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

·10 min read

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. Happy holidays!

RELATED: 18 Fun Things to Do on Christmas Day

1. Make a Popcorn Garland

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? 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. Re-enact their favorite Christmas story

You could spend the day binge-watching Christmas movies, but it's way more fun to get those tushies off the couch and re-enact your family's favorite holiday flicks. Of course, we don't expect you to recreate all two hours of Miracle on 34th Street , but you can certainly dress up and perform a couple of scenes.

3. Separation Anxiety Minute to Win It Game

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 details at Kid Friendly Things To Do.)

4. Check out a Holiday Market

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.

5. Christmas Mad Libs

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.

6. Make Paper Snowflakes

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.

7. DIY Gingerbread Man Pinata

In case you missed it, piñatas aren’t just for birthday parties. Grab a kid to help you craft this DIY gingerbread piñata and then string it up at your holiday gathering to entertain the younger crowd. (Ready to get started? Check out the full tutorial at Studio DIY.)

8. Pay a Visit to Santa

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.

9. Christmas Stacking Cups

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—just pick up some festive cardstock and a sleeve of red solo cups, and watch the fast-paced fun unfold.

10. Emoji Christmas Songs Game

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.

11. Go Caroling

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. Christmas Slime

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.

13. Bake Christmas Cookies

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. The Reindeer Scramble Party Game

Gather around the table for a low-key but entertaining game in which teams must use letter cards to unscramble the names of Santa’s reindeers. The first team to make all nine names wins. (Find the full tutorial and free printable at Kid Friendly Things To Do.)

15. Christmas Light Scavenger Hunt

A walking tour of the holiday lights in the neighborhood is a fine activity unto itself, but this printable scavenger hunt from Happiness is Homemade promises an extra entertaining stroll for kids of all ages.

16. Gingerbread Houses

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.

17. Christmas Bingo

Bingo: The lowkey game that can be adapted for pretty much any occasion. Here, a Christmas-themed iteration from The Best Ideas For Kids.

18. Christmas ‘Guess Who?’

This family-friendly guessing game is just like Hedbanz, but more festive. (Don’t worry if you have no idea what we’re talking about—the tutorial over at Kid Friendly Things To Do will fill you in.)

19. Watch ‘The Nutcracker’

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.

20. Christmas Word Scramble

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.

21. Write a Christmas List

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. Guess that Smell Christmas Game

Gather a group of kids (and grown-ups, too) and have everyone explore the scents of the season with this highly entertaining and sometimes hilarious guessing game from Kid Friendly Things To Do.

23. Snowman Tissue Box Bowling

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. (More details at Craftaholics Anonymous.)

24. Write a Letter to Santa

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. Hot Chocolate Marshmallow Toss

Don’t worry, this minute to win it 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.

26. Make a Wreath

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

27. Santa Limbo

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, and we tend to agree.

28. Build a Model Train

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. Neighborhood Holiday Scavenger Hunt

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. (Find the free printable at Studio DIY.)

30. Craft Some Homemade Ornaments

Stop by Pinterest for some inspiration and get 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.

31. Gingerbread Playdough

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.

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. 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.

$17 at Amazon

32. Decorate the Tree

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.

36. Visit a Christmas Light Show

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

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. (Check out Crafts by Amanda for the full tutorial.)

RELATED: 32 Christmas Party Games for the Whole Family (Plus a Few That Are Adults-Only)

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