It’s finally here! After waiting all year – the magic of Christmas is upon us. The sound of Christmas music everywhere, the frosty weather and yummy goodies. There are so many fun ways to gets excited for the big day! Having children makes Christmas so much more fun and there are a bunch of ways to make Christmas magical for them. Whether your kids are getting older or you have a new little addition to your family- it is important to make Christmas a magical experience for your kids.
Don’t feel obligated to do ALL of these things! Who needs more stress added to their life? Pick something that you think your kids would enjoy. Feel free to add it to an advent calendar of activities, and make a special night of these ideas each week. It’s up to you!
1. Decorate for the Season.
Nothing is more exciting than taking out (or picking out ) the Christmas tree and placing each and every ornament on. We do this as a family and reminisce about the ornaments and where we got each one. Hit up the dollar store for some cheap window clings- the kids love being in charge of putting those on all the windows!
2. Christmas countdown
It is so exciting for kids to count down how many days until Christmas day. (And it gives parents a reminder of many days left until the BIG day). Make an old fashioned paper chain, or get a countdown chalkboard plaque and have the kids write the number everyday. We also do those chocolate advent calendars that have the days on it. An advent calendar is a fun way to countdown- but can get expensive especially if you have more than one kid. You can always put a fun activity in the calendar to do every day- so many possibilities!
3. Pick out a special new ornament each year
My kids and I go into the city or a certain Christmas store in our neighborhood and get an ornament that they pick out that has special meaning to them. We write the year on the ornament as well. When they move they can take their ornament collection with them to put on their own tree and have a bunch of memories to go with it. ..
4. Christmas book countdown
Wrap 25 (or 12 if you want) Christmas books with wrapping paper and put them under the tree. Every night until Christmas Eve your child gets to pick a book, unwrap it and read it with the family. You can get books from the library, off of an online yard sale site, or just use ones your already have. End the countdown with a special book that has meaning to your family.
5. Cookie Baking Night
Get the ingredients you need- and get baking. The kids can help you roll the dough and decorate cookies. It’s up to you if you want to leave them for Santa, give them to neighbors or save for a special movie night.
6. Sleep under the tree
One night before Christmas, get everyone in their Pj’s and set out blankets on the floor. Make sure the tree lights are on and have a good old fashioned sleepover. You can always watch a movie, play family games or read some Christmas books before bed.
7. Make reindeer food
There are some cute reindeer food ideas out there like this one from Hoosier Homemade. You can always get some carrots and leave them outside or with Santa’s cookies as well. I sometimes forget to buy carrots so we just make some up with what we have like cereal or oats. (Reindeer aren’t picky, FYI).
8. Leave some Magic Evidence
Get some powdered sugar or flour and make a boot print out of paper. Sprinkle some flour around the boot template near the fireplace if you have one or near the front door. We don’t have a fireplace, so I will usually leave some Whoppers or Raisinets out on the lawn where they reindeer ate their food. Santa is kind of messy too and always leaves crumbs lying around after he eats his cookies along with a thank you note.
9. Elf on the Shelf (or something like it)
Listen, I know. Groan. Ahhhh I forget all the time! I’m in bed by 9 pm when I don’t work night shift. But just do it. They love it so much! It is so exciting to see where the elf moves every night. You can always use something other than an elf, or use the Elf to encourage good deeds and kindness. Either ways the kids get so pumped to see this little guy or girl every year!
10. Christmas Eve Box
I wish I did this every year with my kids. It is something we started doing a few years ago. Our “elf” brings it every year. You can put whatever you want in it. Obviously it’s an extra expense- but I usually pick some of the contents out on Black Friday to help save money. In our box is usually: a pair of new PJ’s for each kid, some popcorn or other NON SUGAR TREAT! (Seriously they will never go to bed on Christmas Eve). Hot cocoa packets (that’s enough sugar, trust me), a movie to watch on Christmas Eve, a new stuffed animal and a letter from the Elf explaining how he will be back next year.
11. Be Kind
Christmas is a great time of year to show how to be kind to others. Sometimes the kids get caught up in the gifts and shopping and all that. It is so important to show them that even if they don’t have much, there is always someone out there who has less. Do some Random Acts of Kindness, Donate a toy to a toy drive, Help out in a shelter, or have your kids think of ways to help someone in need.
12. Movie Nights
OH, the Christmas Movies!! So many, it’s hard to choose. I probably go way overboard, but we usually do like 6 -8 full fledged movie nights. I make a little treat to go with each movie and we turn on the Christmas lights and sit down as a family to watch together. Some of our family favorites are: Elf, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Christmas with the Kranks, Polar Express and Charlie Brown’s Christmas, For the Polar Express movie night- I do a hot chocolate bar where the kids can make their own and add all the fixings as well.
13. Christmas Lights
Get the kids in the car in their PJ’s (you won’t have to change them when you get home)! Take a drive and look for the coolest lights in your neighborhood. Attend a tree lighting if you have one in your area. Check your your city’s local websites for displays as well. We have done a fun Christmas light scavenger hunt too that the kids loved.
14. Santa Sightings
My girls love to watch Santa feed his reindeer and get so excited knowing he is getting ready for the big day. They also get a letter from Santa each year after they mail him their Christmas list. You can also go visit Santa at the mall or sign up to get a phone call from Santa as well.
15. Christmas Eve Dinner.
This can be a special meal like breakfast for dinner or a huge family gathering. In our house, its take out! I started this tradition because I always had a lot to do – and the last thing I wanted to do was cook. So we order Chinese food and I don’t have to! I totally recommend this for busy moms! We also eat it picnic style in front of the Christmas Tree.
16. Religious Traditions.
If your family is religious (or wishes they were), Christmas is a great time to celebrate the birth of Jesus. I usually get stuck working Holidays so we don’t do the traditional church mass. We do read a little from the bible on Christmas morning. We also have a creche set and take baby Jesus out on Christmas morning to sing Happy Birthday to him. You can always bake a birthday cake for Jesus as well.
Whatever you decide to do, have fun with it! Christmas is magical for kids even as they get older. You don’t have to spend a ton of money or travel far to make some special memories with your kids.