42 Christmas Activities for Kids to Keep Those Little Hands Occupied Until Santa Arrives

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Christmas is a special time of year for everyone, but the joy that kids experience over the holidays is unmatched. In fact, children can get so excited about the upcoming holiday (and Santa’s arrival) that they get a little—shall we say—restless. Meanwhile, you have presents to wrap, cookies to bake and cards to write. But don’t fret because we have the perfect solution. Keep those little elves occupied and make the season even more magical for them with our round up of Christmas activities for kids, which includes a festive card game to play on family game night, a 3D nativity scene that kids can assemble solo, a simple snowflake paper craft and much more. Happy holidays!

18 Fun Things to Do on Christmas Day

1. Make a Popcorn Garland

Jose Luis Pelaez Inc./Getty Images

Sometimes you just need your little humans to sit and chill. And what better way to keep 'em occupied than by engaging them in a craft that's a distraction, decoration and snack all at the same time? This tutorial is a good place to start, but in order to create the perfect popcorn garland, all you need is a fresh batch of popcorn, some crafting string, a pair of scissors and a crafting needle and then you're good to go. (Note: The crafting needle makes this activity best suited for bigger kids.) Mix in some cranberries for that additional Christmas-y touch.

Get the tutorial

2. Play ‘Santa Cookie Elf Candy Snowman’

From the makers of ‘Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza’ comes this laugh-out-loud family-friendly game that asks players to lay down a card while saying the next word in ‘Santa Cookie Elf Candy Snowman’. Slap if it’s a match and the last person to do so gets stuck with all the cards. This one’s best suited for kids ages 8 and up and only takes about 10 minutes per round.

$10 at Amazon

3. Play 'Separation Anxiety’ Minute to Win It Game

Kid Friendly Things To Do

All you need is a cup full of various holiday candies to play this fun and surprisingly difficult minute to win it game, which consists of sorting the candies by type in under sixty seconds without dumping them out. Needless to say, the kids won’t care too much about winning or losing when they realize they get to eat the candy in the end.

Get the tutorial

4. Check Out a Holiday Market

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There’s hot cocoa, treats, toys, bright shiny ornaments and lots more festive cheer to be found at your local holiday market. Check it out with your offspring and the whole fam will have a blast. (Psst: This Christmas activity for kids is a great spot to pick up kitsch holiday gifts for friends and family, too.)

5. Do a Christmas Mad Lib

Happiness is Homemade

Head to Happiness is Homemade for a printable, holiday-themed twist on the classic car game that’s perfect for playing around the fireplace and, as always, sure to have everyone in stitches.

Get the tutorial

6. Make Paper Snowflakes

JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images

A piece of white printer paper, plus a little folding and snipping is all that’s required to make some nifty seasonal decor. Best of all, any kid old enough to wield a pair of scissors can handle this simple craft. It won’t matter what the weather outside is doing, simply stick these pretty DIY flurries to the windows and you’ll have a white Christmas in no time.

7. Play the Christmas Sticker Game for Kids

This toddler-friendly activity allows tots to create their own Christmas figurines (Santa, elf, reindeer, etc.) using stickers. It’s simple and festive and even better? It’s portable, meaning you can bring the holiday fun with you when you need to wait in line at the post office to mail your gift to Aunt Sally.

$10 at Amazon

8. Pay a Visit to Santa

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Santa Claus is coming to...a shopping center near you. Pay him a visit and your child will get to rattle off his Christmas list to someone else, while you stand back and enjoy the photo op. Just don’t forget to snap a photo for the family album.

9. Play Christmas Stacking Cups

Kid Friendly Things To Do

Here’s another minute-to-win-it game, courtesy of Kid Friendly Things To Do, that will go over well with the kids at your holiday party. Sort of like a DIY Jenga game, just pick up some festive cardstock and a sleeve of red solo cups, and watch the fast-paced fun unfold.

Get the tutorial

10. Try the Emoji Christmas Songs Game

Happiness is Homemade

Kids compete for prizes in this festive game, in which players race to identify a list of Christmas carols using only emoji clues. You can learn the rules and find the free printable at Happiness is Homemade. (Psst: This one’s actually fun for the whole family, not just littles.)

get the printable

11. Go Caroling

Ariel Skelley/Getty Images

This classic holiday activity is a joy for folks of all ages, but the performance is particularly cute when the caroling is done by a group of kids. Plus, what child wouldn’t welcome an opportunity to warm up with a mug of hot chocolate when all’s said and done?

