It’s no secret, I LOVE Christmas, but I genuinely think I might love the run up to Christmas more than the day itself. Each year I try and think of festive things that we can do as a family that will help build the excitment for us all.
So I have come up with this list of 20 Festive Family Things to do in the run up to Christmas. Some of these we do year after year, others I want to introduce into the pre-Christmas period. Either way hopefully it will give you some ideas and inspiration of fun family activities that you can do as Christmas approaches.
Donate Toys and Food
Whilst this is something that shouldn’t be limited to just this time of year, I think it’s particularly important around Christmas. Teaching our children about being kind, generous and giving to those less fortunate than ourselves.
We always start in November having a bit of a clearout of toys, books and games that are still in good condition but no longer played with. We have already donated two large boxes to our local charity shop, one to the Salvation Army and donated a box of food to the local food bank via the school. We we also be taking part in the Samaritans Purse Christmas shoe box appeal again this year.
It think it’s a nice thing to do, and think it also helps to teach the kids about gratitude, and what Christmas should be all about.
See Some Christmas Illuminations
Who doesn’t love Christmas lights? I’d have them up all year round if I could (and my husband would let me!). It just makes you feel lovely and festive when you’re wandering or driving around and see all the pretty sparkley lights.
We are taking the kids to our local town of Braintree for their Christmas Light Switch On and Christmas Street Market this weekend. It’s the first festive event we are going to this year, and hopefully will be the start of many fun filled Christmas inspired weekends and evenings.
I have also wanted for the last few years to take the kids to Kew gardens to see the illuminations there, they look amazing! Maybe we’ll make it this year.
Visit A Christmas Market
I love Christmas markets, but we haven’t yet taken the kids to one yet. This year we are planning a trip to the Christmas market at Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk which is a pretty big market and has plenty of things for the kids to enjoy too. I love the idea of wrapping up warm and wandering around Christmas stalls whilst sipping hot chocolate and listening to carols sung on the stage! Nothing better to get your Christmas Spirit flowing.
Write Christmas Cards
Every year we make a few Christmas cards, and every year it has been my intention to make them all but it hasn’t quite happened yet!
Now the children are a bit older writing Christmas cards is something we all get involved in. The kids write their lists, just like I do, and then we sit down to write as many as we can for a few nights in the week. All ready to post on the 1st December (well that’s always the plan!).
Make Christmas Tree Decorations
We have made loads of different Christmas tree decorations, and I try and come up with a new idea each year for us to make. We have a small tree now, in addition to the main tree, on the landing which is home to all our homemade decorations.
Make A Christmas Wreath
I have made wreaths before, and this one I made from spare baubles I had been collecting in the sales. This year I am going on a course, so hope to be able to make a fresh wreath with the kids, utilising all the pinecones that we tend to collect in the Autumn.
Christmas Tree Shopping
It has become a little bit of a family tradiotion to go and get our Christmas tree from the local farm during the first weekend of December. The kids love running around the field, deciding on the best looking tree to get.
Decorating THe Christmas Tree
I am a little bit of a fuss pot when it comes to decorating my main tree. The kids have complete free reign of their little tree in the playroom or landing, but I like my tree to be so so. I have relaxed about it in recent years, and I love it when we all decorating the tree together. I just have to give the kids certain guidelines! I also have a few special Christmas ornaments that we have bought on our various travels, and I love unpacking them and bringing back all those wonderful memories.
Elf On THe Shelf
Elf on the Shelf is a realtively new tradition which we started a few years ago. To be honest it’s been a lot of fun, but does also add a little bit of extra pressure in December! The kids absolutely love it, and always talk about when Buddy did this and that, or when is Buddy coming.
If you need some ideas then check out what our Elf on the Shelf has got up to over the years.
It goes without saying that in the run up to Christmas you have to schedule in a visit to Santa. Nowadays you can visit Santa in a variety of different places from shopping centres, garden centres, zoos and local attractions.
One of our favourites is at Audley End Miniature Railway. We have been every year for the past 6 years, and always try and get tickets early so we can book for Christmas Eve morning. The kids love the train ride, and they can do crafts, write to Santa and lots more in the activity area.
By far the best Santa we have every visited was at Lapland UK. The whole experience was amazing. Father Christmas himself was so authentic and completely magically and really did make our Christmas in 2017 when we went. If you get the opportunity to visit with the kids then do it.
