Before Christmas break with the kids, I’ve got all the ideas. Unfortunately, my toxic trait is forgetting to write them down — as I’m sure many of you can relate. December 19 comes and BOOM. I’m blank. What will I do with my family over Christmas break?!
So this year, I compiled a list to come back to. From fun festive activities to acts of service, there are plenty of Christmas activities for families to enjoy this year.
Related: Looking for more kid-specific activities to keep them occupied? – These are the best Christmas Activities for Kids.
Print the activity list below
Sub-categories for family Christmas activities
Since family activities on Christmas break can go in a few different directions, I broke the holiday ideas into five sub-categories.
- Family activities to do together
- Christmas activities for kids
- Christmas activities for adults
- Things to try on Christmas Eve
- Fun ideas for Christmas Day
The Best Toys for Kids
Choosing the best toy for kids can be a daunting task.
Here are the BEST toys for kids of every age and stage.
Family activities to do together on Christmas break
1. Donate clothing and toys to a shelter
The holidays are a time for giving and a time for “good will toward man.” So this family activity on Christmas break is a great way to do some good as a family unit. Everyone cleans out closets and living spaces — especially playrooms — bags everything up, and takes items to a local women’s and children’s shelter or a Goodwill. Bonus points if your child(ren) comes with you and helps with the donation hand-off. If you’re looking for specific shelters in your area that need toys this holiday season, check out the United Way’s website and click on the “Get Involved” tab to find shelters in your area that are taking donations. Another resource is greatnonprofits.org to find shelters and donation opportunities near you.
2. Holiday game night
Host a family game night, or invite friends and family over for these holiday games from The Military Wife Mom that will be fun for all ages. Whether you play holiday bingo, partake in a holiday scavenger hunt, or play a game of “pin the red nose on Rudolph,” holiday games are a fun and festive way to bond as a family and make memories.
If you enjoy board games, here are our favorite family board games.
3. Make cards for a children’s hospital
Take an afternoon, sit down together as a family, and make holiday cards together. Once complete, go together to the local children’s hospital and ask if you can deliver the cards to kids who may be stuck in the hospital over the holidays. If you can donate toys, that would be great, too.
4. Make gingerbread houses
A tried and true classic family activity on Christmas break is to build gingerbread houses together. Whether you’re into premade gingerbread pieces or want to make your own, this holiday activity is fun to spend a chilly afternoon together as a family. Suppose you’re not feeling the real gingerbread house making. In that case, you can set up this gingerbread holiday activity for your children to do instead, and you can pitch in to help as needed to ensure it’s a Christmas activity for the whole family.
5. Outdoor snow activities
If you’re fortunate enough to live in a region where you get snow, then sledding, snowball fights, and building a snowman are absolutely timeless winter activity ideas that will get everyone outdoors and moving their bodies, all while having a ton of fun. If you live in a state with no snow but still want to get into the snowman spirit, check out these snowman activities for those of us who have to bring snowman magic inside.
Related: For more winter activities for kids, check out my roundup!
Christmas Book List
We adore these Christmas books. It isn’t easy to pick a favorite!
6. Read holiday books
There’s nothing quite like curling up with the kids and reading them a good book. Throw in a holiday book and some Christmas jammies, and you’re all set for an awesome activity on Christmas break that you can do every night leading up to Christmas day. This list of holiday books is a personal favorite of mine, and my list of holiday books for preschoolers is also a great resource.
7. Take family photos
Shopping locally is a great way to show some holiday spirit in your community, and using a local photographer will surely help them earn some money for the holiday season. Find a photographer near you and schedule some family photos. Family photos are the gifts that keep on giving, as you can give framed photos to family members as gifts, use the photos for holiday cards, or even use them for decor around your home all year round.
Take a look at our small business gift guide for some new ideas.
8. Visit a Christmas tree farm
Visiting a Christmas tree farm is a great family Christmas activity and supports your local tree farmers simultaneously. Whether you are into “U-Cut” or picking out the tree in the lot, it’s fun to have the family involved in picking out the centerpiece for your holiday decor in your home. Don’t forget to donate your tree to local animal sanctuaries or use it as firewood for a New Year’s Eve bonfire.
