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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.)

**This blog post contains Amazon Affiliate links.**

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?

Entertaining Tweens/Teens and Connecting with Your Family Series

The other day, I saw of picture of when my kids were little (like when I wrote this post), and I thought I so deeply want to go back to this season of life. I miss it.

But just as quickly as that thought came, another thought followed Someday, I will see pictures of my current parenting phase (raising tweens and teens) and wish to come back to today. 

So, I want to do my best to enjoy this season of life. These ideas on how to connect with and entertain tweens and teens can help…

ENTERTAINING TWEENS & TEENS SERIES

INSPIRATION
How a Messy House is Good for Your Kids

IDEAS
85+ Kids Activities That Promote Creativity

READING
146+ Best Chapter Books for Tweens that will Also Build Character
Compelling Books That High Schoolers Will Want to Read

EXERCISE
Home Exercises for Your Teens & the Whole Family (Feel Healthy & Happy)

HOLIDAYS
*30+ Ways to Connect With Your Family Over the Holiday Season

family christmas activities

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And so many more great lists of must-haves built just for families of big kids on Empowered Moms and Kid’s specialized Amazon Affiliate Storefront…

Join this community of moms raising tweens and teens

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You are parenting tweens and teens.

It’s an amazing life phase, but also challenging in unique ways. In it all, you’d love a little encouragement to help you laugh, grow in faith, see parenting hacks, get ideas to connect with your kid, and celebrate the awesome momma you are. 

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encouragement on valentines day

See Your Greatest True Love on Valentine’s Day

(Inside: Valentine’s day isn’t always roses when it comes to relationships. So remember who your greatest True Love is. See your greatest love on Valentine’s day.  Encouragement for Valentine’s Day.)

I brushed my fingers over the pink iridescent hearts on the Valentine’s Day cards. I thought of the love words I’d write to my sons, to my husband…

Then my mind switched to a friend who’s been in my thoughts – this is her first year as a divorcee. I knew this holiday would hold pain. For the first time in years, her husband wouldn’t be giving her the flowers, instead, they’d go to the woman he’d chosen over her.

I thought of my grandma, she’s been decades without my grandpa – I know she’d think of him on this day, missing him with the same intensity as the day after he died.

I thought of the past times my husband and I had skipped the fluff of Valentine’s day, because of our budget and because we were in survival mode with three small kids. (“You love me. I love you.” High five. The end.)Valentine’s day sometimes plays out like a chapter in a romance novel. 

But, whether we have the roses in our hands or not – Valentine’s Day always holds love. Always. Because there’s One who calls out to us – all of us – on this day…

Pay attention, you’ll see Him…

He tucks silky rose petals into all areas of our lives.

He reminds us of His extravagant love.

The air whips around me as I walk around the lake, and I can’t take my eyes off of the huge flock of geese circling and landing in an intricate dance reminding me we’re all a part of a bigger story. I hear God gently stir these words in me…Trust in me. I am in control of your story… I see you and I love you.

Again, I heard the voice when I tucked the clean sheets around the corners of my son’s bed. I smelled the aroma of fresh linens and am transported back to my childhood. When living in New Mexico, my mom always hung my sheets outside to dry. She’d lay the linens over my bed and declare that clothesline sheets smelled the best…I hear God press deep inside of me, I gift you with good memories because…I see you and I love you.

My friend and I sit legs tucked under us near her living room fire; the heat cuts through the Minnesota chill. We shared for three hours – three hours! – about parenting, careers, relationships, dreams, and more dreams. As I drive home that night, in the stillness of my car, God says to me…I will always provide you with your people…I see you and I love you.

My golden doodle greets me when I get home. Tail-wagging, love abounding, I’m a celebrity. I hear again, I fill your day with simple pleasures on purpose…I want to consistently remind you… I see you and I love you.

Or I hear my three boys talking. They’re hovered around a Calvin and Hobbes comic book laughing. “Do you remember when I put you in the red wagon and sent you down the hill like this picture,” the older says to the younger pointing to the comic book. They laugh hysterically. “At least you put a helmet on me,” the younger remembers. I thought I understood love, but then I gave birth to three kids and my heart cracked open in deeper ways than I’d ever expected. God says, my daughter, don’t you see… I love you with the same passion… I see you and I love you.

Whether we are the person writing the cards, missing the once-devoted husband, longing for a lost love, or skipping the Hallmark holiday because of our current survival modes, today let’s all look for the extravagant love that comes from above…

Let’s see the sacred rose petals sprinkled throughout our mundane.

