25 Christmas Family Activities

Put some family fun on your calendar this holiday season! Add some new Christmas activities to your schedule in December along with your favorite traditions. When you make time for "on purpose" moments, you can take family memory-making up to a whole new holly-jolly level! 

Family Christmas Activities 

  1. Video Christmas Caroling - A great way to spend an evening bringing cheer to others is to call some relatives and have a Christmas song or two prepared to sing together. You could even incorporate lighting your Advent Candle into the call for an extra special shared Christmas memory. 
  2. Paper Snowflake Forest - If you have a stack of printer paper and scissors, you are ready for a family craft that you can hang with sewing string in windows, around doors,  or anywhere that needs a sprinkle of winter cheer. 
  3. Small Business Shopping - Make a special stash of Christmas cash and give each family member an allowance to buy a gift for someone else in their family from a local small business. If you have a downtown district, do a special breakfast as a family and shop at small businesses in the area. 
  4. Christmas Tree Picnic - Surprise your family by planning a morning breakfast or afternoon picnic around the Christmas tree. Take time to talk about what the ornaments mean to you and some of your favorite Christmas memories. 
  5. Twelve Days of Kindness - Brainstorm ideas over dinner and decide on ways your family can express kindness to friends, neighbors, church members and strangers. Choose dates for your twelve days of kindness and make sure to keep it simple during the busy holiday season. Ideas can be as easy as cookies for a neighbor you haven't met, a family video call to a relative, giving the drive-thru window worker a tip or gathering a few pieces of winter clothing out of everyone's closet to donate to a shelter. 
  6. Poke-A-Tree - This can make a fun countdown to Christmas! Create a wall decoration using a piece of foam core board with red plastic cups mounted in the shape of a tree with the opening facing out and covered with tissue paper, inside each cup is a special silly prize. Family members poke through the tissue paper to discover a small prize inside. Find easy directions here.? 
  7. Christmas Angel "Doing" Exchange - Instead of a giving exchange, have a doing exchange!? Have members of the family pick the name of another family member but keep it secret. The object is to do kind things for your person and then on Christmas Day, have family members try to guess the identity of their Christmas Angel. 
  8. Discount Store Christmas Shopping for Others - Show kids it doesn't cost a lot to pick out special gifts! Take them on a fun trip to a discount store to pick out gifts for a relative or neighbor.?Hand out some dollar bills and help them go crazy with generosity and creativity! 

  1. Christmas Eve Treasure Box - After dinner one night or after the Christmas Eve church service, have a special treasure box out under the tree for your family to open ahead of the other gifts. This can hold a special gift for everyone in the family like a board game, a new Christmas movie to watch or pajamas for the whole family. 
  2. Christmas Kindness Paper Chain - Pre-cut red, green and white strips of construction paper or cardstock. Have your family write a helpful chore on each strip or ways they can encourage each other as you count down to Christmas Day. Create paper chains for any room of the house and soon you will have kindness ideas everywhere you go!? 
  3. Tree Sleepover - Like having a special meal near the tree, you could designate a weekend night, maybe after decorating, where family members get their sleeping bag or favorite blanket and everyone camps in the room with the tree.?Be sure to incorporate some special Christmas tree camping food like hot chocolate and make-at-home smores. 
  4. "You are a Gift" Christmas Letter - Nothing captures the spirit of Christmas more than telling others how special they are in your lives. Folks like your pastor, a favorite coach, a school counselor or crossing guard will be delighted to have this handwritten keepsake that reminds them of the special ways you see them using their life as a gift to others. If you have the budget, you can include a gift card with the letter as a token of thanks. 
  5. Santa Visit - If you have never taken your kids to visit Santa, it's not too late. You could even recreate a failed Santa visit with your college-aged kids for a hilarious Christmas keepsake. Another idea is to take special hats or funny headbands to wear during your photo session and save them to take back for pictures year after year. 
  6. Create Your Own Ugly Sweatshirts - Grab some coupons and head to the craft store to find long-sleeved t-shirts or sweatshirts you can snap up for a deal. One decorating idea is to use your computer and printer and let family members create an ugly sweater design to print onto t-shirt transfer paper (also available at the craft store). Follow the directions and you can have them for years to come!? Or you can go crazy with little pom poms, garland and puffy fabric paints to let your little Christmas artists demonstrate their creative genius.? 
  7. Iconic Christmas Movie and Treats - Watch the movie "Elf" and make a gingerbread house (there are lots of great kits out there that make it super simple!) or watch "White Christmas" and make snowballs out of rice puff cereal and marshmallows (make them extra festive with green and red sprinkles or candies). Blending movies and special treats is always a great way to incorporate downtime into your busy holiday season. 
  8. Christmas Eve Charcuterie - No need to be hangry during Christmas!? If the timing for family gatherings or church services falls between meals, one way to battle hungry tummies is to plan a spread of easy finger foods on a charcuterie board.?Let family members suggest the shopping list ahead of time and include some special once-a-year treats - this just may be your new holiday food tradition! 

