The Holidays can be stressful. Especially if you counted on travelling back home to be with family, or were planning on escaping family pressures and travelling somewhere tropical, and now can’t. While this likely feels incredibly disheartening, I am hoping together we can make gingerbread out of ginger, and plan for an amazing season anyway.
Not to worry, we have some fun ideas to make celebrating at home special. We can’t guarantee all your relatives will get along, or that your kids won’t ask to watch Peppa Pig’s Christmas for the millionth time. We can guarantee the following 15 ways to celebrate Christmas (when you can’t travel), will give you a good starting point. Having an awesome Christmas at home with your family is possible. So let’s get this sleigh ride started.
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Christmas Celebration Ideas at Home (when you can’t travel)
There are so many different ways to celebrate Christmas. What are your favorite ways to spend time with family & friends over the holiday season.
Throw A Themed Holiday – Christmas Celebrations at Home
Whether you are celebrating Christmas, Noel, Yuletide, Hanukkah, or New Years Eve, travel theme it up.
Pick a destination, maybe the one you were planning on going to and recreate it in your home. Change up your home decorations. Research some recipes and cook up authentic meals at home. Branch out from turkey and stuffing.
Does your destination theme have any unique holiday traditions you could try ? Get creative, or try out one of the ideas below.
Diwali – Festival of Lights
Diwali, the Hindu festival from India that celebrates the triumph of light over dark, good over evil. Light candles, or lanterns and make sweets like gulab jamun which are delicious fried balls soaked in rose-water syrup or barfi, flavoured squares made of condensed milk and sugar.
St. Nicholas Day, Netherlands
Legend has it that Sinterklaas, comes to Holland by steam boat, all the way from Spain. Once in Holland he rides a white horse to deliver toys to good children.
Children leave traditional clogs, (or regular shoes) by the fireplace or door shoes filled with hay or carrots for Sinterklaas’ white horse in hopes small gifts will be left in place.
Tu B’shevat – Jewish New Year for Trees
Tu B’shevat, known as the Jewish New Year for the Trees is celebrated by on the 15th day of the month of Shevat. Depending on the Hebrew calendar this usually falls in either Janurary or Februray.
Its purpose has been adopted as an ecological holiday, a reminder of our connection to the earth, and our role in caring for it.
Jewish people will often plant trees ( or pay for trees to be planted). Fruit, or food is eaten from the Seven Species abundant in Israel; wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates (or honey).
Create Christmas Trivia & What if Questions
Look into Holiday celebrations around the world and make a trivia card game out of questions like these, and pull it out during some down time.
- Do the Amish celebrate Christmas?
- Do Koreans celebrate Christmas?
- What are some reasons to celebrate Christmas?
- If you could celebrate Christmas any way you want, what would you do?
- Where is the best place to celebrate Christmas?
- How do people celebrate Christmas in Germany?
👉 Be sure to make planning your dream Christmas easier with our Happy Holiday Planner 🎄
Decorate A Travel Themed Christmas Tree
Decorate your tree in a travel theme.
All those travel trinkets you’ve collected over the years, but haven’t known what to do with, would make perfect ornaments for your tree.
Pull out your souvenir box, get out a glue gun, some string or a paper clip for some easy DIY travel ornaments.
Or print out your favourite travel photos, stick them either in photo ornaments, or small frames, and hang from your tree.
👉 If you aren’t feeling crafty check out my favourite travel themed Christmas ornaments.
ALTERNATIVE WAYS TO SPEND CHRISTMAS WITH FAMILY
Create or Renew Family Traditions
If you are used to travelling for the holiday season, you may have let family traditions fall to the wayside. Now would be a good time to create or renew some family traditions. Each family has different ways to celebrate Christmas. How do you want to spend yours?
What are your favourite holiday memories as a child?
What family traditions did you do each year that you looked forward to?
What excites you about the holidays?
I have to admit, there was a time I really didn’t enjoy the holidays. Too much consumerism, and too many expectations.
Once I had my youngest child I realized I wanted to recreate the magic I felt over the holiday season, but without all the pressure.
One of my favourite memories as a child was our kid-sized Christmas tree. Every December my brothers and I would look forward to decorating this tree with our hand crafted popcorn and paper garlands, and salt dough stars.
