These free, drop-in art classes will solve all your post-holiday problems

You know it’s coming: That dreaded week before New Year’s when the kids are hopped up on candy canes, they’ve already broken at least one of their new toys, and it’s way too cold to even think about going outside. But this year, instead of giving into the stir-crazy, why not head to our world-famous Art Institute of Chicago for a little art therapy of the holiday persuasion?

If you go

Holly Days

10:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Dec. 27-30


Ryan Education Center, Art Institute of Chicago, 159 E. Monroe, Chicago

Holly Days is the Art Institute’s annual solution to the post-holiday blues. The drop-in art-making classes, designed especially for families, invite kids to create dioramas of their favorite family holiday traditions, whether trimming the tree or spinning the dreidel (or some more creative possibilities). The 3×3-inch shadow boxes are perfect for family collaboration–especially if grownup fingers aren’t quite as dexterous as they used to be.

“[The diorama] can be realistic, or it can be more symbolic,” says Susan Kuliak, associate director of family programming. “When we design these projects, we want them to be something that’s individual to each family.”

Have a kid who’s not so creatively minded? Before dropping into the free program, be sure to visit the museum’s elaborate Neopolitan crèche, which features more than 200 figures and is only on view for a few weeks a year, or the famous Thorne Miniature Rooms, specially spruced up for the holiday season. Museum staff will also be on hand during Holly Days with ideas and tips, as well as detailed photographs of the holiday-themed exhibitions.

“Families can make the museum their own through these interactive experiences,” Kuliak says. “It’s creating a holiday tradition they can keep from year to year.”

And even if what you make together isn’t quite fit for display in the Modern Wing, you can still be happy that you had some quality time together as a family–and kicked your post-holiday woes straight to the Michigan Avenue curb.

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