Winter Christmas Family Activities Hub-Holiday Fun for the whole family

Winter and Holiday Activities

Christmas, with all its bells and whistles, tinsel and sparkle, is a fabulous time to create with developmental benefits and enjoy the heart-warming results.

Christmas is a magical time of family and friends, peace, love and joy. If you’re looking for a fun way to keep your kids busy for an afternoon and make some priceless Christmas memories at the same time, look no further! Here are some easy Christmas craft ideas you can enjoy with your kids (adult supervision is required for the glue gunning and scissor work). Best of all, most of these crafts are made with items you probably have lying about your home right now, so you won’t break the bank.

You will find the ‘how to’ of all these brilliant ideas and more (and the clever people who posted them) right on this page sorted by age. As always ensure that you always supervise (or better yet create together)and exercise caution when creating, so that no little bits end up in mouths.

For the whole family

Christmas craft and games GymbaROO Article


For Babies

Christmas decorations are fabulous for creating sensory bottles. Roll them along the floor for babies during tummy time; crawlers and toddlers can chase them and shake them; older children can help to make them! All ages developing strength, coordination, balance, integrating reflexes and developing visual skills!

Christmas-sensory-bottles-GymbaROO Article

Shatter proof baubles and festive ornaments are excellent ‘eye catchers’ to hang from mobiles and playmats for baby to practice developing visual skills, hand-eye and foot-eye coordination on back or tummy. Hope was only 6 months old for her first Christmas. I found baubles that were Styrofoam balls covered with ribbon at Big Lots. I was so happy to have a beautiful baby girl that I DID ANYTHING THAT I thought would make her happy and giggly.

Baby-christmas-ideas- GymbaROO BabyROO article

Worried about your tree- Use holiday teething rings on the bottom off your tree or decorate a large sensory filled hula hoop with enticing toys to distract them and place it on the floor so they have something sparkly, somethings soft, and something crunchy sounding that they are allowed to play with. If they are into the lights, put a string of battery operated lights in a clear bottle for them to get up close and personal with.

Since babies explore and learn through their senses,
then we need to let them have some holiday fun too!!
How to make a
Sensory Hula Hoop 
Sensory Bottle with Lights
Don't forget to add your own flair!!!

For Toddlers

Games that add some holiday cheer and develop gross and fine motor muscles, color recognition, hand-eye coordination, motor planning and more. They love being able to move and sort things at their whim. If those objects are full of sensory stimulation they will get lost in it.
And how about some active holiday story telling for them.

Christmas craft and games GymbaROO Article

Christmas craft and games GymbaROO Article

Hope LOVED felt. It was like an art project and story "wrapped up" in one.

Christmas for toddlers GymbaROO

For 2 1/2 years and up

There are so many Christmas craft ideas, terrific for developing both fine and gross motor strength and coordination, color recognition, hand-eye coordination, laterality skills, motor planning and so much more. Here are just a few!

Christmas-craft-for-3-years-and-up GymbaROO article

Christmas-craft-3,4-years. GymbaROO article

Family Round Up

Christmas Crafts and Activities For Little's and Special One's

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Tons of Christmas Crafts for Littles and Special Ones

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Old Fashioned Homemade Christmas
Fun for the Family

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Tons Of Christmas Fun for the Family

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All children love being creative when it is fun for them. 
The Christmas season is really the most wonderful time of the year to encourage a love of the creative process that not only allows them to be proud of what they created: but also allows you to train your child as a creative thinker which is needed in all walks of life. However, some busy moms say they can’t face the “mess stress” which often comes with they don't make a mess when they cook.

While it’s tempting to leave all the creative activities for your child to do at school, there is so much joy and happiness to be made with your children. It was always so nice to do something with my kids at home. Be cautious with your schedule and take time to just enjoy your family time. Even at a young age, creative activities help to develop skills like planning, fine motor and visual skills that young children need for success in handwriting and more. Hope was 3 when she started making her own Christmas gifts for the people she loved.
We had a blast planning and making gifts together. Do not miss out on something that your kids will enjoy.
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6 Ways to Enjoy a Stress-Free Christmas Crafternoon!

This Christmas may be different than in previous years. What better way to make up for that than to snuggle up at home with the kids and indulge into some creative Christmas craft together. If the thought of messy glue and glitter is too much to bear, have no fear, we have some ways to still get creative.

 Craft mess shows they enjoyed themselves and were really into it.-Their smiles and squells and ooo's and ahhh's are so worth it and so much fun. Of course, take pictures.

1) Make a Craft Kit or Caddy(Links go to ideas using that material) Craft sessions don’t need to be big, grand experiences. Choose items that are fun and effective to use. The most basic kit includes: scissors, clear glue/Tacky Glue or Cellotape, colored card stock or paper and a set of colored pens or markers. (We added scrapbook paper and newspaper, felt, Christmas wrap scraps, paper plates, stickers and foam stickers, paints, yarn, pipe cleaners, colored string, ribbon, buttons, glitter glue, sequins, craft gems/jewels, confetti, plastic straw, striped paper straws, feathers,Magic Nuudlesand pony beads. Tacky Glue is thicker and dries sooner than school glue. It is recommended for using these types of embellishments.
However, only put out what you want your children to create with. With a little planning and using the right products, you can help you cut down on the mess without it interfering with their creativity.

  • Put your materials on a tray, and then use the tray to create on. If there are lots of loose bits or painting happening- simply put newspaper, paper bag (slit the sides and lay flat) or craft paper over the workspace before starting the project. Roll it up and throw it all away.
  • Did you know washable markers and water can be used instead of using messy watercolor paint? You can also use acrylic paint markers and paint pens or chalk paint pens without sacrificing creativity while drawing. They can be used on paper, canvas, fabric, plastic, wood, ceramics, rock and tons of other surfaces. When you spray it with a fine mist the stroke marks bleed making it look painted.

  • Magic Nuudles are safe and biodegradable craft noodles made from cornstarch. When you press a Nuudle against a wet sponge or lick them, it becomes sticky, and it will adhere to paper, cardboard or another Magic nuudle. You can build the coolest structures with them. If you use foam stickers and the Magic Nuudles, there is no need for glue, making this part of the activity virtually mess-free.

