I feel the need to preface this blog post with a bit of a disclaimer. Please, please, please do NOT look at this list as a “to do” list for the holiday season. There are over 75 Christmas Activities for Kids listed here that will help embrace the joy and magic of the season.
Before you go further though, I want you to promise me that you’ll just pick your favorites. Or give your kids some choices and have them vote on their favorites. Christmas isn’t fun, joyful, or magical when it’s filled with the stress of an overloaded schedule!
Welcome to the 5th annual 12 Days of Holiday Ideas event, hosted by Shirley of Intelligent Domestications and Erlene of My Pinterventures.
Between November 11th and December 6th, there will be hundreds of new ideas shared by over 55 co-host bloggers.
You’ll find the kickoff collection of 50+ Holiday Ideas as well as all of this year’s talented participating DIY and foodie blogs here.
Download this year’s November and December calendars with all of the topics and dates coming up!
We are hosting a BIG GIVEAWAY from our sponsors this year. Be sure to scroll all the way down for more information and to enter to win!
75+ Christmas Activities for Kids
Advent book countdown – Gather up all of your Christmas storybooks. Wrap them up (we use newspaper or other paper we have on hand that we can recycle) making sure you have enough to get you from the beginning of your countdown until Christmas (we actually go right until Epiphany). Read one book each day.
Create a bed of straw for Baby Jesus. We would write down each good deed we did on a slip of paper and add it to his bed with the goal of having it nice and full by Christmas Eve.
If you set up a Nativity scene in your home, don’t put all of the figures in it right away. Have Mary, Joseph, and the Wise Men make their way there gradually, traveling throughout the house.
Get an Advent calendar. You can find ones where you open the little doors to reveal a picture each day, add ornaments to a tree, or of course, open them up to find a piece of chocolate every day. However you do it, counting down the days until Christmas is a lot of fun!
Set up an Advent wreath and light the candles each Sunday of Advent.
DO SOMETHING FOR OTHERS
On St. Nicholas Eve (December 5), one of Santa’s elves comes to our house to pick up our letters to Santa and the items in our Santa sack. The kids clear out their old toys and books so that Santa can fix them up in his workshop and pass them along to some other children.
Make holiday cards and goodies to take to your neighbor’s houses.
Make holiday cards and “tray favors” – a Christmas ornament or other small item that could be placed on hospital trays to brighten up Christmas for someone stuck in the hospital over the holidays.
Ask a nursing home for permission to come and sing carols for the residents.
Choose an angel from the angel tree and go shopping for them. We always pick one named Jessica in honor of my niece who died as a baby.
Volunteer as a family at the food bank or soup kitchen.
Write cheery letters to military personnel stationed away from home for the holidays.
Find a neighbor in need of some help. Perhaps you could shovel their driveway, help put up their Christmas lights, or wrap gifts for them. I know one family who chooses another family going through a tough time each year to bless with an anonymous donation of $100. The kids can make cards or decorations for them.
Every day, choose one of the Christmas cards you’ve received and as a family, say a prayer for the person(s) who sent it.
Remember the animals who are trying to survive the winter. Make some pinecone bird feeders and other items for them. We always decorated one of our backyard trees on Boxing Day with items for the animals.
Create a Nativity tray on Christmas Eve. This is the tradition of putting out things like hats, scarves, mittens for anyone who might pass by your home and be in need. You could add edible items as well but in my area, these would be claimed by the animals.
Record the kids singing and send to faraway friends or family members
Write or record thank yous for gifts received
Don’t forget the pets! They deserve some holiday treats (how about their own stockings?) too!
Go for a walk or drive to see the Christmas lights around town.
Go to a tree lighting ceremony in your city or a nearby town.
Find a living Nativity scene to visit. One year, we found an outdoor production called Bethlehem Live that included not only a Nativity scene, but a whole interactive village leading to it.
Head to a Christmas tree farm to choose and cut down your own tree.
Look for a local venue where the kids can see real reindeer.
Go to a small town Christmas parade. We have some near us that are held in the evenings. The lights make them extra magical. There’s even one at the lake that’s a parade of boats.
Go caroling from house to house. You could even invite friends and family to join you.
Pick a traditional outing that you do together each year. It can be as simple as going to see a Christmas movie every Boxing Day or spending the afternoon of December 23rd ice skating and drinking hot chocolate.
Put together a Christmas Eve box. Ours has new holiday pajamas for the whole family in it as well as the books we read every Christmas Eve (T’was the Night Before Christmas and Santa’s Favorite Story), the movie we watch (Muppet’s Christmas Carol so we can sing “Only One More Sleep Til Christmas”), and sometimes a special treat like hot cocoa mix, popcorn, or other goodies.
Let the kids choose their favorite stuffed toys to place around the Christmas tree as a sort of welcoming committee for Santa.
Put out treats for Santa and the reindeer. You can go with the classics like cookies and milk or choose something different. We even include miniature cookies for the elves.
Sprinkle reindeer feed out in the yard.
Start a jigsaw puzzle (bonus points if it’s Christmas themed) – a really big one that will take some time to complete. Set a goal of having it finished by Epiphany. (PS – this is one great way to keep the kids busy during the Christmas holidays)
When I was little (and then when my daughter was), we would put our dolls under the Christmas tree and Santa would dress each of them in new clothing every year.
