A collection of 30 Christmas Countdown Activities–simple ideas, crafts, recipes, traditions, and family Christmas activities that are budget-friendly and sure to bring the Christmas spirit. Free printable cards included.
Affiliate links are included for your convenience. Please see my full disclosure.
Enjoy the holiday season with family and friends with these fun family Christmas activities! You’ll find a variety of activities and service ideas, many of which are free or budget-friendly. Make a Christmas activity countdown, and you’ll enjoy a festive season, create memories, spend time together, and bring in the Christmas spirit!
The best part of Christmas isn’t Christmas morning. Don’t get me wrong–I absolutely love the magic of Christmas Eve and Christmas morning, and seeing the joy in my children’s faces as they tiptoe down the stairs, see the tree lit with all the presents underneath it, peek into their stockings for the first time, and open that one gift that they’ve been praying for (and that I’ve been dying to give them).
For me, it’s everything that leads up to that morning–the journey to Christmas–all the wrapping, shopping, decorating, baking, reading, light-seeing, acts of service, concerts, plays, parties, craft-making, snuggly movie & popcorn nights, secret Santa runs, visits with family & friends, and more. I love the journey as much as or more than the destination, and I love how it brings out little family closer and establishes much-loved traditions.
List of activities
I’ve compiled a list of some of our favorites, and ones that I plan to include this year for our family. In addition, I included some general labels, that might be easier to fit more families’ needs–i.e. “attend concert or play” or “attend party”. I’m sharing the printable downloads below. You can of course create your very own list with activities and traditions your family loves!
Crunched for time? You don’t need to do something big or fancy every day. Some days you might be so busy you just don’t have time for anything. Reading a Christmas book each night is my go-to during the busiest times. You can also choose a few days or weekends during the season that are available, and select your most favorite activities to do with your family.
1. Act out the Nativity & read the Christmas story
2. Make homemade hot chocolate
3. Christmas movies & popcorn
4. Make & decorate sugar cookies
5. Go Christmas shopping as a family
6. Drive to see Christmas lights…Christmas lights scavenger hunt!
7. Go ice skating
8. Make Rudolph pancakes
9. Make paper snowflakes & hang in windows
10. Write letters to Santa (GO HERE to see how to get a reply!)
11. Deliver treats to neighbors & friends
12. Make& decorate gingerbread houses
13. Invite friends over for a Christmas sing-a-long
14. Have a Baking Day!
15. Visit Santa
16. Deliver treats to local fire stations
17. See the Nutcracker ballet
18. Go for a winter walk
19. Stuff & stamp Christmas cards
20. Gather friends to go Christmas caroling at a local nursing home
21. Make Christmas crafts
22. Make a snowman (inside OR outside!)
23. Family Game Night!
24. Acts of Christmas Kindness or Service
25. Secret Santa night
26. Attend Christmas concert, play, or performance
27. Cut down, and/or decorate Christmas tree
28. Go to library and check out Christmas books (read one every night until Christmas!)
29. Attend Christmas party
30. Make handmade ornaments
I love advent calendars, and one of my favorites ways to count down the first 25 days of December is with a fun family activity each day. It doesn’t have to be fancy, cost a lot of money, or take a lot of time to prepare–sometimes the most most simply activities are the best ones!
Amidst all the baking and concerts, we also love to focus on acts of service, in different forms. They not only bring the Christmas spirit, but help us focus on others, and the true reason we celebrate the season.
My kids absolutely love this, and they look forward to each morning when they find out what we’ll be doing that day. Many of these things very likely are activities your family will be doing anyway, but planning it out, and making it a surprise changes everything.
How to make
I’ve created a tag for each activity, that you can print and display. Print the tags below on to white cardstock, then cut them out. You can use your countdown in several different ways, including some of the following options:
- Create a banner by punching holes in the top corners of each tag and running a ribbon or twine through them. Hang on a mantel or shelf.
- Punch a hole in the corner of each tag and place on a book ring.
- Place them in stocking, and pull one out each day.
- Put them in special envelopes or in another advent.
- Write one a day on a family chalkboard or whiteboard for all to see each morning.
TIP: To help the cards last from year to year, consider laminating them!
Take turns choosing an activity, or plan them out according to your schedule. Our weekdays are really busy, so we will either do an activity that doesn’t take as long, or prep a few on the weekend for during the week. For example, we will do our baking on the weekend, then deliver during the week.
Modify the activities for your family size and ages if needed. As our kids are growing, there are more things we can do, or on a different scale than when they were tiny. We still read a Christmas book every night, but have also read a chapter of The Christmas Carol each night instead.
Print on to white card stock, then cut around the edges of each card.
You can certainly print on white paper, but I highly recommend card stock if possible. They will hold up so much better! If you want to use them year to year, consider laminating them.
Many of them are either no cost to very little cost. Those that do have a cost attached can be done at varying levels. For example, seeing The Nutcracker play at a local school or dance company or even a community theater will be less expensive than a professional production.
Merry Christmas, from our family to yours. Happy Countdown!!! 🌲
For even MORE holiday ideas, check out my book, Simply Tradition: 70 Fun & Easy Holiday Ideas for Families. It’s chock full of recipes, ideas, and traditions for Christmas, and every holiday throughout the year. It makes a great gift too!
*Originally posted 2014.