Reading Pick a Pine Tree and creating a tree farm with wooden tracks is a fun way to extend what you just visited!
9. Visit a nursing home
Whether you’re just stopping by to visit and bring a handmade card, or if you want to “adopt” a grandparent at home, they’ll just be so happy you came. Reach out to your local senior centers and nursing homes and find out who may need a family to adopt them for the holidays.
10. Visit Santa Claus
For those who celebrate old St. Nick, visiting Santa Claus is always an excellent holiday tradition for the entire family. Your children get to tell “Santa’s helper” all they want for Christmas, and you get photographic evidence of holiday magic. Framed photos of this event also make for great DIY holiday decor and extended family gifts.
11. Volunteer at a food bank
Not everyone has the means for a holiday feast or a meal at all. Check for local food banks near you and donate non-perishable items from your pantry, or go and buy them at the store and bring them along. People in need will be thankful for your kind generosity and giving holiday spirit.
12. Zoo/botanic garden lights
Most major city zoos or botanic gardens offer a holiday lights tour. Check your local zoo and botanic gardens for their holiday festivities that will make beautiful holiday memories for your children.
40 Christmas Activities for Kids
Looking for a larger list of ideas. I put together 40 of my favorites.
Christmas activities for kids
It wouldn’t be Christmas without construction paper, glue, scissors, tape, paint, markers, and crayons all over the house for Christmas activities to do with your kids, plus all the wrapping paper and ribbons you need for gift wrapping. Tis’ the season for fun messes and homemade holiday decor made by your children.
13. Cardboard Christmas tree
This cardboard Christmas tree activity will absolutely keep your kids engaged for longer than five minutes — the eternal struggle. And you know there’s no shortage of boxes around the house before and after Christmas, so put them to good use by building and decorating your own Christmas tree.
14. Christmas activity with Little Blue Truck
If you’re looking for a festive hands-on learning activity, then check out this holiday math activity for kids. When working on this Christmas Activity with Little Blue Truck, make a hundreds chart, read Little Blue Truck’s Christmas, and see how many green pom pom “trees” can fit inside the back of a toy dump truck. Next, place each pom onto the numbers on the chart and count as you go.
15. Christmas sticker cups
This is a great way to keep track of everyone’s beverages throughout the day and a wonderful fine motor activity that’s the perfect Christmas activity for toddlers. You just need holiday and Christmas sticker packs, plastic cups, and a marker for older kids to write their names on the cups.
16. Easy dot sticker Christmas craft
Kids can make their wreaths and Christmas trees complete with ornaments when they get to create these easy dot sticker Christmas crafts from Fantastic Fun and Learning. All of this with minimal prep work from you. This would be a great Breakfast Invitation or just an activity for Christmas Eve or an activity for Christmas Day. All you need is construction paper, a marker, and dot stickers.
Christmas activities for adults
Who says adults can’t enjoy the holiday season as well? While they may not be making gingerbread or snowman crafts or decorating a paper Christmas tree, there are definitely Christmas activities for adults that will bring the warm and fuzzies during this cold winter season.
17. Donate money to local advocacy groups
The holidays are definitely a time for giving, so search for local advocacy groups and nonprofits in your area that are taking donations. Use greatnonprofits.org to find organizations to donate your money to that are close by. You can also use the United Way website and click on the “Get Involved” tab to find shelters.
18. Give yourself a festive manicure
Love a good manicure but want to stick to a budget this year? Give yourself a festive manicure at home. If you’re not artistic, you can purchase holiday press-on nails from Amazon, or you can just splurge on a bit of self-care and head to the salon.
19. Build an outdoor fire
Have older children that are young adults? How about neighbors you enjoy spending time with? Spend time together outside making smores and laughing over a toasty fire.
20. Sit around a fire with a festive beverage (or mocktail!)
Whether you have a fire pit outside or you have an actively working fireplace, there’s nothing quite like grabbing your partner or friends and warming your cold bones and bellies by sitting around a warm fire. Don’t forget your favorite holiday beverage!
