Christmas is a magical time of year for all. Children delight in dreaming of Santa, adults enjoy quality time with their families and good food, and everyone is cheery. Beautiful decorations cover houses and streets, Christmas trees are visible in many windows, and classic Christmas specials are available to stream.
If you want to make this December extra special, start the Christmas festivities on day one. We've got an activity for you and your family to do together every day leading up to Christmas. By doing all of these activities together, your family will make wonderful memories that will last everyone a lifetime.
Or, perhaps this list will inspire you to come up with your own ideas! There are so many ways to spread holiday cheer. Perhaps you'll choose to have the whole family do some volunteer work, or you'll elect to take a trip up to a Christmas farm to enjoy their festivities. Regardless of what you decide to do, the important thing is that your whole family is having fun and spending quality time together. Your kids won't be little forever, so take advantage of the time that they are.
Make or buy an Advent Calendar. Open a new window each night until Christmas.
An easy Advent Calendar to make is the simple paper chain calendar. Simply attach red and green paper links to each other then number them 1 through 25.
Have your child undo a link each night until the last link is left on Christmas morning.
Watch A Christmas Carol.
Choose an age appropriate version for your family. Younger kids love The Muppet Christmas Carol, while older children can appreciate George C. Scott as Ebenezer.
For adults, Scrooged with Bill Murray is a comedic twist on the Dickens tale that includes plenty of tear-inducing scenes.
It's the perfect time for munching old fashioned homemade buttered popcorn, while curled under cozy blankets to chase off winter's chill.
Send Christmas Cards.
This is the time of year to reconnect with those you care about, especially long-distance friends and relatives.
Get everyone to help, from writing notes inside and signing the cards to putting the stamps on the envelopes. You'll beat the mailing frenzy at the post office by getting your cards out early, while letting someone know they're being thought of at Christmas.
Decorate a Gingerbread House.
You can bake the gingerbread house from scratch using a template, or you can buy a pre-baked kit at most discount stores.
Another alternative is to use graham crackers for the walls, attached to an empty pint container of milk or cream. The milk carton provides stability for the graham crackers to be stuck on with frosting.
Decorate using a variety of icing colors, hard candies, licorice, and other colorful confections.
Decorate a Christmas Tree.
If you haven't already decorated your Christmas tree, go ahead and decorate it! If you have done it, or are waiting until later in the month, get a small tree to decorate for each child's room.
Craft and discount stores sell small trees that fit onto a dresser or nightstand perfectly. Let each child decorate their own tree with popcorn strings, tinsel, homemade ornaments, or dollar store decorations and lights.
Let the tree be a nightlight in their room throughout the Christmas season. Even the older kids will love falling asleep to the twinkling of Christmas lights in the dark.
See the Nutcracker Ballet.
If have a production of this magical holiday event near you, try to get out to see it live.
If you aren't able to attend a live performance, the next best thing is to watch the George Balanchine Nutcracker on DVD or on a streaming service.
Watch while munching an assortment of sweet and salty nuts, including good old-fashioned nuts in their shells that need opening with a nutcracker of some sort.
Make Homemade Hot Cocoa.
Combine 1 cup sugar, 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Mix well.
Warm 8 ounces of milk for each cup of hot cocoa. Add 2 Tablespoons of the mix into each cup of milk (3 Tablespoons if you like your cocoa extra chocolatey).
Top with large marshmallows or whipped cream sprinkled with cocoa powder.
Celebrate Christmas Past.
Get out the photos of Christmases past. Everything from the olden days when Mom & Dad were little, to the recent years when the kids were a bit smaller.
Watch the previous Christmas celebrations that you recorded with your phone, taking time to celebrate what has passed and what the future holds.
Start a memory box with a short note from each family member with their Christmas Wish for the coming year. As each year goes by, open the box to share the wishes of the year before.
Watch Classic Christmas Shows.
Some Christmas specials have remained favorites year after year, with both adults and kids alike.
Get a DVD with one or more of the classics – Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, The Little Drummer Boy and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Popcorn, Christmas cookies, and a toasty fire are bonuses.
Have a Christmas Craft Night.
Gather everyone around the kitchen table and get crafty! From simple holiday crafts to detailed homemade gifts, make it a night to bring out the creative elf in yourselves.
For younger children, the footprint reindeer is a way to record their growth over the years. Older kids can make thoughtful gifts for other family members, helping them to understand that Christmas gifts from the heart are among the favorites every year.
Bake Gingerbread Men.
Gingerbread men are not only tasty cookies, but they're fun to decorate. Much like gingerbread houses, you can get as creative as you like.
Use this Gingerbread Cookie Recipe, allowing enough time for the dough to set, then cool after baking.
Get all your decorating supplies ready while you're waiting so you can jump right into decorating when the cookies are cooled.
Bake Christmas Cookies.