Family Christmas Games 

  1. Mitten Mayhem - Gather the family around a large table with dice, a pair of fluffy mittens (or potholders), a scarf, and a very elaborately  wrapped gift.?As one person puts on the mittens and scarf and then tries to unwrap the gift, the person to their left is trying to roll doubles. Once that person gets doubles, they get passed the mittens, scarf and gift and they try to unwrap while the person on their left tries to get doubles.?Whoever is the first to not just unwrap but get the gift out of the box with the mittens on is the winner! 
  2. Holiday Family Feud - First you'll want to create your Family Feud-style answer boards with poster board and slips of paper to cover the answers. This game is fairly simple to recreate at home and is great for entertaining your extended family. Here are some questions with "survey says" answers already written up to make this activity an easy and fun way to entertain your crowd.? 
  3. What's in The Bag Ornament Version - Take ornaments off your tree and put them in brown paper bags.? Have family sit in a circle and cover their face with their winter hat and without looking, they pull an ornament out of the bag and ask one or two "yes" or "no" questions about the ornament to see if they can figure out which ornament it is from the tree. The more ornaments you have on your tree, the more times you can play this fun guessing game! This works best for immediate family and other relatives who are familiar with your ornaments! 
  4. Gratitude Game - Everyone in the family gets a gift bag and partners with another family member. One partner goes off in search of a "gift" from around the house and puts it in the bag. The gift should be something that's not exactly desirable, that is the point of the game. They return to their partner and show them the "gift", and it's the partner's job to find a positive way to thank them. Partners take turns giving gifts for several rounds. It's lots of fun seeing if your partner can find a way to thank you for the wonderfully white square of toilet paper or dirty sock. And it's great practice for thanking someone when you don't get exactly what you expected!? 
  5. Family "What's on Your Phone"- For older or adult children, this might be a fun way to get everyone on their phones AND interacting with each other. Members of the family earn points for Christmas-themed things on their phone like downloaded music, pictures and ringtones. You can also throw in points for people finding things the fastest on their phone like a social media post with Santa in it, a winter landscape scene or an email that has the word "Christmas" in it.? 
  6. Family "What's in Your Closet" - If you have younger children or are less techy, this is another version of the previous game. You can challenge family members to be the first to find in their closet something green, then something red, then something from a previous Christmas and so on. 

Family Outdoor Fun 

  1. Free Skating Clinics - Some skating rinks offer a low-cost or free skating clinic for registered guests. It might be fun to brush up on your skating skills (or learn for the first time) while letting professionals teach the younger generation as well!? 
  2. Winter Walk - A sunset walk in your neighborhood doesn't have to be just for summer evenings. Layer up and get outside to enjoy a walking tour of holiday decorations. Other great winter sports to try with older children are snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Contact your local parks about rentals or search for outdoor recreation and wellness centers that offer these activities.? 
  3. Christmas Lights Drive Around - More and more towns are using social media to point you to neighborhoods shining at their Christmas light game. If you prefer a more traditional outing, check out your downtown shopping district to see if cruising main street with a cup of hot chocolate might be a great wind-down on a chilly December night. 
Taking time to slow down and enjoy special moments together is something you will never regret. Use one or more of these ideas to create special memories together as a family this Christmas and for many Christmases to come. 

Julie David is a freelance writer, educator, and worship pastor's wife from the Midwest who likes warm hugs.