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The ultimate list of family Advent activities & Christmas countdown fun (free printable)

150+ Advent activities (or Christmas countdown activities) by category: fun at home, outings, serving others, in the kitchen, decorating, faith-based, crafting, movies, winter-specific, summer-specific, etc. etc. Skim the list and choose 24 that suit your family!

The Ultimate Christmas Countdown and Advent Activity List - by Adriel Booker

I sat down to plan this year’s family Advent activities and thought I’d begin by brainstorming ideas and then choosing twenty-four of them from my list. I expected to stop around thirty or forty ideas… but they just kept rolling, so I decided to tidy them up by category and share them with you. (I’m yet to narrow my own list down to twenty-four for this year – ha! Maybe tomorrow.)

We’re also using a reading plan for the Jesus Storybook Bible this year, so we’ll be “opening” our little Advent stockings twice a day – in the morning for an activity and at night for our reading.

Hope this helps you plan a little holiday fun with your family. Please add additional ideas in the comments – let’s truly make this an ultimate Christmas activity list. (I left off ideas and traditions for Christmas Day, but feel free to add them too!)

Free printable here: The ultimate list of Christmas countdown and Advent activities for the family – free printable


Serving others:

  • Shop for a gift to put under the Tree of Joy (or another charity).
  • Fill a shoe box for Operation Christmas Child.
  • Visit an elderly home and hand out homemade cookies.
  • Take a few small gifts to a shelter for women and children.
  • Write a letter to a family friend or some troops stationed overseas.
  • Drive to a store that has a Salvation Army bell ringer just to donate (without going into the store to buy anything!).
  • Buy a small gift for a child in the long-term care wing of the children’s ward, and bring a bouquet of flowers for his/her mother.
  • Serve a meal together as a family at a local homeless shelter.
  • Clean out your toy boxes and donate good quality items to an opportunity store.
  • Raid the pantry for canned goods to donate to a charity.
  • Take a plate of cookies and a homemade Christmas card to your doctor’s office, library, church office, and/or dentist office.
  • Anonymously pay for the Santa photos of the person behind you in line at the mall.
  • Wear Santa hats and take some doggie treats to your local shelter.
  • If you go to the woods to chop a Christmas tree, buy an extra license and bring one home for a neighbor who may not have the resources to get their own.
  • Wear Santa hats and take a garbage bag to clean up garbage from your neighborhood.


In the kitchen:

  • Make Christmas cookies.
  • Serve a red and green themed meal.
  • Make homemade caramel corn.
  • Make chocolate-dipped pretzels with red and green sprinkles.
  • Eat “reindeer droppings” for breakfast (donut holes!).
  • Make gingerbread cookies.
  • Make edible Christmas trees out of up-side-down ice cream cones, green frosting, and sprinkles.
  • Make snicker doodles.
  • Decorate a gingerbread (or graham cracker) house.
  • Invite a few friends over for a cookie decorating party.
  • Melt chocolate into Christmas molds.


Faith-based activities:

  • Visit a “live” nativity scene.
  • Go to a candlelight church service.
  • Read the Christmas story in the Bible.
  • Make and decorate a birthday cake for Jesus.
  • Spend time on your bellies playing with the family nativity scene and acting out the story.
  • Cut your lunch sandwiches into the shape of stars and talk about the original Christmas star.
  • Write a letter to Jesus, thanking him for the gifts you received throughout the year.
  • Attend Christmas Eve Mass at a beautiful cathedral.
  • Make a manger with twigs you collect from outside and talk about Baby Jesus  and the type of place he was born into.
  • Make paper crowns and talk about the wise men and the gifts they brought Jesus.
  • Visit a local farm and talk about what it must have been like for Mary and Joseph to have a baby in a stable.
  • Read one story from the Jesus Storybook Bible each day starting December 1st. (Free printable for the Jesus Storybook Bible reading plan here.)
  • Use The Truth in the Tinsel – “An Advent experience for little hands” (recommended by a friend).
  • Use What God Wants for Christmas – “Christmas in their hands, in their hearts, and out of the box” (also recommended by a friend).



  • Decorate the tree.
  • Deck the halls with boughs of holly.
  • String a popcorn garland for the tree.
  • Make origami ornaments for the tree.
  • Decorate a wreath together.
  • Hang some mistletoe and give out kisses.
  • Make a paper garland to hang on the tree, over a door, or in the kids bedroom.
  • Decorate the windows with spray snow.



