There’s no time of year quite like the holiday season, is there? Whether the start of your special season begins the day after Labor Day, Halloween, or Thanksgiving, the holiday season is always filled with the Christmas spirit right from the start.
If you want to make the holidays even more special than last year, you may want to incorporate some Christmas activities for families into your weeks-long celebration. Whether your family consists of multi-generational family members, a group of close friends, or a mix of both, you might be surprised by how quickly your Christmas activities become long-standing family traditions.
1. Start a New Tradition!
Each year, when your family gets together, choose a new activity from the pages of Adventures From Scratch: Family Edition. This book has over 50 challenges, tear-out cards, and interactive elements that are fun for all ages. Written by explorers, you’re sure to have a blast with your loved ones as you uncover each task and successfully complete it.
Categories include Explore, Create, Learn, Spread Joy, Cook, Move, and Get Silly, and each one is just as fun as the last! If you want to get extra festive, challenge family members to come up with the most creative holiday twist to the activity you scratch off.
Pick up your copy now, and purchase one for a friend, while you’re at it!
2. Whip Up Some Hot Chocolate
Nothing ushers in wintry weather like some hot cocoa. Although that’s true, you can make trying new versions of your go-to hot chocolate one of your tastiest holiday traditions.
What are some new flavors you may want to try out? Here are some ideas:
- Vanilla or caramel and cinnamon
- Salted caramel
- Raspberry and dark or milk chocolate
- White chocolate and strawberry
If you can’t think of ways to spice up your hot cocoa beyond picking up a sack of marshmallows, don’t worry. You can order a hot chocolate kit or some hot cocoa “bombs” on Amazon. Just remember to navigate to smile.Amazon.com before you place your order so a portion of your purchase will go to your chosen charity.
Are you going to have a hot chocolate tasting party for your adult relatives? Consider picking up some of the following liqueurs and liquors that all pair well with hot cocoa:
- Whipped cream vodka
- Peppermint vodka
- Coffee liqueur
- Marshmallow vodka
- Spiced rum
- Cherry liqueur
- Cinnamon liqueur
3. Blame It on the Elf on the Shelf
Infusing the holiday season with some ongoing hilarity is a fun way to make the season brighter than it would be otherwise. If you already have an Elf on the Shelf, you have the perfect culprit to blame all your hijinks on.
To pull off some successful gaffes, you’ll need to recruit at least one family member to be your co-conspirator. Working together, one of you can distract the “target” while the other lays the groundwork for the upcoming joke or trick.
Is your mom going to make blueberry pancakes for the whole family on Christmas morning? Have your co-conspirator distract your mother while you replace her blueberries with chocolate chips. Don’t forget to leave the doll near your mom’s mixing bowl with a blueberry by his feet and one of his arms pointing with glee in the direction of where your mom will discover what happened.
No matter what kind of silliness you have planned, always make sure your scapegoat is around to take the blame so you and your equally sneaky relative can maintain your innocence. Even if things go awry for an inadvertent reason, everyone will quickly catch on to the joke that the elf is to blame (or thank) for all the resultant laughter, even when it’s at their own expense.
4. Assemble a Christmas Village
Setting up a Christmas village requires some work, but it pays off big time. You can buy a holiday village online or you can make your own. If you plan on purchasing a village, you should devote some thought to the type of village you want to get. Retail holiday villages vary wildly in terms of price and quality. Before you buy one, decide whether you’re going to invest in a family heirloom that you’ll pass down and add onto every year or a throwaway you’ll dispose of after Christmas.
If you’re trying to establish lasting Christmas traditions, you may want to make a DIY village every year. Making a holiday village is something you can do with the kids or the whole family. By making a homemade village every year, you’ll ensure that the current village is truly reflective of where your family is in the given year as new people join your brood.
The options are endless if you plan to make a DIY Christmas village. You can make a village with some painted or wrapped cardboard boxes and a few plastic figurines. Alternatively, you can create a holiday village by making a gingerbread house or two, three, or more. You may want to shake things up even more by putting together a giant gingerbread house so that your village resembles a multi-plex instead of a community with free-standing structures.
