10 Last-Minute Family Activities to Do Before Christmas

What can you do to make the Christmas lead up feel more magical?

Cheryl Butler
6-minute read
Episode #408

Christmas is right around the corner, and regardless of whether you’re ready or not, it’s going to be here in just a few short days. There’s so much hype that goes along with trying to pull off an inspired holiday for your family that we’re often left feeling not only overwhelmed but even disappointed because we just don’t have the time or energy to get it all done.

Even when I was a stay-at-home mom for many years, I scurried about for the weeks before Christmas attempting to craft the perfect holiday for my family.  Baking, shopping, decorating, and entertaining went on for weeks all while chasing eight young kids around.  Now that I work full-time outside the home, I realize more than ever how important being time savvy and organized is so I can still try and achieve some of that same holiday magic I did years ago when I had a bit more time on my hands. 

Luckily, I recognized my limitations sooner rather than later and now keep my focus on spending time with my family throughout the season rather than trying to deliver a day that’s perfect and is gone in less than 24 hours.

1.) Celebrate the Winter Solstice

There is something peaceful and calming about recognizing the first day of winter.  December 21st is Winter Solstice—the first day of winter and the shortest day of the year. It’s been celebrated across the globe for thousands of years and signifies the return of light and life.  Winter Solstice celebrations are a meaningful way to gather with friends and honor the true spirit of the season.

I love the theme “Lighten Up” for a Winter Solstice. Use candles (flameless ones are great!) to illuminate your home and decorate with nature such as pine cones, branches you find in your yard strung with white lights and evergreens.  Solstice celebrations don’t need to be complicated, overly serious affairs; a solstice ritual can be as relaxed and simple as sharing a potluck meal with your neighbors and, for dessert, serve solstice cupcakes which you can place with candles and have your guests make a wish for the upcoming year.

Or go on an energy fast for the day by lighting candles and spending the day without television, cell phones, computers, or other unnecessary appliances and electronics. This is very calming right before Christmas arrives and opens up opportunities to connect in person with your family.

2.) Make Paper Snowflakes

Taking a few minutes to get “hands on” with a craft is a great way to release a little stress and do something fun together.  Crafting paper snowflakes are easy and fun and will yield dozens of beautiful pieces to decorate your windows with.  Buy a stack of beautiful scrapbook paper in vibrant colors and patterns and start cutting!

3.) Surprise Someone with an Anonymous Gift

How often do we hear that “giving is better than receiving?” Gather your family together and decide who you could all surprise with an anonymous holiday gift.  Maybe it’s a neighbor that is always there for you or the janitor at school that stays late after all the plays and fundraisers and never complains but is just happy to help the students. No matter how much or how little you can give, you have the power to touch the life of another person and you can affect them in ways you may never completely be aware of.  This is a nice way to do something together with your kids that will make a positive difference in someone else’s life.

4.) Hot Cocoa Buffet

Our family has always enjoyed ice cream sundae bars. Choosing the toppings, is one of the big reasons why my kids love this so much. During the holidays we change it up and have a hot chocolate bar instead.  Besides heaps of sweet whipped cream, there are lots of other goodies you can sprinkle on top—chocolate chips, toffee pieces, rainbow sprinkles and even gummy bears.  Some day after school, surprise your kids with a buffet of delights that they can top their hot cocoa with and then sit back and enjoy your Christmas tree.


All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own mental health provider. Please consult a licensed mental health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Cheryl Butler Project Parenthood

Cheryl L. Butler was the host of the Mighty Mommy podcast for nine years from 2012 to 2021. She is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. You can reach her by email.