12. Make Christmas Slime

The Best Ideas For Kids

The joys of slime are well-documented, so it goes without saying that kids will be thrilled to get their hands on this goo over the holidays—just be sure to make it extra festive with this recipe from The Best Ideas for Kids that turns the sticky stuff into reindeers, snowmen and even the Grinch.

Get the tutorial

13. Bake Christmas Cookies

Przemyslaw Klos/EyeEm/Getty Images

When it comes to Christmas activities for kids, you can’t beat whipping up a festive sweet treat. From licking the bowl to decorating the cookies, holiday baking serves up kid-friendly fun at every step of the process and the reward is oh-so sweet.

14. Do a DIY Felt Christmas Tree Set


Your kid wants to help you decorate the tree and glass ornaments and toddlers don’t mix. Here’s a clever idea: Let your offspring go to town with this soft felt tree and the included detachable ornaments. All of the holiday fun, none of the tears. Now that’s a win-win.

$15 at Amazon

15. Go on a Christmas Light Scavenger Hunt

Happiness is Homemade

A walking tour of the holiday lights in the neighborhood is a fine activity unto itself, but this free printable scavenger hunt from Happiness is Homemade promises an extra entertaining stroll for kids of all ages. See how many candy canes, wreaths, nutcrackers and more you can spot on your holiday stroll.

Get the printable

16. Build a Gingerbread House


STEAM never looked (or tasted) so good as it does with this holiday construction project. You can bake your own gingerbread or keep it simple and buy a kit—either way this engineering challenge will keep your kid busy, while satisfying their sweet tooth, to boot.

$40 at Amazon

17. Play Christmas Bingo


Bingo: The lowkey game that can be adapted for pretty much any occasion. Here, a Christmas-themed iteration you can buy on the cheap and enjoy all season.

$10 at Amazon

18. Play Christmas ‘Guess Who?’

Kid Friendly Things To Do

This family-friendly guessing game is just like Hedbanz, but more festive. The tutorial over at Kid Friendly Things To Do has everything you need, but basically the idea is to write down a bunch of holiday-themed characters on cards, pick one at random and place it on your head, and then go around the group and try to guess who you are but only by asking ‘yes’ and ‘no’ questions. It sounds simple but you’d be surprised how tricky—and hilarious—this game can be.

Get the tutorial

19. Watch ‘The Nutcracker’

Gabriel Kuchta /Getty Images

Get tickets to see the local ballet perform The Nutcracker this holiday season for a magical and memorable night out that older kids are sure to appreciate. (It’s a seasonal staple, so a quick Google search to find a performance near you should yield plenty of results.)

20. Do a Christmas Word Scramble

Happiness is Homemade

If you’re going to visit relatives over the holiday, be sure to pack this Christmas word scramble from Happiness is Homemade for the journey. It’s a festive activity for kids, and a boredom buster everyone will be grateful for. Get the free printable below.

Get the printable

21. Write a Christmas List

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OK, this one is kind of a no-brainer...and chances are your child has written at least ten already. That said, we’d be willing to bet that said child leaps at the opportunity to draft another.

22. Play Santa Claus ‘Go Fish’


Best suited for kids ages 4 and up, this deck of cards gives a fun holiday twist on all the classic games (think: Go Fish, Slap Jack, War, etc.). And don’t worry if your little elf doesn’t recognize numbers just yet—they can use the images instead (“do you have a Santa Claus?”).

$9 at Amazon

23. Try Snowman Tissue Box Bowling

Craftaholics Anonymous

File this under ‘holiday activity two-fers’ because your kid will have a blast with both the adorable snowman art project and the lively bowling game that follows, thanks to the crafts wizzes at Craftaholics Anonymous.

Get the tutorial

24. Write a Letter to Santa

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Christmas lists are great and all, but how about having your kid send Santa something a little more heartfelt? Hint: The best part will be the look on your child’s face when Santa actually writes back. (Thank you, United States Postal Service.)

25. Do a Hot Chocolate Marshmallow Toss

Happiness is Homemade

Don’t worry, this minute to win it game from Happiness is Homemade does not involve tossing objects into hot liquid. Yep, the hot chocolate here is a ruse—but, by all means, serve the kids the real deal when the game is done.

Get the tutorial

26. Make a Wreath

Kathrin Ziegler/Getty Images

Depending on the age and skill-level of your child, you can opt to craft a true showstopper or just opt for a felt craft kit—either way, you’re guaranteed an engaging art project and a finished product that will inspire pride.

27. Play Santa Limbo

Kid Friendly Things To Do

You already know the rules of the go-to party game, but the folks over at Kid Friendly Things To Do think limbo is even better when played in full Santa attire with Christmas lights taking the place of the usual pole, and we tend to agree.