5. Schedule a Holiday Movie Night
Hosting a holiday movie night is a great way to rouse the Christmas spirit in even the “scroogiest” of relatives. Here are some Christmas movies that are sure to be a hit across age groups:
- A Christmas Story
- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
- The Polar Express
- Frosty the Snowman
- Home Alone
- National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
- White Christmas
- Fred Claus
- Holiday Inn
- It’s a Wonderful Life
- Miracle on 34th Street
- The Santa Claus
Sentimental and comedic films aren’t the only ones you have to choose from. If you want to put together a more mature Christmas movie night, consider a roster of action-packed movies, such as:
- Die Hard
- Lethal Weapon
- Batman Returns
- The Last Boy Scout
- Enemy of the State
- Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
- Rocky IV
- The Long Kiss Goodnight
- Eyes Wide Shut
6. Plan a Holiday Sweater Party
The holidays combine to be a reason for revelers to dress differently than they would at other times of the year. For many, that means donning a Christmas sweater once or twice at least. In even more instances, that means showing off an ugly sweater.
With just about everyone willing to express their holiday spirit with their clothing, why don’t you plan a holiday sweater party? Whether you have a competition to see who has the Christmas sweater that best captures the seasonal spirit or you put together a contest to identify the ugliest sweater, make sure you incentivize people to participate by picking up some prizes to give to the people who finish first, second, and third.
As the years go by and you host an increasing number of Christmas sweater competitions, consider making a hall of fame for the winners of years gone by. To make a hall of fame, get a large cardboard box and cut it so it lays flat. Decorate the box with festive wrapping paper. Every year, your family can nominate potential hall of fame inductees and vote on who will gain admission. Once your family agrees on who’ll make it into the hall of fame, you can add their picture to your display.
Using a cardboard box as the background for your pictures will enable you to store your festive or ugly sweater hall of fame easily. You can simply fold up the display at the end of the season and stow it in the attic or a closet until the following year.
Since fashion changes from year to year, it will be hysterical to look back on what people chose to wear during previous holiday celebrations. Next year’s ugly sweater might be this year’s must-have garment, after all.
7. Visit a Tree Farm
Even though it’s chilly around Christmastime in many locations, the holiday season is still a wonderful time to spend time outdoors. If you want to lure your loved ones outdoors, we suggest you take your family to a tree farm. Depending on where you live, you may be able to visit a tree farm to choose and chop down your Christmas tree.
Picking your own Christmas tree and chopping or sawing it down yourself is an experience everyone should have at least once in their lifetime. It’s a visceral experience that really brings the spirit of the season home. If you’re like many, visiting a tree farm will become one of your much-anticipated holiday activities that you really look forward to every year.
8. Have a Snowman-Building Competition
If you’re lucky enough to have snow in your area around Christmas, why don’t you challenge your whole family to compete in a contest to build the best snowman or woman? Pull out some old clothes and other supplies like carrots and briquettes that competitors can use to make their creations lifelike.
Ask a few of your neighbors or non-competing relatives to judge everyone’s finished snow creations. Winners can be chosen using any number of criteria, such as most creative, silliest, or the snowman that’s most likely to melt first.
9. Make a DIY Christmas Tree Using Christmas Cards
Do you like to display all the holiday cards you receive? If so, why don’t you do something more creative than propping them up on the mantel in your living room? One idea is to make a Christmas tree using the cards.
Put a galvanized bucket that will mimic a planter near an undecorated wall and put some garland in the bucket so it looks like it’s full. As you receive Christmas cards, tape them to the wall so that the holiday cards combine to look like a Christmas tree. If you’re worried about the shape of your finished tree, consider outlining the shape of the tree with some Christmas lights before you start filling it in with your holiday cards.
Your finished tree of cards will prove to be one of the Christmas decorations that warm your heart throughout the season. Every time you look at the decoration, you’ll be reminded of all the people who love you enough to have sent a card.
Do you want to occupy the kids with some Christmas crafts? Consider having them make some paper snowflakes that you can use to decorate your card tree. You can take things a step farther by having your young revelers cut out images from the cards you’ve received in the past so you can use the cutouts as Christmas ornaments for your wall display.
