Evelyn and Padraig from Kia Ora Mini Farm give up their top tips to keep the kids entertained this Christmas!
Christmas is absolutely our time of the year! A time where we get to spend lots of time with family and friends, eat loads and be merry. Children are so full of energy coming up to Christmas, full of excitement and anticipation. It may be helpful to have some ideas to keep them amused and we have purposely steered away from electronics and gaming in our options.
1. Christmas Lights
Gorey Main Street is a sight to behold. The Big Switch On was a huge success again this year and the addition of the fireworks was amazing. This was the beginning of the Christmas season and a stroll any evening soaking up the Christmas atmosphere is good for the soul with maybe a cheeky pop in for a hot chocolate to warm up in any of the amazing cafes such as Partridges or The Book Café.
2. Christmas Plays and Concerts
Our children’s Christmas concerts or plays with school are always an event to look forward to for all parents, watching with pride and a tear in our eyes as they stand on stage and sing their hearts out. There are also many charity concerts in the area such as the Tuaisceart Loch Garman Charity Concert in Craanford on Thursday, 20th December at 7.30pm, and it can be a lovely time for children to join in with all the Christmas Carols they have learned in school.
3. Eating out
From breakfasts to dinners, there is a huge selection of cafes and restaurants in Gorey and beyond to satisfy all tastes and a leisurely lunch, brunch or dinner is a great way to get out of the house and prevent boredom over the festive season! Whether it’s breakfast in Joanne’s or a full dinner in Eco, you are definitely in for a treat. A list of all options can be found on our website under Eat & Drink.
Gorey is a fantastic place to be but especially so at Christmastime. The town is always bustling and there is a fantastic atmosphere as people move about from business to business purchasing their gifts. We are so lucky to have such a huge selection of shops to choose from and it is so very easy to shop local for each special gift. The Christmas season starts much earlier now than when we were young, when the 8th December was still Culchie Day and the start of the shopping season! Christmas jumpers, shirts or dresses, Christmas pjs and outfits for children are always a special buy at this festive time and for fantastic ranges you can’t beat Kool Kidz, Jalanda, Dunnes and Tesco. Shopping for pet gifts is also very important for children and Lidl, Aldi, Choice or Maxi Zoo have some fantastic options.
5. Elf on the Shelf
Elf on the Shelf is a fantastic source of excitement for small children in December. Our Elf on the Shelf, Buddy Nollaig, usually arrives to cause mayhem on the 1st December. From causing mischief with the other toys, to stealing the dog’s toys and making an absolute mess, Buddy is so full of mischief. He stays with us until the night before Christmas Eve when he usually returns to the North Pole to report to Santa and leaves the kids their selection boxes. It is very funny to see the children’s faces every morning when they see what little Buddy has been up to.
6. Advent Calendars
Advent Calendars are also taken out on 1st December and every morning a little door is opened counting down the days to Christmas Day. Children love to count down the days and have a little reward every day.
7. Christmas Tree Shopping
A visit to a Christmas Tree Farm such as the one in Ballygarrett can be a fantastic family day out. I am seeing fantastic pictures of sleigh rides and it is on our to do list. Kids love to feel involved in picking the tree and taking it home to decorate. Great memories are made decorating the house for Christmas and putting all the homemade and personal decorations up is always a treasured time. Some families have a tradition that the youngest child puts the Angel or Star on the tree
8. Christmas Markets
There are many Christmas markets over the next few weeks and they are fantastic places to pick up some unique gifts and support local craftspeople. There are markets coming up in Wells House and Creagh College to name a few.
9. Christmas Movies & Books
Snuggling up in front of a blazing fire with hot chocolate and popcorn is one of our favourite ways to spend a miserable December afternoon and there are some amazing Christmas movies out there now with The Christmas Chronicles and the new Grinch movie among our favourites this year but we still love the traditional Elf, The Grinch and Home Alone movies. A visit to Movies at Gorey is a must also and they have a fantastic kids club option every day which is great value and a cosy way to spend some time together.
Christmas classic books such as The Night Before Christmas, The Snowman & The Nativity are always taken out this time of year but new options such as The Dinosaur that Pooped Christmas and Father Christmas Needs A Wee were a source of huge amusement in the book shop and may be purchased this year!
10. Christmas Walks
There are so many fantastic places to walk around the North Wexford area and a walk in Courtown Woods is a must any time of year. The changing landscape from season to season is beautiful to watch and a walk along the pier on a cold day really blows away the cobwebs for everyone. For those days that you are feeling energetic, a walk up Tara Hill with the sea views or up Croghan among the wind turbines are fantastic places to spend some time. Newly developed Ramsfort Woods or the fairy trail in Ballyfad Woods are some more options.
