Christmas is a great time to be a kid. New video games, sweets galore and quality time with the family are just over the horizon, not to mention that coveted winter vacation from school.
But there’s one drawback to the holiday season many adults forget: The wait for the big day seems to take forever. If your kids are champing at the bit like Rudolph himself, here are some great holiday-themed websites to tide them over.
1. NORAD’s Santa Tracker
‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, except a computer mouse. The children were watching the screen with such care, in hopes that NORAD would ping Santa flying through the air.
Poems aside, the North American Aerospace Defense Command’s annual mission to track St. Nick’s flight around the globe is a perfect marriage of holiday spirit and bleeding-edge technology. Each year, NORAD follows Santa’s journey from the North Pole and posts the results on its own website.
This event stretches back 62 years, and actually started due to a misprint in a local newspaper. If you have kids, you’ll definitely want to add this online activity to your yearly traditions. Just make sure to jump into bed before Santa Claus shows up!
2. Write a letter to Santa online
For children, there are few matters more deadly serious than making sure Santa knows exactly what you want for Christmas. Writing a physical letter will certainly get the job done, but any kid with a social media account knows that the internet is the best way to get in touch with a celebrity — even a magical one. Fortunately, Santa is known for keeping up with the times, and he has created a multitude of ways for children to get in touch.
ALetter4Santa is a fantastic service for writing letters to the big guy. This site lets you fill in your kids’ names, note how good they have been, and what they would like to see under the tree. The best part is that Santa uses magic to reply, so your children will get a response instantly.
Another great website to send a message to Santa is a service provided by The Elf on the Shelf. Although this site doesn’t have instant replies, there is a recorded message from Santa for children to listen to. On top of that, this system relies on HTTPS encryption, the security benefits of which we’ve explained previously.
3. Holiday games
Although playing in the snow is guaranteed to create wonderful holiday memories, sometimes it’s best to just wrap up in a blanket and pour a mug of hot chocolate. For those days, PBS KIDS has an entire suite of games for your little one.
Kids have the choice to help Curious George deliver presents, freeze their knees with The Cat in the Hat or join many other kid-friendly games. PBS KIDS has a long history of creating entertainment that’s both educational and entertaining, so you won’t have to worry about what kids are playing when you’re not looking.
4. Arts and crafts
When your child gets off school for winter break, online games probably won’t keep them occupied for long. Kids have a lot of energy, and it’s best to give them some arts and crafts to keep their hands busy.
When it’s time to take it offline, there are a lot of sites out there devoted to these physical projects. Funology has some of the best holiday activities out there. There’s a whole page devoted to Christmas craft instructions, ranging from making a greeting card box to ornaments for the tree.
With a bit of planning and a healthy dose of holiday cheer, the wait for Santa will fly by like a flash.