December is a crazy time for parents, as the ones responsible for the buying, wrapping, and baking, not to mention orchestrating and creating all the wondrous Christmas magic that your kids will one day look back on fondly. No pressure. Throw in teacher gifts, class parties, and school spirit week (“You need a Grinch outfit tomorrow?!”), and many parents are more than ready for a relaxing break from it all.

Get Noisy and Messy

That is until the break begins, and you remember that you have kids so this will not, in fact, be a relaxing break. Time to shift gears and keep the kids busy and active so you can all head back to regular life with some fond memories, instead of the image of you sending everyone off to their rooms in a fit of rage. First things first- play with those new toys! Let’s be honest, if you don’t break out that bead set and the DIY slime kit now, you never will. Make the mess and spend the day getting into all the gifts, even that drum set from your single brother. You’ll get him back one day.

Have an Adventure

After a couple of days of that, it will be time to get out of the house. Many Christmas attractions have discounts after Christmas Day, so check out any local light shows or things you didn’t have a chance to do in your holiday rush. See a new movie, hit up your neighborhood jump zone, set up the playdate you have been too busy for. It’s also a great time to visit family that you don’t see very often.

New Year’s Eve Games

That will bring you to the end of your break, exhausted but still holding on, only to recall that you must now plan some New Year’s fun for your beloved offspring. My foolproof plan each year? Pop in some easy oven food put on fun music, and play New Year’s Eve games. Invite over a few people if that’s your thing. Charades, card games, marshmallow dodgeball, karaoke, it doesn’t have to be complicated to be fun! Another easy idea is to make a New Year’s Eve balloon clock, which is twelve labeled balloons in a circle that your kids pop on the hour as they get closer to midnight. Of course, this activity is for parents brave enough to encourage their kids to stay up until midnight. Feeling even more wild? Fill them with confetti. Finish the night by talking about the highlights of everybody’s year and set a few family resolutions.

While having the kids home from school in the middle of winter after the busiest month of the year sounds a little intimidating, often your best bet is to give in to the crazy and have some fun. Play with the toys, get out of the house, break out the card games and 90s music, and send them back to school with memories of an awesome holiday season.