20 Easy Ways to Make Christmas Special in Spite of the Pandemic – Family Christmas Activities

20 Easy Ways to Make Christmas Special in Spite of the Pandemic – Family Christmas Activities

(Inside: Family Christmas activities that will help make this holiday special and memorable despite the COVID-19 pandemic.)


Looking for some fun family Christmas activities to make this holiday season with your family special in spite of the pandemic?

COVID 19 cases are soaring across the country. Many cities and states are dialing back and tightening restrictions in order to get a handle on the spread. Schools are going to all distance learning again.  Families are making their bubbles smaller again.

This holiday season may turn out to be very different from any we’ve ever experienced. Many of our traditions revolve around extended family and community gatherings. We look forward to the candlelight services, large meals together, the conversations around the table, the ping-pong wars, the hugs… It’s heartbreaking to accept that we might be canceling those gatherings and putting those traditions on a shelf this year. It didn’t really sink in back in July that this pandemic would stretch into the holidays, and that reality is now throwing us for a loop. 

This is really difficult, and it’s OK to grieve what we’re losing.

But what if we use this time to create some new traditions and some wonderful family memories? What if we could use this pause to rest, to draw near to God and closer to our families?     

A friend of mine said it well, “When I think of all the time I used to spend in holiday prep, Christmas programs, and grand activities…God is affording us a pause button. How gracious of Him.”

So, what are some ways you can make the most of this unusual holiday season? How can you make this time special for your family? 

We’ve all (Mendie, Cheryl, and Lori – The Extravagant Hope Team) been thinking about this for our own families, and we’ve put together a list of activities to help. 


20 Family Christmas Activities to Make This Holiday Special in Spite of the Pandemic
(This blog post contains affiliate links.)


1. Decorate the house

I know… you may be tempted NOT to decorate this year since the big family gatherings have been put on hold. But many families have opted to decorate early. Go for it! Fill the house with joy! 

Royalty-free stock photo Christmas decorating ID: 737844109


2. Drive around and look at lights. (One of our favorite family Christmas activities!)

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay Christmas Lights
      • This is the year to do it – displays are going up early, people are looking to spread happiness through beautiful decorations.
      • Get the whole crew in the car with popcorn, Reindeer chow, or hot chocolate and drive around to look at Christmas lights. 
      • There are even some beautiful paid displays that you can go through this year. For example, in Minnesota, Valley Fair Amusement Park have created a beautiful drive through display. What local business near you are putting up epic amounts of lights?
      • Add a little extra to the fun with some 3D/holographic glasses that add stars, snowflakes, reindeer, etc. to each of the twinkling lights. My kids love them!  


3. Bake Christmas cookies together.  

  • Blast the Christmas music, break out the Christmas aprons and enjoy being in the kitchen.
  • Here are some of our favorite Christmas Cookie recipes to get you started:
    • Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls. (Find the recipe here.)
    • Fudge (Find the recipe here.)
    • Peppermint Bark (Find the recipe here.)
    • Egg Nogg Logs (Find the recipe here.)
    • Soft Ginger Molasses Cookies (Find the recipe here.)
    • Peanut Butter Blossoms (Find the recipe here.)

family christmas activities
Family Christmas activities image by Jamie Daykin on Unsplash


4. Make gingerbread houses.

  • Keep it simple: grab the leftover Halloween candy, pick up some graham crackers or pop tarts for the walls, and let your kids create.
  • Keep it really simple. Buy a kit with all the pieces inside. All you have to do is put it together and decorate.
  • Make it fancy: make your own dough, whip up your own icing, purchase holiday candies,  and enjoy this tradition. 


Graham Cracker Gingerbread Houses


Pop Tart Gingerbread Houses 

There’s a beautiful tutorial on how to make a pop tart gingerbread house here on Pinterest.

family christmas activities
Family Christmas activities image by Isabella and Louisa Fischer on Unsplash


5. Enjoy a Christmas movie night.

Family Christmas activities Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay Christmas movie night
  • Heat up some popcorn and grab those Christmas cookies you made, and enjoy the Christmas shows. Here are a few classics:
    • Home Alone
    • A Charlie Brown Christmas 
    • How the Grinch Stole Christmas
    • A Christmas Story
    • The Polar Express
    • The Santa Clause
    • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
    • Christmas Vacation (This is a family favorite for many, but still – be ready with the fast-forward button.)
    • Elf
    • It’s a Wonderful Life
    • White Christmas
    • Small One 
    • Little Drummer Boy 
    • The Nativity Story



6. Read “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” together. 

Snuggle up and read a few pages or a chapter each day. Maybe even have your own pageant!