21. Watch a Hallmark movie for a date night in
Whether you and your partner can stomach a Hallmark holiday movie or you need to watch something more palatable, like Love Actually or whatever kind of holiday movie you both enjoy (Die Hard?), snuggling up on the sofa with the Christmas tree twinkling, the fire roaring, and watching a holiday movie sounds like a perfect Christmas activity for adults. No mistletoe is required but highly encouraged.
Things to do on Christmas Eve
With the hustle and bustle of getting everything ready for the holly jolly man himself, if you’re still looking for quality time with your family on Christmas Eve, this list of Christmas Eve activities is a great place to start.
22. Bake cookies for Santa
Gather the family together in the kitchen and bake some homemade cookies from scratch — this list of more than 75 homemade holiday cookies from the Kids Activity Blog can definitely give you some holiday cookie inspo. Or, you can simply plop the premade dough squares onto baking sheets and call it a day. Either way, I believe “Santa” will really enjoy the midnight snack of milk and cookies as he fervently puts together the toys at 2 a.m. for the kids to wake up to on Christmas morning.
23. Drive around to look at holiday lights in your neighborhood
Put on your most festive and silly matching Christmas pajamas, pile into the car, and play holiday tunes while you drive all over the town looking at the beautiful holiday lights folks have put up for the season.
24. Go to church
If the reason for the season to you is religious, head to mass or service on Christmas Eve before heading home to tuck your sweet sugar plums into their beds.
25. Watch Miracle on 34th Street or The Santa Clause
It’s a must to watch a movie about Santa Claus on Christmas eve. It may even be the law of Christmas Eve. The kids will be giddy with excitement as they watch what will unfold in their own homes as they hopefully sleep through the night.
What can you do on Christmas Day?
Playing with new presents will obviously reign supreme as far as Christmas Day activities go, but if you have a little extra time, spread good cheer by helping a neighbor, showing gratitude, watching holiday movies on Christmas Day, and more.
26. Bring a meal to an elderly neighbor.
If you know one of your neighbors is alone for the holidays, an extremely kind and generous gesture would be to bring a meal or a tin of homemade cookies for them on Christmas Day. Bonus points if they invite you inside their home, and you spend some quality time with them. You’ll probably get some fascinating and entertaining stories in the process, and you’ll make someone’s holiday merry and bright.
27. Christmas movie marathon
It’s pretty much a given that TBS will be airing A Christmas Story for 24 hours beginning on Christmas Eve, and continuing through Christmas Day. Whether you opt to watch 24 straight hours of Ralphie and “the old man,” or choose your own holiday favorites, what better time to binge holiday movies than while everyone enjoys their presents?
28. Make a big family breakfast.
In the midst of wrapping paper, ribbons, and toys, take a break and have an excellent huge special breakfast on Christmas Day. You and your kids will need that extra energy boost for all the playing that will be going on. Bring the entire family in on the fun and have them help prep.
29. Make a hot chocolate charcuterie board.
Charcuterie boards are all the rage right now, whether traditional or “butter” in variety, and this hot chocolate charcuterie board idea from Kids Activities.com makes for a festive and delicious Christmas Day tradition.
30. Write thank you cards for family members.
After the flurry of opening gifts on Christmas morning, it would be kind and a good life lesson for kids to have them write a thank you card for Santa or write thank you cards for other family members who gave gifts to them.
Obviously, there are presents and delicious meals to be had. Still, if you’re looking for Christmas Day activities for the whole family, movie marathons, hot chocolate charcuterie boards, and even holiday crafts will make your Christmas Day memorable.
While some kids will be happy entertaining themselves on Christmas Day with their new toys — especially if you picked a few toys from this 100 best toys list — as long as you stay engaged and have fun, you and your family will be entertained. Having a holiday movie marathon wouldn’t hurt, either.
If you have the blessing of not having to travel on Christmas Day and get to spend Christmas alone with your family, enjoying holiday activities, enjoying presents, and playing outside if you live in a region that has a white Christmas are excellent ways to spend Christmas Day alone with your family.