This post contains affiliate links. See more information.
My favorite time of the year is from Thanksgiving to Christmas! I love everything about the “most wonderful time of the year” including the shopping on Black Friday, the food, the music, the cool, brisk air (AKA “sweater weather”, and all of the extra time spent with family and friends! Since having our own kids, we have crafted our own family traditions that we plan to continue doing together for years to come!!!
ALSO NOTE: This post was originally written when I was a mom of 2. I have slightly updated it in 2022 and 2023 now that I am a mom of 4, but I’ll say that we haven’t been able to do all of these things every year. We have also moved back home to Texas to be close to family (We were previously in NYC) and it was the best decision we ever made, so our time is busier now with family, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. In 2021, when I had a 5 month old, 1.5 year old, 4, and 6 year old, we just kind of skated by. We did as many seasonal activities as we could (really only because my older kids begged for it) but I was just not in a season that I could devote a ton of time to activities. Depending on where you may be in your motherhood journey, just know that there are seasons for everything that will constantly change!
We start talking about Thanksgiving at the beginning of November, and one tradition we have started is to make a Thankful tree. Each day, we try to add something we are thankful for to a leaf on the tree. We read books such as Thankful or Thanksgiving at the Tappletons, talk about how important it is to be thankful for the things, people, and opportunities we have in our lives.
The tree above was from a while back! Another year, I found a tree kit at Target (pictured below, no longer available)! Usually around this time of year you can check places like Dollar Tree too for these types of items!
Advent Calendar + Activities
When my kids were little, I started an Advent Calendar Tradition! I came up with 25 days of activities, wrote them all down, and put each one in the pocket of an advent calendar (pictured below) that is also one of our Christmas decorations! The original Advent Calendar we have is no longer sold, but there are lots of similar quality options in the link above!! There are also similar options at Target and Amazon!!
In more recent years, my hack is to look at my calendar with events (Breakfast with Santa, Shows, etc…) and fill those in first on the dates we are attending them, then add other simple activities such as movies and TV shows on days I know I will want a break. I then label the remaining days “activity” and I can just see what I feel up to each day and surprise the kids! A few of the activities I have used in the past are listed below! I also include a lot of local activities that pop up or I become aware of during the season. Sometimes I purchase little activity kits too when I see them at Target or other retailers. I usually share these in my shopping group Naptime Deals, so be sure to follow if you don’t already!
Advent Calendar Activity Ideas
- Make a Christmas countdown chain
- Make and send Christmas cards to grandparents
- Letters to Santa
- Hot Chocolate
- Holiday movie night
- Salt Dough ornaments
- Gingerbread house
- Photos with Santa
- Caroling/learning Christmas songs
- Family game night
- Christmas Cookie party
- Make Christmas fudge to give as gifts
- Make paper snowflakes
- Build a paper plate/cotton ball snowman
- Read The Polar Express and draw a picture of the Polar Express
- Build the North Pole out of blocks/legos
- What’s Special at Night walk and look at Christmas Lights or go for a Christmas Light Drive
- Collecting food for food pantry
- Cooking food for homeless
- Holiday toy list — go through Target or Amazon book and circle/cut out favorites
- Snow window sensory play — contact paper sticky on windows or other location, stick on cotton pads, balls, q tips to make snow things, and/or snowman snack: make snowmen out of raisins, cheerios, and marshmallows!
- Make “cave of stars” use big box to make a fort and poke Christmas lights through the top
- Snowman bowling… make snowmen with TP tubes and roll over with ball!
- Christmas Eve — cookies for Santa + Snowy Day movie or other Christmas movie…
- Christmas morning!
On Christmas Eve, we spend the day together as a family! Attending Christmas Eve service, snuggling up with matching PJs, and making cookies for Santa are all exciting things we have done on Christmas Eve.
Christmas is my favorite day of the year! We spend the day together eating, relaxing, playing, and just enjoying the season!
New Years Rockin’ Eve
After Christmas, we still get to look forward to New Years! I love planning a “Rockin’ New Year’s Eve” Party for the kids that ends by 8!! Activities we do include:
- Making a cake that we will later eat prior to our countdown party!
- Playing a family game
- Dancing to songs like “Cupid Shuffle”
- Cooking/Eating Dinner together
- Watching a slideshow of the best photos of the year and remembering all the fun things we did together as a family
- Eating the cake! It’s fun to play Auld Lang Syne and blow out candles at the end!
- Watch the ball drop around 7/7:30 (youtube has videos from prior years! and also maybe a fireworks show!) and then brush teeth and go to bed!!!