  • And if you hate glitter mess everywhere- every Wal-mart and craft stores have glitter glue: glue with the glitter already in it. You can also put loose glitter in a baggie or oatmeal box and the project then shake it-the glitter will stick to tacky glue, mod podge or double sided tape.  

  • Speaking of adhesives, everyone knows about glue sticks but also look for glue dots to avoid glue messes. A dot can do a lot! Glue Dots are instant bonding, double-sided adhesives that are easy-to-use, mess-free, acid-free, lignin-free and non-toxic. They come in several sizes and strengths so use their “dot finder” to help you choose which ones work best on your materials. Dot N Go® for the Classroom  

2) Stay simple – whenever I’m feeling a bit uninspired but want to set up a simple crafty experience for my kids, I pull out colored or Washi tape, stencils and stamps. It’s like I was the hero of the arts and crafts world. It’s simple to use, and allows mini-makers to practice some fine motor skills and engage in sensory play. More ideas that you can easily set up and they can do independently are here

3) Let them use Creative Colors don’t feel you need to stick to traditional Christmas colors such as red, gold and green. Three is a perfect number of colors to choose but there’s no reason why you can’t have a rainbow Christmas! Funky colors for Christmas projects are on trend this year.

4) Focus on the Creative Process not making a product like an example –often as adults we focus on what we expect our child to produce from a creative activity. If we shift our focus to the process, it can make the whole experience a lot more enjoyable for everybody. Process or Open Ended Art is not about teaching children how to do art. It’s about creating the emotional space for them to discover it for themselves. It’s about encouraging them to entering into an adventure with creating with interesting supplies, textures and colors. When children are engaged with the creating process, they are happy to just create and explore. Especially in children with Autism…we want them to be comfortable (or even excited) discovering and exploring the world through art.

the benefits of process art

5) Set up Creative Free Play/ Art Centers – Christmas is a great time to encourage creativity. Try leaving easy-to-use, low-mess art materials out on the table so that kids can create whenever and however they please. By making various art materials accessible to your child or students, you can encourage all kinds of creating. Products like glue sticks and Pilot Paint Markers are fabulous materials for kids to creatively and independently create with. Process art is all about the experience: how they feel as they experiment with your materials, the ideas that their get to explore, and the opportunity to try new things. Some websites call it an invitation to create, design your own projects, or setting up a creative table, open ended or choice art and more. Essentially they create on their own and use the supplies any way that they want to.

Hope really liked Open Ended Process Art set up like this once she was about 18 months. (Of course if you set this type of art tray down to to toddler they are overwhelmed and want every thing at once.) We separated her supplies into sections: 1) creative surfaces to create on, 2) tools that stimulate new techniques, 3) supplies that were consistently changed to support her interests and imagination. I made shaped cutouts of the appropriate season that were available for her to create on. The color, shape, size, and design of their idea makes every project a unique adventure as they experiment with the combination of the materials that they select or we set out.

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6) Join in have fun creating with or alongside your children. If you provide the materials to everybody and expect them to create exactly what is in your mind; you’re in control of your process and you are imposing your ideas into their process. If we shift our focus to the process, it can make the whole experience a lot more enjoyable for everybody. Because the goal of process art is to explore and discover, rather than achieve perfection, adults are also emotionally free to support whatever the child dreams up as an ideal solution or end result.

No fighting, tears, or half-completed projects. Adults participating with them act as co-learners, so they don’t have to hold all the answers. In fact, not knowing the answers can be a huge benefit because it gives adults room to play and experiment themselves. Be playful and joyful in the art-making process. It models to your children that you value the act of creating. I often joined in to model a new technique or how to use a new tool and ask her opinion on it.

Or she would ask me to teach it to her.

Children painting with teacher in art class.

This kind of art is about decision making. Artists work hard, take risks, make connections, daydream, turn old ideas into new ones, look at things closely, notice details, see the big picture, generate ideas, and try new things. These are all qualities I want my children to have and skills I think our future society and workforce will need. Getting to share this creative process with your young or special needs children is one of the most fabulous things that you will experience as a parent.

Let the kids create what is exactly in their minds. If the end result looks beautiful, consider that a bonus. But it is the doing, trying, thinking, and experimenting that is the main focus here. Sometimes you will consider the end product ugly. Great! You’ve learned something about the combination of materials, colors, technique, or your own relationship to art. Sometimes Hope would take a project outside to use spray paint on it. Sometimes adding glitter or stickers worked. And sometimes she would put it in the pile of paintings to use as a background. And other times she would just throw it away and we would discuss how to make her next project better. Perhaps the tool was all wrong, making the application of the supplies not work together. It’s all the learning process. Just like preparing a meal, redecorating a room or fixing something in our homes, it’s all trial and error.

Family Bonding Activities and spending time together is essential for developing a solid fun loving relationship with your children. This also helps with their overall wellbeing and growth. If you wish to forge fabulous relationships with your children, then get involved in their daily lives. By doing these Family Bonding Activities Ideas, you can create closeness among the members of the family without much effort or time. You don’t even have to leave your house to do this.
I have provided Tons of Family Christmas activities for the family on Pinterest directly below this so they have something to do while you are working with your Little One’s and Special needs kiddo’s.

Christmas decoration, Christmas ornament, Interior design, Snowman, Christmas,
 Christmas Tree Ornaments Made From Stuff Lying Around Your House

Decorating your Christmas tree does not have to be an expensive ordeal. You can easily make personalized, unique ornaments for your tree by using things lying around your home, like toilet paper tubes, paper towels, wine corks, old newspapers, CDs (remember those?), plastic water bottles, and even dry pasta. Festive Decoration Ideas For Your Home

Have a blast with your favorite Littles and Specials!!! If you enjoy sitting down with them and making something together, then they will enjoy it too.



Experiences to Give This Holiday Season

Nov 24, 2021

Young girl making gifts in arts and crafts class.


By Kayla Craig

In the "Alma's Way" episode “Alma’s Nochebuena,” Alma and Junior love their Christmas Eve tradition of making ornaments together. Even when things go awry (like a dog ruining their homemade star!), they still have the shared experience of creating something special together.
Here are a few ideas for experiences and non-store-bought gifts.

  1. Get crafty. Channel Alma and Junior by making these popsicle stick tree ornaments that don't require purchasing new materials!