This tree was ours to do with as we pleased. Oh the freedom!
Each year my youngest and I make ornaments for our tree. This is one of our favourite traditions. What are your favourite holiday traditions?
If you need a little inspiration, here are some ideas to start your own Family Traditions:
- Cut your own tree
- Make home made ornaments
- Drink hot chocolate & read The Night Before Christmas in themed pjs
- Go Christmas carolling – spread cheer to your neighbours or elders
- Adopt a family in need: provide gifts, dinner, treats
- Sing, Dance, Act, Joke during a Family Talent Show
- Make a playlist and listen to all your fav Christmas songs on repeat
- Take a Christmas morning walk around town, or a local park
- Bake gingerbread cookies (or favourite holiday treats)
- Go sledding at a local hill
- Choose your own adventure – let each child pick out a family or learning experience to try
- Create a family bucket list and check them off
- Decorate Gingerbread houses or have a gingerbread decorating contest
- Christmas trivia night
- Create a Winter Bucket List to keep active in the cold months
👉 Make delicious food with 40+ Kid-Friendly Holiday Recipes From Around The World
Give Back To Your Community
The holiday season isn’t always the easiest for people. Finding ways to give back to your community can be rewarding, and help teach your children to consider and support others.
Donate your time or money. There are many organizations doing amazing things out there that could use money or volunteers year round.
What are you and your kids passionate about? Maybe it’s animal rescue, or saving the whales. Maybe you want to support refugee organizations or artists coalitions. Make a donation on behalf of your family as part of their gift.
Or maybe you prefer more hands on volunteering. Here are a few ideas:
- Bake some treats and deliver a baked goods care package to health care workers, fire fighters, the elderly or people who are homeless in your community
- Cook meals, and hand them out
- Create care packages of essential toiletries, snacks, socks and a few dollars and drop them off to a shelter
- Donate lightly used winter clothes, jackets to shelters
Make a Yearly Photo Book
Christmas and New Years is a great time to reflect on the past year and your adventures with family and friends. Go through your photos and have each family member pick out a few favourite photos of this years travels and events. Even if you stuck close to home you can celebrate the fun you had.
Create a photo book of the favourite photos for your year in review. Make it a tradition and pull out the past years books each year.
Celebrate Christmas With A Family Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger hunts are fun for the whole family and “kids” of all ages can join. Even the grumpy adults who want to duck out of the fun.
Choose your holiday. Drive, walk, bike around town or your neighbourhood in teams, or as individuals. Invite family members or friends. Check off as many as possible.
For extra incentive, come up with a couple of small inexpensive holiday themed prizes for the winners.
Photo / Selfie Scavenger Hunt
Grab a camera or cell phone and head out on the town. The goal of the Photo / Selfie Scavenger Hunt is to take photos with as many items on the list as possible, within a certain time frame. An hour is a good length of time.
Make a time and place to meet back up. Have a photo show and tell. The team who has checked off the most items wins.
Pick a holiday themed prize; baked goods, peppermint hot chocolate, or a small gift would all be great choices. Or choose categories of prizes; the most creative photo, the most festive etc. to expand the fun.
Christmas Movie Scavenger Hunt
Tie your Christmas Movie Scavenger Hunt in with your movie marathon, and you’ll be ahead.
It would be fun to challenge another family to the game.
Give all players a deadline. The month of December would work well. Everytime you watch a Christmas themed movie check it off from the list. The team who has watched the most Christmas movies wins.
Or if you are familiar with the movie, create a list of things, scenes or phrases you have to check off while watching the movie.
Pro Tip: Google is your friend here if you need a short cut.
“You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out Kid.”
“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.”
Bonus points if you get the Holiday movies those two quotes are from. No cheating. Let me know in the comments below.
Christmas Riddles Scavenger Hunt
Extend present time, by having your kids figure out riddles to find their present(s). Most kids love searching out the clues, and answering the riddle. A fun idea for teens, or children of reading age.
Check out these cute printable riddles.
Have A Travel Or Christmas Movie Marathon with Global Snacks
If you were planning on travelling somewhere exciting over the holiday season, and are now stuck at home, you may (or may not) have lots of time on your hands.
Find a few destination themed movies and have a movie marathon. Even better if they combine the holidays & places you’d like to visit. Be sure to pull out some global snacks to nosh on during the movie.
