40 Fun Christmas Activities for Kids and Families

Ice Skating
Photo: Hero Images/Getty Images

The holidays are our yearly occasion to celebrate family, passing hours telling stories by the crackling fire and stewing up Grandma's recipes in the kitchen. School is out and the office is closed. The kids jump out of bed each morning to see what the day has in store for them—namely, all the holiday fun that the parents have planned. But eventually, the kids will start to get restless. When you've exhausted your standard supply of activities, think outside the box and come up with some new favorite holiday traditions. Whether it's a day of DIY crafting or cookie baking, these festive activities are fun for the whole family. We've tailored these activities to suit a variety of moods and times, from relaxed movie nights to competitive Christmas games. So when the kids jump out of bed and ask what the plan is for the day, you'll know just what to say.

01 of 40

Visit a Christmas Tree Farm

Lebanon Christmas Tree Farm
Kate Gilleran

The best way to signal the start of the holiday season? A trip to the Christmas tree farm, of course. Once Thanksgiving comes to a close, it's time to head over to the local farm with your whole family to pick out the perfect Christmas tree. Plus, we've got some of the nation's best Christmas tree farms right here in the South.

02 of 40

Hang an Advent Calendar

Creative Advent Calendars
Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

Count down the days to Christmas with a creative advent calendar. From heirloom advent calendars to calendars designed for the whole family, there are endless opportunities for holiday fun.

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Write a Letter to Santa

Children Writing Letter to Santa
skynesher/Getty Images

This is one Christmas tradition that just never gets old. In the South, we're faithful advocates of letter-writing for every occasion (thank-you notes, seasonal greetings, the list goes on and on…). Penning a letter to Santa is one way to pass on the tradition of letter-writing to your kids.

04 of 40

Go Sledding

Beech Mountain TDA

If there's snow, you'll find us sledding this holiday season. This activity offers timeless fun—just throw the sled in the trunk and find a snow-covered hill to soar down. Be sure to bundle up in hats, scarves, coats, and mittens!

05 of 40

Visit Santa

Santa Claus waits to greet children

Chances are you still have a complete album of all your childhood photos with Santa. The line to visit Santa may wind around the entire mall plaza, but it's always worth it to let your children sit on Santa's lap and deliver their wish-lists in person. Plus, it makes for a stellar photo-op.

06 of 40

Decorate the Christmas Tree

Decorated Christmas Tree
Daniel Kaesler / EyeEm/Getty Images

Southerners know that it's never too early to start decorating for Christmas (in fact, starting early could be a good thing). No matter when your tree goes up, decorating is a fun activity for the holidays! Dedicate a morning to adorning your tree with all the string lights and family heirloom ornaments.

07 of 40

Go Holiday Shopping

Holiday Shopping
Dougal Waters

There's nothing quite like the fun and chaos of a trip to the mall the week before Christmas. But last-minute holiday shopping doesn't have to be stressful! Turn that dreaded trip to the mall into a fun family outing—complete with a visit to Santa, of course.

08 of 40

Bake Christmas Cookies

Chocolate Cutout Cookie
Iain Bagwell

Nothing will brighten your day like a Christmas cookie baking marathon. Your kids will adore this seasonal task, and all that baking will leave your house smelling oh-so-sweet. Package the goods in festive wrapping or mason jars and deliver them to neighbors, teachers, mailmen, or anyone in your life who deserves a bit of appreciation!

09 of 40

Decorate the Fireplace Mantel

Christmas Tree Near Fireplace
dszc/Getty Images

A little bit of tinsel here, a little bit of garland there. You can keep it understated or go all out for the season—no matter how you want to decorate your fireplace mantel, we've got inspiration for you. Be sure to get the kids involved in the process!

10 of 40

Make a Big Batch of Spiced Cider

Hot Spiced Cider
Photo: Tina Cornett; Styling: Mary Lyn Hill Jenkins

Cheers to the season with a comforting cup of our Mulled Cider. Paired with warm gingersnaps, the festive combo simply can't be beat. Serve with alcohol or keep it spirit-free for a drink that the whole family can enjoy.

11 of 40

See a Light Show

Holiday Lights on the River Walk in San Antonio, Texas
Visit San Antonio

In the South, we know how to put on a good light show. Drive through marvelous displays of holiday lights or wander around a town festival. Don't have a local display? Drive around the neighborhood and tour your neighbors' lovely holiday decorations.

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Host a Christmas Cookie Swap

Host a Christmas Cookie Swap
Mary Kate Steele Photography

Put Grandma's famous Christmas cookie recipe to the test and host a cookie swap for your friends and family. This potluck-style party is ideal for the holidays because it requires little prep, but results in a bounty of festive desserts. Will you be making snickerdoodles or shortbread?

