The holiday season is upon us. You have a million things to do. Something you don't need is a squadron of whippersnappers under foot. The solution to this vexation is to give them something to do. An occupied kidling is one less item on your plate. 


Let's be realistic here. They will probably want to be on their phones or tablets. Okay, so use that to your advantage. Be sneaky. Remember, filling their time is the goal. 


For instance, send them to Dictionary Scoop for nine of the hardest tongue twisters in the English language. “Since time immemorial, tongue twisters have been a favorite children’s game . After all, what’s cheaper and easier than to keep kids entertained with just a few funny words that are meant to be repeated again and again?” 


Challenge them to remember one or more of these. For starters: “Pad kid poured curd pulled cod.” How difficult is this? “According to a team of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, this is the hardest English tongue twister in the world.” Eight more toughies at:


Less mind-boggling but also fun to look up could be something on Interesting Facts: “Adorable Baby Animal Names You Should Know.” They may guess that since monkeys, apes, and human beings are primates all of their babies are called infants. They may not know that a baby porcupine is a porcupette and a baby swan is a cygnet. “A puggle can be a dog that’s a mix of a pug and a beagle, but it can be a baby platypus, too.” More at:


Also on Interesting Facts is something that could benefit everyone at the kid's table during meals: “Six Table Etiquette Tips You Might Not Know.” The kidlings might not realize that holding a fork in your right hand is an American thing. “The American method of using eating utensils is often very different from the European, method. The European style is to hold the fork in your left hand with the tines facing down. The knife is held in the right hand. The index finger of each hand is extended along the utensil. Meanwhile, the American method often sees the fork being transferred from one hand while cutting food to the other while eating.” Both styles are totally acceptable even though they are different. (


If you want to get the younglings off their devices, perhaps giving them a task to perform might be the ticket. Assign them to do something that benefits every guest in your home this holiday season. “Nothing is better than feeling a sense of accomplishment after scrubbing your home from top to bottom. But there are spots in every home that are often neglected during a cleaning session. Once you know about these ten dirtiest spots in your home, you’ll find them easy to take care of.” 


Some of these would be too difficult for a nipper, like replacing the garbage disposal gasket or moving the stove to clean behind it. However, other items on the list are doable, like scrubbing toothbrush holders or swapping dirty kitchen sponges for new ones. Check out the job list at:


If the youngsters need a rest after all the cleaning is done, watching cat videos on YouTube is always popular. Ah, but there is one of these from Oregon that has a cool twist that sets it apart. “Libraries provide more to their communities than books. Lately, Eugene Public Library patrons have been checking out things like cake pans, board games, even a sewing machine. You can even check out a cat from the library. It’s not a real cat. It’s a robot cat. But it’s fluffy and it purrs.”


This might seem odd, but the robot cats serve a purpose. “The cats are black and white with green eyes. They’re typically for folks who maybe are suffering memory loss or maybe just are living alone and kind of lonely. The goal is for them to be able to brush it, have it sit on their lap, and talk to it as if it were a real cat.” See photos and a video at:


Finally, a Neff Zone tradition is a special holidays web page at: On the page are games, quizzes, crafts, and more family fun than a sleigh full of elves. One of the links is to a live stream from Santa's Reindeer Cam so you can see how Rudolph and his friends are getting ready for their big flight. 


Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at and