No matter what holiday celebrations are looking like in your part of the country this year, we have a few suggestions on how to enjoy a countdown to the holidays with engaging activities the kids will love. Whether you need to plan some school break activities for your own kids, or if you want to connect with extended family online, celebrate the spirit of the season, together from afar, with this activity countdown. (We’ve created an exclusive calendar of events download for you HERE or by clicking on the image below; you can print it off, post it in your home and cross off each item once you’ve completed it! To download, simply right-click on the image and choose “Save as…”)

Check out these ideas for 12 Days of Fun:

1. Create a Hot Chocolate Bar

What kid doesn’t love a warm cup of hot chocolate after playing outside on a cold winter day? Up-level your hot chocolate service by offering a selection of toppings (whipped cream, marshmallows, sprinkles, chocolate chips) and set up a self-serve (or restaurant style) selection for the kids. (Psst… we’ve got the scoop for creating THE BEST hot chocolate bar!)

2. Decorate Cookies

Even if we aren’t entertaining large groups this year for the holidays, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be baking our usual treats that taste like the festive season. Get the kids involved in the baking process and  ice sugar cookies. Package them up and safely deliver to the porches and friends and family. Share the baking and share the love. 

3. Hide and Seek

Holiday hide and seek can have a bit of a twist. Instead of the family hiding all over the house, hide a favourite holiday decoration and send the kids on a hunt. Or play a guessing game with the ornaments on the tree! 

4. Pyjamas and a Movie Watch Party

The movie going experience is even cozier at home when everyone wears pjs but if you want a theatre experience, some theatres across the country will deliver their popcorn, drinks and other concession stand bites through food delivery apps. Thanks to some services like Disney+ and the new Watch Party feature, you can ‘watch’ the movie with family and friends who are in their own homes at the same time. 

5. Sing Holiday Songs

If carolling is part of your holiday tradition, it’s understandable that you might not want to go out into your neighbourhood this year; instead, you can recreate the carolling feel in your own home. Create signs for different rooms in the house that indicate a specific carol to sing, dress up, and make your way ‘door to door’ to sing the songs with your kids. Want to have an audience? Your children’s stuffies – or extended family via video conference – would likely enjoy being serenaded. 

6. Care Packages

A theme for the holidays this year is ‘at a distance’ and there are still many ways to connect, including through the mail. If you’ve long done away with mailing holiday cards, maybe this is the year to bring them back. You and the kids can also create care packages for family members who aren’t making it into town this year. Just plan to ship everything early enough so the packages arrive on time. 

7. Give Back 

Giving back to your community is a great way to get the kids involved in a meaningful and heartfelt tradition. Many organizations are in great need this year. Warm weather clothing, food donations and toy drives are likely being adapted in your area for safety but are still being collected. Research ways to give back this holiday season. 

8. Dance Party 

A family dance party is sure to lift everyone’s spirits! Create a festive playlist (encourage family members to help build it) and if you want to include cousins in another town, set up that family Zoom room and dance away!

9. Family Game Time 

Puzzles have become a real star during the pandemic, but family board games are enjoying their extra time in the spotlight too. It has also drawn attention to online games that can be played remotely. Pick a night leading into Christmas, gather aunts and uncles and cousins on Discord or speaker phone and set up a family friendly game of Kahoot, Jack-in-the-Box, or for older kids, Among Us (our editor has had a ton of fun playing this with her 10- and 13-year old!).

10. Story Time

Sometimes, the simplicity of someone reading a book is just what a family needs. Ask a friend or family member to read a holiday themed book one night to the kids before bed via Zoom when they are cozied up in their pyjamas. 

11. Family Recipe

Recreate a family recipe together. Pull out your grandmother’s famous short bread recipe, or ask your dad for the plum pudding recipe he used to make when you were a kid and recreate it with your own children! Skype in a family member who can help along the way. 

12. Drive to See the Lights

This time of year, our neighbourhoods are becoming brightly lit with twinkling lights and holiday décor. Pick an evening to go for a family drive to see the decorations and pick your favourite Griswold-esque home.

Rebecca Stanisic is a freelance writer and digital content creator. She’s been blogging on her website, A Little Bit of Momsense, since 2009 and for almost as many years has helped fellow bloggers and small business owners create and curate relevant digital content for their own businesses.  She’s the proud mom of two and is fuelled by fiction and coffee.