We’ve got ideas for kid-friendly holiday activities and sweet surprises to make this your family’s most meaningful season yet. By Caylin Harris
Any one of these whimsical ideas will make the holidays more jolly and joyful. But why stop at trying one?!
Check out books like Angelina's Christmas, Little Robin's Christmas, and Mice Skating, which all emphasize the spirit of giving. Gift an eggnog latte to your favorite librarian on your way in.
2. Download Christmas audiobooks.
Get the original Walter Matthau narration of How the Grinch Stole Christmas! and an exclusive Tim Curry reading of A Christmas Carol at Audible.com. Listen to them on the drive to Grandma's.
Give each family member a book on Christmas Eve, and spend the rest of the night reading.
4. Read The Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve.
Catherine Hong, who writes about children's books as @mrslittlebooks on Instagram, recommends finding the out-of-print edition illustrated by Gyo Fujikawa. "Her elfin, jelly-bellied, soot-smudged Santa is my favorite Santa," says Hong.
5. Play “I spy” with the ornaments on your tree.
To start the game, flick off the overhead lights and keep only the tree lights on. For an additional challenge, hide a favorite ornament and see who can spot it first.
6. Gift your child an ornament every year.
(Or ask a grandparent to do it!) Make it a small nod to a big moment or interest of the last year. When your child grows up, he'll have a collection started for his own family.
7. Keep special ornaments safe.
If trimming the tree with your great-grandmother's baubles seems too risky with a toddler running around, try these techniques that display your treasures farther from little hands and curious pets. Some ideas: on the chandelier, on branches in a vase, or on wooden dowels hung on the wall.
8. Start a silly ritual.
Holly Charlesworth, the blogger behind My Sister's Suitcase, holds an annual Santa-beard contest for her brood. Every family member makes a "beard" with shaving cream on his or her face, no mirrors allowed. When they're all done, they take pictures, then hold a secret-ballot vote to determine who has the best beard.
9. Remember their inanimate friends.
If your child has a beloved stuffed animal or doll, pick out a present for the toy or doll together, wrap it up, and put it under the tree for Teddy to open on Christmas morning.
10. Play tourist in your own town.
Load everyone into the car in their pj's with a thermos of hot cocoa, and go on a holiday-lights tour of the neighborhood. Take it to the next level by giving each house a score of 1 to 10 and choosing your family's favorite front-yard display!11. Watch the same holiday movie every year.
The family of Parents contributor Jodi Levine loves the movie Elf and established a policy to watch it only once a year, with cousins, right before Christmas. To make it even more fun, they serve goofy Elf-themed foods and decorate.
12. Write a letter to Santa.
With some help from the United States Postal Service, he'll write back, complete with a North Pole postmark! Find details for the Letters From Santa program at the Postal Service's website, including Saint Nick's mailing address.
13. Make your own Advent calendar.
Gather some crafty supplies and DIY any one of these fun Advent calendars. Below are 15 ideas for tiny treats. (Psst ... save the candy for the last few days, since anything other than that may register as a disappointment once your child has gotten one piece!)
For an instant holiday mood booster, brew an easy five-ingredient stovetop simmer like this one from blogger Jamielyn Nye, of I Heart Naptime. Combine cranberries, orange peels, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and nutmeg in a small pot and fill it with a few inches of water. Simmer on the stove, adding more water throughout the day when it gets low.
15. Let it snow—in color.
Make paper snowflakes and use them to decorate the windows, but try making them with colored tissue paper instead of the usual white for a festive twist on the traditional craft.