Toddlers and pre-schoolers will love doing holiday activities with Mommy!
Print out a copy of the Christmas Activity Calendar.
Read over the activity descriptions below and gather the necessary materials.
Make some magical holiday memories with your kids!
Cut the appropriate number of strips out of red and green construction paper.
Show kids how to staple or glue the strips together to create a chain.
Take off one link per day until Christmas.
You may want to limit the number of items your child can request, or suggest they should ask for the specific items they 1) NEED; 2) WANT; 3) will WEAR; and 4) want to READ.
Suggest they draw and color pictures of what they want so Santa knows exactly what they're asking for.
Let your kids decide whether they want to deliver the letter personally when they sit on Santa's lap, or if they would rather drop it off in the Santa mailbox in the mall (or even your mailbox at home--you could make a special Santa stamp for the envelope).
Double check that you know all the verses to the 12 Days of Christmas song.
If you have a large group, assign each person a verse. Have everyone stand in a line and sing & act out their verse during the song.
If it's just you and a couple of little ones, come up with a motion for each verse to do while you sing the song.
Cut circles, bells, stars, or tree shapes out of felt.
Also consider making a large felt Christmas tree to hang up so that kids can decorate and redecorate it with their felt ornaments (and leave the ones on your actual tree alone).
First, explain to your children that there are kids just like them who need our help.
Then, have them go through their toys and pick out gently-used items to donate to a local charity.
Also consider letting them pick out a few new toys in the store to donate to needy children.
Have kids make cards to give to grandparents, other relatives, and neighbors.
Consider incorporating handprints, photos, drawings, or some other special feature unique to your child.
You may want to hand-deliver the greetings in person if feasible.
Obtain a copy of The Polar Express.
Make hot chocolate and cozy up together to read about a magical train journey to the North Pole.
It's also fun to give kids their own jingle bell to keep after the story (if they're old enough not to swallow it).
OPTION 1: Get a gingerbread house kit.
OPTION 2: Construct a "gingerbread" house out of graham crackers and have kids decorate it with icing and gum drops.
Whether you make them from scratch, use a mix, or even buy pre-made dough, the only thing that matters to the kids is that they get to go to town decorating with sprinkles and/or frosting.
TIP: Cheap plastic squeeze bottles usually intended for condiments are great for applying frosting.
After the cookies are baked, let kids choose one or two that they can eat right then, plus another couple that they want to leave out for Santa on Christmas Eve. Reserve the rest for holiday guests, visits, and parties.
Show kids how to fold white paper and cut a pattern along the side opposite of the fold.
Show off everyone's snowflakes, and point out how they are just as unique and "one-of-a-kind" as real snowflakes are.
Consider hanging up the snowflakes, especially if you live in an area that will NOT be having a "white" Christmas.
Take a familiar tune (like Row, Row, Row, Your Boat; Mary Had a Little Lamb; Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star).
Make up Christmas lyrics for it.
Rehearse and perform your new holiday song for Daddy, Grandma, or whoever will listen!
Rehearse one or two holiday songs, plus "We Wish You a Merry Christmas."
Go caroling to the grandparents or neighbors.
(You may want to break out that new holiday song you composed)!
Let kids color them and/or decorate them with stickers.
Talk about the saying "It's better to give than to receive" and what it means at Christmastime.
If you are blessed with snow, build a traditional snowman.
You may want to sing "Frosty the Snowman" while you work.
Explain that some people are hungry because they can't afford to buy enough food for themselves.
Discuss the difference between "perishable" and "non-perishable" food items, and have kids pick out non-perishable ones from your own pantry to donate.
Also have kids point out good items to donate at the grocery store, and fill a bag or two with donation items.
Give your budding architects their mission:
You might suggest they draw their design plans first.
Have everyone share what their favorite holiday movie is, and select one to watch together.
Pop some popcorn for the screening.
Do some serious snuggling during the show.
Talk about why it's important to visit people who are unable to leave their homes easily.
Make Christmas cards to give them, and/or take them some Christmas cookies.
Plan something entertaining for the kids to do, like acting out the 12 Days of Christmas, or singing your original holiday song.
Gather brown paper grocery bags, or get a roll of plain white paper.
Let kids decorate the "gift wrap" by coloring, painting, and stamping 'til their hearts' content.
You can also create small gift bags out of paper lunch bags.
See who can make a candy cane last the longest (i.e., who can lick and resist the urge to bite for the longest period of time).
WARNING! This activity is inappropriate for very small children.
You might want to talk about some of the interesting history and legends surrounding the candy cane.
Have kids write--or dictate--a message to themselves to be read next Christmas.
Have very young kids scribble a picture, and/or make a tracing of their hands.
Place the note in their stocking after Christmas before the decorations are packed away, and read it when you get them out again next year.
Have each of your friends wrap up a gently-used toy or book to contribute to your Gift Swap.
Place all of the gifts in a pile, and put everyone's names in a basket.
When a name is pulled from the basket, that child gets to pick a present--that is new to them--from the pile.
As soon as it gets dark, climb into the car and go for a drive to see the local Christmas lights.
This ride might be more exciting if kids get to go in their jammies.
Be sure to listen to Christmas music during the drive!
Choose a Christmas story to re-enact.
If you don't have any puppets at your disposal, create some out of paper bags or old socks.
You'll definitely want to have the video camera ready for the performance!
During Christmas dinner, have everyone share their favorite memories from the past year.
(This is a great follow-up to everyone sharing what they were thankful for at Thanksgiving).
You may want to keep a "Memory Notebook" where you jot down the memories that are shared each Christmas.