Get into the holiday with these 12 days of Christmas activities for kids that the whole family will love from crafts to movies and more!
The holiday season is upon us, and it’s the most wonderful time of the year to create magical memories with your little ones. Last year, we started a Christmas Advent countdown tradition and my girls absolutely loved it! Whether you’re looking to start new traditions or add a twist to your existing ones, I’ve got you covered with 12 days of Christmas activities that kids of all ages will absolutely love. Let’s unwrap these great ideas and make this Christmas season extra special!
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Crafty Christmas Countdown: How to DIY Advent Calendar
An easy way to countdown to Christmas is to use an advent calendar. The holiday season is all about spreading joy and anticipation, and what better way to do that than with a DIY Advent Calendar Countdown? It’s a delightful project that adds a touch of magic to the days leading up to Christmas. Plus, it’s a fantastic family activity that kids of all ages will love. So, let’s dive into the steps to create your very own Advent calendar!
Materials You’ll Need:
- 12 or 24 Small Envelopes or Mini Bags: You can find these at a craft store or online. Choose festive colors or designs that match your holiday theme.
- String or Ribbon: To hang your envelopes or bags.
- Number Stickers or Markers: Use these to label the envelopes or bags with the days of December.
- Decorative Paper: You’ll need this to create the backdrop for your calendar.
- Scissors and Glue: Essential for cutting and sticking your decorations.
- Stickers, Washi Tape, and Other Decorations: Get creative and use these to make your calendar unique and eye-catching.
Steps to Create Your DIY Advent Calendar:
Step 1: Design Your Calendar Backdrop
Start by creating a beautiful backdrop for your Advent calendar. You can use a large piece of decorative paper, a felt sheet, or even a fabric banner. Make sure it’s big enough to fit all your envelopes or bags in a neat grid.
Step 2: Arrange Your Envelopes or Bags
Lay out your envelopes or bags in a grid pattern on your backdrop. You can go for a classic 5×5 grid or get creative with your arrangement if you’re only doin 12 Days of Christmas activities. Ensure they’re evenly spaced and aligned.
Step 3: Label Your Envelopes
Using number stickers or markers, label each envelope or bag with the numbers 1 to 12. These will represent the days of December leading up to Christmas.
Step 4: Decorate Each Envelope
Here’s where the fun begins! Decorate each envelope or bag with festive designs, stickers, and washi tape. You can also add a small holiday-themed image or a Christmas quote to each one.
Step 5: Fill the Envelopes
Now comes the exciting part—filling each envelope or bag with surprises! These can be tiny treats like chocolates, small toys, holiday-themed erasers, or even handwritten notes with holiday activities or acts of kindness for the day.
Step 6: Attach the Envelopes or Bags
Use string or ribbon to attach each envelope or bag to your backdrop. You can either tie the string through a hole in the envelope or use decorative clips.
Step 7: Hang Your Advent Calendar
Find a special spot in your home to hang your DIY Advent calendar. It could be by the front door, in the kitchen, or wherever your family gathers most frequently.
Step 8: Start the Countdown
On December 1st (or the 12th) let the countdown begin! Each day, have your children open one envelope or bag to reveal the surprise inside. It’s a wonderful way to build anticipation and create memorable moments together.
Tips for a Magical Advent Calendar:
- Personalize it: Tailor the surprises to your family’s preferences and traditions.
- Mix it up: Include a variety of treats, activities, and acts of kindness.
- Get the kids involved: Let them help with the decorating and filling of the envelopes.
- Display proudly: Make your DIY Advent calendar a beautiful part of your holiday decor.
Creating a DIY Advent calendar is not only a fun craft project but also a meaningful tradition that your family will cherish year after year. Enjoy the journey of counting down to Christmas with joy and excitement!
12 days of Christmas Activities for Kids
Now, let’s get into the fun 12 days of Christmas activities for kids! Your family will love these to really get into the holiday spirit.
