Blogger School-Age Programs and Service Committee

Passive Programming in December

A printed booklet with activities titled "The Very Merry Manual"

Like many other libraries, during the pandemic, our in-person programming was replaced with grab-and go style bagged activities. After several months and hundreds of bags, we decided December was a good time for a bag break! This month, we are celebrating the holiday season with simple passive programs that still feel special and fun. You can adapt many of these programs for any season. We hope some of these ideas will help ease your holiday stress!

The Very Merry manual 

Our biggest change in December was replacing our bagged programs with The Very Merry Manual. The Manual is a big booklet of festive activities for families to take home and enjoy together. In previous months, we had two programs called “Pages & Paints” (a grab-and-go art project with needed supplies in the bag) and “STEM Lab” (a STEM project with needed supplies in the bag). This month, we included both programs in The Very Merry Manual; the booklet includes three art projects and three STEM projects with easy instructions and simple supplies that families will already have at home. We also included a holiday-themed reading list, coloring pages, and descriptions of party games to try this season. We had an Instagram livestream demonstrating an art project in the Manual so that families could tune in and paint along.

Scavenger Hunt

Image of a worksheet with holiday images and boxes to check when they are found.

Both our 2020 and 2021 Summer Reading programs were greatly modified. One of the activities we incorporated was a scavenger hunt in the children’s department. Once we had our format down, we were able to easily modify it for October, November, and December. To make our scavenger hunt, we printed small-themed pictures (animals for Tales and Tails, monsters for Halloween, etc.) and put them in shelf-talkers hidden around the children’s department. Then kids could take their scavenger hunt sheet and try to find all the pictures to receive a small prize. This has become a fun way to highlight different sections of the department, and our young guests have begun to look forward to it with each new season.

A table filled with decorative scissors, markers, paper, and glue to make holiday cards

Holiday card-making station

This was an easy station to set up on one of our activity tables in the children’s department: we pulled out our stash of papers, colored pencils, glue sticks, markers, and patterned scissors, and made a sign encouraging kiddos who visit our library to create their own holiday card for someone special.

A table with the book "Gingerbread Baby," a sign encouraging people to decorate paper gingerbread men.

Gingerbread Man Contest

The Gingerbread Man Contest is an annual favorite from one of our branches that we’ve expanded to our entire system. Children can pick up a gingerbread man template to decorate as a book character. We display the entries and guests select their favorite. Winners will receive their own gingerbread house kit!

Winter themed books paired with DVDs and popcorn wrapped in a ribbon.

Book Bundles

Book Bundles were a popular part of our Summer Reading program that we’ve recycled for the holiday season. Families can check out a holiday book bundle containing three picture books, a family-friendly holiday movie, a bag of popcorn, and a pouch of hot chocolate. These are an easy way for families to have a festive movie and story night that’s ready to enjoy!

Holiday Book Giveaway

On December 18th, we had a Holiday Book Giveaway where families could pick up a gift-wrapped picture book to enjoy together. We purchased books through Scholastic Literacy Partners at a reasonable cost. We also gave out candy canes and had a socially distanced visit with Santa! It was an easy way to have quick, positive interactions with our library families.

We created many of the materials for these programs with Canva: please feel free to contact us if you’d like access to these files to use at your library!

This blog post was written by Aimee Haslam on behalf of the School-Age Programs and Services Committee. Aimee Haslam is the Youth Services Coordinator at Washington County Public Library in Abingdon, VA.

This blog post addresses the following ALSC Core Competency: Programming Skills


  1. Glenda Mahuron

    I would love access to the files used for these programs. I love the idea of the Gingerbread Man contest. Thank you!!

  2. Maggie B

    I would also love access to the files for these, they look great!

  3. Pamela Gonzales

    Please send me access to your files.

  4. Benjamin Newman

    I would love to have access to the documents you created for your winter programs for your library. I work for the Washoe County Library system in Reno, Nevada.

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