Tuesday, November 1, 2011

50 things to do at Christmas {25 Days of Christmas}

The best way to spread Christmas Cheer, is singing loud for all to hear. ~Elf

Ooohhhhhh my goodness!! I.  LOVE.  CHRISTMAS.  I really, really ..... really ..... love Christmas. I always have. To me, the whole month of December is just magic. I love the family togetherness; the cold, bundle-up weather; the fires; the food; the music and singing; the cookie-making; the movies; the laughing people; the presents. I love that people slow down and pause long enough to be extra kind to their neighbors and friends.

And I love contemplating how all of this peace and goodwill is because of God's amazing love for us in coming to be with us in such a visible and vulnerable way. A baby. God could have come to us in a way that demanded our attention, but instead, He chose to to enter this world the same way we do -- totally dependent on a mother. He entered in such a humble way among humble people -- our King and Savior. Wow! It's really mind-blowing.

Because this time of year is so special to me, I love to celebrate for WEEKS. Last year for the first time, we did 25 Days of Christmas for the whole month of December leading up to Christmas Day. My husband still talks about how much he loved it, and I know we're creating memories that the kids will have for years to come. Pretty much every day we did something, whether it was a simple craft or riding the Christmas train or baking treats. It was more fun than I've ever had!

One thing that I learned though is that kind of thing doesn't just happen. It requires lots of planning and coordinating! And really, all that needs to happen in November (any homemade gifts of course have to start way before that!). Here at DefrumpMe, we are going to have our own 25 Days of Christmas this year -- every day from December 1 through Christmas Day, we will be posting about something fun we are doing to celebrate this joyful time of year. So if you'd like to be involved, start making your lists and filling up your calendars now! I thought I would list some ideas to get your mind going. Some of these are pretty standard traditions, but maybe some of them will be new to you. I'm hoping to squeeze them all in! :-)

After you compile your list of ideas, sit down with your family and rate them on a scale of 1 to 5. Find out what they would like to do, and make those things your priorities.

Christmas Activities
For those of you around Northwest Arkansas, I included some links and dates to local events. Look for this information in the small gray text. All events are free unless I indicate otherwise.

