Holiday Activities for the Entire Family
Posted on December 19, 2018 by CHS
The holidays are a wonderful time for families to enjoy time together visiting, cooking, playing, and creating memories. Below you will find ideas and resources for fun holiday activities that you can enjoy together as a family.
Family Field Trips
Look for Candy Cane Lane announcements in your local neighborhood and take a walk to enjoy the lights and decorations. These will often be announced in local publications or you may see signs up on the street. If you do not have a Candy Cane Lane that is closed off for people to walk safely, take a drive around nearby neighborhoods to view the lights.
Check your local publications or city website for low-cost or free holiday celebrations, festivals, or events you can attend. You can also check to see if nearby schools are performing The Nutcracker or a music concert featuring holiday songs.
Go on a winter nature walk during the day to hunt for pine cones, acorns, or sticks you can use for crafts or game pieces. Find a park or street where there are not many lights and take an evening star walk to look for constellations (see the link for learning star constellations below).
When you are out for a family walk or driving in the car, you can have a holiday hunt. Each family member can choose a holiday symbol to look for (stocking, reindeer, star, snowman, etc.) and at the end of the journey you can see which symbol is most strongly represented.
Fun at Home
There are many ways to have fun at home. You can plan crafts like decorating bedroom doors to look like presents, making Winter Wonderland terrariums (link to instructions below), or making bird feeders that will draw birds to where you can observe them through the window. Talk about the different birds you see visiting the feeders. Discuss ways they can stay warm when it is cold, where they might find food, and what it might look like to see things from the sky the way birds do.
You can also make your own play dough (link to recipe below). Add red or green food coloring and either peppermint or cinnamon extract to make it more festive. Sit down and enjoy making play dough creations as a family. Take photos of everyone with their play dough art to decorate the refrigerator, add to a family memory book, or include with holiday cards.
Explore the concept of gratitude by making a gratitude tree together. One option is to cut leaf shapes out of paper and ask each family member to write down at least one thing they are grateful for on the leaf. Decorate the refrigerator with the leaves, or make them into ornaments by punching a hole in them for a short piece of yarn. You can also make a more elaborate tree with an actual branch or sticks from a tree. Take a look at the link for the Gratitude Tree Project below to see how.
Plan movie nights where you can all watch your favorite holiday cartoons or movies together. Each person can share why that movie is their favorite. Visit your local library to check out holiday books (find a link to children’s holiday books below). Spend time each night cuddling and reading the stories out loud to each other.
Put on a family talent show, or have a family holiday dance party. Talent shows allow you to celebrate each other’s strengths and creativity. You can have a family holiday dance party to teach each other dance moves, exercise, and just have fun!
Host a holiday party for relatives that features a hot chocolate bar. Make hot chocolate, dark chocolate, and white chocolate cocoa. Set out a selection of marshmallows, sprinkles, candies, whip cream, and festive food coloring for the white chocolate cocoa. Ask everyone to bring a dozen of their favorite holiday cookies to share, and supplies to make gingerbread houses. There are links to cookie recipes and instructions for gingerbread houses below.
Preserve family history and traditions for the next generation. Develop a list of interview questions to ask relatives when they visit and record the interviews, or simply ask people to share childhood memories or stories. Compile the interviews onto a document that you can make copies of for family.
Create a family cookbook. Ask relatives to share their favorite family recipe, the story behind the recipe, a short biography of themselves, as well as one or two pictures. Ask them to write out the information by hand because that makes the documents more personal and interesting. They can mail the document to you, and then you can have them scanned and bound into books at an office supply store. If you have a computer with a scanner you can make the books yourself. Make a copy of the book for each family member as a holiday gift.
Family Volunteer Opportunities
Finding small ways to volunteer as a family is an opportunity to bond and recognize the importance of sharing your time and talents in order to help others. Gather friends and family to go caroling at hospitals, retirement homes, or nursing homes. Adopt a grandparent from a nursing home who is without family. Send the grandparent encouraging cards with pictures the kids have drawn, or stop by and spend some time together.
Go through gently used toys, stuffed animals, and clothing. Gather them and deliver them to a women and children’s shelter as a family. Make care kits and distribute them to a homeless shelter with essential items such as toiletries, nonperishable foods, and water. There is a link below for how to make care kits which also contains more ideas for volunteering.
Your family can also send holiday cards and care packages to soldiers overseas. There are two links below to programs that support the military. Being far away from friends and family is difficult for soldiers, and receiving cards or presents is one way to let them know that there are people thinking of them who appreciate their sacrifice and service.
There is a link to the general volunteer website for California below if you would like to search for other volunteer opportunities in your area. Local places of worship, schools, and auxiliaries are also places where your family may be able to participate in giving back to your community.
References and Resources
- Any Soldier: Care Packages and Donations
- Assemble Care Kits for the Homeless
- California Volunteers
- Operation Shoebox: Reaching out to Soldiers Worldwide
Family Projects and Activities:
- Family Cookbooks Store Traditions
- Gratitude Tree Project
- Homemade Bird Feeders Kids can Make
- Learning Star Constellations
- Making Gingerbread Houses
- Natural Homemade Play Dough Recipe
- Ten Easy Cookie Recipes for the Holidays
- Thirty Things to Do with Grandkids for the Holidays
- Winter and Winter Holiday Books
- Winter Wonderland Terrarium Project
CHS Related Resources: