There are a million different ways to countdown to Christmas with your family. Advent calendars and Elf on the Shelf are incredibly popular these days, but I’ve always been a fan of doing the “12 Days of Christmas.” The idea is simple enough – do some sort of Christmas-y activity as a family every day for the 12 days leading up to Christmas. I find that 12 days works well for my family. It’s enough time that we really get into the Christmas spirit, but not long enough that we get bored, or can’t think up enough ideas.
There are no rules when it comes to celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas, but it can be fun (and helpful) to decide on an overall “theme.” I would not recommend attempting to stay true to the 12 Days of Christmas song – you’ll just end up with a very noisy house full of birds. (But really… why does the songwriter’s true love give them 7 different kinds of birds? Does the songwriter run an aviary or something?) There are, however, plenty of other bird-less ways to celebrate! Here are 10 different ways you can celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas with your family this year.
1. Children’s Books
If you have small kids, read a children’s books each night together as a family. They can be Christmas-themed books, or just books that have a good message.
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I may be partial, but I think “Jillee Bean and the One Good Thing” would be a perfect book to read together during the holidays. The artwork, done by my talented friend Samantha Hollister, is gorgeous. But what I love most about this book is its sweet and simple message – that small acts of service can have a very big impact!
I have received countless emails, photos, videos, etc from people who have bought the book sharing how much their kids LOVE it and how they want to read it every day, at least once a day! ;-) So be forewarned! lol. It’s sure to become an instant favorite and to make you look very good in the process. AND….starting today, you can get it for the sale price of $14.98 + Free Shipping (Regularly $19.98) CLICK HERE to purchase before the price goes up.
2. Christmas Movies
Gather the family around the TV to watch a Christmas movie each night. I know that at our house, it just wouldn’t be Christmas without at least one viewing of Elf, starring Will Ferrell! (And any family member who misses our annual Elf screening is a cotton-headed ninny-muggins.)
And if you don’t own enough Christmas movies for all 12 days, just check your TV listings! There are multiple different Christmas movies being played every day on many channels, so it’s not too hard to find one you’d like to watch. You can go to ChristmasTVSchedule.com for a thorough list of what’s being played when, and on what channel.
3. Holiday Recipes
Whip up a favorite holiday recipe every day with your family. Make your favorite holiday roast for dinner one night, a batch of crockpot hot chocolate the next day, and a batch of sour cream cookies for the neighbors the day after that. The possibilities are endless! (I mention making treats for the neighbors just to point out that you don’t have to pig out on Christmas treats for 12 straight days. Though if you do end up doing that… there’s certainly no judgment here!) ;-)
Every night, pick a board or card game to play with your family. Don’t own many games? Check your local game store! Many game stores have collections of board and card games that you can check-out for about the same price as a Redbox rental. (Some libraries also have this service.)
We love playing board games together as a family! My daughter Britta and her husband Neil have quite the collection of games, and they usually bring one or two of them when they visit on holidays. If you’re looking for recommendations, some of our favorite games to play are Ticket to Ride, 7 Wonders, and Skull.
Do an act of service each day as a family. For ideas, check out my post about making a holiday service jar.
Work on a holiday craft together each day. You might work on a quilt, a photo album, or some other large project over several days, or you could make one small craft each day. Head to Pinterest for more holiday craft inspiration than you can handle!
7. Holiday Music
Enjoy a bit of Christmas music each day! If your family is musically-inclined, you sing or play a Christmas song together, or visit a neighbor for some good old-fashioned caroling. If you’re not so musically gifted, maybe just put on your favorite Christmas album. ;-)
8. Homemade Gifts
Work together to create, wrap, and deliver homemade gifts for your friends and neighbors. I LOVE handmade gifts, and have posted dozens and dozens of handmade gift ideas here on the blog over the years.
Read More: Simple Handmade Gifts Round-Up!
9. Christmas Ornaments
Add a different Christmas ornament to your tree each night. These could be store-bought ornaments that have a special meaning to you, or you could get crafty and make your own!
10. Readings and Discussions
Read a scripture passage, book excerpt, or poem together every day, and have a short family discussion about it. This is a great way to spend time together, and to remember the real spirit of Christmas.