  1. Create a CD, Pandora station, or iPod playlist with your favorite Christmas songs. Have it ready as background music for all the other fun stuff you're going to do! 
  2. On Thanksgiving afternoon, start a new tradition of making Christmas ornaments. Imagine trimming your tree when your kids are teenagers and looking back at those little ornaments you made so long ago!
  3. Participate in Angel Tree or another charity drive where you and your family get a chance to give to others. (See Susan's post about Operation Christmas Child)
    Locally, check out the Cobblestone Project for great ways to volunteer.
  4. Movie night with favorite Christmas treats. Actually, Christmas movies all month long!! :-) 
  5. Some of our favorite Christmas movies:
    A Charlie Brown Christmas
    The Nativity Story
    The Muppet Christmas Carol
    How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the old cartoon!)
    White Christmas (can't include my husband here, ha!)
    I also have a lot of new ones I want to try this year!
  6. Take your little kids to the dollar store to pick out gifts for their siblings.
  7. Have a cookie decorating party. This is a long-standing tradition in our family!
  8. Get family pictures taken.
  9. Go out for a cheap dinner (pizza at Sam's? Favorite BBQ?). Keep it the same every year (for tradition's sake!), and then drive around and look at lights. Research ahead of time to see if there are any extra wild and wonderful light displays in your area.
    In Springdale, check out the Hull House
  10. Annual cookie decorating 2008. Sara (bottom left) was such a baby! Oh my!!
  11. Visit a Living Nativity.
    Rolling Hills Baptist Church in Fayetteville has a great one, including camel rides, dress-up, and snacks. This year it's on December 3
  12. Attend your local Christmas parade. Or, make your own parade at home!
    Rodeo of the Ozarks "The Spirit of Christmas" Parade on November 26 at 6pm
    Rogers Christmas Parade on December 5 from 7-8:30pm
  13. Visit a tree farm and choose and/or cut down your own tree.
  14. If you are within a few-hours drive of Branson, Missiouri, visit Silver Dollar City. Their Christmas celebration is fantastic. This is one of the pricier things you can do, but SO fun!!!
  15. Go on a train ride.
    Arkansas Missouri Railroad Christmas Train from Springdale to Rogers - 45 mins; $10 for adults, $5 for kids 4+
  16. Decorate a gingerbread house.
  17. Check your local botanical gardens for any Christmas events.
    Botanical Gardens of the Ozarks GardenLand Express; $4 per person age 5+, weekends starting November 20. Also a pajama party Dec 16 at 6p
  18. Make a Christmas card for a soldier.
  19. Have a Minivan (or SUV/Sedan ;-) Express! Watch Polar Express, or another Christmas train movie. Then, after putting kids to bed early (but before they fall asleep!), gather them up and present them with their golden ticket while the conductor (dad) whisks them off to the car for more lights and Christmas music. (More about that here)
  20. Decorate your Christmas tree while sipping hot chocolate and listening (and dancing!) to Christmas music. My husband and I still have small children, so we like to make this a date night after the kids are in bed. We leave the bottom portion of the tree empty for the kids to add some ornaments later.
  21. Let grandma take the kids shopping for Mom and Dad, while said parents enjoy a dinner out during the busy holiday season.
  22. Bake a Christmas treat and visit an elderly relative or church member who needs encouragement.
  23. If you make New Year's resolutions, write them on a slip of paper and put them in your stocking. Next year you can see how you did!
  24. This one is just for the girls -- have sparkling cider and give each other pedicures! Or Mom gets to do them all if your girls are too small. :-) Christmas music and/or a movie is a must!
  25. Go shopping for Christmas ornaments. Each person can pick out a favorite ornament, or one that represents a special interest or event that year. We like doing this while our local Hobby Lobby is having their half-price ornament sale (usually right after Thanksgiving).
  26. Attend a Christmas play or musical production put on by another church. (And the little kids get to do something fun and new in the church Sunday school!)
  27. Make Christmas cards for friends and families.
  28. Let the kids open a present on Christmas Eve -- new pajamas! Not only is this a fun tradition, but it ensures they will be dressed in cute pjs for Christmas morning pictures. :-)
  29. Visit your town square if they decorate for Christmas. We are fortunate here to have a very festive, fun town that takes part in the Lights of the Ozarks with literally millions of Christmas lights, hot chocolate, carriage rides, and more.
  30. Have a simple potluck Christmas party with some of your best family friends.
  31. Our sad-but-oh-so-happy little gingerbread train last year
  32. Bake a birthday cake for Jesus. Our church even has a birthday party for Jesus where we all bring gifts needed at the church and the children open them. It is such a fun tradition!
  33. Read the Christmas story from Luke on Christmas Eve.
  34. Have a special, traditional Christmas breakfast that your family will say, "It's just not Christmas unless we eat......" For us, this breakfast is cinnamon rolls, quiche, and fruit salad.
  35. Have a "sleepover" around the Christmas tree. Lay out pallets on the floor, watch Christmas movies, and eat special treats. Then carry the kids to their beds as they nod off.
  36. On Christmas Day, give the family a new game. Then play it that afternoon! 
  37. Put on a simple Christmas skit of some kind and video tape it. Imagine the hilarious and nostalgic video marathons this will create in years to come!
  38. Go Christmas caroling at a nursing home. (Be sure to call ahead to arrange this.)
  39. Dress up for a fancy, candlelight Christmas dinner one night. Even if it's just for chicken nuggets.
  40. Make Christmas crafts and homemade decorations (look for another post coming soon!).
  41. Sing Christmas carols around the piano or guitar after dinner one evening.
  42. Attend a local Christmas concert or ballet. This one probably won't be free!
    The Walton Arts Center has lots going on this year! The symphony is doing a Christmas Pops concert, and the Nutcracker will be on, as well as It's a Wonderful Life. Check other local theaters too.
  43. Drop the kids off at grandma's or a babysitter's, and attend a candlelight service with your hubby.
    {JBU Candlelight Service Dec 8-10, 6:30p}
  44. Attend a special event at your library. They are bound to have fun stuff! Our library even has a gingerbread decorating party.
    Other local library events: Kindersongs Family Christmas Musical Show (Fay)
  45. Paint ornaments at a local pottery store. (Be sure to plan this enough ahead of time to allow for the glazing and firing -- usually about a week.)
    Locally, we have Crafty Cottage in Bentonville
  46. Give each child a new ornament that represents something important they did that year -- started soccer or ballet, got braces. :-) I have a friend who gave her kids an ornament shaped like Texas, because they had moved there that year. This is another great, nostalgic tradition.
  47. Amber's family did a twist on the white elephant game when she was growing up. Gifts that ranged anywhere from an old shoe to a DVD player were wrapped and bid on (each person started out with 15 $1 bills). Of course, you didn't know what you were bidding on! Sounds like tons of fun!!
  48. Have a Christmas party full of fun, minute-to-win-it games. The games are simple enough that kids can do it. See how another blogger did this here. Totally going to do it this year!
  49. Elf your neighbors and friends!
  50. Have a "favorite things" party with your girlfriends.
  51. If you have small children, wrap up your favorite Christmas books. Open and read one each night. If you have older children, pick a favorite Christmas book (like The Christmas Carol) and read a little bit each night around the Christmas tree.
  52. Set up candles (or Christmas lights, if you're concerned about safety) in your bathroom, and give the kids a candlelight bubble bath. Or take one yourself! :-)  (Susan's 5-year-old daughter still talks about this one!)
But most of all, keep in mind that anything can be a special event if you make it that way. As the moms, we can give our children and families the precious gift of joy and peace at Christmas. And we can also ruin what should be the happiest time of the year! So lets resolve together this year that we are going to have a fun, peaceful, joyful, Christ-filled season, however that may look in our homes.