Day 1: Decorating the Christmas Tree
Make this day extra special by involving your kids in choosing a theme for the Christmas tree. Let them pick their favorite ornaments and place them on the tree. You can also create a tradition of making or buying a new ornament each year, representing something significant from the past year. Turn on some Christmas music, serve hot cocoa, and enjoy the process together.
Enjoy setting up your Christmas tree earlier in the season? Surprise your kids with a Christmas tree just for them! Whether in a common space, or a mini tree in each kid’s bedroom, having their own Christmas tree to decorate will be extra special.
Day 2: Christmas Cookie Decorating
Gather your little bakers for a festive cookie decorating extravaganza! Whip up batches of sugar cookies and gingerbread cookies in various holiday shapes like stars, trees, and reindeer. Provide an array of colorful icing, sprinkles, and edible decorations. Let the kids unleash their creativity as they decorate their own cookies. It’s a sweet way to spend quality time and get into the holiday spirit!
My mom has the most delicious Sugar Cookie recipe for the holidays. Here’s my mom’s super secret Sugar Cookie recipe we use every Christmas- just don’t tell her I shared it!
Day 3: Christmas Movie Marathon
Another fun activity is to turn your living room into a cozy movie theater with blankets and pillows. Create a schedule for Christmas movies marathon that everyone can agree on. Don’t forget to pop some popcorn and sip on hot cocoa with marshmallows.
Not sure what to watch? Here’s a fantastic list of 31 Christmas movies that will keep the kids entertained throughout the holiday season. From classics to animated gems, there’s something for the whole family to enjoy:
Christmas Movies for the Whole Family
Home Alone (1990)- A hilarious adventure of a young boy left behind during the holidays.
The Santa Clause (1994)** – Tim Allen becomes Santa Claus in this family comedy.
Elf (2003) – The story of Buddy the Elf, who sets out to find his true identity.
The Grinch (2000) – Jim Carrey brings the Grinch to life in this Dr. Seuss classic.
Miracle on 34th Street (1994) – A heartwarming story about believing in Santa Claus.
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) – Charles Dickens’ classic tale with a Muppet twist.
Jingle All the Way (1996)** – A dad’s quest to find the perfect Christmas toy.
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (2018) – A magical journey through a fantastical world.
Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups (2012) – Adorable puppies on a holiday adventure.
The Christmas Chronicles (2018) – Siblings team up with Santa to save Christmas in this modern adventure.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964) – An animated tale of Rudolph’s quest to fit in.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) – A unique blend of Halloween and Christmas in Tim Burton’s style.
Ernest Saves Christmas (1988) – The bumbling Ernest helps Santa find his successor.
Classic Animated Christmas Movies for Kids
The Polar Express (2004) – A magical journey to the North Pole on Christmas Eve.
A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) – Join Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang for holiday fun.
Frosty the Snowman (1969) – The magical adventures of Frosty and his friends.
Arthur Christmas (2011) – A modern, humorous take on Santa’s high-tech operation.
A Christmas Carol (2009) – A stunning animated adaptation of Dickens’ classic.
Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983) – Disney’s beloved characters in the roles of Dickens’ characters.
Shrek the Halls (2007) – The Shrek gang celebrates the holidays in their own quirky way.
Frozen (2013) – Join Anna, Elsa, and Olaf in their snowy kingdom.
The Star (2017) – The story of the first Christmas from the perspective of the animals.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966) – The original animated Grinch tale.
Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas (1999) – Three heartwarming Disney holiday stories.
The Snowman (1982) – A heartwarming animated tale of friendship.
Prep & Landing (2009) – The adventures of elite elves who prepare homes for Santa’s arrival.
Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas (1997) – A tale of the holiday spirit in the Beast’s castle.
The Little Drummer Boy (1968) – An animated story about the power of giving.
Kung Fu Panda Holiday (2010) – Po the panda’s hilarious holiday escapades.
Olive, the Other Reindeer (1999) – A dog named Olive believes she’s meant to be a reindeer.
Paw Patrol: Pups Save Christmas (2016)- The Paw Patrol pups embark on a snowy rescue mission.
