December arrived quickly, and we are full steam ahead into holiday breaks and family time. Are you wondering what engaging activities you can do with your children during this time? There are tons of ideas and places around the area that will occupy your kids and create some meaningful memories! The holidays and winter break are a wonderful opportunity to be present, teach family values, spread kindness, practice gratitude, and simply enjoy your time together.

If you were to ask me what I got for Christmas when I was in first grade, my answer would be that I don’t remember. If you asked about third grade or fifth grade, again, no idea. However, I do clearly remember this: my grandma making hot chocolate, going through a tunnel of lights at Sinnissippi park in Rockford, taking our Pomeranian to see Santa at the mall, and watching ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ on repeat. That’s the good stuff. I can say that I certainly received gifts, and I’m sure that I was excited and grateful for them, but the memories, sights, sounds, and smells are much more powerful.

Use some of the following holiday activities across the Rockford region and festive ideas to jumpstart your imagination:

  1. Sledding at the Snow Park at Alpine Hills
  2. Outdoor skating on the Eclipse Lagoon in Sinnissippi Gardens
  3. Create a homemade hot cocoa bar
  4. Volunteer as a family
  5. Make ornaments using items you have at home
  6. Have a family game night
  7. Share your favorite holiday movies
  8. Visit the Discovery Center Museum or Burpee Museum
  9. Bake and decorate cookies
  10. Go on a holiday wagon ride at Lockwood Park (tickets required)
  11. Support small business owners by shopping at local stores and boutiques
  12. Enjoy thousands of string lights at Anderson Gardens’ Illuminated
  13. Visit light displays in Rockford at All Aglow Exhibit at Nicholas Conservatory, the Festival of Lights in Sinnissippi Park, or walk along the River Lights in downtown Rockford
  14. Have a dress up day with clothes in your closet then donate the ones you don’t need anymore
  15. Visit Kids Spot on December 18 for an open gym, visits with Santa, cookies and hot cocoa (tickets required)
  16. Print your favorite photos from your phone and make a scrapbook together
  17. Visit a Christmas tree farm. Even if you opt for an artificial tree, farms like Williams Tree Farm have much more to offer
  18. Build a gingerbread house & try making your own candy
  19. Visit Christmas Town at Summerfield Zoo to meet Santa and his reindeer (reservations required)
  20. Recycle your Christmas tree

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what you choose to do, as long as you do it together – and don’t forget to take a few photos!

If you have not secured your childcare for days off school, our Referral Specialist is always standing by! YWCA will be closed December 26-30, but you can still access childcare providers by going to If you use the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), now would also be a great time to remind your childcare provider to indicate days off school on their December billing certificate.

Happy Holidays!

-Kelli Steder, Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) Supervisor