Deck the halls with joy: 14 Christmas activities for kids

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As soon as Thanksgiving is over, the Christmas season officially begins. It is a magical time of year and the kids can hardly hold in their excitement. Why not tap into that excitement and have some fun as a family?

Two children in santa hats making gingerbread cookies.
Photo credit: Yayimages.

From making ornaments and baking festive treats to looking at Christmas lights and going sledding, these activities are designed to tap into the spirit of the season and create lasting memories. So, gather your family, put on your festive sweaters and read on to learn how to make this Christmas season truly memorable for the kids in your life.

Outdoor activities

Even though it is cold in most parts of the country, you can still enjoy the outdoors with your kids. Put on your coats and boots and get outside.

Ice skating

Ice skating isn’t just for Christmastime, many ice skating rinks open for the winter during the Christmas season. If you are not sure if an ice rink is nearby, search online for ice rinks in your area.

Go sledding

A man is pulling a child on a sled down a snowy path.
Photo credit: Yayimages.

If it snows in the month leading up to Christmas, go sledding nearby or head to the mountains if you can. Warm up after with a bonfire and hot cocoa.  

Look at Christmas lights

Depending on how early people in your area put up their lights, this activity can be done multiple times with a different route each time. Bundle up and pack some fun food and drinks like pizza, candy, popcorn or hot cocoa. You can even give your kids specific things to look for such as Santa, blue lights or snowmen.

Deliver holiday treats

After making holiday treats, take the kids with you to deliver them. Call or text in advance so people know to expect you. Make it a special outing by staying to visit for a few minutes at each house. 

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Indoor activities

Because the weather is usually colder, most Christmas activities happen inside. Stay warm and cozy by choosing a few of these to do this holiday season.

Bake and decorate sugar cookies

Bake sugar cookies in Christmas shapes and let the kids help you decorate them. The cookies may not be as pretty as when you make them, but the children will probably have a lot of fun helping. Have them choose a few to add to Christmas cookie trays to give away.

Decorate gingerbread houses

Buy premade gingerbread houses or construct your own to decorate. Decorate with small candies like M&M’s, gumdrops and peppermints. Place the house on a cookie sheet or large piece of cardboard to create a whole scene.

Make ornaments

Make ornaments with odds and ends you have around the house or make a special trip to the craft store to gather supplies like fillable clear ornaments. The kids can add small decorations like sequins, pompoms or beads. Hang the ornaments on your own tree or wrap them up and give them as a gift to grandparents or other family members.

“As a family, we like to make our own Christmas decorations. Our girls, now aged 5 and 7, look forward to this all year. We make different Christmas tree decorations such as pine cones covered with glitter or painted salt dough ornaments. We use the Cricut machine to make window cling decals or custom Christmas mugs. We even have a heat press machine for making family Christmas t-shirts! All these things help build up the hype for Christmas and it’s lots of fun unpacking it again the next year and remembering what we’ve done previously.”

— Naomi Morris, Our Kiwi Homeschool

Shop for ornaments

A little girl looking at christmas ornaments in a store.
Photo credit: Yayimages.

Take your kids shopping and let them choose an ornament. Make it more meaningful by having your children tell you why they chose their ornaments. Write their initials and year on the bottom or the back and they will have a whole collection of ornaments for their own trees when they move out someday.

Watch Christmas movies

Put on some cozy pajamas, snuggle up and watch Christmas movies like “Rudolph” or “Polar Express.” Pop some popcorn or enjoy some festive snack mix while watching. Make hot cocoa topped with marshmallows and a candy cane for a festive touch.

Read Christmas bedtime stories

Switch up the bedtime routine and read Christmas stories before bed. If you don’t have any of your own, go to the library to check out some festive books. You can also look for books to listen to on YouTube.

Attend a performance of “The Nutcracker”

Have everyone dress up in their nicest clothes and go see “The Nutcracker” ballet. Make it a whole outing by going to dinner or dessert as well. Search online for performances in your area.

Advent calendar

Two children playing with a festive advent calendar.
Photo credit: YayImages.

Make or buy an advent calendar for your children to open each day leading up to Christmas. Some come with candy or toys inside, while others are empty and ready for you to fill. Pick a time for your children to open them each day as they count down the days until Christmas. 

“Our family starts off the holiday season by making a simple paper advent chain to count down the days until Christmas. In each ring we put a family Christmas activity, like going ice skating, baking Christmas cookies or having a Christmas music dance party. We mix up the rings before creating the paper chain so that each day is a surprise! It’s such a simple activity, but it’s become one of our very favorite traditions.”

— Siobhán Alvarez-Borland,


Decorate for Christmas together. Have the children help decorate the tree as well as the living room and any other areas of the house that you want to be festive. Little ones can hang ornaments on the lower branches and put up unbreakable decorations, while older children can hang ornaments higher in the tree and help put up decorations on the windows and doors. 

“Elf on the Shelf”

Purchase an official “Elf on the Shelf” or buy another elf to use for the same purpose. “The Elf on the Shelf” can start visiting as early or as late in the season as you choose. After the kids go to bed each night, move the elf to a new place in the house for the kids to find in the morning. Your elf can be mischievous or not, it’s up to you. heck out these free printable elf on the shelf notes.

Final thoughts

As the holiday season approaches, it’s important to remember that it isn’t important what you do to celebrate, but that you spend time together and make memories. Grab a cup of hot cocoa, cozy up in a blanket and plan your Christmas fun as a family.

Heidi is a Certified Elementary School Teacher in the Inland Northwest and has been teaching for 17 years. She is also a vintage recipe blogger at Real Life of Lulu, where she focuses on recipes that are at least 50 years old, many from her grandparents’ kitchens. When she isn’t teaching or baking, she loves spending time with her husband and three kids.

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