Seventeen Things To Do With Your Family On Thanksgiving & Christmas Break
by Staff Writer
Thanksgiving is not just about gathering family and friends together for dinner.
Children are usually home on break. Fall break. Thanksgiving break. Whatever you want to call it, parents typically have a week with the kids home. What to do?
Let’s plan a little fun for the kiddies, shall we?
Designate this time as family fun time! Parents are usually home from work or working remote with flexible schedules during the holidays. Your kids are bored, but you don’t have to overwhelm your schedule with activities because we can all appreciate downtime on our breaks.
Why not invite friends and family over for each event. Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be one day, make it a week of family and friends. This is a great time to invite that uncle or cousin you never see but want to spend time with. Or maybe your child has a friend they want to invite?
And if you don’t have the entire week off, use what you have. Maybe you only have Friday, Saturday and Sunday off? Then plan activities for those three day. It’s up to you.
The most important thing is that you plan activities with your family. Activities that can become family traditions, creating heartwarming memories for years to come.
Take a look at the list below and select which activities resonates with you and your family.
You can download our Family Fun Planner on our Downloadbles page.
It’s A Holiday Movie Marathon
Probably the easiest family event to create, movie night is always a winner. But make it special! Pop pop corn. Or buy bags of pre-popped corn in different flavors and set them out in massive bowls for everyone. Get drinks, maybe fruity carbonated drinks? Like soda without the sugar and some kids really love them. Plan out your movies for some family friendly fun. Watch two or three for some marathon movie fun.
We have several lists on our site, like:
Five Christmas Movies To Watch With Your Children (this list includes movies for older kids and teens)
Five Classic Christmas Cartoons To Watch With Your Children (perfect for younger children but older kids may enjoy it too)
Go To A Play
Go to a Christmas play as a family. If you can’t find a holiday play like, The Christmas Caro, find something else suitable for the entire family.
Get dressed up and spend an evening at the theater. Read the program together and learn about the play before you go. Watching plays is a great way to teach children about drama and writing. It’s a fun activity to do a family, and later you can task your children with creating their own dramatic skits as a fun rainy day activity.
In some families, music and dancing is a part of life! Have a holiday dance party. Start with the little kids who are always happy to jump around. Find some family friendly rhythmic music, get in a circle and start clapping. When the little ones are done, whoever is feeling groovy can jump in. You can even do a Soul Train line.
Arts & Crafts Time
Perfect for crafty kids and those not so much. It’s okay if all you’re doing is creating a paper mache mess or a popsicle masterpiece. The point is to do it together, work with your hands and have some creative fun as a family. Search for Thanksgiving or Christmas-themed arts and craft projects on Youtube or online. Find one or two projects, purchase the materials and set it up!
And this is not just for five year old and finger painting. If you have teenagers or young adult children, find a craft that will interest them as well.
Once again, play holiday music and serve snacks! Trust us – holiday snacks are key and the music will help foster a festive atmosphere.
Family Bake Off
This one is almost too easy. Who isn’t baking during the holidays? But it make it a thing. Pick a treat – or let the kids make it. Use a family recipe, pour through a cookbook or go online and find the perfect recipe. Sure you can buy a mix or refrigerated cookie dough, but you could also buy the actual ingredients and teach your family about the ingredients and how they go together too.
Either way is fine depending on your time, interest and culinary experience.
Go to the grocery store as a family and purchase the ingredient, then go home and start baking.
Cue the Christmas music and everyone in the house has to be involved – or at least in the kitchen and tasting the dough!
When the cookies, cake or pie is done, serve them on fun holiday-themed plates, and serve hot chocolate, milk, coffee or whatever you like.
You can make it a fun family competition. Make teams – one adult each. A third party will serve as judge. Set a time limit and bake. But everyone’s a winner when you eat your desserts!
Some families are musically inclined. Do you like to sing? Pull out the karaoke machine or download a karaoke track online, find the lyrics and give everyone their chance to sing! It’s a party and a family affair that everyone young and old can enjoy. Sing contemporary favorites, oldies but goodies or holiday tunes.
