We’ve put together 50 of our favorite family fun Christmas countdown activities. These Christmas countdown ideas are perfect for family time this holiday season.
A Christmas Countdown activity calendar is a great way to prioritize family time during the busy holiday season. It takes a little planning, but can be so beneficial to your family through the holidays.
We have been doing it as a family tradition for years and it is one of our favorite ways to celebrate the season. We like to focus on experience more than gifts when planning our month.
Whether you want to do holiday crafts, watch the best holiday movies, or get outside with your family, this list will help you plan an awesome Christmas season.
Christmas Countdown Activities for Families
This calendar is full of Christmas countdown activities that we have done year after year. It may seem like another thing to add to your already busy season, but we find it is a tradition we all look forward to each year.
I have to be honest though, there is a bit of upfront planning to create the calendar. It will take a little time to organize it all but it is totally worth it.
The best part about creating a countdown to Christmas is you can do it anyway you want. If you want to stay at home to do your activities you can.
If you would rather go out and see different holiday events in your town you can do that too!
You will be surprised at how simple the activities can be and you will look forward to the daily family time to connect during this busy season.
What is a Christmas Countdown Calendar
For the last 6 years we have been doing a Christmas Countdown. I really love it!! It is similar to an Advent calendar but it has my own little twists in it. It is also super easy!!
You can make it as elaborate or as simple as you want. It will take a little bit of energy in the beginning to list all of the activities, but from there it is a great way to connect with your family through this busy season.
Each day we pick an activity to do as a family. We start on December 1st and go through Christmas. If you would rather do less you can start 12 days before Christmas.
How to Set Up Your Christmas Countdown Activity
We use a Christmas countdown calendar with numbers in it that I received years ago as a Christmas present. In the last few years I have seen some really amazing ones at Target and other stores.
If you don’t have one you can make your own. Use white poster board have the kids draw out 24 shapes. It can be squares, circles or even Christmas Trees and Ornaments. Make it a fun project!
When you are ready put Post-It notes on top of the 24 spots. Each day you can remove one and have a new activity.
I suggest writing the activity on the back with pencil and the numbers on the front in marker. If you do not want to purchase supplies be creative and use what you have at home.
Where to Find Christmas Countdown Activity Ideas:
This is where a little bit of research comes in. Each town is different and has so many different activities and events. I would start searching the list below.
- Local Library
- Town Parks and Recreation Department
- Barnes & Noble
- City Tourism Website
- Check Holiday TV show guide at ABC Family as well as Disney+, Netflix, etc.
- Pick up a few things from the dollar store/bin.
- Local Theater performances
Start writing down any Christmas/Holiday activities that sound interesting to do with your family. Include the dates and times.
After you have completed the list sit down with your family calendar. As the kids have gotten older we have had to work around a busier calendar.
On a sheet of paper number 1-24 and start filing in things you want to do. I take into account kids after school activities, cost of things, and what works best on weekdays and weekends.
Some days are as simple as a holiday treat and coloring sheet. When the kids were small I would print out a coloring sheet that goes with the movie we are watching.
This year, even though the kids are older, I will include a few coloring nights too!
Need Inspiration? Check out 52 Ways to Connect with Your Family
Most of the activities we do are not very elaborate. We watch holiday movies, color a holiday picture or play Lego.
The focus is always finding ways to connect and create holiday traditions as a family.
The activities you pick do not have to be big crazy things. I will do a few larger activities that may cost money but I try to keep this list budget friendly.
The last few years we have added travel to our calendar. This may not be for everyone but we enjoying visiting some of our favorite places during the holidays.
Holiday Trips for Countdown to Christmas
- Hersheypark Christmas Candylane | Holidays at Hersheypark (Updated 2022)
- ICE at Gaylord National: A Great Way to Celebrate the Holidays with Family
- Christmas at SeaWorld Orlando | 7 Things to Do at SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration
- Holidays at Universal Orlando Guide (Updated 2022)
- Our Orlando Getaway Family Weekend
Travel does not have to be part of your Christmas countdown but it makes for a very fun surprise!
Always keep in mind the reason for doing this is to come together as a family. Do what your family loves and what works for you. Start looking in your own town and cities for things to do.
Christmas Countdown Activity Ideas
- Surprise Gift (Holiday Coloring Book $1 at Target)
- Watch Rudolph
- Christmas Pajama gift.
- Make Christmas List
- Write Letter to Santa
- Library Event
- Holiday Party at Recreation Center
- Dinner at Grandparents House
- Trampoline Park
- Dinner Out
- Grinch Night: Read + Watch
- Christmas Tree Craft
- Drive around looking at lights/decorations. Play holiday music. Wear pajamas and bring a fun snack.
- Plan a Mystery Day
- A Day of Yes (Kids Plan the Day)
- Do a Family Activity that Builds You Up- We like to create a why we are thankful for each other poster. I have done this and it was incredible to see how it builds their relationships as siblings.
- Plan an Overnight at a Local Hotel
- Plan a weekend road trip.
- Travel As a Family
- Let the Kids Help Cook Dinner
- Family Movie Night
- Holiday Party During Virtual School Day
- Holiday Cooking Class at Local Grocery Store
- Drive to see lights and go out to dinner.
- Watch Light Fight on TV.
- Snowman Craft
- Build a Gingerbread House
- Watch Charlie Brown Christmas
- Go shopping for our yearly donation gift and sibling gifts.
- Watch Prep + Landing. (Activities)
- Make Christmas Cookies and Peppermint Bark
- Visit Childrens Museum
- Watch Polar Express (Activities)
- Have a Christmas music dance party
- Meet Santa
- Volunteer or Make a Donation
- Decorate the Tree
- Put Tree up or Go pick one out
- Family Game Night
- Decorate the Outside of Your House
- Bake Cookies for Your Postal/Delivery Person.
- Take a hike and enjoy nature in the winter.
- Deliver cards to an elderly community. Offer to spend a few hours visiting.
- Go Sledding
- Make a Snowman or a Snow Family
- Unplug for the day and have an electronic free day.
- Picnic Dinner in the House or Outside if You Live Somewhere Warm.
- Visit an Arcade or have a Video Game Night at Home. We like Wii Sports!
- Take the kids Christmas shopping and have them pick out gifts for family.
- Be a tourist in your own town and visit a place you have never been to.
We have done all of these with variations throughout the years. Be flexible with your plan.
There are times when something changes and I switch the activities out. I do what works for us. I have also left days blank and filled it in the day or week before.
The goal of this is to connect as a family during this busy season. To take a break from the everyday and enjoy each other.
I hope with this list of Christmas countdown activity ideas you find more time to spend with your family this year and start a new family tradition.
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Leah has been traveling with her family of 5 since 2012 and sharing her expertise on planning family vacations and visiting theme parks since 2016. Leah has been featured in Visit Rochester, Undercover Tourist, and Home Publications. She has worked with brands like Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, Hersheypark, Toyota, and various Tourism boards and destinations. Leah creates family travel itineraries based on real trip experiences with her family. Her guides and tips help others plan great family vacations. Learn more about Leah and Five for the Road.