Let’s feel God’s just-for-us words.

On this day, this day of love, let’s not forget to SEE our Greatest True Love.

“Lord, you know everything there is to know about me. You perceive every movement of my heart and soul, and you understand my every thought before it even enters my mind. You are so intimately aware of me, Lord. You read my heart like an open book and you know all the words I’m about to speak before I even start a sentence! You know every step I will take before my journey even begins. You’ve gone into my future to prepare the way, and in kindness you follow behind me to spare me from the harm of my past. With your hand of love upon my life, you impart a blessing to me.

This is just too wonderful, deep, and incomprehensible! Your understanding of me brings me wonder and strength. Where could I go from your Spirit? Where could I run and hide from your face? If I go up to heaven, you’re there! If I go down to the realm of the dead, you’re there too! If I fly with wings into the shining dawn, you’re there! If I fly into the radiant sunset, you’re there waiting! Wherever I go, your hand will guide me; your strength will empower me.” (Psalm 139:1-10, TPT)

Related article: Create the Perfect (Or Not So Perfect) Valentine’s Day for Your Family

gifts for moms

10 Easy Ways to Teach Your Kids the True Meaning of Christmas

(Inside: Teach kids about Christmas.  Simply ways to help kids learn about the true reason for Christmas and feel the joy of the season.)

My son’s little legs dangled over the edge of the couch a foot shy of reaching the floor. His usually busy hands were folded neatly on his lap. His legs were still. Alarmed – because my 4-year-old never sits still like this – I asked, “What are you doing?”

“Waiting.”

“What are you waiting for, sweet boy?”

“Christmas to come.”

It was November. The day after Thanksgiving to be exact. We’d busted out the artificial tree, opened boxes of ornaments, and made our best creation out of it all. The tree sparkled to my son’s left, the stockings hung on the fireplace in front of him and he waited – expectantly.

Joy to the world…joy to this momma’s soul.

Christmas naturally awakens delight in our little humans’ hearts. But do they know why? Do they know the gift of Jesus sent to a broken world in need of a Savior? Do they know that in decorating and baking cookies we are recreating the excitement the people felt in anticipation of their promised Messiah? In giving gifts, do they know that we are reminding ourselves of the gift of Jesus to us? In showing us how to live with real joy not dependent on our circumstances? In connecting us with God through eternal salvation?

Though a 4-year-old is not going to understand the full gift and depth of the Christmas message, he can understand parts of why we celebrate. And that understanding will grow as he grows. I haven’t been very intentional with pointing out the “whys” of Christmas traditions, but this year would like to give it a try. So, I came up with a list specifically for busy moms to incorporate the message into the moments of this season.

Teach Kids About Christmas

*This blog post contains affiliate links.*

Teach kids about Christmas

1. Tell the Candy Cane Story:

Have you heard this delightful little tale? I was late to the party on this one. The skinny version is:

A German choirmaster in 1670 gave the children a white peppermint stick to help them sit still during the Christmas service. The white represented the purity of Christ and the mint represented the hyssop traditionally used for purifying in scripture. Other candy makers in later centuries added to this idea. The stick was turned into a “J” representing Jesus and/or the shepherds’ staffs. The stripes were added to represent the lashes Christ bore on the cross and the red color, the blood that Christ split to save us from our sins. Voilà – the candy cane!

This story is a legend, no one knows the exact facts, so spice it up all you want to tell it your way as you:

Photo by Pro Church Media on Unsplash

I like what I’m reading and I want more.
Click here for more mom encouragement. 

2. Use Candles:

During my stay-at-home mom years, the Minnesota winters would leave me with cabin fever itching to get out but not wanting to put the effort into taking my 3 young boys (all under the age of 5) actually out. One night, over a spaghetti-from-a-jar dinner, I dimmed the lights and set glowing candles in the middle of the table. The room became magical. No joke.  This can be repeated and the Christmas story read as the family breaks bread together. (Or twists spaghetti noodles around their fork as they pretend their one-year-old isn’t throwing it onto the floor.)

Photo by Zoran Kokanovic on Unsplash

3. Listen to Christmas Music:

In the car, as you and your child together set the table for lunch, straighten the toy room, or go over spelling words crank up Christmas music that tells the Christmas story.  At some point, maybe pause and talk about what the words mean for one of the songs. Listen to Christ-centered Christmas songs:

4. Incorporate Drama:

Not, the I-can’t-find-my-shoe-and-we-needed-to-leave-5-minutes-ago drama, but real drama. Like, acting. Y’all my talented friend wrote a script of the Christmas story. And she’s sharing it with us. I have my copy and can’t wait to sit near the tree and read through this story together. My perk? Since I’m the only girl in my house – I for SURE get to be Mary!