  • Cut or pick a Christmas tree.
  • Visit a few friends’ houses to sing Christmas carols and hand out candy canes.
  • Hop in the car in your jammies and drive around to look at the Christmas lights.
  • Visit Santa for photos.
  • Attend a Christmas parade (or watch on TV/YouTube).
  • Watch the Nutcracker Ballet on stage (or on DVD).
  • Go to a tree-lighting ceremony.
  • Attend a Christmas concert.
  • Check out books from the library about how people celebrate Christmas in other nations.
  • Attend a holiday craft bazaar with grandma.


Craft and create:

  • Write (or color on) Christmas cards.
  • Decorate a Christmas card for your teacher, Sunday School teacher, or favorite babysitter.
  • Make a handmade Christmas ornament for someone else in the family.
  • Color a Christmas picture or make a Christmas craft.
  • Make paper snowflakes to hang from the kids’ bedroom ceiling.
  • Write letters to Santa.
  • Make and mail a Christmas card to a family member or friend who lives in another state or country.
  • Make a silly Christmas video to email to friends (or post on facebook) on Christmas day.
  • Make (or draw inside) thank you cards that are ready to be filled out after Christmas.
  • Make thumbprint snowmen.
  • Make homemade play dough in red and green.
  • Make play dough snowmen.
  • Make a video of each family member singing their favorite Christmas song.
  • Make glitter snow globes out of baby food jars. (Secure the lids with a hot glue gun!)
  • Paint pinecones to make a centerpiece for the table or to display in a clear vase or string on a bunting.
  • Make a bouquet of poinsettias out of felt or construction paper and pipe cleaners.
  • Make a pinecone bird feeder and attach a little note that says, “Merry Christmas birdies!”


Fun at home:

  • Have a living room dance party to a fun Christmas album.
  • Let everyone in the family choose a country and then google to see how they celebrate Christmas there.
  • Unwrap and read a new Christmas book.
  • Wrap grandma and grandpa’s gifts.
  • Pull out mattresses and have a family slumber party under the tree.
  • Have a family story night and read all your Christmas storybooks while enjoying a plate of cookies and milk.
  • Snuggle up in mom and dad’s bed and read The Night Before Christmas.
  • Have a funny Christmas photo shoot (80’s Christmas sweaters?!).
  • Make popcorn and watch home movies from the year.
  • Choose your favorite photos for a family year book.
  • Make some personal and family New Years goals.
  • Wrap daddy’s gift with mommy (or mommy’s gift with daddy).
  • Wrap up your holiday books for the kids to open and read together as a family (include one new book for the year).
  • Read Elf on the Shelf (and let the fun begin!).
  • Make a “pillow bed” on the living room floor and watch some classic Christmas cartoons (Rudolf, Frosty, etc.) together.
  • Send a small Christmas care package to a missionary or foreign exchange student.
  • Give each family member a shoe box and tell them to collect and fill it with red and green things from around the house or yard.
  • YouTube funny Christmas caroling videos together.
  • Use only Christmas mugs for all of your drinks for an entire day.
  • Draw the kids a bubble bath by candle-light with Christmas tunes playing on the stereo.
  • Interview each family member on video asking a short list of questions (favorite memory from the year, etc.).
  • Celebrate Saint Nicolas Day (December 6th) by doing a secret act of kindness.
  • Let each child choose a friend to invite over for a Christmas-themed morning tea.
  • Draw names and write a love note for a family member. Leave them out on Christmas Eve for Santa to distribute into their stocking.
  • Have a “fancy dress” code for dinner one night.
  • Check your shoes on Saint Nicolas Day – December 6th. [Leave the kids a few pieces of candy.]
  • “Help” dad put up the outdoor Christmas lights.
  • Write a “new” Christmas carol, personalizing (re-writing) the words to one of your favorites.
  • Invite another family to come over in their jammies to watch a favorite Christmas movie and share a favorite Christmas treat.
  • Get out a Christmas songbook and sing a few carols before nap time and bed time. (We actually do this for the entire month, but thought I’d include it for families who are a bit less gung-ho about the all-month caroling. Ha!)


Watch your favorite Christmas movies:

  • Miracle on 34th Street (Definitely the original… but in color for the kiddos.)
  • White Christmas
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas (I prefer the original cartoon version!)
  • Charlie Brown’s Christmas
  • It’s a Wonderful Life
  • The Nativity Story
  • Elf
  • Home Alone
  • The Muppet Christmas Carol
  • The Nutcracker Ballet
  • The Polar Express
  • Mickey’s Christmas Carol
  • National Lampoons Christmas Vacation
  • The Christmas Story
  • A Christmas Carol (the Jim Carrey version)
  • The Snowman
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer & the other cartoon classics

*A few of these movies aren’t appropriate for young children.


