Novel decorations around the house, lights adorning the neighborhood homes and tasty treats. These are just some of the things that make the holidays magical for kids. If you want add a little extra fun and wonder for them, it doesn’t take much effort, and it doesn’t have to cost much either.
With just a little bit of effort and some forethought, you can create holiday memories that will last a lifetime. In fact, some of the tips below are inspired by favorite childhood memories from both myself and my husband.
Here are some fun ideas to help you create holiday magic for the kids in your life, whether they’re your own little ones, your nieces and nephews or your family friends. You might have the materials for these activities around the house already, but you can also to find everything you’ll need in links to the necessary supplies below.
Make Santa’s Magical Footprints
On Christmas morning, leave a trail of “snowy” footprints so kids can trace Santa’s steps. You can easily do it with supplies you already have, like some boots and flour or powdered sugar. Or you can use these stickers or these stencils. You can even toss in some glitter for some extra holiday magic.
Listen for Santa’s Arrival
This is a tradition my in-laws do for my kids, and it’s so fun! Just before bed on Christmas Eve, we read “The Night Before Christmas” and listen for Santa and his reindeer to arrive. If they listen closely, my kids can hear the sleigh bells ringing outside their bedroom windows. On years when my in-laws are really feeling adventurous, we can even hear Santa walk around on the roof. This is a great way to get kids in bed on Christmas Eve because Santa doesn’t come unless they’re in bed!
Leave Out Cookies for Santa
Help Santa Find His Lost Hat
It can be hard for kids when presents are unwrapped and the fun is seemingly over. These next two magical moments are courtesy of my mom, who always made Christmas fun growing up. Next to the eaten Christmas cookies on Christmas morning, leave a note from Santa. Our letter always read something like this: “Thank you for being such good kids this year! I seem to have lost my hat. If you find it, could you please keep it safe for me until I return next year?” Then, of course, hide Santa’s hat somewhere around the house for your kids to find.
Prepare One Extra Present
Create holiday magic all day with a special extra present from Santa. Toward the end of the day, sneak into your kids’ bedrooms and put a wrapped present on their pillow with another note from Santa. The note could say something like, “When I got back to the North Pole, I found one of your presents in the bottom of my bag! I made a special trip back just for you. Merry Christmas!” Consider something fun like a game for the family to play.
Leave Out Reindeer Food
Don’t forget about the reindeer on Christmas Eve! Sprinkle some magic reindeer food in your front yard or leave some carrots for the reindeer along with Santa’s cookies. Just don’t forget to clean some of the reindeer food up after the kids go to bed!
Invite the Elf on the Shelf Into Your Home
Elf on the Shelf is a fun tradition for many kids, but be prepared to get creative! If you’re not familiar with the tradition, every night, parents move the elf to a new spot for the kids to find in the morning. As the story goes, the elf keeps watch over the children and then reports back to Santa. They often get into some mischief overnight!
Prepare a Hot Chocolate Bar
If you’re making Christmas cookies or having a family movie night, make it extra special with a hot chocolate bar. Set up the hot chocolate, marshmallows, chocolate spoons, peppermint sticks and any other fun fixings your kids like. Don’t forget some on-theme mugs, too! This would be fun to set up before heading out to look at Christmas lights as well.
Create a Dramatic Christmas Morning Reveal
This little bit of holiday magic is fun for the kids, but it’s great for those who try to sneak an early peek at the Christmas presents, too! Tape up some holiday wrapping paper in front of your kids’ doors or at the end of the hallway for them to burst through on Christmas morning. It creates a dramatic reveal and prevents peeking.
Share the Love
It’s easy for kids to get wrapped up in the presents at Christmas, but many parents want to foster a spirit of giving as well. Pick up some gifts to donate to a local Toys for Tots drive or adopt a letter from USPS Operation Santa to make a child’s holiday wish come true. This shopping trip could become a fun tradition you do every year with your family.
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What are your favorite holiday traditions? Tell us how you create holiday magic for the kids in your life in the comments below.