10. Go Sledding
No matter how many Christmas activities you plan, your fellow revelers, particularly the younger ones, will need to blow off some steam from time to time as Christmas draws near. If the kids are getting restless, why don’t you all go sledding?
Sledding is one of those holiday activities kids of all ages will look forward to. Whooshing down a hill while you cling to your sled as if your life depended on it provides a rush that’s equal parts thrilling, terrifying, fun, and rewarding.
11. Invite Relatives to Compete in a Gift-Wrapping Race
Giving Christmas gifts is a great way to have some family fun. While gift-giving is a fun, rewarding experience, wrapping Christmas gifts is the exact opposite. If you want to make wrapping presents a fun endeavor, make a competition out of it.
Find some gifts that you don’t plan on giving to the people participating in your contest. Have two relatives compete head-to-head at a time. The winner of each round continues onto the next until the person eventually loses. Have a prize waiting for the person who ultimately prevails in the last round of wrapping. In lieu of a prize, you can make a faux scepter out of some cardboard so the winner can walk around as the king or queen of gift-wrapping.
Wrapping gifts is one of the most fun holiday activities for kids, but not in a competitive sense. With that in mind, take the competitive component off the table and encourage your young relatives to wrap some gifts. The adults will have a great time watching the children wrap, and everyone will get a chuckle out of the look of the presents after they’ve been wrapped.
12. Create a Winter Wonderland
Depending on where you live, experiencing a winter wonderland may be as simple as going outside. If you live in a warmer climate, you might have to put some effort into creating a wintry experience for your family, friends, and neighbors.
To avoid paying big bucks to a company to spray fake snow on your lawn, shop online for a snow-making machine that you can use year after year. If you don’t want to fuss with a machine, you can shop for some instant snow powder instead. Spread your fake snow all over your property so your family can enjoy wintry elements even when it’s 80 degrees and sunny outside.
If you live near an ice-skating rink, contact the facility’s owner or manager to tell them you’d like to create a wintry wonderland for your family. You might get lucky enough for the rink to agree to provide you with some of its ice shavings if you agree to transport them to your home yourself. Once you arrive at your property, you can spread the ice shavings to recreate a winter-like environment.
13. Spread Holiday Cheer with Christmas Songs
While you may need to invoke the holiday spirit to work up the courage to sing a Christmas carol, you won’t need any added courage to make a playlist of your favorite Christmas songs. Listening to holiday music is one of those awesome Christmas activities that has the universal power to warm even the crustiest of hearts.
The great thing is, you can use the same playlist year after year so that listening to it becomes one of your family’s Christmas traditions. Of course, you’ll want to keep your playlist current by updating it with some new holiday tunes every year.
14. Sign Up for a Scavenger Hunt
Are you looking for some Christmas ideas that are sure to have enough staying power to become family traditions? If so, you can count on Let’s Roam to deliver a ton of family fun. An in-home family scavenger hunt by Let’s Roam is a fun way for you and your relatives to pass some time during the Christmas season.
Since your immediate family members are more familiar with your home, you and they should serve as team advisors. Divide your extended relatives into teams and assign an advisor to each team. Tell each team that their assigned advisor is under no obligation to be truthful with the advice they share throughout the upcoming hunt.
Have the teams compete to see which one can finish the in-home hunt first. To make things more interesting and competitive, announce your plan to give a coveted prize to the winning team, such as the first batch of warm Christmas cookies or the honor of opening the next day’s date on the advent calendar.
15. Host a Game Night
Just like you can count on Let’s Roam for a fun-filled family scavenger hunt, you can also rely on our team for a family game night. By using our versatile platform, you can enjoy a family game night with your relatives even when all of you are scattered around the globe.
If you’re fortunate enough to celebrate the holidays with your family in person, you may want to opt for a more traditional game night. To keep things old-school, dive into your closet and pull out some classic board games like Monopoly and Sorry! that are easy enough for everyone to play.
Are you a little light on board games? Don’t worry! You can still improv some fun-filled Christmas games. For example, you can adapt the childhood game of spoons into a new game called “Candy Canes.” Put some candy canes in the middle of a table. To play, instruct everyone to grab a piece of candy as fast as they can. Whoever fails to grab one of the candy canes is the loser.