Or make a movie bucket list of all the family favourites, and see if you can watch them all in December.
We loved our Universal Yums Christmas Snack Box, with Christmas themed snacks from around the world. You can check out our complete review & unboxing here, or grab a box below:
Enjoy 24 Advent Activities
Advent activities can add to the excitement leading up to Christmas Day. It is also an easy way for kids to track the inevitable question asked a million times a day “How many days until Christmas Mom?”
Create a DIY advent calendar filled with 24 fun family activities for the month of December. Activities could be themed, or easy things your family can fit into your busy schedule.
Here are 25 ideas to put in your advent calendar:
- Play a family board game
- Make popcorn and watch a holiday movie
- Write a letter to Santa
- Build a snowman
- Make shortbread cookies (and deliver them to someone special)
- 24 Acts of kindness
- Make ornaments
- Go sledding
- Write a holiday poem
- Donate toys or books to a local hospital or charity
- Take supplies to an animal shelter
- Make up a holiday story
- Tell Christmas jokes
- Donate food to a food bank
- Write and mail a letter to an elder
- Get in Holiday themed pj’s and drive around to see the lights
- Make paper snowflakes
- Print and colour christmas colouring pages
- Write and hang a wish on your tree
- Read your favourite Christmas book
- Have a marshmallow fight
- Take photos in front of Christmas decorations and make a holiday Photo book.
- Have a red and green themed dinner
- Tell one thing you are thankful for to each family member
- Make a Christmas tree, snowman, candy cane or Santa out of lego
Here are some great DIY advent calendars ideas:
- Use what you have calendar by Mom Advice
- Simplest advent calendar by Hi Sugarplum
- Heirloom advent calendar by A Beautiful Mess
If you aren’t feeling particularly crafty, ready made, handcrafted advent calendars are a fun idea:
Create a Winter Bucket List
Brainstorm a winter bucket list with your family. Choose some family favourites and pick some new to you activities. Maybe they will become your new family favourites. You can make an:
- Outdoor Family Fun Bucket List
- Winter Travel Bucket List
- Self-Care Bucket List
- Cozy Winter Bucket List
- Bucket List – At Home
- Christmas Bucket List
So many ideas.
Or grab a copy of our done-for-you Winter Fun Bucket Lists here:
Take a Christmas Walk
There is something magical about Christmas morning walkabouts, especially in the snow. Wander the neighbourhood, or choose your favourite park.
After all the treats and early morning activity, it’s a great way to connect with your family, and nature before the big feast. Or talk a walk after dark to see the the neighbourhood lights.
Holiday Light Tour
For many years, a holiday light tour was a tradition in our house. Do you have a special holiday tradition with lights?
Every December we would get in our pj’s, buckle in the car, and head down to Candy Cane Lane. This one particular street was so well known for it’s lights and decorations, there would be cars lined up and down the road for blocks.
Take it to another level by blasting carols, bringing some snacks for the road, then heading back to the house for some hot cocoa (with marshmallows & candy canes of course).
Visit Your Local Ski Hill
If you live close to a ski hill, consider a day trip, or renting a chalet for the weekend somewhere local. It may not be the Swiss Alps, but you can still get your skiing / snowboarding fix, and save some money for your next dream vacation.
Create a Museum Experience At Home
A lot of vacations involve a trip to a museum, or an educational experience. If your plans were deferred, try out a virtual visit with your kids. Choose a couple they are most interested in, and make it an at-home virtual field trip.
These museums offer Free Virtual Tours:
- The Louvre
- Metropolitan Museum of Art #Metkids
- National Air & Space Museum – Smithsonian
- The Museum of the World
- Natural History Museum
- Musée d’Orsay
- Museo Frida Kahlo
- Tate Modern: Andy Warhol Exhibit
- The Van Gogh Museum
Or try out these virtual educational sites:
These are just a few options, as many places now offer virtual tours and experiences online.
Create A Hallway Art Or Photo Gallery
If you have the travel bug but are staying put this winter, due to choice or circumstance, try putting up an art or photo gallery in your hallway. Our family always uses Mixbook for all our photo projects.
Choose some of your favourite travel photos, then find or make some funky frames and put your pics on the walls. Invite your family or friends over, to listen to some of your favorite tales of previous adventures.
