Five minute fun activities for busy people to do with little kids

Games + Activities

Christmas Rubbish Games

Did you all have a nice Christmas? I hope so. We can all breathe a collective sigh of relief parents - we did it!!! But you now have a recycling bin so overflowing with rubbish that it’s going to take 4 weeks and 3 skip runs to clear it all! I hear ya!

So in order to tide you over for the next week or so of continued festive fun I have come up with a few ideas of games you can play with the rubbish to stave off the shouts of “I’m bored” for at LEAST another few days! Maybe some fun for all the family as we limbo our way between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, saying “I don’t even know what day it is?” And “I’m DEFINITELY going to get fit in January!” As you shove a further six Quality Streets into your face hole.

So what to do with the piles of boxes, wrapping paper, crackers, ribbons and tat…well, here’s a few things you might like to try.

Wrapping Paper

  1. Well first up, wrapping paper scrunched up makes fab little balls for lots of games. You could use them for the snowballs in Henry’s Christmas Games, or to replace the conkers in the classic Splat the Rat. One I love to do is a version of ‘beer pong’ - where I lay out six cups and the kids have to throw the ‘balls’ into the cups. To add an educational element I put a number or a letter on the cups and they have to ‘get’ them all. Instead of cups I used leftover cracker tubes because you can write on these easily.
  2. The back of wrapping paper often has a grid on it. This is excellent for drawing on. Crack out the felt tips and let them follow the grid lines. How many boxes can they draw? Or draw up a mini battleships game on them with a 3 by 3 grid and 2 ‘ships’ each. Show them how co-ordinates work with 1-5 across one axis and A-E across the other. Can they draw X marks the spot on the right point? Or for little ones just let them draw, scribble, tear, cut or rip it for five minutes peace!
  3. Re-wrap! Keep some of the wrapping paper then wrap up pieces of a puzzle to make the puzzle a bit more interesting. Perfect for very little ones with those wooden ‘missing piece’ style puzzles. Or you could do puzzle pass the parcel. Perfect as a family game for toddlers to Grandma’s!
  4. Save gift bags for little babies. Putting their toys inside with bits of wrapping paper and tinsel is a lovely sensory experience as they pull bits out and discover their toys in a new way.


I have 10 box games here. However here are a few of my favourites for Christmas…

  1. What’s in the Box? Cut a small arm hole in one end of a box and put five small toys inside. Can they put their hand in and feel what they are and describe to you what they are feeling and guess what it is? A brilliant game for speech and language practice especially for those reluctant to talk.
  2. Letter Box. Put a little letter box flap on one side of a box. Gather up all your Christmas cards and let them post them into the box. They can even ‘write’ them too. Just give them a pen and let them go to town on the ones you were going to recycle anyway. Once they’ve posted them all in the box give them a bag to go and collect the letters and then ‘deliver’ to them to all their soft toys or dolls laid out around the house.
  3. Put a bit of ribbon around one end of a box and turn it into a teddy bear sledge.


  1. Guess the hat. Save a few of the hats. If they are different colours tell your little one to shut their eyes and then put a hat on their head and they have to guess the colour of it from your clues. Depending on their age you could say “it’s the colour of Santa’s suit and Rudolf’s nose” or you could say “it starts with an R”. Then let them put hats on you and give you clues. For older ones, just write names of their favourite TV characters on and play “Guess who?” Where they have to ask questions and then guess.
  2. Use the cracker tubes! There are so many easy quick ideas for these. I made a quick game of skittles for my two earlier using several cracker tubes and a satsuma. You could write numbers or letters on the tube to make it a little bit more educational if you like. Saying things like “you’ve only got number 19 to go” is a great way to get those tricky numbers into fun games without them noticing.
  3. Turn the cracker tubes into ‘binoculars’ and then hide the leftover sweets in the garden. Send them out there to search high and low and retrieve their coins while you hide inside and scoff the remaining Yule Log with a cuppa! Plus they get a bit of fresh air too.

Sweet wrappers are excellent for the craft box if you’re into that sort of thing, so save those for a rainy day. Likewise with shiny wrapping paper and ribbons - always handy for sensory boxes for little ones or for getting crafty later on. Don’t forget we’ve all got January and February to get through yet.

Finally we played this game on Christmas Day and the kids jumped about laughing for ages. It was called “Twerk Pong” but I’ve made my own version called ‘Wriggle Bottom’!

Get a leftover small box, a bit of ribbon or string and some wrapping paper scrunched into five balls. Thread the string or ribbon through one side of the box as shown and tie it to your little one’s back. Pop the five ‘balls’ inside. Now they have to jump up and down and wiggle their little bottoms as much as they can until all of the balls jump out. We made it competitive and music always helps! The perfect way to tire them out so you can do what we all really want to do at this time of year…stick the telly on and eat leftovers.

So I hope that might give you a few ideas to try and as always, I’m sure will turn into fun of your own invention. Before I throw stuff out I often ask myself if we could make use of it for a game or would the kids like to use it in a different way. It’s amazing how much crap that seems like rubbish can actually turn into five minutes of fun! Plus the best bit is, the tidying up is just popping it all straight into the recycling, and that in my eyes is a massive WIN!

And finally, before I go don’t forget to save all those little cracker toys and bits and bobs for the TAT box or TAT bag. Keep them hidden away for a rainy day to give you five minutes peace, or pop them in a zip up bag to pull out in cafes and restaurants to keep them occupied while you wait for your food. There’s nothing like a bit of plastic tat to keep them busy for five minutes! 😉

So a HAPPY NEW YEAR to you all. I will be BACK in 2019 with LOTS more five minute fun. I’m always on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter if you want to follow along in between the blogs.

14 November 2023

Christmas Refuge Appeal 2023

It's BACK for 2023 - The easiest way ever to support families who are fleeing domestic abuse…

Read More

20 April 2023

My first book for the KIDS! Starting School - out June 2023

A little intro to my first ever children's book written to help kids with preparing to start…

Read More

23 March 2022

Third Book - On The Go - finally published!

The third book, On The Go, filled with games, activities and tips for being out and about with…

Read More