Do you have any favorite Christmas traditions or plans?

Follow my Christmas board on Pinterest to keep up with everything I'm finding on the internet!

Linking up at:

New Nostalgia's Anti-Procrastination Tuesday
Raising Arrows
Homemaker on a Dime's Blog Hop


  1. I feel warm and cozy just reading this!!

  2. Thank you!! Thank you for putting this together!!! So many wonderful ideas. What a great reference!

  3. Great tips!
    I can't wait for Christmas.

    By the way, I'm your newest follower via GFC from Blog Hop.
    Please feel free to visit my blog. Looking forward to seeing you there, and would love a follow back. Thanks!


  4. I love the Christmas season too and love to relish it all! Great ideas...thanks so much for sharing!

  5. When my sons were little we started a tradition of having a Christmas movie scavenger hunt on Christmas Eve. I would buy the newest Christmas movie, or a classic that we didn't own, wrap it and hide it from them then hand them their first clue. They LOVED solving the riddles and finding the next clue. When my oldest son moved out we quit doing it, but they ask me every year why we don't do it anymore. I need to come up with a grown up version of this tradition.

  6. You might want to rethink that Muppet movie this year .. :-/. Maybe take them to Chick fil A for lunch instead!

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  7. Haha reading this is August...can't WAIT until Christmas!

  8. I love Christmas. This brought back some long lost memories. Thank you for reminding us all what Christmas is really about. In my house, it's God, then family.

  9. Read "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost, illustrated by Susan Jeffers on Christmas Eve.

  10. Reading through these brought tears to my eyes. It's funny how much people can fuss and worry about presentation during the holidays. It's the simplest memories that really mean the most. On Thanksgiving morning my mom would turn on the parade and throw Pillsbury cinnamon rolls in the oven. Nothing fancy, it was just us and she usually volunteered to cook Thanksgiving dinner. I lost her four years ago. Every Thanksgiving since I make sure to turn on the parade and bake Pillsbury cinnamon rolls.

    1. I couldn't agree more:) your mom is looking down on you smiling that you continue her tradition. This made me smile because my mom would turn on the parade on thanksgiving and cook also your cinnamon rolls sound perfect.:)

    2. holidays are so hard when you lose your mom...my mom died five years ago and i am still searching for the things that make holidays feel like she was still here. You are right, its the simplist things. Happy holidays, i think our moms would want us to have peace for the holidays!

    3. I have lost both my mom and dad and the Holidays just arent' the same without them :( My mom and dad always provided the Thanksgiving and Christmas meals and family time was the Greatest! We now try to do different things around the holidays, even though I am crying missing my mom and dad right now, I am also very thankful that I still have family that I can try out some of your suggestions on. My kids are now 15 and 19 but I want to make memories with them so that someday, they can remember the great family times and share with their families. Happy Holidays and I can't wait until Christmas!!!

  11. i'm older, my children grown, and i have grandsons now. i just saw this "pinned" to my daughter in laws pinterest board. It brought tears to my eyes. SOOO many of these we did as a family when her husband was growing up. Thanks for sharing!