Winter-specific activities:

  • Make snow angels.
  • Go sledding.
  • Build a snowman together.
  • Get bundled up and go ice skating.
  • Have hot chocolate and candy canes.
  • Make hot apple cider.
  • Bundle up and go on a sleigh ride.
  • Make eggnog.
  • Have a snowball fight.
  • Roast marshmallows inside over the fireplace.
  • Make snow cones out of real snow.


The Ultimate Summer Advent Activity List - by Adriel Booker 

Summer-specific activities:

  • Make sand angels.
  • Take a wagon ride or bike ride after dark around a neighborhood that’s known for lots of Christmas lights.
  • Have fish and chips on the beach.
  • Play backyard cricket.
  • Stay up past bedtime and go swimming after dark.
  • Spread out blankets in the yard and do some star-gazing.
  • Have a fondue night with summer fruit and chocolate.
  • Go for a wagon ride with Santa hats and squirt guns.
  • Roast marshmallows outside over a bonfire.
  • Make root beer or coke floats.
  • Go out for snow cones (or ice cream cones).
  • Have a red and green themed BBQ.
  • Go for a “moon walk” in your jammies.
  • Go to the beach and use shaving cream to make Santa beards on each other before jumping in for a swim.
  • Attend “Carols by Candlelight” in the park.
  • Wear your swimmers for an outdoor bubble bath in the wading pool.
  • Take a family bike ride (or wagon ride) with Santa hats on.


Dear friends, I hope this mammoth list has helped to get your creative juices flowing to think about how you can celebrate the lead-up to Christmas with your family. This is certainly a time of year to celebrate!! What are your favorite Christmas activities? 



A free printable reading plan for Advent using the Jesus Storybook Bible

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About Adriel Booker

Adriel Booker is a writer, speaker, and difference-maker living Down Under with her Aussie love and littles where they serve in full-time ministry (and full-time parenting) together. She writes about motherhood and parenting (including pregnancy, birth, miscarriage, and raising littles), faith and spirituality, social justice, empowering women, tiny house living, creativity, and making the most of our everyday lives. Adriel and her family are currently living in an adorable little vintage caravan - 100 square feet of love on wheels.

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69 Responses to The ultimate list of family Advent activities & Christmas countdown fun (free printable)

  1. bernardeena 27 November 2012 at 11:13 pm #

    Great ideas and suggestions, thanks!
    bernardeena recently posted..WaitingMy Profile

  2. Shonda 29 November 2012 at 12:40 am #

    I love long lists of ideas!!

  3. Mellisa Rock 29 November 2012 at 12:54 am #

    I’ve done an advent calender in the past but this year to be more frugal we are going to make a point to watch a Christmas movie a night for free! Thanks for the lists, pinning it for others and my future self.

  4. Jill 29 November 2012 at 4:02 pm #

    Thanks so much for the list!! Thought I would pass on our absolute favorite Christmas movie (my 3 year old & on up request it:) The Very First Noel – because you need another activity on you list:) if you want to check it out.

  5. Kamille@Redeeming the Table 30 November 2012 at 3:48 am #

    quite the list–thank you! I like the Jesus Storybook Bible Advent reading plan a lot. Our family favorite! Megan from Sorta Crunchy mentioned it–thank you! You enjoy the summer down under and I’ll soak in the cold in Washington state:)
    Kamille@Redeeming the Table recently posted..Avoiding a Pinterest Christmas?My Profile

  6. A Little R & R 1 December 2012 at 11:22 pm #

    I love this!!! In fact, I love it so much, I shouted you out on my latest blog post. :) I can’t wait to read it again and jot down some things I want to use from it. You are super-creative!
    A Little R & R recently posted..5 Budget-Friendly Ways To Include Your Toddler in Celebrating Christmas {A Little R & R Weekend Link Up Party}My Profile

  7. Kelly Raudenbush 2 December 2012 at 3:00 pm #

    So excited to have found your blog and this post–just linked up to it from my post tonight! Thanks so much!