Get the tutorial

28. Build a Model Train

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Putting together a model train set is an excellent activity for kids of all ages, and the end result is a nice touch to have around the Christmas tree. Bonus points if you pair this activity with a reading of ‘The Polar Express’.

29. Go on a Neighborhood Holiday Scavenger Hunt

Studio DIY

It’s just like the Christmas light scavenger hunt, and every bit as fun, but with pictures instead of words—you know, so that even the youngest in your brood can participate. (Thanks Studio DIY for the free printable.)

Get the printable

30. Craft Homemade Ornaments


Get into the holiday spirit by cranking up the tunes and getting started on an ornament-making project with your child. The creative hands-on activity will appeal to kids of all ages and the finished product will be everyone’s favorite thing on the tree.

$12 at Amazon

31. Make Gingerbread Playdough

The Best Ideas for Kids

Not a fan of slime? (We get it.) Good news: This gingerbread playdough activity from The Best Ideas For Kids means you can skip the sticky stuff without robbing your child of the opportunity for some festive sensory play. And you probably have all the ingredients you need (flour, cream of tartar, vegetable oil, etc.) at home already.

Get the tutorial

32. Have an Indoor Snowball Fight


There doesn’t need to be a winter wonderland outside your window in order to enjoy a good ol’ fashioned snowball fight. In fact, you don’t need to go outdoors at all if you scoop up some Floof—a mysterious, snow-like modeling substance that’s both fun to play with and easy to clean up.

$20 at Amazon

33. Play Reindeer Ring Toss


This goofy, wearable ring toss game has ‘Christmas party with kids’ written all over it. Best of all, you needn’t worry about any injuries getting in the way of a jolly good time, since the inflatable rings ensure safe play.

$12 at Amazon

34. Decorate the Tree

Catherine Delahaye/Getty Images

This is a one-time activity, but a very special one for kids—just make sure you’re discreet when you redistribute ornaments to the upper branches.

35. Do a Christmas Tree Science Experiment


Food coloring, baking soda, vinegar and Christmas tree cookie cutters are all you need to pull off this festive ‘tree decorating’ science experiment from Fun-a-Day. It’s easy as can be and pretty darn cool, too.

Get the tutorial

36. Visit a Christmas Light Show

Kevin Reid/Getty Images

Once you’ve seen all the Christmas lights your neighborhood has to offer, take your child to see some even more spectacular decorations. Cities and towns across the country go all out with stunning Christmas lights displays, some of which boast millions of lights to feast your eyes upon.

37. Build a Christmas Village

Crafts by Amanda

So you tried the gingerbread house activity, but the materials kept disappearing. The solution? Opt for an inedible craft, like this salt dough Christmas village, courtesy of Crafts by Amanda.

Get the tutorial

38. Track Santa

Per Breiehagen/Getty Images

You can come up with a whole host of Christmas activities for kids but your children only care about one thing—when is Santa comin? In case you missed it, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has been using their GPS to help kids hone in on Santa’s whereabouts for more than 50 years. Excited kids are sure to get a kick out of this online service, which starts tracking Santa’s route on December 1 and can be accessed here.

39. Host a White Elephant Gift Exchange

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It works just like a regular White Elephant gift exchange, except that the attendees are kids and the gifts to be bartered and traded among friends are hand-picked toys. Get some toy inspiration here. (Psst: Try this one out with a slightly older group of kids—you know, ‘cause little ones are less likely to be on board with having their gift snatched up by a fellow partygoer.)

40. Donate Toys

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Prepare for the deluge of new toys to come by having your kid make room for the loot with a playroom cleaning project that involves sending old, unwanted toys to the donation bin. The promise of gifts on the horizon, will help children of all ages come around to appreciating the holiday spirit behind the good deed, and all parties will benefit from the purge.

41. Play a Christmas Scavenger Hunt Card Game


Yes, it’s another scavenger hunt…but hear us out. This one is designed for indoor use and kids can play completely on their own, so you don’t need to bundle up and explore the neighborhood to have some fun. In fact, we strongly suggest you save it for Christmas morning, because it’s a great way to keep ‘em away from the presents while grown-ups enjoy a much-needed coffee and (if you’re lucky) a proper breakfast.

$10 at Amazon

42. Assemble a 3D Nativity Scene


This nativity set is actually a 3D mechanical puzzle that older kids can assemble themselves. The reward is an engaging and oh-so festive building project that hones STEM skills and a beautiful wooden display that honors holiday tradition.

$11 at Amazon

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