With this list of Christmas movies, you’ll have plenty of options to keep the kids entertained and in the festive spirit all month long.
Day 4: Gingerbread House Decorating
Bake gingerbread cookies together before assembling your gingerbread houses. Or buy simple gingerbread house kits if you prefer! Provide a variety of decorations including icing, candy canes, small candies and sprinkles. Consider turning it into a friendly competition for the whole family to see who can make the most creative house.
*PRO TIP* When assembling Gingerbread Houses, use hot glue to put the walls and roof together. Icing can easily fall apart but hot glue holds strong, especially with little kids. Children rarely eat the cookie part of the house and usually just pick off the candy so it’s still edible as long as you keep them clear of the glued seams.
Day 5: Christmas Carols Karaoke
Another fun activity for kids at Christmas time is signing Christmas carols. Set up a stage in your living room and have a family member karaoke night with Christmas songs and carols. Encourage everyone to participate, even the little ones who might just want to dance around and have the best time.
Not sure what to sing? Here’s a list of 25 beloved Christmas carols that kids will enjoy singing along to during the holiday season:
- Jingle Bells
- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
- Frosty the Snowman
- Deck the Halls
- We Wish You a Merry Christmas
- Jingle Bell Rock
- Santa Claus Is Coming to Town
- Up on the Housetop
- Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
- I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
- Here Comes Santa Claus
- The Twelve Days of Christmas
- Away in a Manger
- Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
- Joy to the World
- Silent Night
- Rockin’ Around the Christmas
- Little Drummer Boy
- Angels We Have Heard on High
- Go Tell It on the Mountain
- It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas
- O Come, All Ye Faithful
- Feliz Navidad
- Do You Hear What I Hear?
- The First Noel
These timeless Christmas carols are perfect for getting everyone into the holiday spirit, from the youngest to the oldest members of the family. Singing these songs together is a wonderful way to create lasting holiday memories.
Day 6: DIY Ornaments Craft
For this day, gather supplies like clear plastic ornaments, acrylic paint, and paintbrushes. Let your kids’ creativity flow as they decorate their own ornaments. These can become cherished keepsakes to hang on the tree year after year. Check out these whimsical Disney Princess Ornaments we made.
Day 7: Board Game Extravaganza
Set up a game night with a variety of board games suitable for all ages. From classics like Monopoly to holiday-themed games like “Santa’s Sleigh Ride,” it’s a great way to bond as a family and have some friendly competition.
Day 8: Random Acts of Kindness
Teach your kids the value of giving back during the holiday season. Encouraging kids to perform random acts of kindness is a wonderful way to teach them empathy and generosity. Create a to-do list of random acts of kindness like making holiday cards for the elderly, baking cookies for neighbors, or donating toys to a local charity. Involve your kids in every step to instill the joy of giving. Need some ideas? Here’s a list of kid-friendly ideas to inspired you!
Kid-Friendly Random Acts of Kindness for Christmas
1. Write Thank-You Notes
Have your child write thank-you notes for their teachers, family members, or friends to show appreciation.
2. Donate Toys
Encourage them to go through their toys and choose some in good condition to donate to a local children’s shelter or charity.
3. Make Greeting Cards
Create handmade greeting cards to send to residents of a local nursing home or hospitalized children.
4. Help with Chores
Offer to assist with household chores, like setting the table, folding laundry, or sweeping the floor.
5. Compliment Someone
Teach them the power of kind words by giving sincere compliments to friends and family.
6. Bake Treats
Bake cookies or muffins together and deliver them to neighbors, teachers or firefighters at your local station.
7. Feed the Birds
Make bird feeders using pinecones, peanut butter, and birdseed, then hang them in your yard or a nearby park.
8. Donate Food
Go through your pantry and collect non-perishable items to donate to a local food bank.
9. Offer to Read
Offer to read a Christmas story to a younger sibling, a neighbor, or a friend’s child.
10. Collect Trash
Organize a neighborhood clean-up by picking up litter in a local park, beach or along the street.