  8. Sarah Quiroz 5 December 2012 at 10:24 am #

    Thank you for all these great ideas! I love your blog and shared your advent Jesus Storybook Bible reading plan. We love that bible and reading it again touches your heart as deeply as the first time.
    Sarah Quiroz recently posted..Jesus Storybook Bible Reading PlanMy Profile

  9. Bebe 20 September 2013 at 7:54 am #

    This can be a good spot to remain for business travelers.
    Usually when you are booking your stay it tells you concerning the resort fee in the fine print.

    Some will have a very sheet printed up already beneath the counter.
    Bebe recently posted..BebeMy Profile

  10. Christine 2 November 2013 at 8:28 am #

    Thank you for posting this list! As the “crazy single aunt” of the family I get to share my holiday with a bunch children and adults. This list will give the season the extra sparkle I was seeking! Much love and blessings to you!
    Christine recently posted..Sweet it’s here!My Profile

  11. elizabeth c 6 November 2013 at 2:59 am #

    Thanks for the ideas! I just wanted to share that Veggie tales has a lot of Christmas themed movies too that we add to our movie list and the kids love them!

    • Adriel 13 November 2013 at 10:17 pm #

      thanks elizabeth! we’re just now getting into veggie tales and loving them!! looking forward to checking out some of their christmas specials. i think my mom actually sent us one or two dvds last year but i’m practicing extreme self control by not pulling anything out until after thanksgiving. ;)
      Adriel recently posted..A Bazillion Resources and Encouragement for New MomsMy Profile

  12. Katie Shannon 26 November 2013 at 10:19 am #

    Starting to make our Christmas activities list and found this post via pinterest, LOVE all these great ideas!!
    Katie Shannon recently posted..Friday Coffee DateMy Profile

  13. Amy (a Good Kinda Crazy) 28 November 2013 at 6:31 am #

    Just wanted to let you know I came across your blog and have fallen in love with you… madly… and it might even lead to problems, but I’m sure in the long run my family will be thankful that someone else shares in my passion for such things (so they won’t need to hear me talk). Anyway… just wanted to say thanks for all you’ve shared here, as well as some of the other posts I’ve found and will be linking to from my blog. :)

    Merry Christmas!

  14. Julie 7 December 2013 at 6:54 am #

    Thank you, thank you! I have been wanting a great list of ideas to start some family traditions!

  15. Lukas 22 January 2014 at 5:37 pm #

    Our family tradition on advent is to go to theatre :) it is beautiful tradition in my opinion, just because it is not only entertaining but also it teaches values of life. Our favourite are these ones- Renginiai Vilniuje ;)) try, and I believe you will not regret and it will become beautiful tradition of your life :)

    • Adriel 9 December 2014 at 1:40 am #

      i used to love going to the nutcracker ballet as a kid. it’s much harder to find in australia, unfortunately!
      Adriel recently posted..He came because of #FergusonMy Profile

  16. Faffy Tea 4 November 2014 at 10:41 am #

    How about an Acts of Kindness advent calendar, with a different good deed/task to do each day? We’d love to know what you think of our effort:!

  17. McCall 24 November 2014 at 12:13 pm #

    Mom you always taught me what was right from wrong and now I just wanna give it a try-y! Mama i’ve been in the nest for far too long, so please give a push and mama watch me fly!

  18. Karen 27 November 2014 at 8:19 pm #

    Your long list of activities is very helpful. I am just starting to plan for our family advent activities and I will definitely include some of the activities in your list.

    Thank you for sharing your ideas.
    Karen recently posted..Counting down to Christmas 2014My Profile

  19. Ellora @ CreativelySouthern 28 November 2014 at 8:24 pm #

    Adriel, I love your ideas! This is by far the best list of activities I’ve found, and I’m happy to say that I’ll be using several of them on the advent calendar for my daughter this year. Thanks so much for sharing your ideas. I’m also featuring your post here over at Creatively Southern for the advent calendar I just made. Happy Holidays!!

  20. Joanne 30 November 2014 at 9:53 am #

    Thanks so much, I love your ideas especially regarding ‘serving’. What an inspiring list! We were at church this morning and the priest spoke to us about creating our own family advent traditions, it really struck a chord with me. So i found myself doing an internet search and immediately came to your blog. I feel like i’ve struck gold. If you have any organisational/ planning/ family motivating tips and also tips for motivating the family i would love you to share them. I have a husband and two boys who are my loves but i am a girly girl and sometimes feel my suggestions and ideas are not always on their wavelength! Thank you xx

  21. David 2 December 2014 at 3:50 am #

    Thanks Adriel – some great ideas there to get the creative thoughts going. Love what you do. And Merry Christmas!


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