15 Fun Ways To Celebrate Christmas (When You Can’t Travel)

Celebrate Your Holiday At Home.

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.

Disclosure: Please note that this post contains affiliate links. If you click one of the links and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Thank you! See full disclosure and disclaimer policy here 

Throw A Themed Holiday

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).

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.

Travel Themed Xmas Ornaments
DIY Travel Themed Ornaments
Photo: “RoryMN via canva.com”

Or if you aren’t feeling crafty check out my favourite artisan made travel themed Christmas ornaments post. Lots of ideas to inspire wanderlust or remember the past years adventures.

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.

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:

  1. Cut your own tree
  2. Make home made ornaments
  3. Drink hot chocolate & read The Night Before Christmas in themed pjs
  4. Go Christmas carolling – spread cheer to your neighbours or elders
  5. Adopt a family in need: provide gifts, dinner, treats
  6. Sing, Dance, Act, Joke during a Family Talent Show
  7. Make a playlist and listen to all your fav Christmas songs on repeat
  8. Take a Christmas morning walk around town, or a local park
  9. Bake gingerbread cookies (or favourite holiday treats)
  10. Go sledding at a local hill
  11. Choose your own adventure – let each child pick out a family or learning experience to try
  12. Create a winter or family bucket list and check them off
  13. Decorate Gingerbread houses or have a gingerbread decorating contest
  14. Christmas trivia night
 Gingerbread House Decorating
Family Traditions: Decorating Gingerbread Houses

You may also like 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

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

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.

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.

Advent Calendar Noel
Advent Calendar
Photo: “AntiMartina via canva.com”

Here are 25 ideas to put in your advent calendar:

  1. Play a family board game
  2. Make popcorn and watch a holiday movie
  3. Write a letter to Santa
  4. Build a snowman
  5. Make shortbread cookies (and deliver them to someone special)
  6. 24 Acts of kindness
  7. Make ornaments
  8. Go sledding
  9. Write a holiday poem
  10. Donate toys or books to a local hospital or charity
  11. Take supplies to an animal shelter
  12. Make up a holiday story
  13. Tell Christmas jokes
  14. Donate food to a food bank
  15. Write and mail a letter to an elder
  16. Get in Holiday themed pj’s and drive around to see the lights
  17. Make paper snowflakes
  18. Print and colour christmas colouring pages
  19. Write and hang a wish on your tree
  20. Read your favourite Christmas book
  21. Have a marshmallow fight
  22. Take photos in front of Christmas decorations
  23. Have a red and green themed dinner
  24. Tell one thing you are thankful for to each family member
  25. Make a Christmas tree, snowman, candy cane or Santa out of lego

Here are some great DIY advent calendars ideas:

If you aren’t feeling particularly crafty, ready made, handcrafted advent calendars are a fun idea:

Take a Christmas Walk

Winter Walk Ornament
Walking in a winter wonderland.

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).

House Christmas Lights
Take a Holiday Lights Tour
Photo: “HannamariaH via canva.com”

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:

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.

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:

Celebrate Locally

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.

DIY ideas:

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 closer to home:

Happy Planning!

Celebrating Your Holiday Season At Home, Can Be Fantastic.

No really!

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!

Related holiday and family articles:

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”


Packed for Life is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com, amazon.ca.

37 thoughts on “15 Fun Ways To Celebrate Christmas (When You Can’t Travel)”

  1. I love this list. I have so many travel themed ornaments. Decorating our tree was bittersweet reminiscing of our adventures. I never thought of making our own, I’m on it, though. The kids will have fun with this, too.

  2. Pingback: 25 Best Travel Christmas Ornaments | Packed for Life

  3. Pingback: 40+ Kid Friendly Holiday Recipes From Around The World | Packed for Life

  4. Pingback: 40+ Kid Friendly Holiday Recipes From Around The World | Packed for Life

  5. What an extensive list! Thank you for sharing these amazing ideas. As a single person, I must admit, I am getting anxious about what to do if gathers and travel are off limits. 😢🙏🏽

  6. Wow! What a wonderful post. Christmas is more than just a holiday over here, it’s a season! And being away from family during COVID makes it hard. Thank you for some many great ideas!!

  7. Wow what a jam packed post! Great idea’s and so many fun things to do! I think my favorite idea was turning your old vacation trinkets into ornaments for your tree, why have I never thought of that before! Thanks for sharing it was so much fun to read!

  8. This a great post! We can’t travel to family at Christmas because I’ll be in my third trimester of pregnancy and because of COVID, family cannot travel to us. I will be referring back to your post closer to Christmas to review your ideas!

  9. These are all great ideas! We are not able to travel this year because I got laid off from my job like many others. So we are planning on making this holiday season a little extra special. I bookmarked this post so I am able to come back to it when we need some festive entertainment ideas!

  10. OmG! I deff took a screenshot of the 25 ideas to put in your advent calendar!!! They were awesome and might help bring the christmas spirit back to life!❤️

  11. I love all the things you mentioned here Donna we don’t know how to spend our christmas yet but I think we are staying put this year. This post made me think if me and my family can visit Ohio for Christmas celebration before Christmas. I love the idea of making arts from our previous travels. You are giving me a wonderful idea to think about!

    1. Hi April, there is so much unknown this year, a lot of people are wondering the same thing. Hope you get to celebrate Christmas in a way that works for your family at home or in Ohio.

  12. No excuses to find a way to celebrate this year, as you have covered them all. And then some. Love this, I am excited for the holidays more so than ever this year. I already have my Halloween decor up!

  13. Such brilliant and cute ideas! We did the 24 fun things advent calendar last year, and loved it! Will definitely write some of these down for this year, getting so excited for the Christmas season this year!

      1. I don’t have travel specific movies, but I do have a couple set in countries that are fun, and will inspire a desire to travel; Amelie (Paris), Jiro Dreams of Sushi, about a sushi master in Japan with a Michelin star restaurant in a Tokoyo Subway, fascinating and he was 85 at the time of filming. Mama Mia (because Greece and Abba, and it’s my daughters fav at the moment).

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sharing is Caring

Help spread the word. You're awesome for doing it!

Scroll to Top