Little girl and her mum making a gingerbread house for Christmas

The run-up to Christmas 2020 is certainly going to be a little different. But you don’t have to go to a Christmas market or a Santa’s grotto to experience the mirth and merriment of the season. We’ve put together a list of fun and festive family activities to partake in whilst we all socially distance this year.

1. Read a Christmas story together

There’s no better way to get in the Christmas spirit than with a Christmas story (or two!). Fantastically festive tales like A Christmas CarolThe Jolly Christmas Postman or The Snowman will help you spread a little cheer and give you a chance to spend some quality time together. Why not make it a daily occurrence throughout December? Everyone can take turns choosing a story to read whilst you all chomp on some delicious festive snacks. Speaking of which…

2. Bake some Christmassy food

Nothing says Christmas quite like some brilliant bakes! So, get your pinny on and flour those work surfaces, because it’s time to get messy. Some of our favourite recipes include these The Snowman-inspired cookies and Christmas tree-shaped biscuits, but there are so many other Christmassy treats you can make. As social distancing will be a big part of the festive celebrations this year, make big batches of your creations and leave them on the doorstep of your neighbours, family and friends. There is no evidence that COVID-19 can be passed through food, so this is a wonderful gift as well as a great and easy way to help out those in need.

3. Make and send some Christmas cards

Again, as social distancing will mean a lack of face-to-face interactions this year, a lovely way to feel a bit more connected with friends and family is to make your own Christmas cards. You can download and use our Wimpy Kid and Christmasaurus card templates, or make one really personal to you. You could all dress up and take a nice family photo – great for relatives to keep and see how you’re all doing – or enlist the help of your pet and get them to pose for a photo (you will need some treats for this!). Or just grab all the art supplies you have and go for it!

Children and their mum making Christmas cards

4. See some Christmas lights

You may not be able to travel to the Christmas light switch-on events that you would normally go to, but you can certainly go for a walk around your neighbourhood to spot some luminous holiday displays. Great to do as a family, tally up the houses you see with white lights and those with multicoloured lights. You could also play ‘I Spy’ for all the Christmas trees you can spot in the windows of homes.

5. Have a video call with Santa Claus

It seems that Santa’s grottos are unlikely to go ahead this year. Luckily, thanks to the wonders of technology, you won’t have to miss out on seeing Santa – you can have a video call with him instead. Santa’s Calling You allows you to book a private Zoom call with either Santa, Mrs Claus or one of Santa’s elves, and you can even request them to read you a story. All you have to do is decide on a time and date!

Yougn girl and her parents having a video call

6. Build a snowman

If you’re lucky enough to get some snow over the Christmas period, take a trip outdoors – whether that’s to your garden or local park – and build a magical snowman together. All you need to do is grab some mittens, pull on those wellies, wrap up warm and get building! Don’t forget to take a carrot for a nose and an extra scarf to keep your wintery creation nice and warm.

7. Turn your home into a winter wonderland

As you’ll be spending more time than usual at home due to COVID-19, you may as well go all out with the Christmas decorations this year. If you’re on a budget, get crafty and make some homemade decorations. We’ve got step-by-step tutorials and plenty of printables: make some comic-like Wimpy Kid baubles or print out these Hetty Feather tree decorations. There are lots of tutorials online for making wreaths, festive garlands and other ornaments. Then when it comes to decorating, you can make a day of it. Everyone can have a job – Christmas light technician, bauble colour consultant, tinsel specialist – or a room they’re in charge of turning into a festive utopia. Don’t forget to make a jolly playlist so you can all jam along whilst you decorate.

Young girl hanging Christmas decorations on the tree with her dad

8. Donate this season

Christmas is a time of giving; there’s no better time to donate than during the festive season. As a family, go through any toys, games, books or accessories you no longer need and donate them to The Salvation Army, who run a Christmas Present Appeal. We know there’s nothing nicer than receiving a book for Christmas, so give £10 to BookTrust to send a special book gift to a vulnerable child. Many families struggle with the extra costs that come with Christmas, so why not contribute to Feeding Families by donating individual food items at a collection point or by putting together a whole hamper and delivering it to the family yourself? (Make sure you practice social distancing though.)

9. Make a Christmas Eve box

Start a new tradition and make a Christmas Eve box you can all enjoy. Believed to have been inspired by countries such as Germany, where they open their presents on Christmas Eve, this is a fun way to maximise the Christmas spirit. Use a cardboard box, crate or wooden chest, and then pack in a set of new PJs, homemade goodies, Christmas stories, films, board games – whatever you want!

Christmas Eve Box with popcorn, hot chocolate and The Snowman DVD

10. Host a Zoom craft party

Depending on where you live, there may be certain restrictions on socialising, so why not host a Zoom Christmas craft party with friends or family? Choose some cool things to make – such as this mason jar snow globe or paper plate Christmas masks – make sure you have all the supplies, snacks and refreshments you need, and then schedule a time and date. You could even turn it into a contest and organise prizes for the winner.

11. Watch Christmas films

You can't beat a good ol’ Christmas movie. Turn it into a family weekend ritual during December and give everyone a chance to pick a festive film to watch. The only prep work you’ll need to do is make a hot chocolate, grab some sweet treats from a selection box and pick a spot on the sofa. If you have Netflix or Disney+, you could try Teleparty (formerly know as Netflix Party). It’s a Google Chrome extension that syncs video playback so you can watch films or TV programmes with friends and family online. There’s even a chat function!

Three children facing a television screen and watching it

12. Family game nights

It wouldn’t be Christmas without playing a game (or several) with your family. Board games such as Cluedo, Scrabble and Monopoly are good for those with a competitive streak. If you like team games, try Charades, Pictionary or Trivia. If you want to get really creative, you could make this Christmas tree bowling game using empty plastic bottles or toilet rolls, or follow our poke-a-pumpkin game tutorial but make it a Christmas tree instead.

13. Put together a scavenger hunt

Another fun activity to do at home, especially if it’s cold and wet outside, is a scavenger hunt. Put together a list of things to find, such as an ugly Christmas jumper, a red decoration or your favourite gift of all time. Alternatively, the organiser of the hunt could place different clues around the house that everyone has to search for together. The end reward can be a secret message or some yummy Christmas treats.

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