  12. This is fantastic!! Thank you :) I have been wanting to make the holiday's special for my family because I didn't have it growing up and I have done some of these but this will help me really make it big this year! :)

  13. My husband has just enlisted in the Army, so holiday togetherness will no longer be guaranteed to our family. This is a perfect list to help me establish traditions for our 2 year old so that she has things to look forward to every year, regardless of if Daddy is able to be home or not. Thank you for sharing!

  14. Just found this on pinterest and its making me feel all Christmasy even though it's still months away! Thanks for this! :)

  15. Love these ideas but have to skip several since my sons birthday is Christmas eve

  16. Adorable! We do a few here too...we place glitter, oatmeal & nuts outside on Christmas mornings for our child to see the reindeer food. We have a nativity set that we separate at the beginning of December. We leave baby Jesus out of the manger until Christmas morn when the youngest (or in our case only) child finds him left by Santa on the cookie plate. Then before we do anything else we put baby Jesus in the manger. Also, we set up our nativity but place the wise men across the room or sometimes in a different room and move them closer to the stable everyday. On Christmas morning they arrive. We have an extra small prelit tree that we hang an ornament on everyday until Christmas Eve when we place the star on the top of the tree...an advent type event. We do the pjs too and last year, I gave the garbage man a plate of extra cookies for picking up our LARGE after Christmas garbage!

  17. We have several traditions that we started when my kids were young and still do even though most of them are grown now. My favorite is angel gifts....we draw names and everyone gets one person that they make an angel gift for. The rules are: the supplies cant cost more then ten dollars, and the gift has to be handmade. Its amazing the things they have come up with over the years, i wish now i would have taken pictures with the person that made the gift and the gift to revisit later holding up the receivers name or something like that. This year we are going to make it a highly suggested but not required tradition and let friends and other relatives participate(lots of them have asked over the years) We also do a family service project...last year we collected canned food for the food bank, we made it a competition between the girls and boys to see who could get more(they were teenagers and adults and there are 12 of us)I used it as a motivator. Every year that has been something different, we have taken home baked treats to fire and police, we have made a quilt and taken to childrens hospital, we have worked at a soup kitchen, built houses for homes for humanity, there are lots of opportunities to help others. I loved the operation christmas child, we have done that as well. Happy holidays! its 110 days away! :)

  18. I think a great idea is to have a moms' wrapping party. Have a group of mommy friends come over with their "Santa" gifts and all the wrapping paper/accessories they would need to wrap the presents. Then, everyone can swap paper and supplies. That way all your kids' presents will be wrapped in different paper. It also forces you to finish the shopping & actually get the wrapping done!!---all while having fun with your friends and (preferably) wine : )

    1. Stealing this idea!!! Making mine @ 10am with mimosas, a Christmas movie, and lunch afterwards. Might be the Sunday before Christmas - may also let people store all their gifts at my house til Christmas Eve so little ones don't find Santa gifts early.

  19. This is amazing :) I really love the girls night with pedicures though I might change it up, since I don't have kids, the girls in my family, my sister, sister in law, aunts, mom and grandmothers could have a pedicure night and watch christmas movies and drink sparkling cider :) I'm so excited now for December :)

    God Bless!

  20. I LOVE volunteering during the Christmas season!
    My favorite that has really given such new meaning to Christmas is Christmas in the City. It is a HUGE (I mean huge...thousands of people) Christmas party for the children and families living in homeless shelters in the Boston area. There is a Winter Wonderland with rides and games and crafts, the people volunteering serve dinner to the people there, every child gets gifts that they asked for, Santa is there..it's amazing. I'm brought to tears every year at this event. Here is the link to the web site if anyone is interested in volunteering http://christmasinthecity.org/ :)

  21. Also, trace your children's hands on the back of your Christmas tree skirt and date it- watch how they grow. =)

  22. SOOO many fun ideas! I have been hunting through goodwill stores, bargain bins, library sales etc. for Christmas books that I'll wrap in butcher paper and put in a tote to read 1 before bed with my little ladies each night through December. A tradition my mom started that I'm introducing to my family is to set up a small 3 foot tree and ask my kids to decorate it with homemade ornaments and garland strung from popcorn and fruit loops. We'll put it on the landing near their rooms. The elf on the shelf delivers their Christmas Eve pj's here!

  23. I am making a post of Christmas Tradition links and would love to be able to add this one.

  24. After gifts are opened on Christmas, reuse the wrapping paper to wrap up your holiday books. The following year the kids can unwrap one each night for bedtime stories.