  2. Pass it on. What does your child love doing? If she’s a nature lover, look into family passes at a local reserve or national park — and then check out these family benefits for getting out in nature together! Or, got a budding scientist on your hands? Check out holiday deals on a ticket (or annual pass) to a science museum. Other places with family passes include rec centers, art museums, bowling alleys, and community theaters -- and some of these places have sliding scales, making payment accessible for more families!

  3. Take a class. Connect with your kids through art! Reserve a time at a local art center or dance studio for you and your child to roll up your selves and make art -- and memories -- with each other. Or surprise your child with a basket of all the supplies needed for a specific project -- and then plan the time to work on it together from home. You can even watch a free step-by-step how-to video together to get inspiration.

  4. Get cooking! My son and I took an online cooking class right from our kitchen through a local nonprofit in our community. It was a gift that kept on giving! We got to support our Nigerian refugee friends, learn how to make something new (and delicious!), and we made a lot of fun memories together in the kitchen, too. Try these delicious holiday food traditions from around the world. (And If you’re looking for a new-to-you recipe to make together, try Budín de pan, a Puerto Rican bread pudding that’s a favorite of Alma and makes a delicious holiday treat.)

  5. Relax. Whether or not you go to a spa or create a spa-like vibe at home, relaxing together can be a fun experience to give (and receive!). Who doesn’t like a little pampering? Give your little one a yoga mat with a book of easy-to-understand moves or create a little self-care basket with a fun water bottle and cozy robe, and then get to relaxing together! Incorporate these simple self-care habits into your time together.

  6. Light things up. Alma loves Christmas lights! When Papi turns on his famous animal lights, the whole neighborhood loves them. Grab some hot cocoa and take a driving or walking tour through a holiday light display. Or, create your own mini Christmas lights made of Q-tips! The light strand also looks cute as a bracelet, necklace, package decoration, or decoration for a miniature Christmas tree.

  7. Create a book basket. Every year, I get a couple of new-to-us books to add to our holiday book collection. (I keep an eye out at library sales and thrift stores.) We bring out the basket every year and make new memories reading around the fire together. We also enjoy reading about how other families and religions celebrate the holiday season.

  8. Game time! Celebrate the holiday season with tickets to cheer on your favorite team. You don’t have to go big to have fun, either. Smaller hometown teams often have themed family game nights and are fairly affordable, too. Give your little one a hat or shirt to go along with this sporty experience.

  9. Go down memory lane. Whether you want to go old school with scissors and glue or prefer to order a digital photo album, a custom memory book is a one-of-a-kind gift for the ones you love. Kids love seeing photos from before they could remember -- and hearing the stories that go along with all those cute pictures! You could go on a family heritage hunt together, too!

  10. Plan a holiday staycation. To celebrate Three Kings Day, Alma and her family go to a community parade. From big cities to small towns, many communities host parades as holiday kickoff events. Consider giving your child a special day at a parade as one of their gifts. If your little one loves unwrapping items, you could give them a homemade scarf to wear on their day out. Get something sweet at a local vendor and try something fun together, like ice skating! You may have a bruised knee (or ego) but you’ll also have plenty of laughs and memories, too.

The holiday season can get overwhelming fast (for young children and grown-ups, too!). We can help our kids be thoughtful and intentional this holiday season by showing them the beauty (and fun!) in creating new things and exploring new places together.


Maybe it’s the smell of fresh sugar cookies taking us back to our grandmother’s kitchen when we were little, hearing the sweet innocent voice of our child during their Christmas concert or feeling the gentle tug on our heartstrings, reminding us that another year with our sweet children has passed, but something about the Christmas season seems to bring everything into clearer focus.

I need to spend more time my kids this holiday season and less time stressing out.

I want to create memories they’ll always remember in an atmosphere of love and closeness.

I want to make time for family bonding and strengthening family relationships.

Being intentional in setting aside time for family bonding activities during the holidays is a gift to your child that will keep on giving, throughout your child’s life.

family bonding activities

It’s NOT all about making a plan and following through during one of the busiest times of the year. IT IS about creating magical moments with your kids. Here’s a list to get you brainstorming on which Christmas ideas for families will cultivate the best family bonding. Don't forget to add your own flair.

50 Family Bonding Activities for Christmas

1.Have a family board game tournament and chose an object for the official trophy!

2.Connect through art with these fun interactive (and washable!) tablecloths

family bond

3.Take a family vote and then watch the ‘all-time favorite’ Christmas movie

4.Have a pizza picnic on a blanket by candlelight at the end of a busy day

5.Go ice skating

6.Savor their smallness with holiday footprint art

7.Let your child be the photographer to document a special day

8.Go sledding (yes you too!)

9.Tell the story of the birth of Jesus and let the kids get in on the action with this nativity

10.Read Christmas stories cuddled in the dark with flashlights

11.Look through family photo albums together

12.Write your child a letter about how they’ve grown in the past year and what an amazing kid they are!

christmas activities for families

13.Boost well-being by making a craft or ornament from nature

14.Have a ‘secret Santa’ exchange with your immediate family (shhh no telling!)

15.Share Christmas traditions from your childhood with the kids.

Related>> Easy Family Bonding Activities for the busiest days

16.Have a ‘family bake-off’ where each member gets to make their favorite Christmas cookies and everyone judges the winner.

17.Bundle up and head out on a nighttime nature walk with flashlights

18.Head to the local animal shelter or outdoor petting zoo to cuddle and feed the animals

19.Cook a meal together

20.Make homemade wrapping paper

21.Create a family time capsule ornament for the past year.

Christmas family bonding

22.Sing the most annoying Christmas songs together during a road trip

23.Go see a Christmas play at a local theatre (or watch one on TV!)

24.Watch family videos from your childhood (kids LOVE this).

25.Try these epic Elf on the Shelf Ideas

26.Read the scriptures covering the birth of Jesus

27. Decorate gingerbread houses (step away and let your kid do it all by themselves!)

family bonding activities

28.Have a one on one date with your child and chat about their favorite parts of Christmas

29.Make a hot chocolate bar

30.Have a diy spa day complete with foot soaks and manicures

Related>> How to Use A Child’s Love Language to Make the Holidays More Meaningful

31.Take a drive to see Christmas lights and decorations (don’t forget to-go mugs with hot chocolate!)

