5 fun, proven things you absolutely should do with your kids this holiday season

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As an adult, in my late twenties, I started to feel a little ‘meh’ about Christmas. Of course, it was a lovely time of year and I loved seeing my family when I could, but I didn’t really understand the allure of decorating, baking, or most themed events. holidays.

That all changed, however, once I hit my 30s and had kids.

To see Christmas through the eyes of a child, you can’t help but feel a little bit of the holiday spirit. It might sound cliché, but there is something truly magical about it: preparing for the big day, writing a letter to Santa Claus, the way their eyes light up on Christmas morning and the listening to their clear, morning footsteps, sprinting up the tree.

Needless to say, I’m now a parent (obviously) and really into the holidays. My daughter has just turned 6 and my son will be 4 in a few weeks, so we are in the perfect age range to prepare for Christmas. Thought I’d rank some of my favorite vacation activities, for any other parent, caregiver, or Christmas enthusiast.

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Just a quick note: I’ve included a few Amazon links, just to be helpful, but Graham Media Group may collect a small share of the sales from the links provided on this page.


I recommend …

1. Frost a big batch of cookies with your kids.

This year we did our cookie decorating with friends – and it became WILD.

So, consider putting on a disposable (and festive!) Tablecloth; I believe we grabbed ours at Party City or Target for around $ 1, and it’ll clean up many Easier.

Having said that, it was really fun! If your kids are young, and something like my kids, they’ll be up to this activity in no time, making ugly cookies that you would NEVER want to eat, stacked with about an inch of thick, gooey frosting. 🤢 (Maybe you like that sort of thing. I’m not).

This year I made one of those sugar cookie mixes – the kind where you just add butter and an egg, if I remember correctly. The cookies came together quickly and received rave reviews from the kids, although I didn’t try one. I bought two kinds of icing from Target, with this assortment of sequins.

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Last year we used this kit to make cookies on the theme of ugly sweaters.

Our ugly sweater cookies! (Photo Michelle Ganley / GMG)

I recommend both options! Although after some research on Amazon I came across this cookie activity, and I must say: this is most certainly what we will do next year! I like the idea of ​​no fuss, no fuss. And yes, this “ink” marker is edible, according to the list!

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The verdict? 6/10 in my book. Kids would probably rank it higher, but I’m still grossed out by their cookie designs. Am I a Grinch? Don’t answer that. ??

2. Decorate a “gingerbread house”

I put “gingerbread house” in quotes because this year we didn’t make a real edible house.

I have a theory that no one * actually * likes gingerbread. Do you have any thoughts on this, readers? In fact, if you like gingerbread, I’m going to need to hear about it in the comments. Scroll down and weigh, will you?

Considering I’m clearly not joking with gingerbread and my kids to like arts and crafts, I decided to buy this kind of cardboard outside of Amazon.

Make sure you read the dimensions on this thing. It’s enormous! I pictured it sitting on our dining room table, you know, like a gingerbread house dessert, and thought the kids and I would have fun coloring it in about an hour or so. The joke was on me, apparently. Look at this thing! We’re not quite done; we’ve been working on the house the last few evenings so it’s a bit more of a business than I imagined. But I can’t wait to finish and put everything in place! (Is this more fun for me than for my kids? Hmm. It’s very possible!)

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The verdict? 7/10 in my book, and I mostly tie it to a few spots because it’s so huge, lol.

My son is a tall 3 year old, for reference. (Photo Michelle Ganley / GMG)

3. Make these handprint ornaments

I saw those last year and thought we MUST do them! Maybe I was more of a nifty pandemic mom in 2020, I’m not sure. 🙂 But I made the dough from scratch, and it was super easy – there are only a few ingredients involved, and you probably already have everything you need in your kitchen. We’re talking all-purpose flour, salt, and lukewarm water.

The only thing you could be able have to buy is a clear icing, to coat them once finished, with a little paint, for decoration.

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By the way, just a tip: I used this aerosol outside, as it says on the bottle, but I also started letting our ornaments air dry on the back porch on a cookie sheet, which is the surface I sprayed them on. I’m not sure if it’s because I waited too long (a week, probably), but I totally ruined the h — of this cookie sheet. It was so sticky and hard; I couldn’t see myself cooking on it anymore.

