The run up to Christmas is so magical but it can be overwhelming trying to find fun activities to keep little ones busy while the excitement builds. To help take away some of the stress, we have compiled 24 play activities for you and your little ones to enjoy.
We are huge fans of playdough activities. All of my children will grab for a tin of playdough to keep themselves busy after school. For this simple tray I added some Lanka Kade figures and Christmas stamps.
2. Washi Tape Bunting
Washi tape is the perfect thing to decorate Christmas crafts with. It is easy to rip to the size needed so no need to worry about little fingers and scissors if they want to craft while you’re busy. We have a great selection of patterned paper and washi tape available for different occasions.
3. Hot Chocolate Sensory Tray
I'm pretty sure everyone loves hot chocolate. This sensory tray is a great way to get little ones exploring textures and bigger ones using their imaginations.
Simply pour some chocolate cereal into a tray and add cups and spoons for filling and pouring. I like to add a few mini marshmallows for them to sprinkle on top too.
PlayMais is such an easy, mess free craft activity. Simply wet the sponge that comes in the box, cut or shape the Playmais to size and then dampen on the sponge to stick them together.
You can create anything that you can imagine.
5. Magnetic Wands
What child doesn't like magnets?
I sprinkled the magnetic chips into a tray before covering them in coloured rice, Christmas beads and cookie cutters. At first my youngest thought it was great that the gingerbread cutters kept sticking to the magnetic wand. Then as she lowered it to take it off, the magnetic chips started to appear from under the rice. Once found she used them to decorate the gingerbread men.
6. Tree Decorating
Why not reuse your TFI packaging to make this open-ended tree decorating activity?
To use up the cardboard box before it makes it into the recycling, cut out a tree shape along with a selection of loose parts. Children can decorate the tree over and over, as many different ways as they like.
7. Small World Play
Small world play encourages children to use their imaginations. It doesn't have to take long to set up and if you have older children you could include them in this part of the activity too, adding to their play.
By giving children the space for this kind of imaginary play, it can build their language skills and confidence as they narrate what they're doing.
8. Goki Christmas Decorations
These wooden Goki pieces are supplied plain to decorate at home. You can use almost anything to decorate them with...pencils, crayons, paints, glue and sparkles, whatever you have in your craft supplies.
9. Tweezers and Pom-poms
Tweezers are a great way to practice those fine motor skills. To make using them into a Christmasy activity, we used them to add colourful buttons to gingerbread man pictures before my youngest turned it into a colour sorting activity by separating the colours onto each of the pictures.
10. Christmas Decorations
This super simple craft is a favourite with my children. I simply cut out some Christmasy shapes from one of our TFI boxes and put on the table with the coloured paper filling from our parcels, some scissors and a glue stick.
11. Reindeer Food
Santa's reindeer work very hard to help deliver presents, they sometimes need a little snack to help them on their busiest night of the year.
Often the reindeer food that is available in shops is full of glitter, which is very bad for garden wildlife. The RSPCA website has a great wildlife friendly recipe. They don't need special food, there's a good chance that you will have what they love already in your cupboards.
Click here to take you to the RSPCA recipe
12. Movie Night
Although this isn't a play idea, it is a must for the festive period.
If you would like to add a play element to your movie night, get the children to make tickets to hand out before it starts. We also love to set up a cinema concession stand, laying out a selection of snacks with little price cards. Each child then gets given some money to "buy" their ticket and snacks before settling down for the film.
13. Scavenger Hunt
A Christmas scavenger hunt is fun for all of the family. You can make it as easy or as difficult as you would like. We have created a simple one that you can print off and use around the house or out on a walk.
14. Nature Wreath
Need to get the children out of the house? Head out on a walk to collect nature treasures. Once home cut out a cardboard ring to make a wreath.
Our treasures have been attached by wrapping paper Rafia ribbon around to secure it.
15. Post Box
Here is another use for those TFI delivery boxes.
You could turn your box into a post box. Set up a writing station for children to write letters or make cards and post when they're done.
If your child enjoys posting this will be a huge hit. For those older children it can be turned into a role play game by adding a few items and creative a post office set up. Taking turns to add stamps to the envelopes before delivering the letters too.
16. SnoBall Play
SnoBall play is so easy to set up. It's is a great sensory activity that can be used indoors or outside. Simply add water to the granules and watch the snow grow.
I added our Yellow Door igloo and Lanka Kade Christmas figures for some North Pole pretend play.
17. Christmas Sensory Tray
Coloured rice is my go to sensory play activity. I like that when it's finished with, I can hoover up the mess for a super easy clean up.
18. Paper Snowflakes
Nothing says Christmas like making paper chains and snowflakes to decorate the house.
When we're cutting them out I imagine the scene from Elf where Buddy has covered the house in paper chains and snowflakes. Our final creations never quite look like the movie but we have so much fun in the process.
Father Christmas loves a mince pie.
Baking them doesn't need to be a difficult task. To save on the stress of baking with 3 children, I bought ready made puff pastry and mincemeat. You just have to roll out the pastry, cut into circles, put some mincemeat into the centre and top with another puff pastry circle. Then press around the edges to make sure they're sealed before coating them in beaten egg and sprinkling with demerara sugar.
They take about 20 minutes in a preheated oven - 200C/180C fan/gas 6
20. Snowman Biscuits
These snowman biscuits are great for when you don't want to bake but still want to enjoy a sweet treat.
For this you will need biscuits, icing, marshmallows and chocolate dots.
21. Candy Cane Hunt
Preparation for a candy cane hunt is easy, you just need candy canes.
Choose a space to hide them and let the children find them all, just like an Easter egg hunt with a Christmasy twist. If you have more than 1 child joining in, you could turn it into a competition to see who can find the most or let them take turns in hiding them for each other.
22. Fizzy Christmas Trees
My 7 year old thinks that this is the best activity out of them all.
To make the fizzy Christmas trees you need flour, food colouring, vegetable oil and bicarbonate of soda. There are lots of recipes on making cloud dough but I simply put how much flour I want in a tray and then add oil until it holds its shape but is still easy to crumble apart. For it to have a fizzy reaction add the bicarb into the flour. Then when they have finished making trees, give them some vinegar to pour on top and watch as they fizz.
23. Dance Party
A dance party can be squeezed into any time of the day.
We love to turn the lights low before bedtime and have a 5 minute dance party to get the last of the energy out before we settle down for the night. Another great time is that pre dinner time lull when everyone is hungry and needs a quick distraction. Just pop on some music and show off your favourite moves.
24. Minute to Win It Games
These are great for the whole family. Set yourself a timer for 1 minute and see who can win the challenge.
Here's a few ideas:
Candy cane pick up - using only a candy cane, see who can pick up the most candy canes off of the table and place them into a bowl before the time runs out.
Build a snowman - for this one you will need marshmallows, a snowman needs to be 3 marshmallows tall. Who can make the most in a minute? To make this one tricky for older children or adults, only let them use 1 hand.
Scents of Christmas - have a selection of festive scented objects, for example oranges, candy canes, cinnamon sticks, gingerbread, then blindfold each person and see who can get the most right.
Cup stack - you will need some plastic cups and cards, whoever can build the tallest cup stack without it falling in a minute wins this round.
Cookie eat off - each person places a cookie on their forehead and must try to get it into their mouth within in a minute. If it falls off you have to start over.
Pictionary/charades - Make a pile of Christmas activities and split into 2 teams. Take turns either drawing or acting out the activity and see which team gets the most right.
I hope this helps keep your family entertained over the festive period.