32.Make homemade Christmas ornaments to hand out

33.Let the kids decorate their own small Christmas tree all by themselves

34.Make your own Christmas popcorn

35.Have a winter fire outdoors

family bond

36.Print this nature advent calendar to help promote outdoor time in the winter

37.Try these mindfulness activities with your child to help handle holiday stress

38.Have a holiday movie bing-a-thon

39.Show up on someone’s doorstep to sing carols

40.Go to the Nutcracker Ballet (or catch this one online for safe social distancing)

41.Volunteer at the local food pantry

42.Bake a birthday cake for Jesus

43.Teach kindness with the Kindness Elves

christmas family bonding

44.Take your kids to shop for their own gifts for other members of the family

45.Make reindeer food to put out the night before Christmas

46.One of our new favorite family bonding activities is heading to the local tree farm to cut down a real Christmas tree.

47.Make homemade tree garland

48.Open gifts on Christmas Eve (gasp!). Santa coming after midnight mass was a childhood tradition I adored growing up.

49.Choose some of these adorable Artsy Christmas Tree Crafts

50.Enjoy this miraculous time of year with your little blessings.

Family bonding activities at Christmas don’t need to be complicated

Being together is what counts.

It seems like all your child wants for Christmas is presents, but I bet you’d agree when you look back on your own childhood the other kind of presence is what you remember most. Making time for family bonding activities with your kids at Christmas is an investment you’ll never regret.

I'm in love with Christmas and although I haven't checked to make sure, I think Christmas loves me back. Growing up with a stay at home mom didn't offer lavish or expensive gifts but maybe that's why I love our traditions so much! I usually went into Christmas with low expectations as a kid but it always proved its magic. Christmas to me is about family, it's about fun traditions and creating magical moments with our relatives.

Anyway, right now I want to talk about some fun Christmas traditions because they are one of my favorite aspect of Christmas! Well besides the joy of sharing the day with our cousins, grandparents and our aunts and uncles.

Christmas Traditions

Love these Ideas for new Christmas Traditions!

Santa Claus Letter

This is a super fun Christmas Tradition for starting out your holidays. The gist of it? Santa sends a letter to your house asking the kids to help out the North Pole by donating toys they don't need anymore so that there are enough toys to go around this Christmas. Not only does this get your kids involved in the true spirit of Christmas, but it helps you to declutter and get rid of things you don't need, before bringing new toys into the home. My husband's rule at our house is, “for everything you buy, you have to get rid of at least two things.” He hates having too much “stuff.”

Adorable Santa Claus letter that inspires the true spirit of Christmas

Christmas Kindness Elves.
A fun alternative to “Elf on the Shelf” that focuses on doing kind things for someone every day leading up to Christmas. You need to order this one early so it ships on time!

kindness-elves: A memorable way to celebrate Christmas this year

Christmas Treasure Map This is a fun scavenger hunt that leads the kids to a new Christmas activity each day leading up to Christmas. You can customize it however you like! If you are giving a vacation for Christmas, make sure and check out all the best Black Friday Travel Deals (Includes Cyber Monday).

Christmas Treasure map tradiition

CHRISTMAS STALKER: In our family every year we draw names and whoever has our name is called our “Christmas Stalker” meaning you should “stalk” the family member you have to find out what gift would be most meaningful for them to receive. Another reason we were called “stalkers” is because our gift was to fit in a stocking….large or small…bought or made.

We had themes every year; sometimes the gift had to be handmade, sometimes it had to be from the classifieds or a yard sale, sometimes it had to be something we already had, and sometimes it was purchased but had a spending limit (usually $10 which resulted in all of us watching the Amazon Lightning deals to see who could find the best deal for $10).

See my previous post for a fun Christmas Stocking Tradition, as well as some ideas for stocking stuffers!

CHILDREN'S CHRISTMAS TREE: A few years back I babysat for someone who had a neat Christmas tradition and I have decided to carry it on in my own little family. They had a separate “mini” tree for the kids that they were welcome to decorate and re-decorate over and over.

Underneath the tree were Christmas books all wrapped up. Each night the children got to pick a present to open and they read that book as a family that night. The books she put under the tree weren't all Christmas books either–some were holiday books, some were silly books, and some were children's books that teach life lessons.

I saw on Pinterest the other day a kid's tree using felt. I didn't really want one on my wall, so I made my own version using a 28″ safety cone that I bought off Amazon. I wanted something that I could use year after year and that wouldn't fall apart. When Christmas is over, I can store the felt tree with my Christmas stuff, and put the orange cone in the garage. See my post Toddler Felt Tree Tutorial for more instructions.

toddler tree Christmas tradition

MATCHING CHRISTMAS PAJAMAS: (JUST FOUND THIS: DEAL ON MATCHING CHRISTMAS JAMMIES) I know of many families that do this one and have decided to do it myself. On Christmas eve, there is a knock at the door and Santa's elves secretly leave new Christmas pajamas for everyone.

Christmas Eve Tradition

This always makes for fun pictures.

Christmas Eve Box

Santa's Elves leave a special Christmas Eve Box or Bucket at the door on Christmas Eve filled with PJ's, cocoa, & more!

Gingerbread Village and Hot Cocoa: For me, it's just not Christmas season without decorating gingerbread with the kids. Make up some of this homemade hot cocoa (make it once and then you have a pre-made mix for the rest of the season), and make a gingerbread village as a family!

Christ Centered Christmas

SLEEP OVER: Another fun tradition is to have all of the kids have a sleepover in one room and know that they can stay up as late as they want together watching Christmas movies and playing games, but they have to stay in the room (usually the furthest room from the Christmas tree so they don't over hear “Santa”). This also keeps them up late and makes them tired, hopefully keeping them from waking up mom and dad at 4 AM.

Christmas Traditions

CHINESE: I have a friend whose family goes out for Chinese in their Christmas pajamas every Christmas Eve. Christmas traditions like this are fun because the kids look forward to it every year and the pictures are priceless. This wouldn't have to be Chinese, you could adapt it to your own family's preference.

SANTA vs. PARENTS Debate: We just put their name on gift tags. Never being pro or con Santa helps when they stopped believing.

Christmas Trip. Several families have the tradition of giving a family vacation for Christmas instead of “things.” Here's a fun printable ticket template for surprising a trip.