Have children who take piano lessons? Kids in the band? Or maybe you played an instrument when you were a child? Now’s your chance to play some of your favorite holiday tunes. Set the time. Create pretty invitations. Get dressed up. Practice. Then give a recital. Take pics and videos then share with your favorite people.
Those Boots Were Made For Hiking
If you live in an area where the weather is agreeable during the holidays, take a walk. Do a little research and find a hiking path or even just a walking path and stroll as a family. Get dressed for the activity, bring water and a good attitude, then enjoy physical activity, sunshine and fresh air.
Escape Room With The Family
Have you ever tried an escape room? They’re so much fun especially if you love puzzles or mysteries. Find an escape room nearby, research their options and see if they have rooms for families or children or teens. Sometimes they will have holiday-themed escape rooms. Reserve your time, maybe grab a meal before, then get to escaping! So much fun.
Fire Pit Fun
You may already be using your fire pit, but there’s no reason not to use it again! And if you don’t have one, nows a great time to get one. However you create your bonfire or firepit, gather the family around with holiday music, warm drinks and marshmallows. Make it a family and friends event.
Read our article Fire Pit Fun In The Fall In Three Easy Steps for more inspo!
We have two activities that fall under this activity. The first is external gratitude and the second is internal.
Thank Your Local…
Policeman. Firemen. First Responders. Military.
Now is the perfect time to create a family tradition of thanking the people in your community that provide safety and security in time of need. Purchase or make cards, write heartfelt messages in them and drop them off at your local police, fire or EMS station.
As a family, purchase or make journals for everyone in the family. Read Gratitude Is Not Just For Thanksgiving, and then explain what gratitude journals are, how they are used and how they can benefit the writer.
If you’re crafty, you could make this a two-part family activity, possibly spanning two days? Read Let’s Create An Autumn-Themed DIY Journal for some DIY journal inspiration and simple instructions.
Then spend time as a family writing in your journals. Go around the room sharing a page of your thoughts or a list of what you’re grateful. There’s no time like the present to tell your loved ones what they mean to you.
Holiday snacks and music will make this thoughtful family activity festive.
Read Four Simple Ways Families Can Learn Gratitude Together for more tips on creating a gratitude journal.
Board Game Night
This is a pretty common family activity. Easy to accomplish while still providing bonding and family fun. You can make it special by purchasing brand new games or experiment with different genres of board games. You may also find holiday themed board games online or in local stores. Add holiday snacks and music. Invite family and friends over.
Get more tips when you read Four Ways To Begin A Weekly Family Game Night.
When do you put your Christmas decorations up? If it’s the day (or days) after Thanksgiving, make it a family activity. You know the drill! Drop that holiday playlist! This is best combined with family baking. Making holiday cookies before or after decorating, and put up the tree. Or decorate the yard. Or the house. Or all three.
Just make sure you do it as a family.
Check your local listings for the Christmas parade! Bundle up, bring your mugs of coffee and cocoa and enjoy some small town fun. Standing in the cold together, craning your neck to the local beauty queen in the sports car, pretty floats with strains of local high school bands marching in the distance is the stuff of memories.
Huddle together for warmth (bring gloves and scarves!) and don’t forget to get that candy Santa is tossing into the crowds.
Family Album Fun
Do you have a family album? Maybe from previous generations? If so, do you ever look at them or are they collecting dust? If this is you, bring them out and share them with the family. Tell stories, introduce new family members. And then, use this opportunity to create new photo albums.
This second part requires a little pre-work, but you’ll need to print out all of those pictures in your cloud and on your phone and add them to albums! Make it a family event with holiday music and food. If you do this at least once a year, you’ll make a little headway with the millions of family pics you have on your phone.
And you’ll create physical memories for your family to look at and share.
Share Your Hobby
Share your hobbies with your family and friends. Do you work on cars? Have a garage woodshop? Or maybe you scrapbook or make DIY journals. Create a fun and easy for beginners project showing your family what you’re always spending your time on. And let them do it for themselves.
If applicable, have holiday music playing and end the day with fun snacks or dessert.
Dad: “Hey guys, meet me in the garage at 2 pm. We’re having a two-hour wood shop class. Sugar cookies and hot cocoa after. Yes, son you have to come!”