This is our first year doing an advent calendar — and rather than candy or treats each day, we opted for 25 holiday activities. Some big, some small. Some meaningful, some silly.
Each morning my son shuffles over to his advent calendar — 25 mini boxes stacked to look like a Christmas tree — and opens his daily box to find a mini wooden toy and a slip of paper. On the weekdays, he has an activity to look forward to after school. On the weekends, he might have a bigger craft project waiting in the wings.
Maybe you’re looking for ways to bulk up your advent schedule, or maybe you’re just looking for some fun Christmas activities for kids. Either way, draw inspiration from these 25 holiday activities:
Christmas Activities for Kids 1 of 26
Take a look at our 25 Christmas activity ideas for kids — perfect for sibling groups or a solo child...
Make a Wreath 2 of 26
This was a big hit! I simply laid out a bunch of seasonal decorations — pine cones, gold bells, faux berries — and helped him hot-glue his very own creation. Then we hung it on our door, and I watched him beam with pride. (It was cheaper than buying a ready-made wreath, and the satisfaction!)
I only wish I didn't buy a real wreath, because it came out so pretty.
Christmas Movie Night! 3 of 26
Get in your jammies, find some holiday friends, and cuddle up for a holiday movie of his or her choice.
Make a Gingerbread House 4 of 26
A classic holiday must-have, for sure. This one is still on the docket, and I can't wait to see his reaction to a Gingerbread House Saturday!
Tip: Let them get messy! Avoid the perfectionism! It's more about the experience than the perfectly designed house.
Have a Christmas Cookie Decorating Party 5 of 26
Having an only child, I'm always looking for ways to get the family together for a bigger holiday activity. And Christmas cookie baking and decorating is an easy way to gather the troops.
Check out these tips on hosting a Holiday Cookie Party.
Decorate Your Stocking 6 of 26
I've been holding off on buying matching family stockings until I'm sure our family is finished growing, and so we get creative each year. I buy inexpensive blank stockings and let him go to town — decorating with glitter and paints and stick-on appliquÃ©s. Then he has something to show off to Santa!
Make Presents 7 of 26
Write Letters to Family 8 of 26
Break out the Christmas cards and the crayons. Rather than a perfectly posed and printed Christmas card, why not opt for a few handmade, kid-made cards to send out to family this year?
Donate a New Toy 9 of 26
Take your little ones to the toy store to pick out something small for the Toys for Tots drive. Or head to Barnes & Noble to donate a book to their holiday drive. Either way, show your kids that Christmas is a time for giving to the less fortunate — and not just our hand-me-downs.
Donate Old Toys 10 of 26
At the same time, the holidays are a convenient reminder to clear out old toys to make room for new ones. And if your kids have trouble parting with their beloved possessions (even if they haven't been played with in years), having Santa pass down the activity makes it much easier for kids to let go of their grip.
Go on a Christmas Light Hunt 11 of 26
Get the kids in their pajamas and bundle them up for a ride around the local neighborhoods, ooh-ing and aah-ing at the Christmas lights.
Unwrap a Christmas Book 12 of 26
I know several families who do a 12 Days of Christmas advent calendar where kids open a new Christmas book each day leading up to Christmas.
Hang a Special Ornament 13 of 26
Having a little gift in the advent box is always a big hit — like a silly personalized ornament, perhaps!
Make a Snow Globe 14 of 26
Making a DIY snow globe couldn't be easier. Check out my step-by-step tutorial on Early Mama.
Make a Teacher Gift 15 of 26
One year, we made snow globes using characters from books that he loved to read with each teacher. Personalized and creative!
Check out more teacher gift ideas to make!
Go to a Community Tree Lighting Event 16 of 26
...or some other community holiday event. Check in with your local events calendar to boost holiday (and community!) spirit.
Write a Letter to Santa 17 of 26
If you haven't gotten your letters to Santa in the mail yet, there's still time! And instead of clogging up the post office, head over to your local Macy's and find the special red mailbox, where all letters go straight to the North Pole.
Experience the Nutcracker Ballet 18 of 26
My son happens to love ballet — especially The Nutcracker, where my cousin is the principal ballerina this year. If you don't have a local theater showing (or your kids would never sit through it), find a DVD version and experience the classic at home.
Fill a Shoebox for Operation Christmas Child 19 of 26
I remember making these shoeboxes for at-need children during my Sunday School sessions as a kid, but now you can also compile a shoebox online! Kids can choose from a list of gifts, and then add a personal letter and photo. It's a fun way to give back.
Find Salvation Army Bell Ringers and Stop to Donate 20 of 26
Rather than dropping in some change as you leave the grocery store, make it a fun mission for the kids. Hop in the car and search for the Bell Ringers, stopping to simply make a donation.
Collect Canned Goods 21 of 26
'Tis the season for holiday food drives. Gather canned goods from the pantry and deliver the package to a local drive. If you can't find one, why not organize one yourself with a local food pantry?
Make Red and Green Play Dough 22 of 26
...and give it out as gifts to your kid's friends!
Here is the absolute best play dough recipe. The dough comes out soft and squishy, and it lasts for a really long time. Best part: It's made from ingredients found in your kitchen!
Cut Down a Christmas Tree 23 of 26
If you still have to pick up a Christmas tree this year, splurge on a trip to a local Christmas Tree farm. Make an entire event out of it — wandering through a field of trees, cutting one down with a saw, and ending the day with some hot chocolate.
Visit Santa for a Photo 24 of 26
This might be a given, but it's a fun outing to add to the advent calendar. (My son was a little too cool to sit on Santa's lap. He just gave him a high-five and chatted like two old friends).
Make Paper Snowflakes 25 of 26
...and hang them from the ceiling a la ELF!
Take a look at these 24 homemade snowflake crafts for more ideas.
Read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas 26 of 26
Every Christmas Eve, my Dad would sit my sister and I down and read to us from the same vintage 'Twas the Night Before Christmas book. And so we'll continue the tradition — snuggling up with the story before laying in bed, listening for the sound of sleigh bells.