Boarding Pass Printable Ticket Template

REINDEER NAMES: This is a fun way of tagging Christmas gifts. Rather than put the child's name on each present, assign each child a reindeer name. This keeps the children from running to the tree and pulling out all the presents with their name on it because until present opening starts, no one knows who's nickname is “Dasher” or who is “Prancer.”

HALLMARK CHRISTMAS MOVIES. This is one of my FAVORITE Christmas traditions. Hallmark Christmas movies bring that feel-good Christmas spirit that makes the holidays so great. They do a Christmas countdown starting in October, with Christmas movies every day! If you have the Hallmark channel, you can see the Hallmark Christmas Movie Schedule here, or if you have an Amazon account, see our post on all the Hallmark Movies you Can Watch on Amazon (many for free)

Hallmark Christmas Movies you can watch on Amazon

These were always tender and special moments that made my Christmas memorable. See an entire list of ideas for Christmas kindness (and free printables here): Fun Ways to have a Christ-centered Christmas

GIFT FOR JESUS: We did this one several different years. We would write up a gift that we were going to give to the Savior over the next year and put it inside of an ornament. The next year we would read what we wrote and hopefully smile that we accomplished our goal. Use our free Gift For Jesus printable.

NATIVITY: My mother always did some type of Christmas Eve “devotional”, and part of it usually consisted of us dressing up and acting out the story of Christ's birth from the book of Luke. Now that a lot of us are older, the grandchildren now act out the story. You could also make nativity gingerbread houses!

I enjoy falling in love with new Christmas traditions and making them my own because family traditions are extremely important for family unity. Traditions contribute to healthy family life because they give children a sense of belonging–that they are part of a group rather than a solitary individual.


My family has awesome Christmas traditions – a few had to be “put away” when my sister and I actually moved out. And with the coming of pinterest into my life, there are a few that I absolutely plan on starting with my kids – to make special memories that will last them a lifetime.

My sister pointed out recently that it’s not the day to day at home growing up that she REMEMBERS.

It’s the special things we did as a family, the things that were different from the day to day, that stand out in her mind.

I want my kids to have great family memories, and Christmas traditions are one of the most fun ways I can think of to create those memories!

(PS I’ve checked out a bunch of other “good Christmas traditions” lists on Pinterest, and I think you’ll find some totally unique suggestions here!)



I love having the whole month of December to enjoy the decorations.

And growing up I loved that there was never a question of WHEN we would decorate. We always got the tree up and all the lights on as soon as December hits.

To this day on Dec 1st, I blast the carols, drink the wine, and deck the halls.


Speaking of blasting the carols, everyone in the family should have a say in which songs make the Christmas playlist – and let it be the soundtrack for your December.

You can add to it each year!


These can be easy or elaborate! Anything from a simple family photo stuck on cardstock to adorable handprint reindeers… it’s more about the time you’ll spend together than the finished product.


You could even SAVE money by forgoing the trimmings and jumping on a plane to Disneyland (if you do that, make sure you grab discount Disney tickets), or maybe spending a quiet week on a beach in Hawaii is more up your alley?

Memories you’ll make will last far far longer than legos you buy, and YOU’LL actually enjoy the break too! (You could still get the little people something fun to open from the dollar store!)

Related: Giving the Gift of a Family Vacation at Christmas


On December 1st, sit everyone down and let each person pick one thing they’d like to do (as a family) in December.

It could be skating, going for a drive to see the lights, building a snowman, baking cookies – whatever they want! Then try to pick dates and schedule the activities so everything on your “holiday bucket list” gets checked off.


Take the whole family shopping for shoebox supplies and teach your kids that Christmas is not ALL about getting. (If you’ve never looked into filling shoeboxes before you can get more information on this awesome opportunity to bless kids here.)

This is a family Christmas tradition that will bless other people and help your kids become better humans!



This is never as much fun when you have to do all the baking of the gingerbread house pieces… but after they came out with pre-baked gingerbread houses, we did one every year. (Tip: we found we never ate the house anyhow because after sitting out for three weeks the cookie part is pretty gross. Try to find the kits on clearance right after Christmas and save them in the freezer for next year – save a LOT of money!)

You can also make smaller houses out of graham crackers, and that’s just as easy 🙂


There are so many FUN ideas for decorating Christmas cookies, and it can be just as much fun (and maybe easier) than decorating a gingerbread house!

Here’s a few SUPER CUTE Christmas cookie ideas!


Write letters to Santa with your kids, and send them off… In Canada, you can send your letters to

Santa Claus
North Pole HOH OHO

And he will write back!

(You don’t have to tell the kids, but you really should photocopy these letters and keep them in an album. Bring them out to look back on when your kids have kids!)


Everyone’s allowed to stay up late and build forts in the living room! (OR have them build forts in mom and dad’s room – this way mom and dad still get to sleep in their bed, but it’s still a party.) Read Christmas stories and drink hot chocolate. Talk about all the wonderful things that happened throughout the year – and write them in a special journal that you can add to every year. Or make pretty paper chains – this one is new to me since I married a Brit, but I LOVE them. (Threading popcorn for garland might be fun too!)

Related: DIY Ornaments to Make With Toddlers


For as long as I can remember, we’ve had a family movie night (sometime during the week that is Christmas week) and my family always watched National Lampoons Christmas Vacation. With popcorn and hot chocolate, and when we were older, slightly stronger hot chocolate. We still do to this day! On whatever day my family gets to celebrate together, we still sit down and watch Christmas Vacation. Our husbands roll their eyes, but it’s one we aren’t giving up.

(I have to say here, we had a from-TV-recorded VHS when I was a kid and the station had made it a little more “family friendly” when it aired in the 80s. When we finally bought a DVD of it about ten years ago, we were pretty shocked by the language. I don’t recommend Christmas Vacation for families with small kids – unless you can get an edited version. But there are TONS of other great Christmas movies that aren’t so um… grown-up sounding.) This is maybe the simplest of all family Christmas traditions on the list, but I think it’s my favorite.


Choose a week’s (or two!) worth of Christmas movies and each night for the week before Christmas, cross one off the list!


Just like movie night, this is one my family never misses out on… even though we’re all grown up and married. We just take all the new people we’ve collected (and made) back to mom and dad’s for game night, and I can’t wait to do this with my own kids!

