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Ways to enjoy the Christmas season with your family

Updated on December 1, 2015

If you are anything like me, you are always looking for ways to create wonderful lasting memories with your family. Time goes by so fast and each day we have on this earth is not guaranteed. Our children don't live with us forever, we may only have family in town visiting once a year or maybe even less than that, so I try to make every holiday special and memorable. Here are some ideas of things you can do together as a family throughout the month of December. Please share any other ideas or traditions you have in your family as I'm always looking for new ideas!

Listen to Christmas music!

I have a Christmas playlist that I like to play at different times during the month of December. I play it while we decorate our Christmas tree, making dinner, driving in the car with the kids, basically any time the mood hits me. This has become a tradition in my family. I even made cd's for family one year as Christmas gifts, because my extended family so enjoyed my playlist. Music warms the heart and gets us singing around and dancing!

My favorite Christmas songs:

  1. Rockin' around the Christmas tree - Brenda Lee
  2. The chipmunk song (Christmas don't be late) - The Chipmunks
  3. White Christmas - The Drifters (reminds us of the Home Alone movie)
  4. Jingle Bell Rock - Bobby Helms
  5. You're a mean one Mr. Grinch - Jim Carrey (How the Grinch Stole Christmas)
  6. Christmas of love - Little Isidor and the Inquisitors (How the Grinch Stole Christmas)
  7. A holly jolly Christmas - Burl Ives
  8. This time of the year - Brook Benton
  9. The Christmas song - Mel Torme
  10. Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer - The Cadillacs
  11. Christmas eve - Justin Bieber
  12. Baby, it's cold outside - Dean Martin
  13. Santa baby - Eartha Kitt
  14. Blue Christmas - Elvis Presley
  15. Santa claus is back in town - Jonny Lang
  16. White Christmas - Elvis Presley
  17. I'll be home for Christmas - Elvis Presley
  18. I saw mommy kissing santa claus - Jimmy Boyd
  19. Feliz Navidad - Jose Feliciano
  20. All I want for Christmas is you - Mariah Carey
  21. Oh Santa - Mariah Carey
  22. Silver Bells - Meaghan Smith
  23. Marshmallow world - Raul Malo
  24. Frosty the snowman - Red Foley
  25. All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth - Spike Jones
  26. Hot Chocolate - Tom Hanks (from the Polar Express movie)
  27. Little red rooster - Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
  28. Christmas time is here (vocal) - Vince Guaraldi Trio (A Charlie Brown Christmas)
  29. Santa Claus is coming to town - Cyndi Lauper and Frank Sinatra
  30. Santa Claus is back in town - Elvis Presley

Drive around looking at light displays

At least once in December, I research on the internet the best decorated Christmas houses in my city. I write them all down on a piece of paper so that I can plug them into my gps. We either make some hot cocoa and put it in to go cups or a thermos for the car, or we stop at our chosen place to get a hot drink for our ride (Starbucks, Peets, Bloom coffee and tea, etc.). If we have time, we research a new place we haven't been to yet that serves good coffee and pastries and we stop and grab a drink and a pastry for the car ride. The kids get steamers (steamed milk with a flavor: vanilla, peppermint, mocha, etc.). To save money, we might bake a batch of cookies and bring them on the road with us. Some cities are now offering Christmas light tours in a limo. This is great for large groups of people. The limo companies do this and they drive you around either where you tell them to or they take you to the best decorated houses. I haven't done this before, but if I had a large group of people, I surely would! Of course, during the driving around looking at lights, we are wearing santa hats and listening to Christmas music! It's so much fun! My kids have always loved this, even now they do and they are high school and up.

San Francisco Union Square
San Francisco Union Square

Go to a city event

Do a search on the internet in your city or any nearby city you want to experience and see what the City is putting on for the holidays. I have taken my kids to San Francisco to ice skate at Union Square, to Pier 39 in San Francisco's lighting of their Christmas tree, to a little town in Auburn's Christmas parade, etc. There are so many things cities put on that are free to the public. Just look it up and put it on your calendar! Your kids will thank you for it. When we lived in New Mexico, I took my kids every year to Durango, Colorado and we had dinner there then rode the Polar Express train. If you can find a polar express train ride, I highly recommend taking your family! It is such a fun experience and is worth it if you have to drive to another city or state to go to. You wear your pajamas on the train, just like in the movie, they read you the polar express story, serve you hot chocolate and a chocolate covered graham cracker, santa boards the train and gives everyone a bell (just like in the movie), and then everyone on the train sings Christmas carols. The inside of the train is beautifully decorated for the holiday. I once took my kids to Georgetown, Colorado. Not much there, but they sure do turn their town into something special for Christmas! There were real reindeer out that the kids could see and feed, people roasting chestnuts and selling them, horses decorated for Christmas that were giving carriage rides, and carolers. My kids fondly reminisce on these memories!

Just getting out and going somewhere festive is fun. Look and see what your city offers, or what another city you want to drive to offers. We take lots of little road trips throughout the year. The point is, there is so much to do if you just take a little time and do a search at nearby towns that you are willing to drive to. We would usually either do a day trip and come home the same day or stay one night. Whatever my budget allowed for the time. My kids and I always decided together what we wanted to do. I researched it and gave them the choices. It is worth it!

