During the winter season, many states have extreme weather conditions that keep them indoors most of the time.  Fortunately, we live in Texas, where outdoor play can be a year-round activity, even during the holiday season. Here are a few fun ideas for engaging families in your community during this festive time of year.

1. Themed Events

You can conduct themed events during daytime or (with proper lighting) evening hours. For instance, during the day you could host an Alice in Wonderland–themed event where kids dress up as their favorite characters and enjoy a holiday tea party, or go with a Dr. Seuss theme, complete with props and masks as well as creative decorations. If you decide to go with an evening event, string lights on nearby trees to create a winter wonderland the whole family can enjoy.

2. Santa Meet-and-Greet

Every child wants to meet Santa and share this year’s wish list. Getting a Santa to interact with the kids — and maybe also read some beloved holiday stories — is a great activity that’s sure to get a festive vibe going. You can also have other holiday characters, such as snowmen/women and reindeer, and incorporate live entertainment from local musicians. Extend the activity to kids with disabilities as well so that the whole community feels involved.

3. Caroling Night

Musical events are always a hit during the holiday season. Caroling helps everyone get into the spirit and brings the whole community together for a fun-filled evening. Invite local performers as well as children’s choirs to lead an evening of sing-alongs. Encourage attendees to bring lawn chairs or cushions to sit on as they enjoy the music. As an added bonus, singing is not only fun, but also highly therapeutic, so it’s a perfect activity for stressed-out moms and dads during this busy time of year!

4. Reindeer Games

Invite local families to take a break from the holiday rush for some outdoor fun and games at your playground, and choose games the whole family can participate in. Think about a gift-wrapping race or an arts-and-crafts competition, or bring in a snow machine for a snowman-building contest. Another fun option is a candy cane race: Divide the kids up into teams and have each child hold a candy cane, then have each team link their candy canes together and run as a group toward the finish line. If the candy-cane link breaks, they have to start over, and the first team to cross the finish line wins.

5. Holiday Markets

This is a terrific option for getting moms and dads involved: Host a holiday fair where you encourage your community to support local businesses. Invite local restaurants to serve food and local vendors to bring their gift-worthy wares for sale. Include face painting and other activities for the kids to enjoy while mom and dad are shopping. The grownups get to shop for unique gifts in a stress-free environment, local businesses get some valuable exposure, and your playground may attract some first-time visitors.

No matter which activity you decide, this is a perfect opportunity to get the whole community together in the spirit of the season.

Merry Christmas & Happy holidays!