As the years go on, track your game night stats in this family game night ledger! The Game Ledger will become a family keepsake to look back on as time goes on. (I’d stick photos in there too!)

Our hands-down favorite game (for adults) is Settlers of Catan. It’s a litttttle bit like risk, but 23 times more awesome. Settler’s is too involved for the really little people; it might be fun to invest in something festive like Rudolph Monopoly and play it every year.

If you – like us – have small kids, here’s our favorite family games that even our 3 year old can play!

Here’s a whole big list of Christmas traditions for kids, if you’re finding the rest of THIS list a little too “grown-up” for your family!



Maybe this just seems like Christmas to me because we did it for the first time at Christmas…but it became another important thing on our Christmas traditions list!

It’s so out of the ordinary, and so much fun. Now that I’m thinking about it, I can’t wait to do it this year. A new fondue pot will be on my shopping list since last year we found more than one would have been good.

If you aren’t up for all the hot oil and prep work, you could just have chocolate fondue as desert.


Hear me out on this one – it’s another one of our favorite Christmas traditions. It’s better done in large groups, at an extended family Christmas or party with a good number of friends. We know it’s coming all year long, and the longer you have to plan for it the better – because you can find the “best” gifts that way. (Bonus: these gifts tend to be dirt cheap.)

Related: How to Have a fun FRUGAL Christmas

We play it like a standard gift exchange – where everyone “playing” brings one gift, is assigned a number and then as numbers get drawn out of a hat you get to choose a gift from the pile. The first person opens a gift, the second person can either take that gift or open a NEW gift. The third person can choose from either open gift, or can open another gift. If someone steals your gift, you can steal someone else’s open gift (just not the one that was stolen from you) or you can open a new gift. Each time a new gift is open, that’s the end of that “round” and the next number is drawn. (We play that a gift is “frozen” – no longer available for stealing – after you have had it 3 times. But we were finding that no one really needed any of the very generic gifts you bring to a party like that, we were playing just to play, not to get the gifts. So we started calling it the garage sale gift exchange – meaning anything goes. Bring whatever you want to get out of your house. ANYTHING. Whatever you end up with you have to take home.

(I got a half-eaten box of liquor chocolates one year. Last year I got an antique breast pump (circa 1900 perhaps) that a neighbor lady found in an old cabin they were bulldozing. Serious. We literally laughed until we cried.) If you get something particularly terrible, keep if for next year and make someone else take it home.


So I’m already planning how to adapt this one – can you tell? My British hubby watches a girly movie (by choice) once per year – and that movie is Love Actually and it’s at Christmas time. We drink wine and turn on the Christmas lights and cuddle up. (And then I try to sneak in watching The Holiday too, if it’s not too late! We bought both of these on DVD because they are non-negotiable Christmas watching.) Your “just you guys” tradition can be super simple, but it’s important to focus on each other once in a while.


It’s so easy to forget that Christmas is all actually about the fact the Christ came here for us, to be with us, to save us. This is something I will do with my kids, every year. Take the time out in the busy Christmas season to focus on Jesus, and thank Him.


For the last couple of years, we’ve gone driving to look at Christmas lights late at night.

It’s awesome! Take popcorn and hot chocolate in travel mugs. It’s basically free entertainment for the kids, and it’s nice quiet family time where everyone is strapped down. This is easily one of our favorite family Christmas traditions – my kids are starting to ask when we can do this!

(I mean, the holidays can be hectic, and sometimes it’s nice to just do something chill.)


My parents always chose one little gift that we were allowed to open on Christmas eve, after Church, and I always looked forward to that SO MUCH! I love love love the idea of a Christmas Eve gift that’s just one gift for the whole family – like a family movie night – since I do also like the idea of keeping Christmas clutter free. Your Christmas eve box could include a movie, matching family pajamas (my favorite pajamas in the whole world are Lazy One pjsI would do a whole family set of these…), and snacks.

Related: The Ultimate Clutter Free Christmas Gifts Guide for Toddlers – Teens
Related: The Ultimate Clutter Free Christmas Gifts Guide for Her, for Him and For Grandparents


No one ever made us “eat a healthy breakfast” on Christmas morning – it was straight to the gifts, with hot chocolate and Christmas music. Almost always Elvis.



It is NEVER a waste of time to stop and remind ourselves of the true meaning of Christmas and to cement it in our children’s minds.


Pick out one new tree ornament, and add to your growing collection of “special” ornaments. Or better yet, MAKE a tree ornament every year. You could make salt dough handprints and paint them (these will be precious forever), cut a ring off the bottom of your tree and date it, or dip pine cones in glitter!

Related: Christmas Ornaments for Toddlers to Make


Get everyone in the family their own Christmas stocking – a personalized one is fun! They can hang empty for the whole month, as decorations, and be magically filled overnight on Christmas eve!

We always opened our stockings FIRST, and it’s so fun to start your own Christmas stocking traditions with your family.

Related: Toddler Stocking Stuffer Ideas (Under 10$)


Alright, yours doesn’t have to be a bug.

But hang some mistletoe!

Here’s our mistle-toe bug.

How did this thing get to be a family tradition?

50 years ago, when my grandparents had NO money, as some sort of joke, my grandma made this mistletoe bug from scrap bits that were hanging around the house… and this thing has come out each and every Christmas for the past 50 odd years.

It’s not Christmas around here without the mistletoe bug.


Everyone in their jammies, with their hair crazy, surrounded by wrapping paper. We set the camera on self timer. These are some of my favorite photos to look back on.


My mom had this massive roll of gorgeous holographic wrapping paper (that she kept hidden for literally YEARS) and every Christmas morning there was one more gift there than there had been the night before, wrapped in the special paper that only Santa used. (I still remember finding that paper years later and thinking it was so fun that she had thought to do that.)


This isn’t something that we did growing up, but it’s absolutely something I would like to do with my kids! And it’s a great Christmas tradition to start with a toddler or a baby! I really want to keep Christmas from getting too materialistic (and I hate the idea of cluttering the house up SO badly). I love the idea of gifting everyone with something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read.


