5 Christmas Activities To Do With Your Kids

5 Christmas Activities To Do With Your Kids
Christmas Around the World at Museum of Science and Industry

Christmas activities for kids- parents are always on the lookout for something new to keep those little ones busy while saving their own sanity.  Here are a few ideas that I've actually done in the past--so I know they meet the child seal of approval.

(1) Unwrap a Book Each Night

One of our favorite activities with our children when they were very young was “unwrapping” a Christmas book before bedtime.  Parents of little ones will really appreciate the big bang for the buck on this one!  Getting kids excited to READ and GO TO BED (especially this time of year) is a life saver.  My friend Laura gets credit for telling me about this holiday activity.

  • Collect 24 holiday/winter related books- Finding books might seem difficult at first, but it is amazing how fast you can accumulate them as gifts, through used book sales, on clearance, or school book orders.
  • Wrap them in various colored holiday paper
  • Each night before bed, the child picks a “gift” to unwrap
  • This becomes the story for family read aloud time

Enjoy this tradition while you can, they outgrow it so incredibly fast!

(2)  Record a Story

My third graders used to love when I played The Polar Express, read aloud by William Hurt in my classroom.  There is something so soothing and calming about being read aloud to- every child’s attention was captured.

Taking a tip from my classroom, my husband and I coerced grandparents into reading a story or two out loud and recorded their voices on our laptop.   Our kids could listen to their “snowbird” grandparents read to them even though they were miles away, and even better, follow along with the words and pictures in the books.

  • Grab about five or six children’s books
  • Convince relatives or friends to lend their voices to the project
  • Record them on your laptop, iPhone or other device
  • Burn a CD for the child to play and supply the accompanying picture books

When my children were older, we put together a CD for their younger cousins as Christmas gifts. One nephew is obsessed with pirates.  I bought a few pirate themed books along with an old favorites or two we were ready to hand down.  Each of my children recorded a story or two and now my nephew had a very personalized, inexpensive, but priceless gift!

(3)  Learn About the Christmas Customs From Another Country or Region

Tired of the turkey and inspired by a recent trip to Italy, my mother decided to host an Italian themed Christmas.  Everyone was encouraged to bring something that would fit the theme.  She didn’t know it then but she inadvertently started a new tradition which has turned out to be fun and educational.

Over the years, we’ve enjoyed a German, Polish, Italian, Mexican, and Cajun themed Christmas dinner.  Cajun was probably the favorite among the men with gumbo, jambalaya, and my poor attempt at a King Cake.  Along with the food, we add music and frequently include a new custom that everyone learns about for example, the lagniappe.  (Look it up)  We have definitely “let the good times roll” by changing things up a bit.

(4) Expand a Book

Teachers do this all the  time- taking a book and adding extension activities like a snack, craft, or game to it.   We did something similar one year when the family took a break from the Christmas Around the World idea, and had a very Grinchy Christmas.  Everyone is familiar with the story of how The Grinch Stole Christmas.  It was a favorite for my son when he was about four. We watched the cartoon over and over, read the book several times, and I even made him a shirt.   I took a black sharpie to a bright green t-shirt and freehanded the outline of a Grinch face.  It was a natural theme for a family Christmas with a trivia contest and even stolen presents.  While the kids were eating dinner, the Grinch stole and hid the presents, left them a note, and it became a hide and seek game of finding them again.

If you peruse Pinterest you can find several ideas for Chris Van Allsburg’s The Polar Express parties.

Another idea is a doll or teddybear tea party in the Fancy Nancy or Nutcracker theme.

Choose a favorite book and make a bigger deal of it by adding something to it this year.

(5)  See a Play Based on a Christmas Story

Even though this is an extremely busy time of year, it is also the perfect time to enjoy the arts- music and theater.  Performances of The Nutcracker are everywhere.  With so many offerings, it is easy to find one that fits your budget and your child’s attention span.  No sense in taking a pre-schooler to a highline performance when a community production will do just fine.  I believe there is a Nutcracker showing locally that allows their audience to eat popcorn.  (We all know the power of snacks)

A Christmas Carol has also been a favorite that we never get tired of seeing over and over.


Looking for more ideas, you might also enjoy this previous post on board games.

I have shared a few activities with you- I look forward to hearing what traditions and activities you follow at the holidays?  I am hoping to find some new activities for tween and teens, since my children have outgrown most of these.  Please comment, tweet, share, “like” on Facebook!  Contact me at lisa.schoolzone@gmail.com





Leave a comment
  • This column is great, lots of fun stuff to do.

  • These are some great ideas! We did a few of them when my daughter was younger and are trying to come up with new ones. I think I will take #4 literally and have my tween "expand" on a book by writing a story that is a prequel or a sequel, or somehow related. Maybe a take on Polar Express from the perspective of the conductor or another child on the train? Or they can write their own. We're also a big fan of haikus in our house. Thanks for the motivation to write a few holiday-themed ones! We're also writing cards to soldiers, but that works for any age. A friend of hers mentioned during the carpool yesterday that her family has an audio recording of A Christmas Carol and they are listening to a little every night leading up to Christmas, which is a nice take on your #5. Sorry this got so long!

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