This year we are fortunate enough to be going to the real Lapland! I am ridiculously excited! It’s a big secret from the kids at the moment, and a hard one to keep. Stay tuned to the blog to see how we get on there.
Write A Letter to Santa
It’s lovely when the kids write to Santa, and if you want to post a letter to Santa via Royal Mail then you need to be quick. Letters need to be posted by 6th December to ensure they get there on time. To find the address to post to check out the official Royal Mail website.
Alternatively you will often find a post box to Santa at various attractions, so it’s worth checking before you go. At Lapland UK, there was a post office in the village where the kids could write and then post their letters, and at Audley End they always have a little post box. This year we are going to wait until we go to Lapland, and Buddy our elf is going to instruct the kids to write their letters the morning before we go.
Outdoor Ice Skating
The last few years we have been able to find outdoor ice rinks. They’re good fun, and do feel Christmasy, even it it kills your feet! The kids of course are dab hands at it now, me and James less so. We’ve been to local pop up ice-rinks, and there was one at Lapland UK. I would really like to take the kids to the outdoor ice rink at the Natural History museum, maybe we might be able to squeeze it in!
Go to a Pantomine
Last year we were invited to the Mercury theatre in Colchester, Essex, to see Jack and the Beanstalk, which honestly I think is my favourite pantomine I have ever seen! The kids loved it and still talk about it to this day, especially Day-Z the cow! We are hoping to go again this year to see their production of Cinderella.
Build a Snowman
If we are lucky enough to get some snow, then of course you have to go and build a snowman!
In 2017 we had a decent down pour of snow in December whilst travelling home from Norfolk. We didn’t get home till late, but we ended up building our snowman in the dark as the kids were scared the snow wasn’t going to be there in the morning!
The kids love helping me in the kitchen, and the older they get the more they want to lend a hand. I tend to try and come up with a something new each year for them to try baking. We’ve done Christmas tree cookies, Christmas cake and mince pies of course. Last year we made gingerbread reindeer which was a lot of fun. Now to think of something for this year!
You can’t beat a bit of festive carol singing to get you in the Christmas mood. We tend to go round the village with the Brownies in the good old fashioned tradition of Carol singing. There also is a family friendly carol service at our local church on Christmas Eve. We don’t always make it every year, but when we do it is lovley.
Make a Gingerbread House
You might be surprised but this is something we haven’t done yet, but hoping to change that this year. I bought a Gingerbread house kit from IKEA last year and just didn’t get round to doing anything with it.
I’m sure the kids would love doing this together as a family, even if they end up eating most of the sweets! So I am going to make a real effort to get this one ticked off this year.
Watch Christmas Movies
The best excuse for a duvet day is watching Christmas movies snuggled up with popcorn and hot chocolate.
We love Elf, The Snowman, and Santa Claus the Movie and it’s not Christmas unless we’ve watched them. We also have a new DVD in our Christmas Eve Box, and this year it is going to be the Grinch.
We also enjoy going to the cinema to watch the latest family festive film, usually Disney, but doesn’t have to be. Last year we were spoilt by the release of The Nutcracker in November and then Mary Poppins Returns in December. This year I am sure will be going to watch Frozen 2 as soon as it’s released, and to be honest I can’t wait!
Track Santa on Christmas Eve
Don’t forget to tune into to NORAD’s official Santa tracking site on Christmas Eve to track Santa as he starts his annual pilgrimage. It’s a lot of fun for the kids and the big kids a alike!
The site is live from December 1st, but the tracking starts on Christmas Eve!
Christmas Eve Box
One of my favourite things to do in the run up to Christmas is our Christmas Eve Box. For us the Christmas Eve Box is the farewell gift from Buddy our elf. It usually contains new PJs, a Christmas movie, Christmas book as well as reindeer food, Santa’s plate and some bubbles for Mum and Dad and a box of Maltesers to share. We open it after carol service if we go. Then cuddle up and watch the film muching our treats. Then it’s time to scatter our reindeer food, hang up our stockings and leave out a mince pie and carrot before settling the kids off to sleep.
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So that’s it 20 Festive Family Things to do in the run up to Christmas. I am really hoping this year I’ll be able to squeeze them all in, and make it our best Christmas yet.
What do you do in the run up to Christmas? Do you enjoy it as much as I do?
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