With winter vacation right around the corner, we are all very excited to have some time off school! This year is special though: instead of big, fun, action-packed adventures, most are planning to enjoy cozy staycations. And while staying at home can seem boring, it doesn’t mean we can’t have fun and enjoy this break to its fullest! Here are some of our recommendations on how to make the most of your winter staycation:

Bake some holiday treats

Cookies, cakes, cupcakes, pastries all taste best when they’re made at home with love. Whether you prefer baking with friends, family, or by yourself, the following recipes will not only warm your heart, but also make your home smell like a winter wonderland!

Kristina Gagliardi, the leader of the AISB Baking Club, shares two of her family recipes below. She says that “part of the fun of baking during the holidays is keeping traditions alive and having that sense of connection to loved ones.” When baking this holiday season try to have a mix of classic winter bakes and some recipes from closer to home. Below are Ms. Gagiliardi’s family recipes:

Grandma Alice’s Lemon Cookie Bars

Bowl 1:

  • 1 cup/277g  butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup/100g sugar
  • 2 cups/256g flour

Bowl 2:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups/300g of sugar
  • ¼ cup/ 34g flour
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  1. Preheat oven to 350/177 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, blend together ingredients for Bowl 1.
  3. Press this mixture into the bottom of an ungreased 9×13 pan (glass if you have it).
  4. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  5. In a medium bowl, blend together ingredients for Bowl 2, whisking in the eggs and lemon juice.
  6. Pour the mixture over the baked crust.
  7. Bake for additional 20 minutes.
  8. Let them cool until they firm up.

Grandma Pigeon’s Date Nut Bars

  • 2 cups/400g sugar
  • 2 cups/256 flour
  • 2 teaspoons/9.5g baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon/1g salt
  • 2 cups/350g chopped dates
  • 2 cups/300g chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten (make sure they are at room temperature)
  • 2 tablespoons/30g melted butter 
  • 1 teaspoon/4g vanilla extract (not essence!)
  • Powdered sugar (icing sugar)
  1. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, dates and nuts. 
  2. Add the eggs, butter and vanilla.
  3. Stir just until the ingredients are moistened (batter will be very stiff).
  4. Spread into a greased 15x10x1 baking pan.
  5. Bake at 350/177 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
  6. Cool on wire rack.
  7. Dust with powdered sugar. 

Set up an at-home cinema

With cinemas closed, we must rely on our own home’s comfort to enjoy our favorite holiday movies. Make some popcorn, gather all your blankets and pillows, and arrange a comfortable at-home cinema experience for the whole family. 

AISB English Teacher Kirk McDavitt says that he and his wife (Digital Learning Coordinator Gitane Reveilleau ) got a projector earlier this year, after seeing the setup at a friend’s place, and says it’s changed the way they watch movies. “Newer films in high definition formats are neat to see, but older films look good, too.” Over the holidays, McDavitt and Reveilleau plan to watch “a great deal” of classic films— their favorites being ones directed by Federico Fellini and Luis Buñuel.

We recommend watching some holiday classics like Home Alone, Elf, or How the Grinch Stole Christmas, alongside your favorites.

Play board, card or video games

Winning, losing, what does it really matter when you play with those closest to you? (A lot, we know.) While you stay at home this winter break, bring out those old Monopoly boards or UNO cards, and challenge your family to a competitive game. Or arrange a Discord or Zoom call with your friends and enjoy a fun game of Among Us.

We all need human contact, so while we’re at home, let’s spend as much time having fun with those we care about, whether online or offline. Below we linked some of the online versions of the games we all love. 

Get crafty

It doesn’t matter if you are a DIY pro or are just getting started, these holiday crafts are fun and straightforward. Gather your scrap pieces of paper, colored pencils, and glue and try out some of these easy 5 minute crafts.

AISB Dutch Teacher and Craft Club Leader Heidy Kleine says that “quite a lot of the activities can be modified to winter themes,” so if you have a craft that you love, like friendship bracelets, think about how you can adjust your designs to make them more winter-appropriate.

Below we linked some simple crafts to get you started:

Decorate, relax and have fun!

Now that you’ve made all the crafts and played all the games, bring your family together and decorate your home. Carturesti and Mobexpert are both great stores to find some festive yet classy decorations for your tree, and Carrefour’s great for lights.

Make some hot cocoa and sit in front of a fireplace (electric, real, or on TV) and reminisce about past winter adventures! And if we’re lucky enough for snow, gear up and go play; make snow angels, snow people, or have a snowball fight with your family. Whatever you choose to do to relax, do it with those you care about this holiday season.

Bonus idea: Get matching pajamas 

A fun way to have a laugh and make everlasting memories this winter break is to wear matching pajamas with your family. No strict rules apply here. Pick out a pajama-style, design, or pattern and get all your family the same set. Marks and Spencer, H&M, or Amazon are great places to start your pajama shopping experience, as they offer similar designs for all family members.

Tell us: What are your plans for this winter break?