Christmas cookies are a must-have at Christmas. Beyond traditional gingerbread men, there are cookies that just say “it's Christmas” when they appear in the cookie jar.
For family favorites, choose from the Cookie Recipes section. For special seasonal cookies, try a few from the Christmas Cookies collection. Recipes from our writers' own families and friends are included in Recipe Box Christmas Cookies.
Keep some for your family and share with friends and neighbors. They'll appreciate the holiday treat.
Make Paper Snowflakes.
We all may be dreaming of a white Christmas, but sometimes nature and geography don't cooperate. Paper snowflakes can help add the white stuff to your holiday decor.
You can dress your snowflakes up with glitter, sparkly jewels, or young artist's creative embellishments. Create a snowstorm for a window or make just a few to add a homespun feel to your Christmas tree.
Get directions here : Paper Snowflakes
Spy Christmas Pictures and Riddles.
After two days of baking in the kitchen, it's time for curling up with a book. The I Spy Christmas book is a fun way for kids and parents to read together while searching for Christmas items.
If you can't get the book from a local store or library, choose another Christmas-themed book to read aloud. Choose an easy book for younger children or a short chapter book for older kids.
Have a Game Night.
For Christmas-themed games, use these Christmas Party Games ideas, which can easily be scaled for a family night instead of a large group.
You can also bring out the board games that haven't been played in a while. Playing nice is a great example of Christmas spirit.
Make Christmas Fudge.
Fudge is a true Christmas confection, smooth and creamy goodness stirred in a pot on the stove in the heart of the home: the kitchen.
Get everyone involved in picking out the recipe. With all the different flavors in our fudge recipes section, you won't have a problem choosing one for your crew.
Make extra to wrap and give as gifts, to send back to school with the college kids, and to share with guests during the holidays.
Watch A Charlie Brown Christmas.
As you watch this Christmas classic, reflect on this quote from the movie:
Linus Van Pelt: “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not: for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.‘
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.'”
[Linus picks up his blanket and walks back towards Charlie Brown]
Linus Van Pelt: That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.
Christmas Light Drive.
Pile everyone in the car and drive through your local neighborhoods admiring houses dressed in their Christmas finery.
If it's cold out, bring blankets and pillows to make the car even cozier. Take votes and choose your favorite light show among them all.
Make Homemade Cinnamon Rolls.
Cinnamon rolls are a Christmas morning favorite, but it's sometimes hard to fit mixing, rising (if using yeast) and baking into an already busy day.
Use today to slow down and enjoy the smell of cinnamon wafting through the house as the rolls bake to perfection. Get the recipes for both types (with and without yeast) from our Cinnamon Rolls Recipe.
Have a delightful family breakfast with your cinnamon rolls warm from the oven.
Make Christmas Trees for Birds.
Feed the birds with these easy homemade bird feeders. Take pine cones and coat well in creamy peanut butter.
Once each pine cone is covered, roll it in bird seed to thickly coat the peanut butter. Tie a brightly colored ribbon tightly around the top part of the cone, forming a loop.
Hang the pine cone bird feeder from a tree and share your Christmas blessings with the birds, who can use extra help during the winter months.
Make Pet Treats.
Remember your loyal pets at Christmas by making homemade treats for them. For cat treats, combine 1/2 cup dry cat food with 1/4 cup warm milk. Sprinkle 3 Tablespoons catnip over the mixture and mix well. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Cool and place in a decorated baggie for giving.
For dog treats, combine 4 cups whole wheat flour, 2 cups oatmeal, 3/4 cup peanut butter, and 2 1/2 to 3 cups hot water (add additional water if dough is sticky). Knead well and roll out to 1/4″. Cut out into bone shapes. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray, place treats about 1 1/2″ apart, and and bake at 350 F for 40 minutes. Let set for about 2 hours until completely cool.
Help younger children wrap gifts to other family members or teachers. Older kids can choose their favorite wrapping paper and get their gifts wrapped.
If the kids want to get creative, break out crayons, markers, glue sticks, and glitter. Have them decorate plain brown craft paper, then wrap gifts with their one-of-a-kind Christmas wrap.
Read Christmas Stories.
Snuggle with everyone on the couch to read Christmas stories. Picture books are perfect for tonight, no matter what age the children are. Christmas picture books have beautiful illustrations to add to the experience.
A few favorites are: The Polar Express, Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, and ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (the pop-up version is beautiful).
Go to Christmas Eve Service.
If you belong to a church that has services Christmas Eve, go there. If you don't belong to a church or your church doesn't have Christmas Eve services, attend a church that does for that night. Most churches welcome guests any time and will enjoy your presence on Christmas Eve.
After church, take time to talk about the meaning of Christmas.
Tuck everyone into bed in fresh, warm pajamas, dreaming of sugar plums and what awaits them in the morning.
We wish you and yours a very
Happy New Year!
The image featured at the top of this post is ©phBodrova/Shutterstock.com.