family christmas activities

30 Favorite Christmas Activities That Your Family Will Love

(Inside: Fun family Christmas activities that will bring your loved ones closer together over the holidays. Enjoy the season with these great ideas.)

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30 Favorite Christmas Activities That Your Family Will Love

As moms, one of our strongest desires is to connect with our family. The holiday season provides opportunities to do just that. Here are some ideas…

1. Decorate the house, inside and/or outside.

Break out the tree, ornaments, and all the tinsel. Gather your people, cue the music, and decorate the house. Some years everyone’s into and some years not so much, but we keep returning to this holiday tradition. Our kids will look back on the routine with fond memories.

2. Donate your time, food, money, and/or gifts.

The need out there is as wide as the rolling Midwest prairies. As parents, we can teach our kids to see the world around us and try to help. The bonus is that our kids realize giving and serving also brings them so much joy. 

3. Take a winter wonderland hike.

The crunch of the snow under my feet, the crystals glimmering from tree branches, the cool air filling my lungs, maybe it’s because I live in Minnesota, but I am always game for a winter wonderland walk. I’ve learned to layer (and then layer some more), grab our sweet puppy-girl, convince the bigs to join, and feel my stress fall off of me as we walk around one of our 10,000 lakes. Winter wonderland walk? Highly recommend.

4. Drive around and look at the holiday lights.

This is such a great activity to do when everyone’s spent, yet you still want a little holiday cheer. Everyone fills a to-go-mug with hot chocolate, piles in the car, and drives in and out of neighborhoods ooohing and ahhing over the lights. 

5. Grab fancy, warm drinks from the coffee shop.

Coffee shops are extra fun this time of year. Mint chocolate mochas, red dancing in the fireplace, cinnamon coffee cake – yes to all of it. Take your family out, bring a board game, or conversation starters, and just enjoy sitting and being. 

6. Make gingerbread houses.

Tap into your creativity by putting together the most epic gingerbread houses. If you want to dial up the family fun, post pictures of everyone’s gingerbread house on social media and have friends vote. Winner gets bragging rights for the full holiday season.

7. Christmas shop together at the mall or local stores.

The shopping areas this time of year can be extra lovely. Downtown, a mall, Kohl’s, or wherever, make a day of shopping. Browse the items, feel the textures, take in the greens and reds, enjoy the holiday music, and knock some gifts off of your shopping list. 

8. Get dressed up and go out to eat.

Everyone works hard, everyone’s so busy, make this holiday an excuse to stop it all, get dressed up, and enjoy a nice dinner. No one’s going to complain about good food. 

9. Open an advent calendar.

A simple way to mark the days and count down to the celebration of the birth of Jesus is an advent calendar. This tradition is easy and impactful.

10. Bake holiday cookies and treats

What are everyone’s favorite cookies? Who wants to make which? Sprinkles, dough, and a lot of sugar, let’s go, let’s make some memories. 

11. Exchange names and give Secret Santa gifts.

Secret Santa has been one of my kids’ favorite traditions. We haven’t done it every year, but some years, we’ve drawn names, set a $20 limit, and taken everyone shopping to pick out gifts for each other. Our kids got really into how and when to give their gifts to maximize the receivers’ joy. They also loved finding gifts tucked into their backpacks or on their pillows at surprising times. This is a fun one. 

12. Spend a day skiing or sledding.

There’s just something about sledding down a hill in the middle of winter. So full of joy. Or level it up and enjoy a day of skiing. Sunshine on your skin, swishing down the hill, selfies in between runs, this idea could be really fun for your family.

13. Attend a holiday concert.

Holiday concerts stir up all the emotions in the best of ways. We almost always go to the free Christmas programs at church, but this year we splurged and saw King and Country in concert. Their version of Drummer Boy? Stunning. Gather your people, get dressed up, go to a concert, and see if a Christmas concert stirs your family’s hearts too.

14. Enjoy a Christmas service at church.

I love the local Christmas programs. I feel Jesus through the pause from ordinary life, coming together with my community, and worshipping. There’s something really special about specifically the Christmas Eve service. When we all light the candles and sing Holy Night? Gorgeous. Something our family looks forward to every year. Maybe yours would enjoy it too.

15. Read the Christmas story around the tree.

There is just something about gathering your family around the tree, letting the twinkling against the greenery light the room, and reading through the Christmas Story in the New Testament. Start with Luke Chapter 2. The practice grounds us and reminds us all of the reason for the season. 

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16. Get a group together for Christmas Caroling. (In person or over screens.)