Also new to me since I married a Brit! But it’s a lot of fun… and I buy the crackers after Christmas every year and put them in storage with the wrapping paper for the next year. (I get them for 75-80% off generally, so it’s a pretty cheap tradition.) Just in case you didn’t get any last year – there are some pretty affordable ones available on amazon.


This one might have some disputed origins, but regardless of where the Christmas pickle tradition started, there’s no denying it’s fun.

You don’t have to use a pickle. (I’ve heard of using a red ball and calling it hiding “Rudolph’s nose”… that’s cute too!)

You can totally hide ANYTHING you want, and it can be unique to your family!


Getting your kids out and doing something nice for someone who has less is a great way to instill gratitude in them for what they have.


It doesn’t have to be the standard chocolate variety, but my goodness I have reservations about the 25 book variety – unless you plan on buying them all second hand and donating them after! (25 books coming into my house in one month?! NO thank you. If your kids are a little older, I think it would be fun to have each family member decorate their own re-usable advent calendar (like this one) – that way you can go with the standard edible stuff and throw in the odd little toy or special treat (maybe for the Christmas eve drawer?). For the little people, an activity advent calendar like this one (from amazon) might be the best way to go.


I know I keep saying “this is my favorite tradition”, but I can’t actually pick one! After the busy and rushing (and cooking) of Christmas, we (my mom, my sister and I) love to do next to NO cooking on boxing day. We buy a heap of finger food type appetizers and do an appetizer only dinner. (Our husbands ALSO roll their eyes at this. We’ve told them that if they feel like cooking a second massive dinner, they should feel free!)

Related: Free Printable Christmas Menu Planner
Related: Christmas Gift Guide for Toddlers – Teens here!)


I think making a point of creating family Christmas traditions is one of the most “on purpose” things we can do for our families – these are the things that will stand out in our kid’s minds when they look back on their time at home. (And remember, their time at home is brief!)

Making the time to enjoy the holidays together, and create memories through family Christmas traditions is something you will NEVER regret.

family Christmas traditions

Christmas Traditions

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Giving Back to Nature During the Holidays

Dec 7, 2021

Image from

Samantha Gratton photo


Samantha Gratton

‘Tis the season for… presents, lights, and music? While the holidays may bring all those things, I want to teach my children that it’s so much more than that. Before bringing out the gift wishlist and holiday decor, I asked my kids to think about what we can do to show love and care for others this season, including things in nature.

In the movie “A Nature Carol,” Nature Cat is so excited about decorating the forest with lights, playing loud music for all to hear, and opening a big pile of presents under the tree. But instead of spreading joy, his friends and surrounding critters start to feel frustrated and overlooked. He gets a bit of the Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” experience on Christmas Eve with visits from spirits who show him nature past, nature present, and nature future.

Exploring the great outdoors

With the spirit of the past, Nature Cat sees himself as Nature Kitten exchanging simple gifts with love and enthusiasm, including a “nature curiosity list” full of fun things to explore with his friends. On his list were:

  • Find out where a stream begins

  • Explore the top of a mountain

  • Dig deep into the earth and see what’s there

They make plans to add more to the list, but talk about how easy it can be. Sometimes I get overwhelmed with how to best pass on a love of nature to my children, but it can be as simple as a walk around the block to greet whatever nature we meet. I love the song Nature Kitten sings to “say hello to nature, because it’s everywhere.” Together as a family, we can point out the colors of the trees, the birds we hear, and anything we notice that’s new for the day, like the clouds or a passing bug.

Being in nature is beneficial to us

When visited by the spirit of the present, Nature Cat sees how a family of mice are grateful for what they have and give each other homemade gifts instead of getting everything from the store. While with the spirit of the future, Nature Cat sees how his focus on getting more gifts and decor meant he stopped caring about the things that really mattered to him. He was missing out on spending time with his friends, protecting nature, and having the Christmas spirit of sharing and caring.

There are a lot of ways we can care for nature, and a big way to encourage that is by spending time outdoors. Research shows that the best way to foster environmentalism in kids as they grow into adults is by having wild nature activities before the age of 11 with things like hiking, fishing, or camping. When we spend time outdoors, not only are we caring for nature, but there are also big benefits to our own wellbeing. Studies from the Nature Wildlife Foundation found that kids playing in dirt promotes healthy bacteria while reducing stress and anxiety; outdoor play develops healthy, active bodies and critical thinking skills; and time outside during the day even helps get a better night’s sleep.

Try these activities to give back to nature!

We came up with this list of things to do to better appreciate and give back to nature this holiday season:

  1. Say hello to nature during a walk outside

  2. Rake leaves to protect the grass before the winter sets in

  3. Decorate with recycled objects like this holiday wreath made out of plastic bags

  4. Visit a nearby state park during the winter break

  5. Create gifts for others using elements from nature like these picture frames or nature art

  6. Clean up trash at the park

  7. Make pine cone bird feeders to hang for the birds

  8. Care for pets and houseplants to keep them alive and well

  9. Go birdwatching with binoculars and a bird journal

  10. Assemble a wild bee hotel to have ready for the spring

  11. Learn more about nature with books from the library

  12. Plant tulip bulbs in the garden to prepare for the spring

  13. Keep a journal or use the Nature Cat’s Great Outdoors app to log sounds and nature adventures

  14. Research what seeds to plant once it’s warmer

  15. Use some of our sharing jar to sponsor an animal in the wild

  16. Go camping to experience the outdoors overnight

Like Nature Cat and his nature curiosity list, we plan to keep adding to the list. There is always something new to explore in nature and ways to give back!

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    18 Fun Winter Activities for Kids



    The Editors of

    Updated December 04, 2020




    Winter Activities Blow Frozen Bubbles


    Cure cabin fever with these unique activities for snowy days. You can do most of them in your own backyard!

    1. Have a snowball showdown.

    back view of children Playing in the Snow


    Divide your family into two teams (or enlist another group on the block), build a wall of snow for each team to hide behind, and perch a few small snowmen on top. The idea: Each team takes turns hurling snowballs to knock down the other’s snowmen (“Incoming!”). FYI, if you get hit by the other team, you have to join them. The group that hits all their opponent’s snowmen first wins/gets to do a touchdown dance.

