35 best family Christmas activities for your holiday bucket list

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MAKE your own family Christmas bucket list with these 35 great ideas for family Christmas activities to enjoy with the kids this year

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…And the time of year to make family memories to last a lifetime. But it can also be such a busy period.

Make sure you get that special time together by putting together your own family Christmas bucket list. Write down all the family Christmas activities you want to do, as a great way to stay on track for a magical festive season together!

Here are 35 fab and fun family Christmas activities to get you started. Pick your favourites and get enjoying the festive season together!

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Make a Christmas Joy Jar

Bottle up some happy family memories, that you can keep and read out to each other on Christmas day. 

Start this tradition by finding a jar and decorating it with ribbon. Ask each member of the family to write down one great thing about everyone in their family on a little slip of paper. It could be something they love about the other person, or even just a favourite moment that they spent together this year. 

Fold up all the slips of paper and place them in the jar. Then, on Christmas Day, read out all the lovely things. You can do this each year and build up the joy jar into one of the most wonderful family keepsakes.

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Hit the ice

Get your skates on. Even tiny tots can enjoy skating around the rink. Most rinks for little ones have a penguin that they can lean on and push in order to balance.

Each year at Christmas time a number of outdoor winter ice rinks in towns and cities spring up. Or visit your local indoor ice rink instead.

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Track Santa on Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve is Santa’s busiest night of the year. Watch as he makes his way around the world in his sleigh driven by Rudolph and the rest of his trusty reindeer.

It’s a magical thing to do with little kids before they hang up their stockings and settle down to sleep on the night before the big day. 

Track Santa on the NORAD website. 

 

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Hold a Christmas cookie family bake off

Get your mini chefs in the kitchen to whip up a batch of delicious Christmas cookies. 

Enjoy some as a snack and maybe take some to the neighbours to spread a little Christmas cheer.

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Make special homemade Christmas tree decorations

The kids will be proud to hang their own homemade decorations on the tree. They also make lovely gifts for family and friends. 

Here are two easy recipes for making homemade Christmas tree decorations, one for salt dough and and one for cornflour clay.

Salt dough Christmas tree decorations:

  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • ¾ of a cup of water
  1. Mix the ingredients together well. Turn the mixture out of the bowl and knead it into a ball. 
  2. Roll out your dough with a rolling pin. Cut shapes with festive cookie cutters.
  3. Make a small hole in the top of your shape by pressing down the hard end of a paint brush. This is where the ribbon will be threaded to hang up the decoration. 
  4. Bake your salt dough shapes in the oven at to 180° C (350°F) fan setting for about 5-10 minutes. The exact cooking time depends on the thickness of the dough, so keep checking. Remove from the oven and cool.
  5. Once your salt dough decorations are cooled paint them with acrylic paints. Add glitter, stickers and any other decorations you like. Put a layer of varnish on them at the end and they’re ready to hang on the tree.

Cornflour dough Christmas tree decorations:

  • One part PVA glue
  • One part cornflour
  1. Mix the ingredients together until they form a dough. 
  2. Roll it out and cut out shapes using cookie cutters. Don’t forget to make a hole in the top again to hang them later on.
  3. Place your cornflour shapes on a baking tray and leave to dry overnight. 
  4. They look stunning left white. Or you can decorate them with felt pens, crayons or paints. Then hang them on the tree to enjoy them.

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Star in your own family photoshoot

It’s super cheesy but a festive family photo makes a lovely keepsake. You could make the photos into Christmas cards for your family.

Or you could keep each year’s photoshoot in a special photo album. Over the years you’ll build up a wonderful book of memories to look back on. 

You could even pick a theme for your family photo. Maybe you’ll all wear silly Christmas jumpers or elf hats? 

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Toast marshmallows round the fire

Winter evenings are all about snuggling in front of a fire. Plan a cosy night in, toasting marshmallows over the fireplace. 

If you don’t have a real fire then build a bonfire (or even light a portable BBQ) and wrap up warm to toast them outside. 

Make the evening more magical by giving everyone steaming mugs of hot chocolate and playing Christmas music.

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Make your own family Christmas bucket list with these 35 great ideas for family Christmas activities to enjoy with the kids this year
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Decorate a gingerbread house

Gingerbread houses decorated with sweeties make the perfect table centrepiece on Christmas Day. 

You can buy ready-made gingerbread pieces to slot together and decorate or you can be brave and make your own from scratch. 

Either way – it’s a magical family activity right out of the pages of a story book. If you’re looking for a homemade recipe we have a gluten free Gingerbread house recipe here. 

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Enjoy a panto or Christmas show

He’s behind you. Oh no he’s not…Christmas is not Christmas without a trip to see a panto. 

If pantos aren’t your cup of tea, there’ll be a number of Christmas shows and theatre extravaganzas for tiny tots to teens that you can enjoy as a family.

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Go on a winter wonderland drive

In December, the houses and streets are twinkling with Christmas lights. 