11. Secret Santa for a Stranger
Encourage your child to participate in “Secret Santa” for someone less fortunate. They can choose a small gift, wrap it, and anonymously leave it for a stranger with a kind note, spreading Christmas cheer and warmth to those in need.
12. Visit a Senior Citizen
Spend time with elderly relatives or visit a nursing home to sing Christmas carols, chat, play games, or share stories.
These acts of kindness are not only heartwarming but also help instill a sense of compassion and community spirit in kids. Plus, they’ll experience the joy that comes from making a positive difference in someone else’s day.
Day 9: Christmas Storytime
One of my favorites from this list of 12 days of Christmas activities for kids, is reading stories. Make this evening cozy with blankets and pillows as you read some of the best Christmas books. Encourage your kids to take turns reading or act out parts of the story to make it interactive and engaging.
Here’s a list of 10 popular Christmas books that young kids will adore during the holiday season:
1. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg – A magical journey to the North Pole on Christmas Eve.
2. How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss – The classic tale of the Grinch’s heartwarming transformation.
3. The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore – A timeless poem about Santa’s visit on Christmas Eve.
4. The Littlest Elf by Brandi Dougherty – Follow the journey of a tiny elf who learns the true meaning of Christmas.
5. Llama Llama Holiday Drama by Anna Dewdney – Llama Llama learns about patience and the joy of the holiday season.
6. Fancy Nancy: Splendiferous Christmas by Jane O’Connor – Join Fancy Nancy as she prepares for a glamorous Christmas.
7. Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson – Bear’s friends try to keep him awake for a special Christmas surprise.
8. The Berenstain Bears and the Joy of Giving by Jan and Mike Berenstain – The Berenstain Bears learn about the importance of giving during the holidays.
9. Merry Christmas, Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt – Stinky Face’s imagination runs wild as he wonders how Santa Claus will deliver gifts.
10. Olaf’s Night Before Christmas by Jessica Julius – Olaf the snowman experiences his first Christmas Eve with friends from “Frozen.”
These books are filled with festive spirit and heartwarming stories, making them perfect for young children to enjoy in the lead-up to Christmas.
Day 10: DIY Wreath Making
Gather natural materials like pine branches, pinecones, and holly berries to create a rustic wreath. Let your kids take the lead in designing the wreath and hang it proudly on your front door. Check out these easy Christmas wreath crafts for kids.
Day 11: Christmas Lights Display Tour
Plan a special outing to see the best Christmas light displays in your area. Create a checklist or game for your kids to spot specific decorations like reindeer, snowmen, or twinkling stars. Last year, I transformed our van into the “Polar Express” with Christmas decorations, dazzling battery operated lights, cozy pillows/blankets and playing the Polar Express soundtrack.
I printed these Polar Express tickets and laid out PJ’s for my girls to change into as a surprise. For myself, I wore a hat and round glasses to really pull off the look of the conductor. I knocked on our door and gave them their tickets and said “Where are we going? To the North Pole of course!”.
Once loaded up into the car, we made another stop to pick up a few friends and then drove around to look at Christmas lights around town. We stopped halfway through for a hot chocolate and cookie break. My girls loved it and have already asked to make it one of our yearly holiday traditions.
Day 12: Christmas Eve Holiday Traditions
This is the night before Christmas day, so make it magical. To complete our 12 days of Christmas activities for kids, leave out cookies and milk for Santa, and carrots for the reindeer. Consider reading the birth of Christ story from the Bible or your favorite holiday book to remind your kids of the true meaning of Christmas.
Our Christmas Eve tradition is everyone gets to open one present which includes new pajamas so we all look festive on Christmas morning, a story or movie and yummy snack. We also read the Christmas story as the perfect way to celebrate.
12 Days of Christmas Activities Kids Will Love
I hope these 12 days of Christmas activities for kids bring you and your family much fun and quality time together during this holiday season. Remember, it’s the special moments and the love we share that make Christmas truly merry and bright. Check out 101+ more Christmas activities in my Holiday Bucket List download below. Just click to save them image to reference and check off this Christmas season.
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