Fun: We always end up with a ton of candy canes at the end of the season, and I’m not sure why. But last year we rocked it out in the kitchen, playing with candy canes in ways we had never imagined.

I totally cannot wait to play with candy canes again this year–we’ve got a few fun ideas up our sleeves!

making the most of holiday clean-up, sensory boxSensory Box = F.U.N!

  • Use those Cardboard Boxes!! Though they are sometimes tricky to keep because of their size, cardboard boxes of any size can be so fun for kids–especially when their parents show them cool ways of using them.

It can be as simple as turning a boring box into a Sensory Box or a little bit more involved and turning a shoe box into a Shoelace Box.

Or check out the amazing Rachelle of TinkerLab’s Cardboard Box Creative Challenge for a ton of awesome ways of using cardboard boxes, or head over to crazy-creative Valerie’s Frugal Family Fun Cardboard Cafe for some totally fabulous ideas.


There’s no better time than the present to teach–and practice!game-playing etiquette. It may sound corny, it may take time, but our kiddos cannot grow up to be sore losers, right? Time to shake hands, offer up a good luck, and start playing!


And that’s it! Happy post-holiday clean-up, my friends!!

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Comment (4) | Leave a comment

  1. I love your ideas! I was looking for a way to reuse paper!

  2. Clicked on this blog thinking it was about cleaning, as in roll-up-your-sleeves…elbow grease kind of cleaning, but did find it interesting with clever ideas. The photos are a real plus! Consider using a professional cleaning service after the holidays to free up more time with the kids.


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  1. focus on free play!

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