Looking to start some simple yet heartwarming Christmas traditions with your children? These kid-friendly indoor and outdoor activities for all ages will help your family bond over the holidays — without breaking the bank. Also, print our Christmas Fun Checklist full of even more holiday activities!
Holiday Light Tour
There's bound to be a Clark Griswold wanna-be in your neck of the woods! Pile the kids in the car, put on some Christmas tunes, and drive around to homes or neighborhoods known for their over-the-top Christmas lights displays.
Everybody loves a festive wreath! Take the kids outside for a quick winter walk to gather evergreen branches and pine cones, trim some from the bottom of your Christmas tree or just buy some at the store. Attach your greens to a foam or wire ring (a bent metal coat hanger works well) and allow the kids to decorate it with ornaments and bows. Or make this preschooler-friendly paper wreath featuring tracings of your child's cute little hands.
Spending an afternoon or evening watching Christmas movies is a must! (You could also spread out your movie marathon over the course of a week.) Let each family member choose a favorite holiday flick to watch with the family.
If you're headed to the movies instead of to your couch, check out our list of family movies coming out this holiday season.
Have some leftover popcorn from your movie night? Upcycle it! Make some homemade garlands for your family's Christmas tree, doorways, or mantle. All you need is a needle and some thread or fishing line. Try using fresh cranberries, too. Younger kids can count out the berries or popcorn to make a cool alternating pattern, and parents or older kids can do the threading.
Peanut-butter blossoms! Spritz cookies! Gingerbread men! There are just too many tasty holiday cookies to choose from. Here are some of our family favorites. Children of all ages can get involved in the kitchen on "cookie day." Younger kids can add pre-measured ingredients, stir the bowl and decorate cooled cookies. Older kids can pitch in at any stage.
So what do you do with all those cookies? Host a cookie swap! Have everyone bring over a few dozen of their favorite cookies (homemade or store-bought), sample and swap! And if it's not a family secret entrusted to only a few privileged souls, encourage people to bring the recipes to swap, too!
Gingerbread House Party
Not a house party with gingerbread, this is a gingerbread house making party. Gather your friends and family, some gingerbread walls and roofs and all the candy and frosting you can get your hands on. Set everyone up with their own house, or work in teams to see who can make the most colorful gingerbread house. Follow these instructions for an easy gingerbread house.
Homemade Christmas Ornaments
Decorating a Christmas tree is probably already on your to-do list. Make this holiday tradition even more special by adding a new kid-made Christmas ornament each year. Mark the year on your ornaments so that you can keep track of when each cutie was created!
Hot Chocolate Buffet
There's nothing like a steaming mug of hot chocolate on a cold December night. Up your game for the holiday season with a buffet of toppings for your cocoa. Some ideas include whipped cream, marshmallows, crushed candy canes, shaved chocolate, chocolate chips and cinnamon dots. Get creative! The kids will love customizing their hot cocoa — a fun and easy activity for Christmas Eve.
And speaking of coming together as a community, why not check out the local festivals? From tree lighting ceremonies in the town square to ugly sweater parties to church concerts, there's bound to be something happening in your area.
Donating to Charity
Show your family's giving spirit this holiday season by shopping for a toy or two to give to Toys for Tots or another local toy drive. Since your kids are the toy experts, let them do the picking. It will brighten your Christmas and someone else's, too. Since the kids are also surely expecting new loot this year, go through their toy box together and find the (gently used) toys they're willing to part with for charity. It's a good lesson in selflessness.
Want to take your good will toward men a step further? Why not volunteer? There are all kinds of opportunities around the holiday season, from serving holiday meals to collecting winter coats for kids. Check out your local non-profits and choose an activity as a family.
All of these activities are free or pretty inexpensive. They just take a little creativity and get-up-and-go to get your family in the holiday spirit!