The kids are home and you need ideas for things to do: We have them


The kids are out of school. Often, day care centers close between Christmas and New Year’s. How are you going to cope? We have fun things you can do during winter break in Austin and across Central Texas. Check for weather cancellations or schedule changes before you head out.

LIGHT SHOWS

Head to these light shows across Central Texas, or stroll around your own neighborhood or one nearby:

Austin Trail of Lights. 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. through Saturday. $3. Zilker Park. austintrailoflights.org

Zilker Tree. The tree will be on from 6 p.m. to midnight through Dec. 31. Zilker Park. austintexas.gov/zilkerholidaytree

Trail of Lights. 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday-Wednesday, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday. Free. EmilyAnn Theatre 1101 Ranch Road 2325, Wimberley. emilyann.org

Mozart’s Christmas Light Show. 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. nightly through Jan. 1. Mozart’s Coffee Roasters at Oyster Landing, 3825 Lake Austin Blvd. mozartscoffee.com

Winter Wonderland at the Circuit of the Americas. See lights, go skating, enter the petting zoo and Santa’s workshop and more. 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday through Dec. 30, including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. $16, plus additional fees for some activities. circuitoftheamericas.com/winter-wonderland

OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES

When you can, go outside and get some exercise:

Whole Foods Skating on the Plaza. 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. through Jan. 15. Closed Christmas Day. $10 per person. Whole Foods Market, 525 N. Lamar Blvd. wholefoodsmarket.com

Evergreen Christmas Tree Farm. Buy Christmas trees. 10 a.m. to dark Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. With s’mores-making and pine-cone painting, too. 242 Monkey Road. evergreen-farms.com

Plus, try a new playground in our playground guide on austin360.com/raisingaustin or go for a hike. We love the trails of Mayfield Park, Mary Moore Searight Park and behind the Austin Nature and Science Center.

MOVIES

Alamo Drafthouse Kids Camp. “The Peanuts Movie,” 10 a.m. Saturday, Lakeline, Mueller and Slaughter Lane. drafthouse.com

See these family-friendly new movies in theaters: “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” Disney’s animated “Coco,” the updated “Jumanji” with the Rock, “Wonder” with Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson, and the animated “Ferdinand,” based on the children’s book.

THEATER

We have a few holiday theater possibilities to see during winter break. Check out these offerings:

Hideout Theatre Presents: “Monster Holidays.” 2 p.m. Saturday and Dec. 30. $5. Hideout Theatre, 617 Congress Ave. hideouttheatre.org

Ballet Austin’s “The Nutcracker.” See the classic ballet at 2 p.m. Saturday. $15-$98. The Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive. thelongcenter.org

“Disney Live! Mickey and Minnie’s Doorway to Magic.” Noon, 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday. $20-$55. Frank Erwin Center, 1701 Red River St. uterwincenter.com

“The Muttcracker (Sweet).” Circus Chickendog reenacts “The Nutcracker” with rescue dogs. 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 27-Jan. 1. $35-$15. Vortex Theatre, 2307 Manor Road. chickendog.net

“A Christmas Story: The Musical.” The classic Christmas movie comes to life. We double-dog dare you to go. 8 p.m. Dec. 29 and 30; 11 a.m. Dec. 30, 3 p.m. Dec. 30, 1 p.m. Dec. 31. $26-$86. The Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive. TheLongCenter.org

MUSEUMS

Museums often offer holiday programming to keep kids busy. If you can, buy tickets in advance and go early in the day.

Thinkery Gingerbread House Workshops. Traditional or Tot (ages 5 and younger): 9:30 a.m., 9:45 a.m., 10:45 a.m., 11 a.m., 2:45 p.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday; and 9:30 a.m., 9:45 a.m., 10:45 a.m., 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. Sunday. $12 per person plus $20 house kit. Gingerbread Art and Architecture for ages 7 and older. 10:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. $12 per person plus $30 house kit. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave. thinkeryaustin.org

Bullock Museum. Maker Faire. Create things at the museum. Wednesday-Dec. 30. Story time at the Museum: Brrr! 10 a.m. Wednesday. Bullock Museum, 1800 N. Congress Ave. thestoryoftexas.com

Thinkery Baby Bloomers. Kids up to age 3 learn about winter wonders. 9 a.m. Saturdays. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave. thinkeryaustin.org

SPECIAL EVENTS

Kwanzaa Celebration of Ujamaa with Elizabeth Kahura. 6:30 p.m. Thursday. Carver Museum, 1165 Angelina St. austintexas.gov

Austin’s New Year. A family-friendly New Year’s Eve party with events throughout the day beginning at 3 p.m. Fireworks are at 10 p.m. Step into the Kids Magic Forest for the Bike Zoo, Dark Stack Media’s liquid light show, a giant Austin piñata, a stop-motion animation station, a crafting station, a magical fairy world and a train. Auditorium Shores, 900 W. Riverside Drive. austintexas.gov

BOOKS

BookPeople l ast Story Time of 2017. 10:30 a.m. Tuesday. Things That Go story time. 10:30 a.m. Jan. 2. BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd. bookpeople.com

Barnes & Noble 1 1 a.m. Saturday story times at all locations: “Santa’s Magic Key,” Saturday; “The Story of Ferdinand,” Dec. 30.