What you do with your family for the holidays for fun?

See results

Sign up for a 5k

There are lots of 5k runs for the holidays, just do an internet search. There is the Santa run, the hot chocolate run, the ugly sweater run, those are the common ones. A 5k is only 3.2 miles. You can walk it, run it, or jog it. You can even push a baby stroller during the event. Check deals on Groupon and Living Social to get the best. Get your family together and run! Make sure you take pictures!

Host a Christmas party/gift exchange

Since I have kids, I have always just had my kids invite their friends over for a Christmas gift exchange party. We put on the invitation "dress nice". It is so adorable how the kids would show up dressed nice. I will always remember one year one of the elementary school aged boy showed up in a tux. Too cute!!! We made our very own holiday bingo game that the kids played and we used Christmas m&m's for the bingo card markers, and we played our Christmas music playlist of course. I would make a hot chocolate bar. Hot chocolate in a crock pot and all of the toppings would be there for the kids to create their very own cup of hot cocoa (whipped cream, sprinkles, crushed candy cane, marshmallows). They had a blast!

Drop off holiday bags to homeless people

Each year, the kids and I would go to the dollar store and put together 5 bags for some homeless people. Things we put into our bags were: socks, gloves, toothbrush, toothpaste, cereal bars, Kleenex, hand sanitizer, etc. We then would go to McDonalds and pick up 5 happy meals with coffees. Then we would drive downtown and the first 5 homeless people we saw, we handed each of them a gift bag and a happy meal with a hot coffee. We always told them "God bless you and Merry Christmas." Let me tell you, the feeling of joy and compassion this gave my kids and I is priceless. We were helping others that were less fortunate than we were. They look forward to this every year and even ask about when we are doing it. ♥

Paint ceramic ornaments

When my kids were younger, we would always go to Michaels or Hobby Lobby and pick out Christmas items they wanted to paint. Then we would go home, put on a good Christmas movie, and paint together. We either painted ceramic figurines, ceramic Christmas houses, or Christmas ornaments made of wood or ceramic. Sometimes we had so much fun that we did this several times in December. If we made a lot, the kids would give an item they painted as a Christmas gift to a family member. To this day, I decorate my home every December with the things we painted over the years. I always made sure to write their name and the year on the bottom. It's fun to go through every Christmas and see what we made so many years ago. It makes us smile to set them out as our decorations now. Sometimes we laugh about it, because the painting job was so elementary. It's fun.

Go see a Christmas play

You have to experience the Nutcracker ballet at least once in your life. I started taking my daughter to the Nutcracker ballet when she was 4, and since then, it is our tradition. Every year her and I only, because the boys don't like to go, we go have dinner first, then we go see the ballet. At intermission we have a cup of hot cocoa and a brownie and I let her pick out an ornament. Sometimes I even bought her a rose. Every nutcracker we have ever been to sells ornaments. On the bottom of the ornament I buy her there each year, we write the year on the bottom of it. So that each year when we decorate our tree, we come across her nutcracker ornaments and we reminisce on the year it was and the city it was in. We have started going to the ballet in a different city every year. It's neat to see how each production company makes it a little different.

There are other Christmas plays too. We have seen A Christmas Carol, but if you do an internet search in your city, you may be surprised how many shows are out there for you to see.

My children at Stinson Beach, CA on Christmas Day
My children at Stinson Beach, CA on Christmas Day

More ideas ...

  1. Have your very own ugly sweater contest
  2. Enter a gingerbread house contest
  3. Have a Christmas movie marathon night at home
  4. Have a holiday baking night where you bake cookies, breads, whatever you want
  5. Make your own Christmas gifts

Get creative!!!

Our very own ugly sweater contest. We had so much fun we couldn't get a pic of us all looking!
Our very own ugly sweater contest. We had so much fun we couldn't get a pic of us all looking!
Gingerbread house contest
Gingerbread house contest

Whatever you do, it will be memorable and unforgettable, especially if it's something new or if it's a tradition. So, enjoy your holiday and may they be full of laughter and love!!!


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    • ModernWonderWoman profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from California

      Yes, we've made lots of gingerbread houses and we like to play board games too. We've always bought the gingerbread house kits, but it sounds fun and creative to completely make your own! Sometimes we pull out a big puzzle and spend the evening working on it together while we watch a movie. A low key day is always great! Thank you for sharing your ideas!

    • letstalkabouteduc profile image

      McKenna Meyers 

      3 years ago from Bend, OR

      Those are great ideas that make me smile. Anything that creates a good memory -- far removed from the hustle-bustle give me, give me -- is so much better for kids (and adults). We just love playing board games together, making Christmas cookies, and keeping it low key.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 

      3 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      When our children were at home, we had a tradition of making gingerbread houses with frosting, graham crackers, and a variety of candies. We made more of a mess than anything, but it was a fun time, and the kids seemed to enjoy it!


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