10 Fun Things to Do During Christmas Dinner with Kids
By Wanda Lopez, My Sweet Zepol
A Christmas dinner is usually an all-day event. At least that’s the way it is in our home. The day starts early in the morning with kids waking the parents up at the start of dawn and running straight toward the Christmas tree to find their presents. How to keep kids entertained throughout the day is always in our minds during the holidays. Here are ten fun things to do during Christmas dinner with kids in order to keep them entertained and happy.
Try These 10 Fun Activities During Christmas Dinner with Your Kids
1. Find the Pickle Game
A pickle ornament hidden in the Christmas tree, also known as the Christmas Pickle, is a modern Christmas tradition. It’s not particularly clear where this tradition originated from. It was claimed that the Christmas Pickle was an old German tradition and that the pickle was the last ornament hung on the Christmas tree and the first child to find the pickle got an extra present.
We have some friends from Germany and when we asked them about this tradition, they claimed it did not originate there. I suppose no one will ever know where this fun tradition came to be from, but I do have to say, it’s a fun one. Sounds like fun and we cannot wait to see the kids’ faces filled with excitement when they start searching for the pickle ornament.
2. Decorate Gingerbread Houses
Decorating gingerbread houses has been a tradition in our home, and I can imagine it’s a tradition in your home, too. You may consider turning it into a competition, where the winner will get an extra present or prize. This can come in handy when you have more than one child and one has already won the extra present by finding the pickle ornament.
When it comes to gingerbread houses, you can go either way: a gingerbread house created solely for display or an edible gingerbread house everyone will devour within hours of being decorated, or at least at some point. Either way you choose to go, decorating a gingerbread house is as important as making it.
- Store–Bought Gingerbread Houses vs Homemade Gingerbread Houses
Homemade gingerbread houses are fun to make. If you choose to bake your own gingerbread house, we do suggest having all the pieces baked beforehand since this can take some time to bake and cool completely before placing the icing (or melted sugar edible “glue”) that will hold the house together. You do not want the heat of the gingerbread house to melt the icing and the house to fall apart. Store-bought is a wonderful idea too. We’ve found some fun small gingerbread houses which are perfectly sized, so every kid can decorate their own. If you decide to bake your own gingerbread house, you will also need to consider getting all the different candies for decorations and extra icing. Versus a store-bought gingerbread house that comes with all the ingredients included. With a store-bought version you might get stuck with only what’s inside the box. You can get creative when it comes to decorations and candy choices.
- Decorations for a Gingerbread House
When looking for inspiration to decorate your gingerbread house, there are plenty of non-edible options to view, including plastic sets for kids and cardboard, clay or metal decorative versions. Only for inspiration purposes, of course – don’t break your teeth! As for candies, we love using traditional gummy candies and candy canes. But we also like to experiment with candies we’ve enjoyed throughout the year, like cotton candy to stand in for snow on the ground and the roof of the house. You can opt for a gingerbread house decorated with only nuts and dried fruits, or only jellybeans. Put your own spin on your gingerbread house.
3. Christmas-Inspired Board Games
We all have a few favorite board games tucked away inside a closet somewhere in our home. It’s time to take them out. Choose one or two board games that everyone in the family will enjoy and let the games begin.
Some board games are perfect for kids to play on their own. We love playing a few traditional board games like Monopoly, Chutes and Ladders and Candy Land. These are some of my kid’s favorite board games to play before or after Christmas dinner.
Here are some additional games to play at home:
- Holiday Charades!
Grab a few pieces of paper and write down a few nouns like holiday characters, movie titles or songs. For example, “Santa Claus,” “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer,” or “The Grinch.” Have someone act out the word or phrase as others guess. Time everyone for one minute and mark down with tallies who guesses more correctly. For example, “Santa Claus,” “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer,” or “The Grinch.”
- Christmas Dance Freeze
Another fun game we play with the kids is a Christmas “dance freeze.” Turn on the music and start dancing, then shut it off without warning and shout, “Freeze!” Whoever stops moving last is out.