Santa can leave behind some magical snowy footprints (they don’t melt!) when he visits with the help of some flour or baking soda.
Santa could even make a brief visit on Christmas Eve.
Act out the Christmas story. If you’re not particularly religious, you could even choose a different story instead.
Have a special plate and mug just for Santa on Christmas Eve.
Have holiday shaped pancakes for breakfast on Christmas Day. OR make it really easy and have them for Christmas Eve breakfast and do something super simple on the 25th.
Open Christmas crackers during dinner.
In our house, Santa uses special wrapping paper (with himself on it!) for the gifts he gives.
OTHER FUN HOLIDAY ACTIVITIES
Visit Santa. You can go the typical route by finding him at the mall or look for a more unique location. We take a train ride out to a small old train station where Santa greets us.
Take a new family photo each Christmas. Try to take it in the same spot each year or with the same prop in it each year so you can see how much the kids have grown.
Wear Santa hats when going out as family
Bake cookies together
Make a gingerbread house
Get Christmas aprons for everyone in the family to wear when working on fun kitchen projects
Declare one day Ugly Christmas Sweater Day. You don’t have to go out and buy new sweaters each year – grab some craft supplies and turn an old one into a Christmas extravaganza.
Go see a production of the Nutcracker ballet. We’ve done this nearly every year and even started a Nutcracker collection because of it.
Tie jingle bells onto your shoelaces.
Put red and green shoelaces into your shoes.
Give each child in the family a special Christmas job. You can rotate these or draw for them each year. Think of things like who gets to put the star on the tree, who gets to turn on the lights, etc.
Come up with some sort of tree decorating tradition – certain music you always listen to, special treats you always serve, etc. T
Incorporate old-fashioned holiday decorations into your decor – Paper chains, popcorn stringing, cranberry stringing, etc
Spend a day with each person making every other family member a homemade ornament
Pick out new Christmas books at the store or library
Elf on shelf – if you don’t want all the work of a traditional elf on the shelf, when I was little and then with my daughter, we had an elf that simply moved around the house throughout the holiday season. It was like a fun game of hide and seek to locate it each day.
Make your own wrapping paper together
Challenge everyone in the family to make or buy something small for each person’s stockings. Or draw names and have each person responsible for filling another’s stocking.
Make beeswax candles or tealight holders in honor of St. Ambrose Day on December 7th
Learn a little bit about Hanukkah and spend an evening playing Dreidel
MAKE IT REALLY MEANINGFUL
Give everyone or let them pick out a new ornament each year that has some special meaning for that year – a pair of skates because you learned to skate or a Mickey Mouse because you took a family vacation to Disney World.
Start a scrapbook of memories of Christmases gone by. Add photos, drawings, recipes, journal entries. The whole family will love looking back on this each year.
Tell kids about Christmas when you were little
Have a sleepover under the lights of the Christmas tree. Everyone can pile into the living room with sleeping bags and pillows and enjoy a special evening together!
Choose Secret Santas within your family. Each person can perform special tasks and give little treats to their assigned person throughout the holiday season.
Save Santa letters from years past and keep them in a special box that everyone decorates together.
Attend a church service or Christmas concert
Make a wish – use the wishbone from the holiday turkey, blow out candles, or go outside and wish on the stars. A recent movie talks about a snow globe – you shake it and make a wish. You could pick out a snow globe for your family to use!
Put a cardinal decoration in your Christmas tree as a reminder of loved ones no longer with you
EVEN MORE WAYS TO ADD FUN TO YOUR HOLIDAY SEASON
Get special Christmas mugs for everyone to use throughout the season.
We all have Christmas quilts too. We make our beds with them on December 1st and use them until Epiphany.
Wear Christmas socks.
Have a holiday movie marathon. This is a great way to take a break from the hustle and bustle and just have some downtime as a family.
Make snow angels.
Build a snowman.
No snow? Challenge everyone to pair up and make indoor snowmen instead!
Write letters to Santa – yes, even the adults.
Call Santa. It’s such fun to hear his voice!
Listen to a recording of barking dogs singing Jingle Bells
Assign a “guardian elf” to each child. This is like a combination of Santa’s elves and guardian angels. My daughter loved writing letters to her elf. (He wrote back too!)
Let the kids put Christmas décor in their rooms too
Put on Christmas music in the car
Every time you see a red light in the sky, speculate as to whether Rudolph is out for a trial run.
KEEP THE MAGIC GOING
There can be such a letdown after Christmas. So, instead of ending all the festivities abruptly, think about observing the 12 Days of Christmas Day until Epiphany. It doesn’t have to be complicated or involve more gifts, but you could think of some little fun tradition for each day.
Think about giving your family some gifts of experience for Christmas that they can make use of during the 12 Days of Christmas – a little vacation (just going to a hotel with an indoor pool would be a highlight for my daughter during the winter), ski lessons, etc.
Come up with funny new verses for 12 days of Christmas
Have an Epiphany party with King’s Cake and homemade crowns.
Plan a way to say goodbye to the tree. If you have a natural tree, I know some people who cut off a portion to use as next year’s Yule log. Some decorate what remains with food for the birds and place it in the back corner of their yards. If you have an artificial tree, you could come up with some ritual for packing it away – perhaps you order Chinese food and undecorate the tree!
Looking for more great ideas of things to do with the kids this holiday season? Check these out:
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