There are loads of cheap Christmas activities for kids this season and we’ve got loads of fab ideas for entertainment that won’t leave you short-changed in January. Read on to get some ideas on how to keep your little monsters happy and under control as the big day nears.
- Visits to Father Christmas
- Free museums
- 2-for-1 entry to London attractions
- Cheap cinema
- DVD days
- Get out and about
- Arts and crafts
- Cooking and baking
- Borrow books, CDs and DVDs
- Tesco Clubcard
If your kids are still at that age where the annual visit from Father Christmas is the highlight of the year, a visit to a grotto will go down a treat. Yet plenty of Santa’s grottos will charge you anything from a fiver to around £15 per child! So for any parent with more than one child, the costs can quickly mount up.
Thankfully, there are grottos you can visit for free and others that charge a small amount.
Until Christmas Eve, your children can visit Father Christmas in his grotto and receive a present – absolutely free.
Westfield – Shepherd’s Bush, London
Visit Santa’s 5D experience at Westfield Shopping Centre for a truly original experience. Your child will be immersed into an animated story relaying the tale of Elbow the Elf – who saves Christmas – with each child in the audience appearing in the film.
Tickets booked online are £4 each with a booking fee of £2. This is available until 24 December and experiences take place at 30 minutes intervals throughout the day. Places are filling up fast so get going to guarantee your visit!
Take your kids to see Father Christmas at Santa’s Ice Palace Grotto in the Trafford Centre and watch a special 4D Christmas film. This event is open until Christmas Eve and is available to pre-book, or you can just turn up on the day and select a slot when you get there. Although this event isn’t free, a visit plus a gift will cost £4.50 per child, as well as £2.50 per adult, which is pretty good value. The event will last about 30 minutes and is outdoors, so wrap up warm!
Every weekend leading up to Christmas sees Father Christmas meeting and greeting children in his grotto. It runs from 11am until 3.30pm and will be open from 21 December to Christmas Eve. Visit between 1pm and 1.30pm and see Father Christmas feed his reindeer! This event is free.
There are plenty of museums around London that admit visitors for free. You can plan a family day out armed with a map, packed lunch and a travel card. Don’t forget that a family and friends railcard will save you a packet on train travel too.
The Science Museum, V&A Museum and the Natural History Museum in Kensington are all free and provide entertainment and fun learning for kids of all ages. The Bank of England Museum traces the history of the bank and displays all sorts of money including gold bars. There’s the RAF Museum for kids who love aircraft and the Imperial War Museum for some education on Britain’s history in war. For older kids and art enthusiasts The National Portrait Gallery can’t be missed. There’s also the British Museum, the Tate Gallery and the Grant Museum of Zoology – more enough to keep the kids happy for one day.
Other UK cities have free museums too. In Manchester there’s the Manchester Museum (full of natural history), The Whitworth Art Gallery and the Museum of Transport. In the Midlands there’s the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.
There’s the World Museum, Victoria Gallery and Museum and the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool, which are all free. Elsewhere, there’s free entry to the National Media Gallery in Leeds, as well as the Royal Armories for military buffs. The National Museum in Cardiff (as well as various other free museums in Wales) and Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow are options outside England.
The lovely people at Days Out Guide are offering 2-for-1 on entry to over 150 top London attractions including theatres, exhibitions and museums when you travel by train. One adult or one child can enter free when they’re accompanied by another full-paying adult. All you need to do is visit the website, look out for the pink 2-for-1 ticket next to the attractions and download the voucher.
This fab 2-for-1 offer applies to tickets to the London Eye, Madame Tussauds, London Aquarium, The London Dungeon and city cruises..
If your child joins the Odeon Kids Club, every child ticket you buy you gives you an adult ticket for free. You’ll have to check for your nearest participating Odeon cinema, but the good news is that this scheme runs everyday throughout most school holidays! Members of the Vue Kids Club can see selected films for just £1.75 every Saturday and Sunday.
Also, if you’re an Orange customer, don’t forget you can get 2-for-1 tickets at participating cinemas with Orange Wednesdays. All you have to do is text ‘Film’ to 241 and show the code in your reply message at the box office. You’ll get the cheapest ticket free.
If the weather outside is rubbish, you’ll need a back-up plan and there’s nothing wrong with settling down with some pizza and popcorn and watching DVDs. If you sign up to LOVEFiLM you can rent DVDs really cheaply. There are no late fees and you can choose from over 70,000 titles. Sign up here for a free 30-day trial. LOVEFiLM also has a streaming service that can be used on all computers as well as other devices such as tablets and game consoles. Netflix is another service that offers this, also with a free month’s trial. For a monthly charge you could have a huge amount of films and TV for the whole family at your fingertips.
If the kids need to get rid of all that extra energy from being cooped up inside and eating Christmas chocolates, why not go on a family walk? The National Trust has a great selection of trails all over the UK to choose from, so to find a walk near you have a look here.
Set the kids up with card, scissors and glue or spend some time with them making decorations for the house. Whether they’re for hanging on the tree or from the ceiling, these 3D stars will look great in metallic card or covered in glitter.
All you have to do is draw and cut round the template twice on your chosen paper or card, fold on the lines and stick the tabs together. Before the last tabs are stuck together, attach some ribbon or thread to the inside of the star so that it sticks out after the star is completely glued together.
You should be able to get metallic gold and silver card from most stationers like WHSmith and Wilko, or you could use plain card and cover it in glitter which you can get quite cheaply from Hobbycraft.
Instead of buying Christmas cards this year, make them! The kids will love designing, cutting and sticking them and it’ll keep them occupied for hours. If you’ve got some photos of the family lying around, get them photocopied and use them as a personal touch to the card. Alternatively, check out this Handprint Santa card – all you need is some white paint, coloured card and kiddies’ hands!
Why not spend a day with the kids decorating some boxes to house letters to Father Christmas? They can then put these out for him on Christmas Eve and he’ll know exactly what to leave for them. The simplest way to do this would be to use an old tissue box – cover it in coloured paper and then add anything decorative you can find! Alternatively, you can get these ready-made paper mache chests from Hobbycraft which can be painted and decorated.
All kids love to make mess, so they might as well make mess constructively! Spend a day making Christmas treats for all the family. And if you’re super organised, you can give them as gifts too and save some money. Think gingerbread, mince pies, cookies and Christmas cake! You can get more ideas and recipes from Sarah Lockett’s food blog.
Take advantage of your local library in the school holidays. Sign your kids up as members and they’ll be able to borrow books and stories on CD for free. Many libraries now stock DVDs too and they only charge a small fee to borrow them for a few nights. So if your kids enjoy a good read, take them to the library and the books they can borrow will keep them occupied for hours.
Don’t forget that if you have a Tesco Clubcard you can exchange points for a huge variety of things, including activities this Christmas by using them in their catalogue. You can use them in store, of course, but you get more for your points in the catalogue. Some fun ones include the theme parks Adventure Island, Adventure Wonderland and Alton Towers.
These guys are a great source of cheap deals for fun days out this Christmas, including ice skating and classic Christmas shows like The Snowman and A Christmas Carol.
If you need a break from the stress of Christmas preparations then Travelodge has some great deals, allowing you and your family to get away without spending a fortune. Right now there are thousands of rooms from £25, but make sure to book early. There are some great locations to visit in the UK so check out their hotel deals now!
If you know of any more cheap Christmas activities for kids, let us know on our Facebook page!