Pop the kids in their pyjamas and drive around your local streets to see the festive lights. 

Whether it’s spying windows with twinkling Christmas trees or driving through streets with festive illuminations, everything’s magical in the dark.

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Make choosing your Christmas tree a family adventure

Which will be the perfect tree for your living room? 

Whether you head to the garden centre or walk through the woods to find a tree to be cut down, choosing your tree can become an adventure and family tradition of its own.

Kids will love to have their say and will feel proud to have found the family the perfect tree.

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Make your own family Christmas bucket list with these 35 great ideas for family Christmas activities to enjoy with the kids this year
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Play ‘Name that Christmas Song’

Make a playlist of Christmas tunes and play a few seconds of each. You all have to guess the song as quickly as you can. 

The first to shout it out wins a point. Bonus points can be given by naming the artist too. 

The team or person who reaches an agreed amount of points first could win a festive prize, like a chocolate orange.

 

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Write a special letter to Santa

Father Christmas needs to know what gifts your children want to open on Christmas morning. He needs plenty of notice to get the elves to make all the toys to load up on his sleigh so he can deliver them on Christmas Eve. 

So get the kids to write letters to Santa nice and early. 

Address letters to Santa to: Santa/Father Christmas, Santa’s Grotto, Reindeerland, XM4 5HQ.

And make sure they are posted before 7th December. Include your full name and address and Santa will do his best to reply before Christmas.

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Head out on a winter nature walk

With spider webs and leaves twinkling with frost, berries on the trees and robins hopping along the path, winter is a lovely season for a family walk. 

You could add excitement by making it into a scavenger hunt where your child has a basket or bag and has to spy items on a list. 

These can be pine cones, berries, a glistening spider’s web, holly, a frozen puddle, animal tracks, a feather or a frozen leaf. 

You can print off and adapt our Nature scavenger hunt to give you some great ideas for your winter walk.

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Get together for a family jigsaw puzzle

Winter afternoons are made for family jigsaw puzzles. They draw the whole family together as you work to complete the picture. 

Pop some Christmas tunes on in the background to add even more festive cheer as you all hunt for the trickiest pieces.

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Christmas family bucket list
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Make a magical snow scene 

We all dream of a white Christmas but, even if there’s not a flake outside you can create your very own winter wonderland indoors. 

Use soap flakes mixed with water to make the snow and cake decorations to create a festive scene. See our Magical snow scene craft for a step by step guide. It could become a family tradition you love to do every year. 

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Read Christmas stories by the fire

Story-times are even more wonderful when you snuggle up together on cushions with the Christmas tree lights twinkling. 

Gather books with a winter or festive theme to make it even more special.

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Make a Christmas treat for feathered friends

Don’t forget your feathered friends in this chilly weather. If you want them to share the Christmas warmth, it’s easy to make your own bird fat cakes. 

Make a hole in the bottom of a yogurt pot and thread a length of twine through it. Then mix melted lard with seeds and you can even add scraps of leftovers like cheese and dry porridge oats. 

Set the mix in the fridge overnight. In the morning remove the yogurt pot by cutting slits up the side and sliding out the bird food. 

Then hang up your fat cake in the garden and have fun checking to watch the birds come and nibble their delicious winter snack.

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Start a family reverse advent calendar

Have you heard of the reverse advent calendar? It’s a great way for the whole family to give back a little at Christmas. 

To start, find a box and partition it into 24 sections. An easy way to do this is to get 6-piece wine box carriers from the supermarket and glue four of these together. 

On each day of December pop in an item (like a food item) into your box to give away. It’s best if it’s a non-perishable food like canned or dried goods. At the end of the month donate your reverse advent calendar to a local food bank.

You can do this reverse advent calendar with clothes and toys if you prefer and drop them off at a charity point or shelter.

It could become a regular family Christmas tradition to give back a little each December.

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Make your own family Christmas bucket list with these 35 great ideas for family Christmas activities to enjoy with the kids this year
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Learn how to say Merry Christmas in different languages

Joyeux Noël tous les mondes. 

Set a family language challenge to learn how to say Merry Christmas in 5 different languages. 

Your child might want to share what they have learnt with their class to encourage them to wish foreign family and friends a happy Christmas too. 

You can help your child research festive greetings on the internet but here are a few to help you along:

French: Joyeux Noël

German: Frohe Weinachten

Italian: Buon Natale

Portuguese: Feliz Natal

Dutch: Vrolijk kerstfeest

Romanian: Crăciun fericit

Polish: Wesołych świąt Bożego Narodzenia

Romanian: Crăciun fericit

Swedish: God Jul

Czech: Veselé Vánoce

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Facetime or Skype a far-flung relative or friend

Christmas is a time to bring friends and family together. However far away they might be. 

Make someone’s day by Facetiming far-flung loved ones. Family members and old friends will love to see the kids’ faces and hear all their news.

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Plan a family day out to see Santa

Whether it’s seeing Santa in his Christmas grotto, or making a trip to a Christmas festival or party near you, kids will love to see the man himself and tell him what they want this year.

