‘Tis the season once again. To help get your family in the ‘Christmas Spirit’, we’ve put together an Advent Calendar filled with 25 things to do to. Each one will make this Christmas extra special for you and your loved ones! One day definitely isn’t enough to experience all the joy this time of year can bring. Fortunately, these activities present an opportunity to grow closer as a family, make lasting memories and create family tradition.
25 Christmas Activities
1. Decorate the Christmas Tree Together
I loved our tree so much growing up that I used to sleep under it. It really brings the magic of the season into your home and making this experience special is so important.
Did you know traditionally the Christmas Tree didn’t go up earlier than the 22nd or 23rd December and quite often on Christmas Eve? A lot of families nowadays choose to put the tree up on the last week of November or the First week of December. Whenever you and your Family choose to put it up, start the tradition of doing it at the same time each year. Also do it with all the family members present.
Before you set the Tree up, go ornament shopping together and pick out a new ornament for the tree together. You can do this annually and it will eventually become a visual history of your children’s childhood.
You could also have a special ornament for each family member. In our house, we had a special ornament for each of us kids and we put up our own one each year. Those little teddies are now in their 30’s and still go up every Christmas. You can also watch your local City’s Tree Lighting. If it’s not going ahead this year due to COVID-19, make it a new tradition for next year.
2. Make your own Christmas Cards
It could involve taking a family Christmas Card Photo or making them by hand – just make sure you do this activity early in the month so you have time to post them to your loved ones.
Take time to compile a list as a family of the people you’d like to send cards to and what card you want to create. Everyone can be involved in the creative process. You may have a bit of a production line going, with more difficult tasks for the cards being handled by the adults or older kids and simpler tasks for younger children. This could be things like adding glitter and stickers.
3. Get your Christmas Cook On!
There are so many great seasonal recipes to try. Plus, how fun is a huge baking session with the family! There is guaranteed to be a flour fight… but that is half the fun!
You could try making a Gingerbread House either from scratch or a kit. Do it all together, or make it a fun creative competition as individuals or teams. Someone needs to sit out to be the judge or you can invite an impartial judge to decide.
Christmas Cookies – get some festive cookie cutters and go wild! You could even bake them for neighbours and friends and do a surprise drop off at their door, bringing some extra Christmas cheer to their lives.
4. Write Thank You Notes
Write personalised thank you notes to people who have made a difference in your life this year. It’s an opportunity to thank them for their gift of friendship and love.
5. Christmas Craft
Handmade gifts and decorations are so special, to both the person making them and the person receiving them. There are limitless crafts to make, but here are some ideas to get you started:
Make your own Christmas Tree ornaments, DIY a Christmas wreath or DIY snow globes with mason jars. You can also attend a local Christmas Market or Craft Fair to purchase some wonderful, unique and quality handmade items supporting local artists.
6. Do a Drive Around Looking at Christmas Lights
It’s a magical night for the whole family. It’s also nice to bring treats with you to share with the families who put lots of effort into their displays. You may even want to vote as a family for your favourite display. Afterwards, you can go back to their house with a fun trophy you’ve made! For example, it could say, “The Smith Family’s Annual Best Christmas Light Display Award 2020’. You could also have a box of chocolates to give them. I guarantee it will make their day, and spread the Christmas spirit to others.
During COVID-19, local Carol events may be cancelled. But you can still have a fun sing-a-long in your home, or even go carolling yourselves around the neighbourhood.
8. Secret Santa Gift Exchange (with fun / inexpensive gifts)
You can do this activity on Christmas Eve – it really helps the kids settle into bed as they get to open a present.
How it works: everyone buys a $10.00 silly / novelty present. Everyone’s name gets written on a piece of paper and put in a Santa Hat. Then as names are drawn, that person gets to choose a present from the Secret Santa pile (make sure you keep the Secret Santa and regular gifts separate). Variation: ‘Bad Santa’ – you can choose an unopened secret Santa Gift or choose a Secret Santa present already opened. If you ‘steal’ a gift, that person now without a gift can steal from someone else, or choose an unopened Secret Santa gift to replace the one taken. Continue until all names have been drawn.
9. Participate in an Annual Toy Drive
For example, the Salvation Army or Kmart Wishing Tree Appeal.
This gives your children an opportunity to make someone else’s Christmas special. It’s a great learning and giving opportunity in the spirit of the season.
10. Donate to a Charity
Charity is the voluntary giving of help to those in need. Christians often refer to Charity ‘as the pure love of Christ’
Since he is the reason for the season, living as he would and giving to an organisation that will improve the lives of others, whether they be human or animal, is an opportunity to show unconditional love, with no expectation of reward. Appeals could include The Mayor’s Christmas Cheer Appeal, The Salvation Army, Mission Australia, The Smith Family or the RSPCA’s Guardian Angel.
Take the family to a local shelter or other volunteer organisation. This is another great opportunity to teach your children about charity and service.
Volunteering is a great way to bring the Christmas spirit into your lives and the lives of others.
12. Light a Candle on Christmas Day for Loved Ones who Have Passed.
Special occasions where all the family gather together are hard when some family members are no longer with you. You will naturally miss them and it won’t feel the same without them. Lighting a candle can help provide a physical presence for them and an acknowledgement they are remembered and loved. It’s also nice to have a photo next to the candle so they feel even more there with you.
13. Watch Christmas Movies
Bust out the popcorn and spiders (the delicious ice-cream and soft drink combo…not the eight-legged kind)! There are so many great movies to choose from, but my favourites for the family include:
Elf, The Grinch, Home Alone, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and The Muppet Christmas Carol. Why not introduce your kids to the classics?
