Fun, Festive Holiday Activities

Whether you’ll be staying home this season or venturing out for events, we’ve got some fun ideas on things to do and places to enjoy.


Hungry? We’ve got some easy recipes too, and a few delicious treats to choose from for each holiday. (Some need more adult supervision than others.)


Ready for some holiday fun? Let’s see what looks good!


Fun-At-Home Games and Activities:


These are fun games and activities for playing at home with friends and fam. Some are for indoors and others are better for out in the backyard:



  1. Snowman Bingo: Print the 8 unique cards out from Crazy Little Projects and grab a handful of mini-marshmallows to mark your spaces as you play. Bingo! Have a few fun prizes ready for the winners as you go along.

  2. Reindeer games: Happiness is Homemade has a great game for the Rudolph-lovers among us! You’ll just need a proper set of antlers and some inflatable rings for the reindeer game at the top of this list. Next, find out who can get the most rings hung on the antlers in a minute’s time. Prefer something you can hang on the wall instead? You can try a reindeer toss set that hangs on the wall like this.

  3. Name that tune, the Christmas carols version: See who can name that Christmas carol or other holiday songs in the fewest beats! Get a playlist of Christmas Classics (or just use free songs on YouTube if you’d rather).

  4. Decorate outdoor trees/shrubs: If you’ve got eco-friendly decorations around, or even just some popcorn and fresh cranberries, you can make traditional garlands or ornaments for the trees and wildlife outside! Just make sure you don’t add any butter or flavoring to either (for the health of our birds and wildlife).

  5. Freeze Tag Food Fight: You can also use leftover popcorn from the decorations to have a food tag free-for-all. (You may want to take this one outside for easier cleanup.) outside. Burn some energy running around and throwing handfuls of popcorn at the other team. If hit, freeze! Any member of your team can unfreeze you by a simple touch. Last team with an unfrozen person wins. (Only have two or three people? Play a game of traditional tag with the popcorn. Carry handfuls and the person who is It throws it at the other participants. When someone is tagged with popcorn they become the new It.) Another fun variation is hide and seek tag. Hide as normal, but the seeker carries a handful of popcorn. When a person is found, they have to race back to home base. The first person to be tagged by the popcorn before making it safely back becomes the seeker for the next round.


Zoom Games:


Missing far away friends and family? Get them together on Zoom for some games! There are countless options, and here are some great ideas to consider.

  1. Pictionary: You’ve played it before, but not over Zoom, right? No worries. It’s super easy and this video walks you through setting it all up from the very top. Use this random Pictionary word generator to help out once you’re ready to play.

  2. Boggle: This video helps you through it, and you’ll need this website.

  3. Scavenger hunt: Great for kids and adults alike, these work exactly like regular scavenger hunts, minus actually touching the objects scored by the other team. Need some inspiration? This site has lots of ideas.

*Make sure to pay attention to whether you’ll be using the free option on Zoom, which gives you around 40 minutes for a group chat with up to three or more friends, or explore a Zoom plan with unlimited group chatting.


Holiday Recipes:


Need a scrumptious snack? Choose from our mouth-watering selection of festive treats depending upon which holiday you celebrate:


CHRISTMAS

Celebrated by Christians worldwide as the birthday of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, Christmas is celebrated annually on December 25th. Some of the traditions of the modern holiday include decorating a fir, pine, or spruce tree indoors (called a Christmas tree), hanging decorative lights up inside and outside the home, attending church services, serving a large family meal, and exchanging wrapped gifts.



Hungry for braces-friendly Christmas snacks? Give these a try:

  1. Strawberry cheesecake Santas: These little cuties are tasty, healthy, and won’t get stuck in your braces. Protein-rich and packed with antioxidants, you can feel good about nibbling on these mini St. Nicks. The recipe makes 24, but you can easily make more.

  2. Baked apples: Can’t have crunchy apples with your braces on? No worries! This simple recipe from Kalob and Elise provides warm, soft apples for you in minutes. All you need are apples, 4 other easy ingredients, plus ziplock baggies, and a microwave. Voila!

