Ready to celebrate the holidays with advent calendar activities? Christmas is a magical time of year, especially with little ones running around the house. Unfortunately, between decorating, shopping, and attending events, it becomes a challenge to make further time to plan and organize holiday activities with your family. If you’d like to spend more quality time connecting and creating memories with your family this Christmas season, why not try these 24 family-friendly advent activities as you prepare for, “the most wonderful time of the year.”
Please note: while these activities are listed in sequential order, you can reorder them to work best for your family.
1. Make a decorative garland
You can make this activity super simple by stapling construction paper hoops or stringing together popcorn. If you really want to make things exciting this year, write down each of your 23 remaining advent activities in order on alternating red, white and green construction paper. Staple them into a garland and allow your children to break one garland a day to tell the rest of the family what the day’s activity will be!
2. Complete an act of kindness
Some ideas are creating a movie night gift basket, making cookies to deliver, shoveling a sidewalk/driveway early in the morning, etc. Try to complete your family act of kindness in secret, teaching your children to complete acts of service without reward.
3. Make Christmas cards
A creative but inexpensive card idea is to get a variety of red and green paint chips from your local hardware store. Cut out Christmas shapes (evergreens, reindeer, etc.) to glue on card stock for an artsy, yet super simple, card.
4. Create a shaving cream sled ride
Although a little messy, this is a fan favorite for little ones. You’ll need a large storage bin, 2-3 bowls of different sizes, 2 cans of shaving cream, a variety of lids (baby food lids work great) and some small plastic people or animals.
Begin by placing your bowls upside down in your storage bin (a cookie sheet will also work in a pinch.) Next, give the kids a can of shaving cream and go to town. Your scene should look like a hill-covered winter wonderland. Now it’s time to play. Use the lids as toboggans for your plastic characters to slide down the hill on. You can discuss the sizes and shapes of the characters and lids as you compare the speed in which they race down the hill.
5. Make a gingerbread house
Buy a kit with all the supplies, or try your hand at making your own.
Pro tip: To make the wall stick together, use melted sugar as “glue.” On the stove, heat up some sugar. Once it liquifies, dip each side of the house in the melted sugar and put the house sides together. It’ll hold them like glue and works quickly!
6. Write a letter to Santa
Writing a letter to Santa is a great opportunity to work on words, letters, and writing, depending on where your children are at. Check online to see if there are any services in your area that will provide a personal response from the man in red himself!
7. Make snowflakes
Using plain paper or tissue paper squares, make snowflakes to hang up around your home. This activity is great for fine motor scissor skills.
8. Decorate candy canes
Add a creative touch to a classic Christmas treat that you can keep on hand for unexpected visitors. Choose from a variety of simple Christmas shapes to cut out of felt, such as Christmas trees, bells, and Santa hats. At the top and bottom of your cut-out, make a small horizontal slit to slide the candy cane through.
9. Have a Christmas music dance party
Move the furniture out of the way, find a great playlist (or make your own) and break out your best moves. If you want to up the ante, have everyone throw on their favorite Christmas outfit. (Maybe one they received in their December 1st Box)!?
10. Put together a care package
Use this advent calendar activity to open the door to age-appropriate conversations about those experiencing homelessness and what being in need looks like for some. As a family, write a list of items that you would miss most if you lived on the street. See if you can divide these items up into needs and wants. List in hand, take a trip to the store to find items for your care packages. While you can guide and offer suggestions about the items you include, allow your children to take the reins on this project.
You may deliver your care packages to a local shelter or make the experience even more meaningful by taking a drive with your family and physically handing them directly to someone in need.
11. Watch a classic Christmas movie
Make some hot chocolate, add in a generous helping of marshmallows and snuggle under a cozy blanket as a family.
12. Make Christmas ornaments as an advent calendar activity
An ornament that even toddlers can help with is glitter balls. To create this simple, but beautiful, ornament, take the top off of a clear plastic or glass ornament and roll white glue and water inside to coat the entire ball. Then add in some loose glitter, close the lid, shake, and voila!
13. Decorate the tree
Using your new DIY family-made ornaments, turn on some music, put out some snacks, and decorate the Christmas tree together.
14. Make a reindeer footprint craft
Try arts and crafts as an advent calendar activity. Dip your foot on a tray of brown paint and then step on a piece of white paper. When the paint dries, add a red pom-pom to the base of your heel, googly eyes near the middle, and find some twigs to add antlers at the top. Create a reindeer family by having your family members add their footprint side-by-side on chart paper.
15. Bake Christmas cookies
You might make a small batch of cookies for your family to enjoy that day, or maybe you choose to pair this with your acts of kindness activity!
16. Play with a Christmas felt scene as an advent calendar activities
Felt scenes provide fantastic sensory and creative play opportunities. These scenes can be especially helpful if you have active babies or toddlers who may not touch the tree or certain special, expensive decorations. Providing them with their own tree to decorate, or nativity to play with, will give them an opportunity to explore safely.
17. Go Christmas shopping
As tempting as it may be to order all of your Christmas gifts online, a great advent calendar activities is allowing your children the opportunity to tangibly buy for someone else. If you exchange gifts within your family, you can teach them the importance of working within a budget.
18. Pull out Christmas books and read in a fort
Pull out the blankets and make a cozy fort. Either locate all the Christmas books you have or take some out from the library and have a reading day in your fort.
19. Wrap presents
Even if your children are too young to wrap presents during advent calendar activities, you can have them help put the tape on or choose the wrapping paper. Or if nothing else, grab some gift bags and have them throw the tissue paper on top.
20. Make funny Christmas sweaters
You can buy an ugly Christmas sweater at the mall for much more money than it’s likely worth, or better yet, make some as a family. Gather some old sweaters, then use all the tinsel, hot glue, stickers and ornaments you can find to create your own masterpiece.
21. Make a snowman
Depending on where you live, you might have to get creative with this one. (Shaving cream and cornstarch make an engaging sensory activity!)
22. Drive around to see Christmas lights
Schedule a night when you can pack everyone in the car, turn on some Christmas classics, and drive around to check out the lights. Choose a route that you don’t regularly take and vote on your favorite displays.
23. Donate old toys
Encourage your children to find toys they no longer play with and have them picked up or drop them off at a local shelter or other donation bin.
24. Read the Christmas story or another family favorite
The night before the big day, get into some cozy (preferably Christmas!) jammies, pull up a cozy blanket and sit down together to read. You might choose the traditional Christmas story from the book of Luke or a secular story such as ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.
As you engage in these 24 advent calendar activities leading up to Christmas, allow yourself to keep your focus on quality time spent with your loved ones. While life may get in the way, as it often does, and you may miss an activity here and there, embrace the connection and memories you and your family make along the way!