14. Elf on the Shelf
Bring an Elf on the Shelf into your home for all the hilarity that ensues.
The kids will love waking up each day to discover their antics. The Scout Elf can’t move when you’re awake, but they still keep an eye on the kids and report back to Santa if they’ve been naughty or nice that month. Children can also speak to the Elf and tell it all their Christmas wishes and the Elf will let Santa know. It’s a fun way to help with your children’s behaviour and bring the magic of Christmas into your home.
15. Listen to Christmas Music/Create Your Own Christmas Playlist
I know carols can get a little old when you hear them everywhere for a month. But Christmas just isn’t the same without a little Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Elvis, Michael Bublé, Mariah Carey, Big Crosby or Dean Martin. Even Bruce Springsteen has done a version of Santa Claus is Coming to Town I’d recommend. The best way to enjoy the experience is to create your own Christmas Playlist. Make a list of your favourite songs to include, then search for your favourite version (as a family you could vote on it), and then add them to the list. Listen throughout the month to get you in the Christmas spirit, or at the very least – opening presents on Christmas Day.
16. Track Santa on Christmas Eve using the NORAD app
The NORAD Santa App helps you countdown to Santa’s huge sleigh journey to deliver presents around the world on Christmas Eve. You can see where Santa is on his journey, play games, read stories and more!
17. Email or write to Santa
Santa loves to hear from you! Of course he’d love to know what you’d like for Christmas, but he also loves reading any other stories you’d like to share and he especially loves receiving drawings. Even Santa himself can count on those extra letters and fun to help him get in the Christmas spirit!
Australia Post work with Santa and will make sure your letter gets all the way to the North Pole. Don’t forget to attach a 65 cent stamp on the front of the envelope and write your name and return address on the back, so he can reply. Please note – mail takes time (especially when it’s got to go all the way to the North Pole), so make sure you get your letters sent off by December 14.
Letters to Santa can be placed in a dedicated Santa mailbox at most Post Offices or any red street post box. Find out more at www.auspost.com.au
Address your letter to: Santa, North Pole, 9999
You can also track the progress of your letter through Australia Post’s interactive Santa Mail Tracker.
Australia Post and Santa are also working with Vision Australia to make large text replies available for children who have low vision or require a Braille reply. Simply address your letter to;
Low Vision: Santa Mail (large text), North Pole, 9999 Braille: Letters from Santa (Braille), PO Box 176 Burwood, NSW, 1805
18. Make Cookies for Santa and Put Out Reindeer Food
Don’t forget to treat Santa to some cookies and milk and refuel those reindeer pulling a HUGE all-nighter to get presents right around the world. It’s a lot of work, so they’ll appreciate a nice thank you note and a treat to keep them going. I remember being so excited to see the crumbs left behind and the milk all gone in the morning when I was a child. I also remember when Santa wrote a little note back….I treasured that piece of paper! Remember: It’s the seemingly ‘little things’ that make the magic and help you get into the Christmas spirit.
Ever wanted to know what you’d look like as an elf? Have some online fun with Elfyourself – where you and your loved one’s faces get put on dancing elves and everyone has a giggle.
20. Read Christmas Books
There are so many great books to read to help celebrate the season and bring some festive fun to bedtime reading. Classics include: The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and How The Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss.
21. Attend a Church Service
Your child may have asked, “Why is it called Christmas?”. Attending a church service will help answer that question and include lots of Christmas Hymns. Christmas celebrations began as an opportunity to focus on the life, love and selflessness of Jesus Christ.
Whether your family believes in him or not, the principles that giving, not getting, being kind, and reaching out in love to those less fortunate, are values we can all get behind and epitomise the spirit of Christmas.
22. Make Ugly Christmas Shirts or Have an ugly Christmas Shirt Party.
It’s too hot in Australia for the North American tradition of Ugly Christmas Sweaters – but you can have fun making your own novelty shirts for the season. Get everyone in the family involved to make their own, helping everyone to get in the Christmas spirit together. You can either wear them on Christmas Day and host a competition for the most creative or you could host a fun ‘Ugly Christmas Shirt Party.’
23. Hide the Christmas Pickle
I love an obscure tradition, and this is one of my favourites. The Christmas Pickle! Whilst we’re not entirely sure how it all started, we love how unique it is. It’s an easy tradition to start – all you need is a Christmas Pickle ornament. The night before Christmas, hide the ornament in the Christmas Tree. When Christmas Morning rolls around, the first to find it receives a special gift or surprise.
24. Christmas Games Night
Another fun night to plan during December is a Christmas Themed Games Night. The internet is full of fun ideas including: Christmas Would You Rather, Christmas Song Pictionary or Charades, Minute to Win It Christmas Games, Celebrity Heads – Christmas Edition, Pin the Heart on The Grinch, Build A Snowman Race (making a human snowman from toilet paper and other props), and you could even make a Christmas Piñata.
25. Start a Family Sport or Game Tradition on Christmas Day
You may need to wait an hour or so for digestion to kick in after a big Christmas lunch, but a great way to burn those Christmas Calories and have family fun is participating in an annual sporting activity that brings you all together. You can choose an activity suitable for the ages and abilities of your family, but a few ideas are backyard cricket, soccer, volley ball or other fun backyard and beach sports. Your family may also just prefer to have a board game afternoon. Remember, the family that plays together – stays together.
However you and your family celebrate the season, try not to let all the hurrying and scurrying about take over your lives. Try to be ‘in the moment’ as much as possible and reflect on everything you already have to be grateful for. Remember the best gift is a ‘present parent’ and the real joy in Christmas doesn’t lie in what we get…but who we have in our lives and what we share and give. May you and your loved ones have a beautiful festive season, and have fun getting into the Christmas spirit!