  3. Mini Christmas tree pizzas: These mouthwatering hors d'oeuvres make a great lunch as well. Julia from Happy Foods Tube suggests you just grab some puff pastry, pizza sauce, your favorite toppings (make sure they’re softened up, and you may want to swap out the pepperoni if it’s cut too thick), and a Christmas tree cookie cutter. Let them cool off before biting in and enjoy!

  4. Grinch fruit kabobs: Get a nice burst of vitamins when you set a plate of these healthy bite-size treats from When is Dinner? out for the littles (or the whole fam!) to snack on. Each one resembles a tiny Grinch wearing a Santa hat. (When serving grapes to children under 5, it’s advised you cut them in half).

  5. Ho Ho Hot Dog Christmas snacks: The Peach Kitchen walks us through these adorable Ho Ho Hot Dog Christmas Stocking snacks.


HANUKKAH

Hanukkah is a Jewish celebration that commemorates the rededication of a second-century temple in Jerusalem following a triumph over religious oppression by the warrior group, the Maccabees. Hanukkah, also known as Chanukah or the Jewish Festival of Lights, spans 8 days in December and features traditions like lighting the menorah (a seven-branched candelabra), playing the dreidel game, exchanging gifts, and eating latkes (potato cakes) and gelt.


Interested in some braces-friendly Hanukkah treats? Check these out:



  1. Hanukkah gelt wontons: Recommended by the American Association of Orthodontists, this recipe works for those with or without orthodontics, and makes 12 wontons.

  2. Rainbow latkes: Try these colorful potato pancakes out for a healthy variation of each hue of the rainbow. Blueberries, beets, carrots, yellow squash, and purple cauliflower replace food coloring in these beauties!

  3. Easy noodle kugels for kids: This sweet, rich dish is often served with chicken soup or a whole baked chicken or brisket.

  4. Sufganiyot bites: These make a delectable treat for Hanukkah, for children and adults alike. Follow the Tastemade blog recipe to make these, and once they’re cooled, you could involve the kids in sprinkling the powdered sugar over the top.

  5. Honey challah: Follow Erin Jeanne McDowell as she makes a simple, yet scrumptious 3-braided Honey Challah to serve with any meal. Need inspiration? You can make any of these delicious recipes with it, too.


KWANZAA

Kwanzaa began in the 1960s with the roots of its inspiration in the harvest festivals of sub-Saharan Africa. Named after the Swahili phrase ‘first fruits of the harvest’, Kwanzaa celebrations combine foods from a variety of sources, with no specific rules applied. Traditional soul food, Caribbean cuisine, sub-Saharan African recipes, and more can all be found on the table for Kwanzaa.


Seven principles are highlighted during Kwanzaa. These are unity, self-determination, responsibility and collective work, cooperative economics, creativity, purpose, and faith. Each principle is signified by a candle. Some families celebrate Kwanzaa with poetry, drumming, or singing, while others practice storytelling, dancing, and serving large meals. Each family chooses how they wish to celebrate.



Some of the braces-friendly foods you can enjoy for Kwanzaa include:

  1. Spicy black-eyed peas: This variation will kick things up a notch, but don’t forget: you can make any variety of black-eyed peas (or other dishes) you prefer for Kwanzaa. There are no rules! This recipe calls for bacon, dried red chilies, and fresh thyme. Serve it alongside your favorite main dish. If bacon is too chewy for your braces, leave it out and replace it with a few easier-to-chew slices of ham.

  2. African-American sweet potato and peanut stew: The Soulful Vegan shares this recipe, a rich stew brimming with protein, nutrition, and flavor, perfect to serve over rice.

  3. Sweet and spicy garlic chicken wings: Give this recipe from the Carnal Dish a whirl anytime you want to dazzle guests but don’t want to spend a long time in the kitchen. Serve with your choice of dipping sauce. For braces, get boneless wings or separate the meat from the wings before eating.

  4. Southern-fried catfish: This will top off the flavor score at your Kwanzaa table, a Kitchn recipe complete with creole seasoning and cayenne. Goes well with coleslaw and lemon.

