13 Fun Holiday Activities for the Whole Family

Between all the shopping, traveling and planning, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s really important during the holiday season. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy for family members to find common interests that keep everyone engaged and entertained. Here are some 13 fun holiday activities to help you get your kids off their mobile devices and into the holiday spirit.

  1. Plan a white elephant gift exchange. Put an intriguing spin on your Secret Santa game by allowing your family to compete for gifts. The rules are simple: One person begins by opening a gift, and the next person either decides to steal that gift or open a new one. If the gift is stolen, the “victim” gets to open a new present.
  2. Paint the snow. Fill spray bottles or squirt guns with some water and food coloring. Then, go outside and add a few touches of color to the snow in your front or backyard.
  3. Decorate cookies. This is great traditional holiday bonding exercise that can include every member of the family, regardless of age.
  4. Volunteer. Research suggests that volunteering can help reduce depression and anxiety, while enhancing self-esteem. It’s also a great way to teach kids the value of giving back. During the holiday season, communities plan all sorts of local volunteer programs. There are a number of other charitable activities you can do together, including buying a gift for a family in need or sending a holiday card to a soldier. If you don’t have a lot of extra time, you can also participate in Gentle Dental’s nonperishable food drives at local dentist offices throughout the country.
  5. View the lights. Consider taking some time to drive around the community in the evening to take in all the colorful holiday lights.
  6. Create homemade gifts. Play some holiday music and gather around the dining room table to make handmade holiday gifts for friends and family.
  7. Build a gingerbread house. You can purchase pre-fab gingerbread houses at your local supermarket, or – if you have the time – you can make your own gingerbread, using this recipe.
  8. Make a pine cone bird feeder. This kid-favorite activity is easy and fun. Have your child hunt down the perfect pine cone. Then, work peanut butter into all of its nooks and crannies, using a spoon. You can then tie a string to the top of the pine cone and hang it up just outside a window. Your kids will be delighted when they see the first bird or squirrel approach the homemade feeder.
  9. Turn doors into presents. With some wrapping paper, a little tape and a massive ribbon or bow, you can decorate your front door like a giant gift.
  10. Have a movie night. There are all sorts of movies that can help set the tone for a happy holiday season. Some great choices include A Christmas Story, Miracle on 34th Street, Elf, It’s a Wonderful Life, Home Alone, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and A Christmas Carol.
  11. Go caroling. These days, neighborhood holiday caroling has fallen out of favor. That said, you can still spread holiday cheer by caroling at nursing homes and local hospitals, where people are more likely to appreciate your efforts and good cheer.
  12. Play in the snow. Bundle up and pull on your snow boots for some playful outdoor action with the kids. Make a snowman or snow fort. Create snow angels or have a good, old-fashioned snowball fight. However you decide to spend it, some brisk family time in the snow is a great way to lift your spirits during the holidays.
  13. Make ornaments. Homemade ornaments become lifelong treasures years after the kids have grown. Take some time to gather together and craft some ornaments using cardboard, Popsicle sticks, construction paper, glitter and glue. Years from now, when you break open old boxes of these ornaments, you will be filled with nostalgia, as you relive all the happy memories.