In this article: 39 Christmas countdown activities to enjoy with your kids as you wait for Christmas day!

The anticipation for Christmas is huge for both kids and adults as we countdown the days until the BIG day finally arrives. 

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When my oldest 4 boys were young we started doing a 25 days of Christmas as our advent calendar countdown activity. Each and every day we did something new to celebrate and cross off another day closer to Christmas. 

This is tons of fun and it makes the holidays so much more memorable and full of holiday traditions. The hardest part? Coming up with 24 different activities to fill the month of December!

So before I get to the Christmas countdown activities, first let me give a few tips to make this advent countdown idea work more smoothly.


Tips for a Successful Christmas Countdown


Plan ahead. Really, if you try and do this day by day you will start to feel overwhelmed and unprepared. Choose the activities you want to use to countdown to Christmas BEFORE you start. 

It doesn’t have to be fancy. You can print out or wrap up all of your ideas to display them in a fun way or you can simply announce the plan and the day’s activity. Don’t let the potential prep work deter you- it’s not a necessary part. 

It doesn’t have to be expensive. The whole point of having a daily Christmas countdown activity is to have fun, be together as a family, and make memories. None of those require money. So, if money is an issue, choose inexpensive or free activities, make use of the library and free local events, and just have fun as a family. 


39 Christmas Countdown Activities for Kids and Families


39 Christmas Countdown Activities to Make the Holidays More Fun


Now on to the actual Christmas activities! These are not the only options, but ones that my family has done in the past and enjoyed. Take this list and run or add your own activities. Most of all, just have fun!


Start (or make)  an Advent Calendar: This is the PERFECT day one activity! Here are 9 Advent Calendar Ideas to get you started. 


Drink Hot Chocolate: With extra marshmallows of course! This is the perfect Christmas countdown activity for a cold winter day!


Go to a Christmas Tree Lighting: Most cities and towns have an official tree lighting ceremony or set up lighted Christmas trees around the government buildings. Look up the date and make a plan to go see them!


Cut Down a Christmas Tree: Skip the tree lot this year and go to a Cut-Your-Own tree farm! Your kids will love choosing and cutting down their own tree!



Make Paper Chains: This Christmas advent activity has been around for years and years, and it’s so simple! The perfect Christmas countdown activity for toddlers and preschoolers!


Make Beaded Candy Cane Ornaments: Another simple activity for young kids that makes some great looking ornaments for gifting or decorating. Use wire or pipe cleaners and get some plastic beads in red, green and white and get making!


Make Salt Dough Ornaments: Another countdown to Christmas activity that has been around for decades! Make a batch of salt clay, roll and cut with cookie cutters, bake, and paint!


Look at Christmas Lights: Do you have neighborhoods in your area that go all out in their decorating efforts? Take an evening car ride to see all the lights.


Watch a Christmas Movie: Snuggle together and watch a fun Christmas movie. Some of our favorites are Elf, The Santa Clause, A Christmas Story, Ernest Saves Christmas, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas!


decorated swedish spice cookies


Decorate Christmas Cookies: You can’t have a list of countdown to Christmas activities without including making Christmas cookies! Here’s my favorite Christmas cookie recipe for you to try!


Write a Letter to Santa: Write a letter to Santa with your kids. If you follow the directions, “Santa” will even write back! You can get a free Letter to Santa template with my Free Printable Christmas Lists. Or use one of these Santa Letter Templates!


Wrap Gifts Together: Christmas isn’t only about getting, but giving. Spend an afternoon wrapping presents together to help foster the spirit of giving.


Make Grandparent Gifts: Even the littlest kids love to make gifts to give to the people they love. Make ornaments, paintings, crafts, or anything they want to make a gift for Grandma and Grandpa (and other family members)


Take Cookies to the Fire Station: I love doing this Christmas countdown activity because it really helps your kids get in the giving spirit. Plus- what kid doesn’t want to see the fire engines?!


Read Christmas Stories: Make a few night’s worth of bedtime stories all Christmas themed.


red and green dyed popcorn


Make Red and Green Popcorn: We did this fun advent activity one year, and it was a lot of fun. First you use paste food coloring to dye unpopped popcorn kernels. Once they dry you can layer them in a jar and give them as a gift. When the popcorn is popped it has flecks of red and green!


Decorate a Gingerbread House: You can make your own or buy a kit. Either way this is favorite Christmas activity for all ages!


Go Ice Skating: There’s an ice skating rink in or near most towns, take a special trip this holiday season!


Shop for an Angel Tree Gift: Again, some of the best advent activities are those that promote the spirit of giving. Let your kids choose an angel tree tag and shop for a child who’s less fortunate. 


Serve a Meal to the Homeless: Another service based advent activity is to volunteer at your local soup kitchen or homeless shelter. 


Make Christmas Cards: Get your paper, markers, glue, and glitter and make some fun Christmas cards to send to family and friends. 


Go to a Christmas Play: Check your local playhouse and see if holiday favorites like A Christmas Carol are playing. Or get tickets to The Nutcracker Ballet!


Go to a Christmas Concert: Watch your local symphony orchestra’s holiday concert!


Make Reindeer Chow: Chocolaty, fun for all!


Go to your Local Holiday Parade: Stand on the sidelines and support your community and maybe catch some candy and see Santa!


Put Shoes Out for St. Nicholas: It’s sorta like an early stocking! Don’t forget to read the history behind the tradition!


homemade luminaras for advent


Make Luminarias: This is a Mexican tradition of lighting the walkways during the holiday season. They are simple to make with brown paper bags, sand/kitty litter, and a tea light.


Decorate the Christmas Tree (and House): A simple Christmas countdown activity that you are probably going to do anyway…so why not make a day of it!


String up Popcorn: Simple and time tested. All you need is popcorn, thread, and a needle. 


Cutout Snowflakes: This is another simple, no cost Christmas countdown activity. All you need is paper and scissors!


Make Peppermint Scented Playdough: Take your normal playdough recipe and add some Christmas scents such as peppermint or even cinnamon!



Paint or stamp gift wrap or gift bags: Take brown paper bags and let the kids make their own gift bags to wrap their gifts in. I’ve used potato stamps and paint or ink pads and stamps!


Go Caroling (or have a family concert at home): Caroling isn’t as big as it’s used to be, but singing Christmas carols is still a fun countdown to Christmas activity. Go around your neighborhood, sing at a family gathering, or at your holiday party. 


Make paper Christmas Trees: Cut out some trees out of green construction paper and let the kids decorate. My personal favorite is sequins (they make shaped ones like leaves, snowflakes, etc)


Make a holiday Wreath: A great family activity that you can all work on together.


Make a Santa Hat and Beard: I have pictures of my brother and I in ours when we were kids and we made them when my boys were young too. All you need is red paper, a paper plate, and lots of cotton!



Drink Apple Cider: A good alternative if you don’t want hot chocolate or you just want to mix things up. Make your own spiced cider or buy a premade box.


Donate to the Food Pantry: Another alternative is to adopt a family and deliver everything they need to make a fabulous Christmas dinner. 


Read the Night Before Christmas: What’s a better way to end the countdown to Christmas than reading The Night Before Christmas?


So there’s 39 ideas to get you started. You only need 24 Christmas countdown activities to make a magical holiday season. What are you waiting for? If you’d like a printable version of  these countdown activities- try one of my free Printable Christmas Bucket Lists for Kids and Adults!


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