Hi, I’m Carly!
When I was a kid, Christmas morning started at around 8AM because my parents wouldn’t let us wake them up before then. My three sisters and I would run downstairs all at the same time to see what Santa brought us.
Then we would take turns opening the wrapped presents under the Christmas tree. After that, we ate breakfast as a family.
Check out this awesome breakfast recipe for egg casserole!
Then…we all split up to look at our gifts and play with our new toys by ourselves.
We got together again for Christmas dinner, but the majority of the day was actually spent alone.
As we got older, and our gifts became clothes and makeup rather than toys, we got bored on Christmas Day.
The best day of the year, and we didn’t know what to do. It was only a few years ago that we decided to remedy this.
Whether your family has big kids or little kids, Christmas (and other holidays) should be spent together! Not separate in the same room. So we came up with a few activities that we could do as a family.
And if you’re looking for non-food Christmas ideas, check out this list of 50+ stocking stuffer ideas that aren’t candy.
5 Family Christmas Activities That Aren’t Opening Presents or Eating Food
Gingerbread House Competition
My family changes the rules a little every year for which cooking show we model this competition after. I’ll explain my favorite way we’ve done it.
We pair off into teams of two. (If there are only a few of you participating, make one gingerbread house together.) All teams get a box of graham crackers, a tub of frosting, and access to a variety of sprinkles.
Each team chooses a box or bag of goodies (don’t use something transparent) without looking inside to see the ingredients. The bags are full with two types of ingredients: shared, and unique.
The shared ingredients are general gingerbread house making ingredients that every bad has (e.g. pretzels, candy canes, gum drops, etc.). The unique ingredients are different in each bag and could be challenging to use on a gingerbread house (e.g. lifesavers, M&M’s, chocolate syrup, gummy bears, etc.).
The catch is: You have to use some of each item in your bag. So once each team has their essential ingredients and their bag of ingredients, a theme is chosen. Whatever the team builds has to pertain to this theme.
We have done Disney and living spaces. With Disney, one team made Pride Rock out of graham crackers. One made Rapunzel’s tower. When the theme was living spaces, one team made a cottage, and another a hotel.
Get creative! There are a million ways to adapt this activity to your family. And it’s SO MUCH FUN!
Treasure Hunt/Amazing Race
This fun family Christmas activity could go a million directions to suit your family best! So even if you do it every year, it can be totally different!
It also requires the most prep time, but that’s why I have so much fun with it.
With smaller kids, have them work together solving clues throughout the house to get to the treasure, or do challenges and tasks in teams to get to the finish first.
With bigger kids, you could do a larger scaled treasure hunt around the community. (If they can drive, it can be even bigger.)
I planned one of these for my family this year (everyone is an adult with a partner so there are ten people total). Teams of two or three will drive around the community solving clues and completing tasks to race to the finish.
Some ideas for clues are:
- Christmas movie trivia
- Bible trivia
- Solving crossword puzzles
- Translating languages
- Encryption/substitution codes.
Some ideas for tasks are:
- Singing a Christmas song
- Decorating a Christmas cookie
- Pulling a member of your team on a sled (skateboard) to the next clue
Make it as easy or difficult as you want!
Make Packages/Kits to Give to Others
Christmas is often about receiving, but it should be about giving to others.
If there is a family in need that you know of, get your family involved in making their Christmas awesome! Get presents for that family, or make them food to deliver on Christmas. Let the kids get creative in deciding how best to serve that family as a fun family Christmas activity.
If you don’t know of anyone that needs help, there are various programs that assign your family a child in need that you can buy presents for. This one can get really personalized; you could even work together to make a present for that child.
Another route is to get toys, toiletries, and clothing for various sizes and genders, and make a few gift boxes for children in need to donate to a charity. Some charities have Christmas programs that guide you in what to buy for children and families in need.
Your family can have a lot of fun building these packages together and making sure each one is equipped with all it needs. Take your family to deliver the packages as a Christmas activity so they can see the joy they bring to the receiver of these gifts.
Even if you just drop them off at the front desk of a charity, I’m sure someone will be grateful for the packages.
Candy Cane Hunt
Easter traditions really got something right with the Easter Egg Hunt. Why not make it year-round with a Christmas Candy Cane Hunt for your family activity?
Hide candy canes around your house, the backyard, the neighborhood, wherever! Then send all the participants off to find them.
You could even make it a competition: whoever finds the most wins a prize. This one is geared toward littler kids, although I’d have fun hunting candy canes as well.
Act Out the Nativity
This is a great one no matter how many people are with you! All you really need is a Mary, a doll to play Baby Jesus, and a wise man bringing gifts.
If you have more people, add Joseph, more wise men, animals, and an innkeeper. You could even put an Angel Gabriel in there to tell Mary she is pregnant.
Let the kids choose their characters and put whatever twist on it they want. It’s the most fun when the parents are the audience, and the kids tell the story as they know it.
Acting out the nativity is a favorite family Christmas activity to do again and again.
Have Fun With These Family Christmas Activities!
These activities can be modified to fit your family and its needs as well as the holiday you are celebrating. Who says you can’t build a gingerbread house on New Year’s Eve?
My family has had so much fun doing some of these family Christmas activities and livening up our holidays a little bit.
The best part is that for team family Christmas activities, we choose our partner out of a hat. So I could be working with my sister’s partner, and she could be working with our mom.
We even made a rule that if you pick your partner out of the hat, you have to choose again. This way, we get to work with people one-on-one that we normally wouldn’t!
It really brought our family closer together and helped us get to know one another better. I look forward to the holidays so much more now than I have since I was a kid!
Let me know on my Facebook page (Catt Editing) if you use any of these ideas. I’d love to see pictures of your family enjoying these activities!
About the Author of 5 Family Christmas Activities
My name is Carly Catt, and I am a freelance copy editor and proofreader. I love working with bloggers and novel writers, but I edit all kinds of things! I am 22 years old, and I live in Arizona with my husband. Every year, all three of my sisters and my parents look forward to getting together for each holiday so we can do an activity like one of these together. I am currently accepting new clients, so if you are in need of an editor, check out my website Catt Editing or my Facebook page.