7. Instead of Elf on the Shelf, follow Mary & Joseph on their journey to  Bethlehem.

Christmas scene
Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay
  • First, read the Christmas story in Luke 2:1-20.    (Or read a children’s book about Jesus’ birth. Be sure to pick one that includes Mary & Joseph traveling to Bethlehem!) 
    • Set up a Nativity scene somewhere in your home – but without the characters. Save those for later. 

  • Each night move Mary & Joseph to a new location in your home. Each morning, kids/grandkids/family members search to find where Mary & Joseph are on their journey. (Be creative and have some fun with where they go on their travels!)
  • On Christmas Eve, place Mary & Joseph in the manger with baby Jesus, the shepherds, wise men, etc.
  • On Christmas morning, everyone will find that they have arrived in Bethlehem and Jesus has been born! Read the Christmas story in Luke 2:1-20 again. You can even sing some of your favorite carols as you celebrate that Jesus has been born! 


8. Enjoy nature.

What makes December special where you live? We’re from Minnesota and love how this season brings sledding, building a snowman, skiing, snowshoeing, and outdoor ice skating. But what about you? Are you in a sunny state? Do the cooler temperatures make it fun to walk through downtown and look at the holiday decorations. Or would coffee on the porch while taking in the snowy mountain views bring your family joy? 

family christmas activities
Family Christmas activities photo by Cristian Tarzi on Unsplash


9. Read the Christmas story through the eyes of Mary & Joseph. 

  • Gather round the tree, let the Christmas music dance through the background, and connect over reading a script of the story of Mary & Joseph.
  • Give each family member a part to read, and let the story of how much God loves us sink in.


You can find Scripts for Mary & Joseph here: 

Joseph & Mary Combined Package



10. Give

This holiday season is a great time to give. The need is greater than ever. There are wonderful organizations (World Vision, Compassion InternationalSamaritan’s Purse, Feed My Starving Children, Every Meal ) to give. But also, local churches are collecting clothes, food, holiday gifts, and distributing everything to the community. Share joy with other families by giving generously this year. 


11. Look through the family photo albums together.

  •  Bring out the family photo albums, open up your laptop, and look through the photos from vacations and special moments and holidays. Connect over past moments.

family christmas activities


12. Write handwritten Christmas cards.

  • Grab blank Christmas card packets and enjoy penning holiday wishes to the people you love. 


13. Get crafty. 




14. Light a candle & use your good dishes (One of the cost-effective fun family Christmas activities!)

  • An inexpensive way to make an ordinary dinner special is to bring out your unused candles, dust off your china, and serve spaghetti with meatballs (or your own favorite family meal). 
  • This is also a good time to create conversations. Here are a few questions to start with:
    • What’s your favorite Christmas memory?
    • Which family traditions do you like the best and why?
    • What’s been hardest for you about 2020?
    • What are you hopeful about for 2021?
    • How do you see God meeting you in your life right now?


15. Enjoy music

  • Music is such an important part of the holidays. Is your family musical? Can you pull out your guitars and sit down at your piano and sing carols or favorite songs?
  • What about bringing back caroling? (From a safe distance.)
  • Try Zoom caroling with your family and friends! Hop on Zoom and sing your favorite carols together. 


16. Have fun with Secret Santa (& support local businesses)

  • Make this holiday special by creating a Secret Santa exchange with your family. Spend the holiday season intentionally encouraging one another – everyone seems to need extra TLC this year.  Here are some ideas for gifts:
    • Support local businesses by purchasing gifts through their shops.
    • Or keep it cost-effective and give each other encouraging notes or homemade gifts.


17. Make your own Christmas ornaments.




18. Game Night

  • One of the best things about the holidays is playing family games. Create wonderful memories for your loved ones by putting a card table up by the tree and playing a round of Uno or Rummikub or Phase 10.


19. Support local restaurants (One of the family Christmas activities that every mom will love!)

  • In many places, in-person dining has been closed (again). A wonderful way to support your local businesses is to order in a few times over the holiday season. It’s fun to sit around the table with the Christmas tree lit up enjoying good food and your favorite people’s company. 


20. Enjoy an Advent Calendar

  • Some of the best childhood memories are in opening a daily Advent calendar. 


Gotta share just one more…

21. Have a family dance off!

Not getting together with extended family this holiday season? Have a family dance off! Each family records a short “family dance” video. Be totally serious, or be goofy and let the hilarity ensue! Share your videos just with each other or post on social media. Do it just for fun, or make it a family/friends competition. 

Family dancing together
Royalty-free stock photo ID: 1575539185 Family activity-dancing

We hope you find one of these family Christmas activities that your loved ones will enjoy, but even more…

We hope that you have a wonderful Christmas season. It won’t be perfect, it never is; but in it all, we hope you find some sacred moments with your loved ones and enjoy being together. Happy Holidays!



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In addition to family Christmas activities, do you want more Christmas inspiration? Check out these other posts from Extravagant Hope. 








family christmas activities


family Christmas Activities




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