The verdict? 5/10, but I always say you should do them! User error on my part here, but make sure you roll your THIN dough. Your decorations will swell in the oven!

Bake at the lowest temperature possible and let your ornaments air dry for a day before putting them in the oven, that’s what the site recommended. These made for cute grandparents gifts!

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4. Make baking for the holidays

We have made the following recipes:

  • Sparkling cookies (full disclosure, I think we made them for Valentine’s Day, but still thought red would be pretty for Christmas).

Also on my list for this season is a Christmas log, which I always wanted to do, and this hot chocolate cake.

Just a note: my kids “helped” with MOST of these recipes. Considering their age, I just give them small jobs like breaking the eggs in the bowl, stirring and helping me roll out the dough. I still do most of the work.

The verdict? 9/10, I love to cook with my son and daughter. It’s such a great way to introduce new words, to learn how to measure and how to operate the kitchen, all of that good stuff – without it sounding like a LESSON, you know? In addition, it is practical. I’m known to bring our treats as hostess gifts, and it’s fun to have baked goods around the house. Everything in moderation, right?

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5. Try some of the more traditional Christmas activities

Some things we have done include:

  • Choose a real tree and decorate it – 10/10. That was us, by the way, if you read the Tweet below. (I walked out of the room for 10 minutes while my husband ‘watched’ things and we had about 90% of our ornaments in one block). ??

  • Lots of hot chocolate evenings – 10/10, but make sure you grab some child safe mugs so they don’t burn their little hands!
  • Watch all the Christmas movies – 8/10, but only because “The Polar Express” freaked my son. What’s up with this movie? I didn’t like him either. We also made old school “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” (Amazon Prime); “Elf”, which I think I must have rented digitally because it doesn’t seem to be showing on any of the apps I’m paying for; “A Christmas from the Muppets: Letters to Santa Claus” (Disney Plus) and “The Snowy Day” (Amazon Prime). The latter is our absolute favorite, and yes, it’s based on the book of the same name, by Ezra Jack Keats. Start there! And be sure to talk a bit throughout the movies – it’s a good way to make up for screen time, as i read recently. You make it a learning opportunity, rather than letting your kids down in front of the TV.
  • Make the matching Christmas jammies – 10/10 for cuteness! Last year we did Target, this year I found Dr. Seuss sets at TJ Maxx. Hanna andersson is adorable too, although the price is a bit higher.
  • Building a snowman – 9/10 because I don’t like staying cold for extended periods of time unless I’m skiing. But otherwise it’s great! (Find yourself a husband who will do the heavy lifting here). 😉 Whether you live in a cold place or have a place you can visit, this is a must-see on your list. We were even gifted this little set last year, and it was really fun to play with!
Our (pitiful?) Snowman, lol. (Photo Michelle Ganley / GMG)
  • Work our way through an Advent calendar – 8/10. It’s simple, but it really boosts that excitement towards the big day! Aldi is known to have some really cute ones. I realize we’re now in mid-December, but that might be something to add to your roster for next season. You can even buy an adult version for yourself and / or your spouse, and a child version for your little ones. We’re only making the small chocolate version this year, and it’s a success.

  • Playing with a felt christmas tree – 10/10. Ours was a giveaway, but it looks VERY like this, and it was a smash hit. I don’t even really know why, but my kids love it. (Worth mentioning: this is the photo you see at the top of this story! It’s my girl with the tree.)
  • Reading Christmas Books – 10/10 because I love book time with my kids. Some of the titles on our bedside table right now include “Little Blue Truck Christmas” (my kids are getting a bit old for this one, but we love this series), “The Polar Express” (book> movie, 100%!) “Dream Snow”, “The Littlest Reindeer” and I just discovered the holiday version of “Grumpy Monkey”. It’s on my way to our house that I type this!

Bonus point: if you’re a funnier mom than I am and you’ve tried all of this, or even most of my list, here’s a fun link that I found online while browsing a bit – 50 Easy Christmas Crafts For Kids.

Hope there is something on my list or theirs that inspires you this holiday season. ??

Merry Christmas in advance! Please let me know what you end up trying.


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