A trip to one of the many amazing beaches such as Courtown, Ballymoney or the golden mile of Morriscastle is always a treat. Our children love to watch the waves in winter and checking out what the sea has washed up, climbing rocks and investigating rock pools can really fill up an afternoon.
In Courtown, there are a number of options for kids during the winter time from Pirate’s Cove with bowling or crazy golf to Courtown Amusements or Flanagan’s Wharf for amusement rides and great fun. Also Seal Rescue Ireland is based in Courtown and they are busy with seals at this time of year so lots to visit. They have a Frosty Fest coming up with lots of crafts and fundraising for the seals at this busy time and such a fantastic cause. A swim in Courtown Adventure & Leisure Centre is also an option.
13. Get Crafty
There are so many options to get crafty at Christmas, from making Christmas decorations to colouring and Different Strokes can help you with all your crafty needs. They have a fantastic supply of items from paint to books and a wealth of knowledge but YouTube videos and Pinterest will also give you plenty of ideas.
Gorey Town Rocks are also looking for lots of kindness rocks to fill their well and are looking for donations of handmade gift items to gift to those who may be alone at Christmas and will receive a Meals on Wheels dinner on Christmas Day. It’s a really lovely idea and lots of kids are working on items at the moment.
14. Christmas Cards & Santa Letters
My children spent an evening writing out Christmas cards for their whole class and their teacher. They are thrilled when they receive a card from their friends and they get pride of place on a shelf in the sitting room. I find this a fantastic way for them to improve handwriting and spellings also without them even realising. Santa Letters take some time to finalise but you can get lovely little writing packs in Dealz or EuroGiant with an envelope to post the letter into Santa’s post box on Gorey’s Main Street.
My children also drew some pictures for Santa so a full evening was spent deciding on the toys and colouring in the pictures. Many an hour was spent prior to this walking around Toymaster, Tesco, Donal’s, and Byrne’s Book Store before making up their minds.
15. Christmas Baking
Children love to bake and to add all of the ingredients and mix up everything but their favourite part is always to lick the bowl. Many an afternoon can be spent making Christmas Cookies, brownies or gingerbread men. My favourite website is the Odlum’s one or again YouTube and Pinterest are also great sources of recipes. Many supermarkets such as SuperValu give out a booklet with Christmas recipes in it to try at home.
A visit to the Crib in St. Michael’s Church is on our list every year. Our children love to see the nativity scene and light a candle for everyone’s health and happiness at Christmas and say a prayer for those who are no longer with us. We will also visit the graveyard and the graves of those who have passed on.
17. Family Kris Kindle
In our family, we have an annual Kris Kindle get together. We have set a limit for each child and each adult purchases a gift for a child in the family, something that the child really would love and we get together in one of our houses, usually a week or so before Christmas. We have some food and catch up and then we start with the youngest to the oldest to receive their gifts. It is a really special night as we are all so busy coming up to Christmas and it is fantastic to see the little faces as they tear off the wrapping paper.
18. Santa Claus
For Santa, we will be heading out to Kia Ora Mini Farm with some of our family and can’t wait to see all the lights and new additions this year. The kids love to visit the reindeer and take home some reindeer food but the highlight for them is always telling Santa their Christmas wishes and giggling with the elves when they receive their nice list key to pick their own special present. We will take lots of pictures under the twinkling lights to treasure forever and finish it off with a nice treat in the coffee shop. There are many options for Santa around the town and each one offers its own unique event. A list of all options can be found on our website here.
19. Wild Lights at Dublin Zoo
This year, we attended the Wild Lights at Dublin Zoo and were blessed with fantastic weather and really enjoyed travelling around and viewing all the amazing features.
20. Ice Skating
Wexford on Ice has returned to the Quay in Wexford and so much fun was had last year that we are definitely returning this year. There are lots of penguins for little children but we found that they got the hang of it a lot quicker than Mammy and Daddy.
Tip: One thing to remember is that the Gorey LittleTheatre’s panto tickets go on sale in December and we are always sure to secure ours early as the show is fantastic every year and the cast and crew are so professional and funny. This year is the first year they have been on sale online, whereas previously one of us had to ensure we were available to queue at the Theatre to purchase. The Panto runs from 11th to 19th January.
Hope this list helps and wish you all a very Merry Christmas!