The holidays are a great time to create lasting memories by doing Thanksgiving or Christmas activities with your kids. Some of these holiday activities involve the whole family, and some just need a little help from you. Others your kids can do on their own. Some of these family activities will get you out of the house, and some are holiday activities for kids to do at home. Look at these fun holiday activities for kids, from family outings to seasonal crafts you can do at home together.
Fun Holiday Activities for the Whole Family
Visit a holiday light show.
Gazing at Christmas lights is a relaxing and festive holiday activity. You might find a place with a drive-through lights display. In my city, we can go to the zoo to see a lights show paired with holiday music. If you don’t have either of these options near you, drive around to find neighborhoods with decorated houses. Take a holiday scavenger hunt or bingo card with you to see who can spot the most items on the list. Have a vote for your family’s favorite display.
Attend a live nativity.
I have never attended a live nativity, but maybe this will be the year. My daughter is now old enough to appreciate the significance of the display. Sometimes these holiday activities even include a petting zoo where children can interact with sheep. A live nativity brings the Bethlehem account to life in a child’s mind. She can find out what it might be like to be a shepherd who cares for sheep.
Go Christmas caroling.
Find a group of other families and go caroling together. Unless you are very confident singers, having a bigger group makes it easier to produce a nice sound. Gather a list of addresses for elderly members of your church or choose a neighborhood and go door to door. You might even go to a long-term care home to sing to the elderly residents. Bring printed words along for carols you don’t know as well. If you go out at night, bring flashlights for safety and to see any lyrics you have printed.
Watch holiday movies together.
It’s not truly Christmas until I’ve seen Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and It’s a Wonderful Life. Perhaps you have some holiday traditions that include watching movies. Share these wonderful stories with your children so they can enjoy them for years to come. Combine movie night with holiday treats for an extra boost of cheer.
Holiday Activities to do with Kids at Home
Get some balloons, straws, and at least two long strings. Then find some paper and markers to decorate the balloons. Decorate the balloons like turkeys for Thanksgiving or like reindeer or sheep for Christmas. Tape a drinking straw to the top of each balloon, and feed the string through the straw. Then secure the end of the string and let your balloons race down the zip line to the finish. You can turn this holiday activity into a science activity by varying the initial height of the string or size of the balloons. Record speeds for each condition, and see if you can explain your results.
Remember that old Rudolph movie I mentioned? It was created with stop-motion animation. Creating your own stop-motion film could take several days or weeks, depending on the length or materials needed. You could recreate the Christmas narrative, Frosty the Snowman, or some other holiday-themed story. Use Play-Doh to create your characters or any part of your scene that will need to move. Put your camera on a tripod so that the final video is not jarring to watch. Set up the first scene and take a picture. Then make small movements in the characters and take the picture again. The smaller the movements, the smoother your stop-motion animation will be. A film will also take longer to produce if you use very small movements, so adjust based on the time you have.
Fudge is a fun holiday treat that also tastes great. Letting children use a candy thermometer during cooking might make them feel a little like scientists. If you don’t want to eat all the fudge, share some with neighbors or friends.
Bath Bombs or Other Gifts
You can make bath bombs or other gifts or gift baskets to give to family and friends for Christmas. A few years ago we got a snowman candy mold and made shower steamers for my daughter’s Sunday school teachers. I was surprised at how easy and fun this holiday activity was. Our recipe used citric acid and witch hazel, but you can find other recipes online. The key to good bath bombs or shower steamers is using the right essential oils. Choose peppermint or frankincense for a Christmas scent.
Salt Dough Ornaments
I remember making salt dough ornaments when I was a child. We got to bake them, paint them, and hang them on the Christmas tree. We were so proud of those handmade ornaments. Use holiday-themed cookie cutters, or make your own shapes to reflect Biblical themes. These ornaments will last a long time if they are thoroughly dried or sealed with Mod Podge. Some of mine are over thirty years old!
Go on a nature walk to collect some pinecones. Pinecones with open scales will work best for this holiday activity. Tie a piece of twine or string around the top of the pinecone. Coat the pinecone scales in peanut butter. Dip the peanut butter-coated pinecones in birdseed until well-coated. Hang the pinecones outside where you can see them from your window. If you do not have birdseed, you can crush some nuts or seeds or use a trail mix without candy in it.
Depending on your climate, leaves may change color sometime between September and November. Once you collect colorful leaves, you can preserve their color. Leaves taken from a tree may work best, but recently fallen leaves should also be fine. Place leaves in wax paper and press them using some heavy books, or preserve the natural look and feel with glycerin. Use the preserved leaves to make a colorful Thanksgiving turkey decoration. Note that this activity will take some time, so begin well before Thanksgiving.
Make a paper chain out of construction paper. Cut strips from the long or short edge of the paper. Cutting from the long edge will give you more room to write. Cut the appropriate number of strips to count down the days until Christmas. Have children write what they are thankful for on each strip. Each day, take down one paper and read it. This holiday activity keeps the spirit of gratitude going all the way until Christmas.
Decorate pumpkins to use as Thanksgiving decorations. You can add sticker faces or use markers or paint to color pumpkins. You can even melt some old broken crayons to decorate a pumpkin.
Paper snowflakes are a great way to practice cutting skills with young children. You can fold paper in half several times to form a triangle. Then start cutting out shapes. If you want to get fancy and realistic, try for six-sided symmetry like real snowflakes. You’ll have to fold the paper in half and then into thirds before folding in half again. Use relatively thin paper so that cutting is easier.
Felt Christmas Tree
A holiday activity my daughter loved when she was a toddler was decorating a felt tree. Cut a Christmas tree shape out of green felt. Use other colors of felt to cut out other shapes for decorating. If your children are old enough, let them help cut out shapes. I used a piece of 9 x 12 inch felt to make my tree, but you could make a much bigger tree if you want. Cut felt to make a yellow star, red and yellow balls for ornaments, colorful lights, and even packages to go under the tree. I even cut out candy cane shapes from white felt and my daughter helped draw red stripes on them with a marker.
• • • • •Valerie is a wife and a mother to a busy elementary school student. In her free time, she enjoys reading all kinds of books. She earned a B.S. in Biology from Bob Jones University, minoring in Mathematics, and a Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics from Ohio State University. Valerie has 15 years of experience working in research laboratories and has coauthored 8 original research articles. She has also taught several classes and laboratories at the high school and college levels. She currently works as a Data Analyst and a freelance writer.