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!
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
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?