  5. Fried bananas: The littlest cooks in your family can help you with this recipe! Have them help you slice the bananas with a butter knife and dip them in lemon juice. Then they can watch you do the rest and get ready to taste-test the results.


In-Person Holiday Events:


Arizona usually has many wonderful places to experience joyful holiday events. Although this year will be a bit different, many places are still providing a delightful experience. If you hoped to visit places you missed last year, or enjoy your favorites again, we have verified which venues are currently open.


With some venues’ rules and restrictions changing often, it’s a good idea to call ahead to make sure they’re still inviting in-person guests and find out the proper precautions before you hit the road! Here are a few spots that look to be accepting visitors for the holidays, given masks are worn, and social distancing observed:



Experience Zoolights by walking or cruising in your own car this year!

  1. Zoolights at the Phoenix Zoo: From now until January 31, 2021, you can choose your preferred tour of the zoo lights this year: walking or driving. On certain nights, guests can enjoy a car cruise, and on alternate nights there’s a walk-through viewing. Gates open at 5:30 pm and close at 10:30 pm. Parking is free and tickets range from $15 to $20 per person. Get details here.

  2. Glendale Glitters: This neighborhood has adorned 16 of its blocks in 1.7 million lights for your family’s enjoyment and delight! From now until January 9, 2021, the lights will be on from 5:00 pm until 10:00 pm nightly. Although many events have been scaled back due to the pandemic, there are still plenty of new lighting designs to see, as well as merchants and restaurants to visit downtown. Parking downtown is free during Glendale Glitters. Find details here.

  3. A Christmas Story: playing at Desert Stages Theatre in Scottsdale with increased social distancing and other precautions until December 20th. Get details here.

  4. The Nutcracker Ballet: Enjoy the Nutcracker Ballet performed by the Ahwatukee Foothills dancers, ages 3 - 21, held at the Madison Center for the Arts in Phoenix. Get your tickets ASAP, since there are only 3 more performances scheduled this year. View the details here.

  5. Christmas at the Princess: A carefully socially distanced celebration awaits you at Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort this holiday season. Enjoy activities like light shows, ice skating, s’mores-making, water lantern ceremonies, dining in climate-controlled igloos, and so much more! See more details here.

  6. Christmas at Schnepf Farm: Enjoy a winter wonderland this holiday season when you stop over for a bonfire, hayride, train ride, trip to the beer and wine garden, cookie decorating fun, visit with Santa, and more at Schnepf Farm. Look for deals on FaceBook and Instagram, or give them a call at 480-987-3100. Read up on Things to Do and how to buy tickets here. Schnepf Farm is located in Queen Creek, Arizona.

  7. Las Noches de Las Luminarias: Enjoy the enchanting glow of the Las Noches de las Luminarias at Phoenix’s Desert Botanical Gardens this holiday season by advanced reservations only. Take a stroll through the garden paths, which volunteers adorn with over 8,000 flickering luminaria bags every night. Some nights feature pre-recorded music. To get tickets, call between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm on weekdays. Please read their safety measures before purchasing tickets.

  8. Holidays at the Heard: Although things will be slightly different this year due to COVID-19 precautions, the Heard Museum still plans to have plenty of holiday events scheduled. There will still be live music and artist demonstrations, etc., but fewer interactive exhibits and events. Currently, there is live music every Friday and Saturday as well as a chance to meet and support American Indian artists, shop for unique art at the Heard Museum shop, enjoy lunch and/or coffee, and much more. Visit their website for details and health precautions. (The Heard has both indoor and outdoor spaces).


Did you find something great to do or something tasty to eat? We’re pretty confident there’s something in here for everyone. Let us know what you did and how it went next time you come in for your appointment. We can’t wait to hear about your holiday adventures!


At Jungle Roots Children’s Dentistry & Orthodontics, we strive to provide the highest comprehensive pediatric and orthodontic dental care in a unique, fun-filled environment staffed by a team of caring, energetic professionals. We believe the establishment of a “dental home” at an early age is the key to a lifetime of positive visits to the dentist.


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