Bow Wow Reading with Bonnie. 11:30 a.m. Saturday and Dec. 30, Yarborough Public Library Branch.

Plus: Find out when your local library is open and check out some new books to bring home with you.

TO DO AT HOME

Here are 10 things you can do at home during the break:

  1. Decorate gingerbread houses. Don’t have a kit or don’t want to make the gingerbread? Use pretzel sticks or graham crackers and connect them using frosting, cream cheese or peanut butter. Use cereal and different snack foods as decorations if you don’t have candy.
  2. Play a board game. Even if you don’t get a new one for Christmas, there’s something satisfying about the classics such as Candy Land, Life and Sorry.
  3. Learn a new card game. Yes, you can start with Go Fish, but you also can branch out to Spoons, Swindle Your Neighbor, B.S. or poker.
  4. Make your own movies/plays. Let the kids write the script, create the costumes and direct one another. You also could have an evening of improv or charades. And you can’t go wrong with shadow puppets.
  5. Make goop or play dough. DIY Natural has this recipe for play dough:

1 cup of flour (whatever kind you have)

¼ cup salt

½ cup warm water

3 to 5 drops food coloring

Mix together the flour and the salt.

Mix together ½ cup of warm water with a few drops of food coloring.

Slowly pour the water into the flour mixture, stirring as you pour. Stir until combined, then knead with your hands until the flour is completely absorbed. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour until it doesn’t stick at all.

For goop:

1 part water

2 parts cornstarch

Mix it in a zippered bag. Throw in some food coloring and get to playing.

  • Make a meal together. We love make-your-own pizzas or tacos or tostadas, but winter break is also a great time to teach life skills, such as how to make spaghetti and meatballs.
  • Throw a dance party. You can turn this event into dance party cleanup time, or it could just be a dance party in the living room. Crank up the music, practice your best air guitar and get to rocking.
  • Make art. You have supplies you didn’t even know you had. All that wrapping paper from Christmas makes great scraps for collages. All the boxes can become dioramas or dollhouses or spaceships. Use the back of the wrapping paper as drawing paper.
  • Go outside and start exploring. See what amazing rocks you can find in your yard or on a hike. Hunt for different insects. Look for different signs of animal life in your yard or the park nearby. Pick out different leaves to make leaf rubbings. Or if you have sports fans, create your own Olympic Games, or play a game of basketball, soccer, tennis or golf.
  • Start a new book. You have more time to read bedtime stories. Start a new series such as “Harry Potter,” “Magic Treehouse” or “The Lightning Thief” and read a little aloud each night. You can even build a blanket fort in a bedroom or living room for reading time.


  • Reader Comments ...


    Next Up in Lifestyle

    Five Austin parties we loved so much
    Five Austin parties we loved so much

    One can relax during the Feed the Peace Awards for the  Nobelity Project at the Four Seasons Austin Hotel. You know why? Because even when the AV system crashes or a stray joke bombs,  Turk and Christy Pipkin are going to smile, glide back on stage and make it all better. Wardaleen...
    Austin 'Black Panther' fans put on their Wakanda best this weekend
    Austin 'Black Panther' fans put on their Wakanda best this weekend

    It has come to pass as many (eventually) thought it would: experts are predicting “Black Panther” will deliver a $235 million-plus debut over the four-day weekend, making for the third highest four-day gross in history.  As Box Office Mojo noted, it is only the fifth movie to debut with over $200 million over its opening...
    Flipside Austin parties before, during and after SXSW
    Flipside Austin parties before, during and after SXSW

    SXSW muscles its way onto Austin’s social calendar in a couple of weeks, but you can wrestle down plenty of other options for parties before, during and after the main event. Feb. 23:  Wonders and Worries Unmasked. JW Marriott.   Feb. 28:  Austin Music Awards. ACL Live. March 1:  ...
    Cyclist who died Saturday wrote about supplemental testosterone use in cycling
    Cyclist who died Saturday wrote about supplemental testosterone use in cycling

    Andrew Tilin died after he was struck by a car as he changed a flat tire while driving on FM 620. Mark Matson for American-Statesman   Andrew Tilin died Saturday, after he was struck by a vehicle as he changed a flat tire on the side of the road. I wrote about Tilin, who wrote a book called “The Doper Next Door,” in September...
    Austin runner shatters personal record, hopes to encourage others with Down Syndrome
    Austin runner shatters personal record, hopes to encourage others with Down Syndrome

    Kayleigh Williamson dances at the finish line of the Austin Half Marathon. Photo courtesy Sandy Williamson An Austin runner who in 2017 became the first woman with Down Syndrome to complete the Austin Half Marathon shaved an hour and 45 minutes off her finish time this year. Kayleigh Williamson danced happily as she crossed the finish line...
    More Stories