Okay, not me. But, we have musical family members, and hearing them sing is a treat. I say we bring back this tradition. For those that sing, share your talents. Come to my house first. 

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17. Snap holiday pictures.

Have everyone dress in something they feel good in, find a park or lake or cool building, and snap pictures. Together, separate, just fun, trendy photos. Run them through filters and post – I love seeing everyone else’s photos. I love photography in general and could take pictures all day long. I know I’m not the only one. 

18. Watch Christmas movies.

Christmas doesn’t feel like Christmas without popcorn and a movie. We love Home Alone and The Christmas Story. But, we’ve also discovered Great American Family their movies that incorporate faith in their Holiday-themed scripts. But that’s us, what do you like? The holiday is always a great excuse to chill in front of a good movie with people you love.

19. Look through family photo albums together.

There’s something about this season that brings out the nostalgia. Bring out photo albums or digital photos of past Christmas seasons, vacations, sports, or just life. Connect over the memories.

20. Go ice skating.

Now we live in Minnesota so our local parks all have outdoor rinks. Then there’s all the school and indoor rinks (hockey anyone?), and that doesn’t include our 10,000 frozen lakes. We like to ice skate. I especially like to go at night with my family to the free outdoor rink with the giant light over us shimmering against the snowflakes hovering in the air. We bundle and go. It’s fun.

21. As a family, do something extra nice for someone you know.

Bake holiday treats, volunteer at a food shelter, buy gifts for those in need (Angle tree at church), or just in some way serve. This could be a chance to ask your kids what they would want to do and get to explore their hearts for others. 

22. Write handwritten cards.

Send handwritten notes to people you love and maybe don’t tell enough. Pick out fun cards, sit around the table, and write. Encouraging words are a gift.

23. Go out for pastries or dessert.

Ask around and find the best local restaurants for pastries or desserts. Tuck into a booth and order some delicious sugar.

24. Make Christmas crafts as a family.

This season can be a time to tap into your creativity and make something beautiful. I remember my sister and I trying to entertain my in-the-tough-years (way) younger teen cousins, and after trying and failing at all the “obvious” ideas, my sister pulled out her sewing machine and all sorts of scraps of fabric. We made headbands, and my cousins loved it. They were picking out beautiful fabrics, smiling, laughing, and creating. It was a good reminder of our inner desire to use our creativity. This just might work for your holiday season too.

25. Light candles and use your “good dishes” for dinner.

One night, I just wanted to make our ordinary meal (probably spaghetti) special, so I dimmed the lights and put a bunch of candles in the middle of the table. It made the evening feel a little bit magical. If it were Christmas, I’d bust out our wedding china too. Such an inexpensive way to create “a moment.”

26. Play holiday music and enjoy a family game night.

I wish our kids wanted to play family games more (so much else they’d rather do). However, every time we declare a family game night, I always hear them talk and see them laugh at something. It might not be perfect, but I like the connection over a game. So, we continually come back to this activity. All the extra time during the holiday break is perfect for play.

27. Build a snowman, create a snow fort, or make snow angels.

Again, I keep saying it, I live in a snowy state. We still are always in awe of the first snowfall and somehow find ourselves outside at some point. If your house is full of tweens and teens, building snowmen, snow forts, or making snow angels can bring out the kid in everyone. If you’re lucky enough to live in a snowy state, I know you know. Sometimes all we feel like doing is being under a blanket inside, but other times, that white fluff calls to us…

28. Put together a Christmas puzzle.

When you’re not into the cold weather, a puzzle could be a great family activity. Connect over finding pieces and snapping them in place.

29. Share your favorite holiday memories.

Grab some hot cocoa and a blanket and settle comfortably in the living room. Go around the room and share your favorite holiday memories. Which were the most meaningful? Surprising? Funny? Who did you enjoy spending the holidays with? What are your family traditions? Enjoy getting to know each other better.  

30. Each family member picks out an ornament that represents their year.

I love Christmas ornaments. Our tree is a mess. We have ornaments from our vacations, kids’ school crafts, our childhood, fancy ones, and more. And I love it. Some years (not all years), we’ve picked out ornaments that represent the activity we’re into or catch our attention in some way. It’s fun to see what everyone picks out. Then, I like to hang them up the next year and let the nostalgia wash over me. 

Your Turn

Those are our ideas for ways we celebrate the holiday season. Some years, we do more than others, it just depends on what we have going on. But, what about your family? What are holiday traditions you enjoy?

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