13 of 40

Cozy Up By The Fire

fall fireplace coffee
LARISA DUKA/Getty Images

On those cold winter nights, cozy up by the fireplace in your pajamas. There's no better time to connect and bond with your family. Tell stories, share jokes, sip on cocoa, and sing songs to celebrate the season.

14 of 40

Host a Christmas Craft Night

Christmas Tree Mason Jar
Southern Living

Nothing gets us in the holiday spirit like some crafting by the fire. Choose an activity that's kid-friendly, gather the supplies, and get to crafting. Grownups can try one of our easy homemade Christmas decorations.

15 of 40

Hang Stockings

Christmas Stockings Hanging on Stone Fireplace
Courtesy of Laurie Rubin via Getty Images

Hanging the stockings on the fireplace mantle is one of our all-time favorite Christmas traditions. Now, just get looking for the perfect stocking stuffers. And don't forget a stocking for the dog.

16 of 40

Start a Christmas Singalong

Start a Christmas Singalong
DNY59/Getty Images

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas…and learn all the lyrics to your favorite Christmas songs. These songs are the perfect way to toast to the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, and they're great for every holiday occasion.

17 of 40

Cut Paper Snowflakes

Paper Snowflakes

Paper snowflakes are some of the simplest holiday crafts, which makes them great for children of all ages to execute. All you'll need is a pair of scissors and some white paper—then let the kids get creative with their folds and designs! Hang these paper snowflakes in your windows to show off the special seasonal artwork.

Get the how-to from Martha Stewart

18 of 40

Play "Guess That Tune"

Two people singing Christmas songs
Getty Images

Brush up on your holiday songs and play a few rounds of "Guess that Tune," holiday edition. Divide your family into two teams and alternate humming your favorite holiday tunes. This is a great after-dinner activity for the whole family. The winning team gets first dibs on hot cocoa.

19 of 40

Host a Themed Potluck Dinner

Savory Sweet Potato Bread Pudding
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Caroline M. Cunningham

Bring your family and friends together for a big potluck-style dinner. Select a theme for the dishes like "Casseroles Galore" or "Grandma's Holiday Favorites" and task each guest with bringing a signature dish. This is a great way to share your favorite family holiday recipes and take the stress out of holiday entertaining.

20 of 40

Make a DIY Wreath

Flowers: Winter Wreath
Pinterest/Style Me Pretty

No holiday home is complete without a festive wreath, and this year, why not try making your own? Crafting DIY wreaths is a fun activity for kids and adults alike. From wreaths in all shapes and sizes to impressive porch displays, these crafts will leave your house looking extra spirited. Find a DIY guide at Style Me Pretty.

21 of 40

Make Christmas Cocktails

Grinch Punch
Caitlin Bensel

When the kids have fallen asleep, the adults deserve a treat. From Christmas Frosé to Sparkling Pomegranate Punch, we've got quite a few signature cocktails on our Christmas wish list. Make these spirited holiday cocktails for an adults-only party—just be sure to have some hot chocolate stocked for the kids.

22 of 40

Craft DIY Ornaments

Snowflake Ornament

Spruce up your Christmas tree with some homemade décor. DIY Christmas ornaments a great craft for kids and a thoughtful gift for the grandparents. Save the one-of-a-kind creations to hang for years to come.

23 of 40

Host a Tacky Christmas Sweater Party

Garland and Ornaments Cardigan

Tacky Christmas sweaters are a staple in our holiday wardrobes, and we're always looking for new ways to show off our favorite finds. An ugly Christmas sweater party is a great way to gather friends and family in good spirits. Still in search of the perfect Christmas sweater? Check out some of our top seasonal picks.

24 of 40

Decorate a Gingerbread House

Winter Wonderland
Frog Prince Paperie

Bake your own gingerbread or buy a house-building kit for endless hours of family fun this Christmas. While the homemade houses may not compare to Disney World's life-size gingerbread houses, the result will certainly earn its place on your table or mantel.

25 of 40

Make Homemade Hot Cocoa

Slow Cooker Hot Chocolate
Caitlin Bensel

Winter is the season of the slow-cooker, and we're using this favorite kitchen device to make big-batch hot chocolate. Let it go low and slow while the kids are playing in the snow, and they'll return inside to a special warm treat. For the adults, feel free to add a shot of Peppermint Schnapps.

26 of 40

Host a Hallmark Christmas Movie Marathon

Lacey Chabert Hallmark 2019 Christmas Preview
Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Alexx Henry/Alexx Henry Studios, LLC

There's something that just feels right about cozying up to a Hallmark Christmas movie once the weather turns cold. If you're not in the mood to rewatch a favorite, Hallmark gives viewers plenty of options with a couple dozen new flicks released every holiday season.