    2. Construct a snow castle.

    how to build a snow castle


    Have a contest to see who can build the most ornate palace in a set time frame, or make it a family endeavor and engineer a larger-than-life fortress. “Use the same molds as for making sand castles at the beach, or gardening items like trowels, spades, buckets, and planters, to dig and shape the snow,” suggests Dwight Zahringer, a dad of three in Detroit.

    3. Make snow monsters.

    Winter Activities Make Snow Monsters


    They’re more fun than your basic snowman and even easier to create: Pick up a bunch of glow sticks from a dollar store, then get your outdoor gear on and make big mounds of snow just before dusk. Poke two holes for the monster’s eyes and place a lit-up glow stick in each hole. (Depending on the type you get, you might need to use more than one per eye.) Cover the hole lightly with snow, so you can still see its glowing eyes.

    4. Make the snow their canvas.

    Painted snow


    Fill up squirt bottles with water and two or three drops of liquid gel food coloring (the concentrated dye makes for extra-vibrant colors), then shake them up. Adjust the nozzle flow to spray narrower for lines or wider for a mist. Your kids can paint freestyle, create tic-tac-toe or hopscotch boards, decorate their snow fort, or color snowballs for an epic battle, notes Kimberly McLeod, a mom of two in Toronto and creator of

    5. Match the tracks.

    Two People Standing on Snowy Ground


    For a twist on hide-and-seek, have everyone but one “seeker” walk around in the snow to find a spot to hide. Then have the “seeker” follow the marks to reveal each player. “It’s surprisingly fun and challenging for young kids,” says Matt Flower, the environmental educator and early-childhood specialist with The Urban Ecology Center, in Milwaukee.

    6. Host Olympic games.

    father son snow


    Organize your own Winter Olympics: First, construct an obstacle course by packing snow into different-size mounds that kids can jump over, scramble around, or weave through as you time them. Next, pair up your little ones up for a snowball roll-off (whoever makes the biggest snowball wins). Finally, end with a snowball toss to see who can throw the farthest.

    7. Send them on a treasure hunt.

    Ice and Easy


    “Give kids a nature-based list of what to look for, like pinecones, berries, acorns, bird feathers, or whatever they might find in your yard,” says Laura Froyen, Ph.D., host of The Balanced Parent podcast and a mom of two in Madison, Wisconsin. You can even give it a theme by hiding toys outside for kids to find. “We’ve done scavenger hunts for Frozen figurines, dinosaurs, and dollhouse furniture,” says Dr. Froyen. Here’s another idea: Freeze colored water into ice cubes, then hide them around the yard for kids to find.

    8. Rent a fat-tire bike.

    Winter Activities Rent a Fat Tire Bike


    Known as “fatties,” these bicycles are outfitted with wide tires and rugged treads that can handle snowy roads and trails. And while they’re pricey to buy, many bike stores, ski resorts, and mountain-biking areas rent them. Bikes with fat tires ride a bit differently than regular bikes—pretty much the equivalent of running in the sand—so you’ll definitely get a workout. But they’re unique in that they can roll over almost anything. (Trust me, my kids have tried!) On a warmish day, hit a bike path or do a little off-roading to get some fresh air.

    9. Hoop it up.

    Mother and son hula hooping


    Grab a few hula hoops, and have a contest to see who can last the longest. It's a lot harder when you're all bundled up!

    10. Blow unpoppable bubbles.

    Winter Activities Blow Frozen Bubbles


    The soapy solution you use in summer reacts differently in chilly temperatures. Leave the bubble bottle outside so it can get really cold. Then wave the wand—instead of blowing with your warm breath—to let the bubbles fly. If you’re quick (and careful) enough to catch one, you might just see it slowly ice over in your hands, notes Sara McCarty, a mom of three in St. Louis and founder of If it’s way below freezing, kids will love watching the bubbles harden midair and roll around once they hit the ground.

    11. Play tic-tac-snow.



    Two players go for the championship in this classic game. Use criss-crossed sticks and pinecones as game pieces.

    12. Go ice bowling.

    Children Bundled Up In Snow


    Turn your driveway into a lane. Freeze ten bottles of water (word to the wise: be sure to leave room at the top for water to expand) and a water-filled balloon. Once the pins and ball are ready, set up your alley. “It will occupy kids for hours and keeping score gives them a little math practice as well,” McCarty says.

    13. Feed the birds.

    For the Birds


    String cranberries, popcorn, and cereal onto a fishing line for a garland to attract and nourish your feathered friends.

    14. Toss snowballs.

    Frosty Toss


    Have a snowball-throwing contest! Make a target by creating a bright circle in the snow with colored water in a squirt bottle. You can also paint a bull's-eye target on a piece of cardboard, giving each colored ring a point value. Attach it to a tree, and keep score as the kids try to hit the target with snowballs.

    15. Pin the smile on the snowman.

    Playing pin the smile on the snowman


    Pass out chocolate cookies, then blindfold each child and let him try to get the mouth, eyes, and buttons in place.

    16. Make a snow volcano.

    Winter Activities Make a Snow Volcano


    Remember that old-school science-fair project? This snowy version uses the same explosion-inducing ingredients—all of which you probably have in your pantry.

    What You'll Need: A small, narrow plastic cup or old pill bottle, baking soda, dishwashing liquid, red food coloring, vinegar

    What To Do:

    1. Nestle the cup in the center of a pile of snow and mound more snow around it to form a volcano shape. (Leave the top of the cup exposed.)

    2. Add a few spoonfuls of baking soda, one spoonful of dishwashing liquid, and some food coloring to the cup.

    3. Now pour in a big splash of vinegar and watch the eruption!

    17. Spot animal tracks.

    Nature Walk


    Take a nature walk and identify the animal footprints you see. A few hints from Jonah Evans, wildlife-diversity biologist for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department: A symmetrical track with four toes, large claws, and a small heel pad probably came from a canine (think a dog or a fox), while asymmetrical tracks with four toes, a relatively large heel pad, and no claws may indicate a feline (like a house cat or a lynx). Two-toed, heart-shaped tracks usually signal deer, while five-toed tracks that look like tiny human handprints may be from a raccoon. Or, you can find a cozy spot in a nearby park to quietly watch and listen for birds.

    18. Snowshoeing

    Winter Activities Take a Hike


    Snowshoeing allows your kids to explore your favorite hiking spots in a completely new way, and you can get them pretty inexpensively at second hand sports stores.