- White Elephant
A game my kids love is White Elephant. First, have each player choose some silly gifts without showing them to anyone and then wrap them. Everyone places their wrapped gifts in a pile, then draws numbers to decide who picks an incognito gift first. The first guest grabs a present from the pile, then each subsequent player can either “steal” a gift from someone else, swap gifts, or take one that has not been chosen. You can either unwrap gifts as you go, or at the end to make the big reveal even more exciting.
4. Christmas Cookies
Kids love helping in the kitchen, especially when baking cookies is the task at hand. Grab one of your favorite cookie recipes that reminds you of the holidays, like these delicious and easy-to-make Biscoff Blossom Cookies. If you want to prepare for this activity before Christmas, make the cookie dough ahead of time or purchase ready-to-bake dough.
One of the tasks kids enjoy the most is rolling the cookie dough balls in sugar. It’s messy, but so much fun. The best part is when everyone gets to enjoy the baked and cooled cookies with a glass of cold milk. Another kid-approved Christmas day activity for after Christmas dinner is decorating cookies that have been pre-made. Set up a station for cookie decorating with sprinkles and a variety of colorful sugar glazes or icings. Adults also enjoy and approve of this fun and delicious activity.
Christmas gingerbread cookies set on white wooden background, top view
5. Make Crafts to Give to Each Other
If you’re a mom, you may agree with us when we say there’s nothing more filled with sentimental value than a homemade gift from our kids. I can imagine any grandmothers reading this agreeing as well. Grab some craft kits or craft supplies and have your kids make a gift that will be given to an adult at home. Kids feel it’s super special to be working on a top-secret gift. This project will also keep them entertained for hours. Once the artwork or craft is finished, they also have the task of wrapping. After dinner, they’ll be handing it to its rightful recipient. We have a bin filled with crafts from past years. It’s our “treasure box.” We always enjoy seeing these meaningful gifts from the past, and noticing how the gifts have evolved over the years.
6. Sing-Along Christmas Carols
Who doesn’t love a good old-fashioned Christmas song? We all do, and so do the kids. Select a few of your favorite Christmas tunes, turn the radio up as loud as you can, sing, dance and be merry. After all, that’s what the holidays are all about. Being with family, friends, giving thanks, laughing, enjoying good food and making memories that will last a lifetime.
7. Christmas Movies
From the classics to the most recently aired, Christmas movies often top the lists of favorite movie seen throughout the entire year. Make some popcorn, sit back, and relax for a few hours. While Christmas dinner is in the making – or right after enjoying a delicious meal with family. Go ahead and put on your kid’s favorite Christmas movie. Some of the classics we all enjoy in my house are Elf, Home Alone and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Other Christmas movies we watch are Klaus, An Elf’s Story: The Elf on the Shelf and Dr. Seuss’ the Grinch. Try viewing an original and a remake one after the other to compare. Let everyone do a movie review after you’re done watching.
8. Play with the New Toys
Every kid anticipates Christmas day to find out if they’re getting what they asked Santa for. What fun it is if they don’t get to play with their brand-new toys as soon as they can, right? A fun thing to do during Christmas dinner with kids is to watch them play with their new toys and even to take a few minutes to play with them. Watch their imagination in action and encourage them to play every day of the year.
9. Have a Candy Cane Hunt
Candy cane hunts are so much fun to host. Kids of all ages love playing. Gather about 7-8 candy canes of assorted sizes. Consider how long you want the game to last. If the kids seem to be having a wonderful time, we suggest hiding the candy canes several times to keep the game going. Some great hiding places are:
- On door handles
- On the Christmas tree
- Behind cushions
- On windowsills
- Hanging on the mantelpiece
- Inside empty vases or baskets
10. Go on a Christmas Lights Tour
Nighttime is finally here, and you had the best Christmas dinner with your family, the kids have played board games, watched classic and new Christmas movies, sang carols, played with their brand-new toys, made gingerbread houses and even decorated cookies. Now what? Well, it’s time to gather up the entire family and take a walk or drive around the neighborhood. Kids and grown-ups alike will enjoy seeing the Christmas lights in your community. Share what you like about each house decoration and choose a winner. Repeat year after year and watch the entire community come together, taking long strolls or slow drives to enjoy the beautiful, twinkling Christmas lights.
From my family to yours, enjoy making new memories with your kids and your family and friends during the holidays. We wish you all a Happy and Merry Christmas!