27 of 40

Read a Christmas Book

Christmas Books
victoriabee/Getty Images

You're never too old for a bit of Christmas magic. Classic Christmas stories are great for all ages, and we're reading everything from contemporary novels to time-tested children's tales. Read up on all of our must-read Christmas books.

28 of 40

Bake Homemade Cinnamon Rolls on Christmas Morning

The Big Cinnamon Roll
Stephen DeVries, Prop Styling: Missie Neville Crawford; Food Styling: Torie Cox

There's nothing quite like waking up to the smell of homemade cinnamon rolls baking in the oven. On Christmas morning, the kids will most definitely jump out of bed, anxious to open their presents. But there's no better way to start the festivities than with a special family breakfast. Our classic Christmas Morning Cinnamon Roll should tide them over for… well… five minutes or so.

29 of 40

Spend Time Volunteering

Thanksgiving Food Bank Volunteering
Portland Press Herald/Getty Images

This holiday season, devote a day to giving back. Sign up to volunteer in a soup kitchen, food pantry, or the local charitable organization of your family's choosing. Make this a tradition that your kids will cherish and continue for years to come.

30 of 40

Decorate Sugar Cookies

5-Ingredient Sugar Cookies
Photo: Hector Sanchez

These cute-as-can-be sugar cookie designs will be the star of the holiday cookie swap. Bake simple sugar cookies, whip up a few colored icings, assemble all the supplies, and gather the kids to express their creativity on a cookie canvas! This edible artwork is as fun to make as it is to eat.

Looking for design inspiration? Take a lesson from a pro.

31 of 40

Take a Christmas Road Trip

Take a Christmas Road Trip
Cavan Images/Getty Images

Pack your bags and load up the car. It's time for a family Christmas road trip. Whether you embark on a short weekend getaway or a week-long journey, change up the scenery and plan a family trip this Christmas. May we recommend a road trip through Georgia's small towns?

32 of 40

Go Caroling

Christmas Caroling
DGLimages/Getty Images

Go door-to-door this Christmas and spread seasonal cheer with your favorite holiday tunes. Your neighbors will applaud your family chorus—and remember, the more the merrier. Caroling is even better when you bring friends in on the fun.

33 of 40

Watch a Classic Holiday Movie

Family watching Christmas movie
Hoxton/Tom Merton/Getty Images

It may seem like an impossible task to choose just one holiday classic to stream for family movie night—but don't worry, there will be many more years to check those classic films off your bucket list. Of course, there are the modern classics, like Elf, but try selecting a vintage Christmas movie from your own childhood. They'll become just as nostalgic for your kids as they are for you.

34 of 40

Track Santa

Santa on Sleigh
Roberto Moiola / Sysaworld/Getty Images

Where in the world is he now? Use NORAD's online tracker to help your kids follow Santa's every move across the globe this December. Tracking starts each year on Dec. 1.

35 of 40

Make Homemade Candy

Pulled Candy
Southern Living

On a drab winter morning, turn your kitchen into a candy factory! From Pulled Taffy to Pecan Pralines, we're seriously nostalgic for these homemade Southern candy recipes. The process of making the candy is fun and whimsical, and there are great ways to get the kids involved.

36 of 40

Fill a Box With Donations

Christmas Donations
Hero Images/Getty Images

Collect items from around your house to donate to children in need, or head over to your local grocery store and fill a basket with nonperishables and canned items to donate to your local food shelter. Making charity a part of your family holiday routine is a great way to teach your kids the importance of giving back.

37 of 40

Take a Family Photo

Family Portrait
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

Everyone loves finding a family photo slipped in the Christmas card, especially in those years we can't all be together. Choose a setting that feels seasonal, pick out your outfits, and figure out the best lighting—but make sure to have fun. A silly, candid shot can be just as charming as a posed one.

38 of 40

Wrap Gifts

Forget Red & Green
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

Turn gift wrapping into a family activity. Put on some lively Christmas music and break out all the wrapping paper and ribbons. Hold a competition to see who can come up with the most extravagant bows and embellishments.

39 of 40

Make a Christmas Cake

Spice Cake with Cranberry Filling
Linda Pugliese, Hector Sanchez; Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas, Buffy Hargett Miller

Make something truly showstopping, like a traditional yule log cake or this Spice Cake with Cranberry Filling embellished with decorated sugar cones. Tap into your creative side and get the whole family involved with decorating. You have our permission to go over the top.

40 of 40

Go Ice Skating

Ice Skating
Hero Images/Getty Images

Strap on the skates and go for a lap around the rink this holiday season. A family ice skating trip is one of our favorite holiday traditions. After a few hours of skating, treat yourself to a mug of hot cocoa or cider.

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