There’s usually a whole lot of Christmas games and activities around Santa’s grottos too so you could make it a whole family day out. See Father Christmas and then catch some early tea with the kids. It’ll make their Christmas all the more magical.

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Snuggle up together with a holiday movie

Make a huge bowl of popcorn, put the fire and the Christmas tree lights on, make steaming mugs of hot chocolate and marshmallows and enjoy a Christmas movie marathon. 

Take turns to pick your favourite festive films – whether that’s Elf, Love Actually, The Snowman or Home Alone. If you’re looking for inspiration, you can find our Top 20 Christmas movies for Toddlers to Teens here.

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Make your own family Christmas bucket list with these 35 great ideas for family Christmas activities to enjoy with the kids this year
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Give a non-present present and give a little back

It’s a time of plenty. But, unfortunately not for everyone. 

Spread a little Christmas cheer by doing something for others. You could:

  • Make easy peasy chocolate truffles to give out to neighbours or older relatives.
  • Pack toy boxes of old toys that are in good condition and take a sleigh load to a children’s shelter or charity together with your kids.
  • Volunteer in a food bank or soup kitchen over the holiday period. It can help kids to see the importance of giving back too.

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Soak up the magic of a late-night carol service

There’s something about Christmas carols that makes your heart swell. As a special treat let the kids stay up late and go to a late night carol service together and sing your hearts out. 

Churches are often lit by candlelight and have a magical atmosphere.

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Make your own snow, indoors

Do you wanna build a Snowman? 

Once you’ve discovered how quick and easy it is to make your own indoor snow, you definitely will. It’s gorgeously fluffy and the kids will have so much fun creating their own little snowmen. 

You can find a step by step guide for making your own Indoor snow here, in just a few minutes.

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Give a furry friend somewhere cosy to lay their head

There are all sorts of animals that need a cosy place to rest their head in winter. 

Animal sanctuaries and rescue centres are always grateful to receive towels and blankets to make beds for cats and dogs as well as smaller furry friends, waiting for their forever home.

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Make your own family Christmas bucket list with these 35 great ideas for family Christmas activities to enjoy with the kids this year
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Pack up a winter picnic

Picnics are not just for summer. A winter picnic can be just as much fun! Wrap up warm and take a basket of delicious food on a family walk. 

Bring blankets, flasks of hot tea or chocolate to warm chilly hands and tums.

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Take a walk to see the Christmas displays

A family trip to the garden centre or large department store might not seem very exciting – or particularly festive. But in December they are magical places to visit, especially with little kids. 

Garden centres have stunning displays of Christmas trees, lights and decorations that will make the kids ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’. Larger department stores have beautifully decorated shop windows, often with moving characters.

And when they’ve had their fill of all things glittery, they also have great cafes to enjoy a family meal or snack. It can make a trip to the garden centre or department store a surprisingly enjoyable family day out. 

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Curl up with the most special hot chocolate

Make a mug of hot chocolate and go to town with cream and sprinkles to make the very best hot chocolate. Add a giant swirl of squeezy cream, sprinkles, marshmallows and a chocolate flake. 

Curl up under a blanket and enjoy it with a movie or just with each other.

If it snows

Snow in the run up to Christmas makes the whole festive season all the more magical. It doesn’t happen often, here in the UK. But some winters are especially cold and snowy.

It might be worth pencilling in some snowy activities to your family Christmas bucket list just in case the white stuff falls before the big day.

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Sledging fun

Find a gentle hill nearby and take some sledges up to it. Have an afternoon of fun sledging down it with the kids.

They’ll love to go a little higher each time, or older kids will try to race each other down to the bottom.

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Make your own family Christmas bucket list with these 35 great ideas for family Christmas activities to enjoy with the kids this year
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Make snow angels

Lie down on a layer of fresh snow and flap your arms up and down to make snow angels. So simple but so much fun!

Join the kids to make your own too.

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Catch snowflakes on your tongue

Even when only a smattering of snowflakes fall from the sky, kids love trying to catch snowflakes on their tongues. 

Watch their wide open happy mouths giggle with glee as they try.

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Clear an elderly neighbour’s drive or path

Snow is magical for many but a real worry for elderly neighbours. 

Be kind and get the kids involved in clearing paths and driveways with snow shovels and grit to make things a little easier for neighbours to get out and about.

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Build a snowman

Even when there’s only a couple of inches of snow in the garden, you can still have so much fun building a snowman. It’s one of the most exciting things to do when it snows. Will it have a carrot nose or a satsuma nose? 

Which hat will the kids choose for it to wear? 

How many days will it stand in the garden before it melts away?

So as the most wonderful time of year is approaching, start jotting down your favourite family Christmas activities for this year, and make it a year to remember.

To help, we put together a little template that you can download and print out.  You can fill it in altogether, that way every family member can have their say! 

My Christmas Family Bucket List download

 

Family Christmas activities - family Christmas bucket list