  25. Wow. I love this blog. Great ideas. And I love how you give credit to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Keep livin the faith sister! :)
    And i will totally be using your ideas. :D

  26. Great ideas you came up with! I also love Christmas and I'm going to think of all the fun things I'm going to do this december.

  27. one tradition my parents did with us and what my husband and i will be doing as well is find the Pickle..it's a small pickle ornament that the parents hide in the tree and on their mark the kids search for the pickle and whoever finds it gets to be Santas helper and they get to pass out presents for each family member..we did one present for each then took turns opening presents then the helper would go get another round of presents for everyone it's so fun and helps minimize the fighting of who gets to pass out presents! :) and we've been doing the PJ Christmas Eve present since i was a kid so fun and my husband and i do it too! :) so excited for Christmas!

  28. My husband missed out on stuff we did some days and I wanted to make him feel included so every night he gave the kids when he got home a wrapped book some old a few new always holiday themes and they unwrapped and read it every night in Dec :) they loved it.

  29. I love this post!! Chock full of wonderful ideas!! Blessings to you!!

  30. I love Christmas too....I loved reading your post I'm going to add you to the blogs I follow oh thank you!!!!

  31. Fantastic list! So glad to find you.

  32. I love having all these ideas to choose from. Thanks for posting this!

  33. So lovely ideas! I absolutely adore this about birthday cake for Jesus!

  34. This post brought a fuzzy feeling to my heart. Thank you for celebrating Christmas in such fun ways with your family and for making it about Jesus. It means a lot to see others spending Christmas well.

  35. Oh Christmas is my favorite time of the year! And although Christmas is tomorrow reading all of these lovely ideas has me in a planning mood for next year. There are so many new ideas I can't wait to do with my children next year.

  36. Sending this to my daughter in Fayetteville :)

  37. Our Christmas tradition is to give the gift of a spring vacation. Mom and dad "tell" Santa where we are going and he fills stockings with hints to where the vacation will be. Then, presents are smaller scale and we have a fun thing to look forward to and look back to Christmas during our vacation.

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  39. This post was great. Thank you for posting this. It made me smile. Beautiful ideas and I think I'll implement some of them this year. Personally, I can't wait until December. :) If you live where there's snow another tradition would be to go out as a family and build a snow man. Or host a family snow ball fight. Or a day where everyone goes out sledding together Hehehe. My Dad always used to do something that we all loved. In our house we had so many windows in the living room. Dad would hang up lights around each window. At nighttime (we lived out of town), it was so beautiful! The lights were almost mesmerizing. The living room must've had like 15 huge windows, so there were lights everywhere. We had a really high ceiling too, so my Dad used to go out and find the tallest tree that would possibly fit in our living room. We needed a ladder to hang up all the decorations. *L* Another variation on lights in the windows, if you don't have as many windows, would be to hang the lights almost like a spiders web from the ceiling. My little brother did this to his room during the holidays and it was beautiful. :) A friend of mine had a fun tradition too, they had a huge tree in the living room, but smaller trees in the children's rooms. My husband never celebrated Christmas as a child (he's from a different country where it's not as big of a holiday as it is here), so I'm trying to find ways of making the holiday season fun for him.

  40. Thankyou for your wonderful ideas...I am a single parent this year and plan on giving my guys some good memories for the future so its good to get my mind ticking over already so I can put some plans into action. I love posts that make me smile :)

  41. We are just starting our traditions this year. But the christmas eve pajama box is my favorite to shop for. We have everyones pj'sn a christmas movie, snacks, cocoa & a very special book called "the pajama elves" it explains why you get pj's the night before Christmas. Looking forward to try some of tese ideas.

  42. Great ideas here, thank you. I have a similar article with different ideas to create family Christmas traditions, see http://angathome.com/2013/10/16/christmas-to-do-list-making-sure-those-traditions-happen/

  43. Featured this post on my new blog today! Love this blog so much :) Such great ideas!

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  45. Just read this with 10 days left till Christmas and its got me very excited!!! Some fab ideas, thank you very much. xox

  46. I cherish the ornaments my daughter and I made when she was younger like #2 says, but PLEASE don't do them on Thanksgiving afternoon! Let that day be about Thanksgiving and don't rush Christmas. Even if you've started Christmas preparations before Thanksgiving, set them aside and let Thanksgiving have it's day. :-)