If you are feeling a little artsy, have a family art day. Go free form or choose your favourite artists and recreate their masterpieces. Hang your works of art on the walls for all to see.
Invite friends and family to participate and do it as a fundraiser. Sell the works to raise money for a family in need, or for your favourite charity.
So many options for a photo gallery:
Write a Christmas Wish List or Letter to santa
There is something magical about writing a letter to Santa. Make a special time of it. Bake some special Christmas treats, pull out your favourite pencil crayons or pens and write up a storm.
Grab your Santa Claus Letter templates here, or click on the image below.
Celebrating locally can be a fantastic way to get in the holiday spirit. Are there any festivities happening in your hometown?
Keep an eye out for Christmas Markets, craft fairs, or window / light decorating competitions.
I like ice skating in the winter time, particularly in outdoor rinks. See if there are any outdoor themed activities being offered this year, such as sleigh rides, ice skating, or tree lighting ceremonies.
Add a few family favourites to your calendar so you won’t miss out.
Get Your Craft On
To me, the holidays are synonymous with crafting, whether my own or other peoples.
Get creative with some Christmas or holiday themed crafts. Choose an online course, or free DIY tutorial, then gather round the childers and make an afternoon of it.
Looking for some ideas, try wreath making, salt dough tree ornaments, or an advent calendar. Creating some homemade gifts for grandparents also is a nice touch, and something much appreciated.
My motto: crafting, not just for kids.
- Try these 3 ingredient cinnamon ornaments ( my favourite & they smell so good).
- Easy Kids Christmas crafts
- Easy Adult Crafts
Plan Your Next Vacation
While it may seem a bit premature, there’s never a wrong time to begin planning your next trip.
While the key may be flexibility for the next couple of years, you can still keep the dream alive.
Make a vision board. Dream wildly and write down all your ideas. Do some research. Encorporate your kids ideas. Write out a plan for how you will save money for travel.
Consider a vacation closer to home. A road trip or a camping trip to a National Park you’ve always wanted to see, but never managed to get to.
Looking for some inspiration? Try one of our destination posts:
- 11 of the best places to visit for a wintery vacation in the USA
- Year – Round, family friendly things to do in Stowe, Vermont, USA
- Vancouver Island, Canada – Fun family friendly things to do in Victoria, BC and the lovely seaside town of Parksville, BC
- Delicious kid friendly Christmas recipes from around the world
- Dreaming of a warm winter vacation? Havana, Cuba
Celebrating Your Holiday Season At Home, Can Be Fantastic.
Ok, so your home holiday may not be as tropical or winter like. It may be more familiar, and less wild. But, celebrating Christmas at home can be fun and memorable.
Take a chance and try something new. You never know. You may end up with some new family traditions, or hilarious memories you end up reliving each year.
Do you have any unique or special ways your family celebrates Christmas at home? Any tips to share? Let us know in the comments below, or connect with us on social media.
We’d love to hear from you!
LOOKING FOR SOME FUN FAMILY GIFT IDEAS THIS HOLIDAY?
We’ve got you covered!
FOR EVERYONE (ALL AGES)
- Top 50+ Unique Gifts for Travel Lovers: For every budget
- Best Anti Travel Backpacks – for safer & happier travels
- Ultimate Gift Guide for Beach Lovers
- 50+ Eco Friendly Stocking fillers for all ages
- 45 Epic RV Gift Ideas: Gifts for RV Owners they’ll use and love
- 12 of the Best Travel Backpacks for Kids (and Toddlers)
- Cool Camping Gifts for your favourite outdoorsy kid!
- 30+ Eco stocking stuffer ideas for babies, kids, tweens & teens
- Gifts & experiences for the adventurous tween they’ll adore
TRAVEL FROM HOME
- 25 Amazing Subscription Boxes to Inspire Wanderlust (in all ages)– Great last minute gift
- Universal Yums – World Snack Tour from Home – The Holiday Box is our yearly favourite
- 30+ Gorgeous Travel Christmas Ornaments to hang on your tree this holiday
15 Fun Ways To Celebrate Christmas (When You Can’t Travel)
Photo Credits: Featured Image:”nadianb via canva.com” & Diwali photo: “phive2015 via canva.com”
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