Yes, I want the Mary & Joseph Script!

 

5. Set Out Your Nativity Scene:

As you unwrap your Willow Nativity scene (Or the plastic Little People Nativity Scene) tell about an angel appearing to Mary telling her she is going to bear a son and name him Jesus. Talk about Joseph traveling with his pregnant wife to Bethlehem knocking on doors, asking for a place to stay. Describe the shepherds and the wise men rushing to see baby Jesus. Or ask your kids to tell you what they know about the story. Feel the hope and joy the Christmas story brings.

6. Listen to the Christmas Story in the Car:

I did some research on this one and found some stories that share the Christmas message that can be listened to. On the holiday lights drive, the road trip to see Grandma, or your umpteenth trip to Target where you vowed to THIS TIME to get out of there in under $20, these stories will help your kids see Jesus.

7. Watch Christmas Movies:

Watch Christmas movies and as the end credits roll, ask your children:

  • What was the message of the movie?
  • What did you learn about Christmas from this movie?

8. Read the Story by the Tree:

Dim the overhead lights, let the Christmas tree flicker and gather your family near. With legs tucked under blanks and arms around the wiggly ones, read the Christmas story in Luke 2:1-20. (Or a book about the Christmas story like Christmas Stories Heartwarming Classics of Angels, a Manager and the Birth of Hope or God Gave Us Christmas.)  Feel the Holy Spirit’s warmth hover in the air. Finish with hot cocoa, or making homemade fudge, or then take your kid to basketball practice, whatever – life is busy – but a simple pause to hear the Christmas story in the beauty of the decorations can fill our soul in unexpected ways.

9. Go Shopping:

Before you shop, ask your kids, “Why do we give gifts?” This is a teachable moment to talk about why we give gifts. Because we’re reminding each other of the gift of Jesus God gave to us.  This could be a chance to stop and get a Tall Vanilla Latte before you start shopping you know…to talk with your child…not because you’ll make any excuse to get coffee.

Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

10. Enjoy Church:

Dress in your Christmas finest and go to a Christmas service. On the drive home or around the dinner table afterward, talk about what your kids learned and discuss the point of the message. A short conversation can have a powerful impact.

Teach Kids About Christmas:

So, then next year mommas, when one of our children hops on the couch a “waits” for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving, we could say, “Ah, yes – that’s  the same excitement the shepherds and wise men felt as they waited to see baby Jesus!”

I didn’t say that way back then when my son was 4. But now, he’s 11…and I have a few ideas this year of how I’m going to unveil his eyes to see the real reason for Christmas and feel the true joy of the season.

Be encouraged by the full “raise kids of faith” series.

Over the years, as my kids have grown and their seasons have changed, I find myself going back to this one prayer, “Dear Jesus, please capture my kids’ hearts.” If as they journey through life, they consistently go back to their Creator for comfort and guidance, it’s all going to be okay.

So, as a mom, I strive to (in my imperfect way), teach my boys faith.

HOLIDAYS
10 Easy Way to Teach Your Kids The True Meaning of Christmas
A Busy Mom’s Christmas Prayer


TEACHING FAITH
Free eBook: Devotions for Kids and Families
5 Fantastic Devotionals that Help Create Forever Family Connections


TEACHING GRATITUDE
A Free Gratitude Journal Your Teen Will Love (Raise Grateful Kids)
The Science Behind Why a Gratitude Journal Works (Raise Happy, Faith-Filled Tweens and Teens)

Teach kids about Christmas

Join this community of mom raising tweens and teens

You just dropped one kid off at practice, picked up another, and are trying to decide what to make for dinner. Your days are filled with work, parenting, and waiting for password reset emails.

You are parenting tweens and teens.

It’s an amazing life phase, but also challenging in unique ways. In it all, you’d love a little encouragement to help you laugh, grow in faith, see parenting hacks, get ideas to connect with your kids, feel empowered in your personal growth, and celebrate the awesome momma you are.

I got you, friend. Sign up for Empowered Moms and Kids monthly emails and get inspiration, resources, and stories in your inbox geared for someone exactly in your life chapter. It’s totally free and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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gifts for moms