At-Home Christmas Activities for the Whole Family
Bob Hope once said, “When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things – not the great occasions – give off the greatest glow of happiness.”¹
The simplest things, such as at-home Christmas activities, are the ones we are most likely to remember.
Many people overspend during the holiday season because they are trying to create a picture-perfect, Hallmark-worthy Christmas.
But that isn’t necessarily what your family needs or even wants.
Simply spending time together doing at-home Christmas activities can bring families together and fill hearts with cheer.
Use this list of 15 at-home Christmas activities to inspire some new, budget-friendly holiday traditions.
#1 Have a Holiday Movie Marathon
With the variety of streaming services available, it is easier than ever before to enjoy a true holiday movie marathon.
This is the perfect opportunity to introduce your kids to the Christmas classics you love or to embrace the new holiday favorites.
#2 Host a Gingerbread House Competition
Decorating gingerbread houses has become a popular at-home Christmas activity for many families.
You can find gingerbread-house kits at grocery stores and craft stores. Many stores also sell decorations or embellishments, especially for gingerbread houses.
Make a competition out of it. See who can build the most elaborate, most artistic, or worst house.
#3 Bake Cookies
Baking and decorating Christmas cookies is one of the most popular at-home Christmas activities because everyone can participate.
In addition to making special cookies for Santa, consider asking family, friends, and neighbors to participate in a cookie swap.
#4 Get Crafty
Spend an afternoon crafting with one another.
This may look like making your own wreaths, stringing a popcorn garland, or painting ornaments.
Another reason this is one of the most popular at-home Christmas activities is that it doesn’t cost much.
For example, you can make salt dough ornaments using only flour, salt, and water. Here are instructions from Better Homes and Gardens.²
- Rolling pin
- Cookie cutters
- Bamboo skewer
- Cookie sheet
- Acrylic paint
- String or ribbon
- Make the salt dough. Combine 2 cups flour, 1 cup salt, and 1 cup warm water. Knead the dough until it’s smooth. Let the dough sit for 20 minutes, then turn the dough out onto a floured surface and use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to about ¼-inch thickness.
- Choose a variety of Christmas cookie cutters. When you’re ready to cut the dough, dip the cookie cutter in flour and then cut out the dough. To turn each shape into an ornament, use a bamboo skewer to poke a hole at the top of each cutout.
- Bake the ornaments. Place the cut shapes about ½-inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. For ¼-inch cutouts plan to bake the ornaments at 250°F for 90 minutes. Flip them and then bake them for another 90 minutes. You want the finished shapes to be firm and dry.
- Decorate the ornaments. Once the shapes have completely cooled, decorate the salt dough ornaments with acrylic paint. You can also glue on other embellishments like sequins or glitter if desired. When dry, string the ribbon through the hole to make a hanging loop.
#5 Play Board Games
When the whole family is together, it is the perfect time to bond over some board games like Monopoly.
Turn off your devices and roll the dice.
#6 Try Some New Christmas-Themed Games
It’s easy to turn an ordinary day at home into a magical one by playing some Christmas-themed games.
Here are a few ideas:
- Pin the red nose on Rudolph.
- Ring the reindeer antlers.
- Candy cane hunt.
- Human gift wrapping.
- Christmas charades.
#7 Set Out a Festive Beverage Bar
Embrace all the flavors of the season by creating specialty beverages.
Celebrate one evening with a hot cocoa bar. In addition to the hot cocoa, set out plenty of extras, such as marshmallows, whipped cream, candy canes, and pretzel sticks.
Spend an afternoon testing different eggnogs to determine which is the best.
Make your own mulled wine.
Here’s a recipe from The Kitchn.³
- 2 (750-milliliter) bottles of red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
- 1/2 cup brandy
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 4 whole cloves
- 2 whole star anise pods
- 2 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
- Peel of 1/2 orange, white pith removed
- Optional garnishes: cinnamon sticks, cranberries
- Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker.
- Heat on LOW for 1 hour.
- Lower the heat to warm, ladle into mugs, and garnish.
#8 Sing Christmas Carols
Gather around the piano (or the Bose home speaker) and sing Christmas carols together.
Or play a few rounds of Christmas karaoke.
#9 Look at Christmas Lights
Bundle up and take the family on a walk around the neighborhood to look at Christmas lights.
If distance is a problem, load everyone up in the family van with blankets, hot cocoa, and Christmas music, and go on your own holiday light tour.
#10 Read a Christmas Story
Take time to read a Christmas classic, such as ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, The Gift of the Magi, or A Christmas Carol.
#11 Eat a Festive Meal Together
Some of the best Christmas memories are made at home around the table.
Consider making a fun, festive Christmas breakfast complete with Santa pancakes. Have a fancy Christmas lunch and eat the leftovers for dinner.
#12 Enjoy a Holiday Performance
You don’t have to go to the theatre to watch holiday performances.
Look for opportunities to stream or watch live performances of holiday classics, such as The Nutcracker.
#13 Cook over the Fire
You can’t make it through the holiday season without hearing Nat King Cole sing, “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose, Yuletide carols being sung by a choir.”
But many Americans have not actually enjoyed chestnuts roasting on an open fire.
If you want to introduce your family to this tradition, use this recipe from Vindulge.⁴
- Lay out just enough charcoal that the cast iron pan will set atop the embers, but not the handle. Setting a large grill for indirect cooking is an easy way to do this.
- Score the chestnuts. (Cut an X on the rounded side of each.)
- Using a seasoned cast iron pan, lay out just enough chestnuts to cover the pan. The scored side should be facing up. This allows the shell to absorb all the high heat first.
- Place the pan over the coals. Allow the cast iron pan to heat up with the chestnuts in the pan.
- After 5 minutes in the pan over the embers, begin to stir the chestnuts.
- Stir occasionally for an additional 5 – 7 minutes.
- Remove from the fire. When cool enough to handle, remove the outer hard shell, then serve warm with a touch of finishing salt and/or butter.
#14 Perform a Random Act of Kindness
If you are looking for new at-home Christmas activities for your family, consider doing a random act of kindness.
Whether this is paying for someone’s meal in the drive-thru or dropping off a plate of food from your Christmas dinner, it is a wonderful way to spread kindness and cheer at this time of year.
#15 Donate to Charity
A good way to turn the focus away from receiving and back onto giving is to donate to charity as a family.
Take time as a family to talk about the types of issues that move you the most and the types of organizations you all feel comfortable supporting.
Then, choose to give a donation as a Christmas gift from your family.
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