All you need to play Christmas Heads Up is a pad of sticky notes, a pen, and some willing participants. Write down the name of a popular Christmas character on each sticky note. Have each relative peel off one of the sticky notes and stick it on their forehead without looking to see which character’s name is written on the note.
Pick someone to go first. Have that person stand in front of your other relatives while the audience members offer clues about the name of the character written on the person’s sticky note. Whoever guesses their character’s name the fastest is the winner of the game.
16. Bake Some Sweet Treats
The holidays are a great time to show off your baking skills. You don’t have to settle for making Christmas cookies, however. If you want to wow your friends and family, sign up for a tutorial to learn how to make some unique holiday treats.
What are some of the dessert items you may want to learn to make? The Food Network suggests:
- Snow globe mini cheesecakes
- Gingerbread cake with cream cheese frosting
- Peanut brittle
- Cinnamon chocolate fudge
- Clear peppermint meringue pie
To learn how to make desserts like the ones just mentioned you can sign up for a tutorial using the Food Network app or by visiting a website like Goldbelly.com. If you’d prefer to give the gift of baking so you can enjoy the yummy results of someone else’s labor, consider giving an online baking class to one of your relatives as an early Christmas present. Better yet, get your loved one a subscription to the Food Network’s digital platform so your relative can prepare your entire holiday dinner, including dessert!
17. Hang Some A-Traditional Christmas Lights
When you get multi-colored Christmas lights, you’ll likely see some red, green, white, blue, and orange bulbs on a given traditional strand. While that color combination certainly adds beauty to a holiday display, you don’t have to stick with convention when it comes to your holiday lights.
Mix things up with some new colors and different types of lights. You can get giant, oversized holiday lights in pink to frame the doorway to your powder room, for starters. Decorating your Christmas tree with purple and gold lights will certainly turn heads. Putting different colored lights on each wall and using a disco ball as your rotating tree topper will get everyone out of their seats when the Christmas music starts to play.
18. Read a Christmas Story on Christmas Eve
Some families have made reading a holiday tale on Christmas Eve one of their fun Christmas activities, and there’s no reason you can’t do the same. The honor of reading the story often goes to a family patriarch or matriarch, but that doesn’t have to be the case. You can split the recital duties among younger relatives, with each one charged with reading a chapter or a certain number of paragraphs aloud, for example.
If no one is up to the task of reading your chosen story, consider playing a holiday-themed audiobook so everyone can listen in. Here are some of the audiobooks you may want to consider:
- Christmas Camp by Karen Schaler
- A Bella Flora Christmas by Wendy Wax
- A Lowcountry Christmas by Mary Alice Monroe
- A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg
- An Irish Country Christmas by Patrick Taylor
- Alaskan Holiday by Debbie Macomber
- Blue Christmas by Mary Kay Andrews
- Christmas by Accident by Camron Wright
- The Christmas Train by David Baldacci
- The Christmas Wish by Nora Roberts
- Skipping Christmas by John Grisham
Some of the audiobooks just listed have been made into movies for the Hallmark Channel. If you pick a book that’s been made into a holiday movie, you can make watching the film on Christmas Day another one of your holiday traditions.
19. Take a Sleigh Ride
Depending on where you live and the weather, you might be able to take your family on a memory-making ride through the snow during the Christmas season. To see if that’s possible, search for “sleigh rides near me” online and see what lands in your SERPS. If a provider is nearby, contact the business to see if you can sign your family up for a ride they’ll look forward to every year.
20. Take Pictures with Santa
To make every Christmas the best Christmas, make sure you take pictures of your family with Santa every year. As time passes, you’ll be able to construct a timeline of Christmases gone by and see how much everyone has grown and changed over time.
Don’t let anyone tell you that they’re too old for pictures with Santa. Even if you end up with pictures of teenagers rolling their eyes and your grandma planting a kiss on Santa’s cheek, you’ll relish in them all when you look back through your collection of pictures years from now.
If Santa isn’t appearing at a mall near you this year, consider hiring an actor to visit your family at your home. Imagine the squeals of delight when your youngest relatives open the door to find Santa standing before them. Just make sure you have the camera ready to capture that special moment.