12 Christmas Activities for Preschoolers

Get your little one into the holiday spirit with these fun crafts and games

The weeks leading up to Christmas are a busy time for families. From baking to shopping to wrapping, it can seem like every minute is filled with something holiday-related. To increase your holiday fun, be sure to include your preschooler in Christmas activities. Not only will they feel like they're part of the action, but it will also build excitement and enthusiasm as December 25 approaches.


Bake Christmas Cookies

Mother baking Christmas cookies with her young children
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Inviting your little one to join you in the kitchen accomplishes many things. First off, you get some special bonding time with your preschooler. Second, cooking teaches kids many important life skills including measuring, following directions, creativity, and more. Finally, when the fun is done, you get to nosh on some delicious treats!


Find the True Meaning of Christmas

Children preparing Nativity with Grandmother
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It's easy to forget the reason for the season amid all the hubbub that December brings. And for a small child, let's face it, the main focus is going to be on the presents. Explain to your child how the holiday originated and why it is so special to your family.

Depending on your child's age, you can start off with simple stories about the birth of Jesus and the three Wise Men. If you attend church services, take some time to discuss the different parts of the ceremony. If you aren't sure where to start, your church leaders or fellow church-going families might have some insight to share.

If you aren't a religious family, Christmas still provides a great opportunity to discuss the topics of family, community, charity, gratitude, and tradition.


Make a Gingerbread House

Young child decorating a gingerbread house
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Embrace the sweetness of the Christmas season by making or decorating a classic gingerbread house. There are lots of pre-made kits you can buy, or if you feel particularly crafty, make your own from scratch. Involve your preschooler in the process by bringing them along to the grocery store to shop for supplies.


Sing Christmas Carols

Girl playing piano and family singing Christmas songs

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Grab some friends and family and warm up your vocal cords. December is Christmas caroling time—a fun activity for all ages. Enjoy Christmas singing together at home, outside around your neighborhood, or at a local nursing home or hospital.

To make sure the experience goes smoothly, plan out your route and song list ahead of time. Explain to your preschooler what is going to happen and go over some basic safety and behavioral rules.


String Popcorn for the Christmas Tree

Young girl stringing popcorn at Christmastime
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If you are looking for a way to give your Christmas tree a special, "homespun" look, then try adding strands of popcorn garland. Although your preschooler should avoid handling the needle (probably a job better for kids ages 5 and up), they can help by pushing the pin through the corn and pulling it through. They can also hand you the corn (and if you choose, berries) and put the finished strings on the tree when it's finished.


Make Christmas Cards

Young girl making homemade Christmas cards
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The tedious task of writing, addressing, and mailing Christmas cards is more fun with your preschooler. Make a list of who they'd like to include on your mailing list, including family, friends, and neighbors.

The cards can look any way you like, from simple crayon creations to more elaborate designs with cut paper, glitter, and stickers. When you are finished, consider delivering close greetings in person. Make a trip out of taking the rest to the post office.


Decorate Christmas Ornaments

Young girl watercoloring Christmas ornaments
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Give your tree some childlike flair with personalized decorations courtesy of your preschooler. You can buy Christmas balls to decorate with markers or tempera paint. You can also make your own ornaments. No matter what you decide, be sure to date the ornaments so you can look back on them every year.


Design Paper Bag Puppets

Make paper bag puppets
Ross Whitaker

Paper bag puppets are fun any time of year. At Christmastime, have your preschooler make puppets inspired by the holiday. From Santa Claus himself, to elves, to each and every reindeer, Christmas is filled with plenty of characters you can include.

Keep supplies like glue, pom-pom balls, googly eyes, glitter, yarn, pipe cleaners, and stickers on hand so your characters can be varied and unique. After you finish the puppets, let your child stage a holiday puppet show for family and friends.


Cut Your Own Snowflakes

Young girl holding paper snowflakes
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Decorate your house and windows while your little one practices their scissor skills by creating paper snowflakes. While there is a slight learning curve in the beginning, both you and your preschooler can experiment with the shape and size by changing the way you fold the paper and how you cut it. Make a bunch of snowflakes and hang them on the windows for a shovel-free blizzard.


Bring Out Your "Elf on the Shelf"

Elf on the Shelf playing Scrabble
Kari Mygland

There are dozens of ways to pose "Elf on the Shelf" for your preschooler. Wake up each morning to a new surprise. From easy to more complicated, there's no shortage of poses you'll love. Make "Elf on the Shelf" an annual family tradition.


Use Christmas-Colored Playdough

Young boy playing with modeling dough at Christmastime
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When your little one needs some downtime, set them up with some homemade playdough dyed green and red. Encourage your child to make familiar Christmas-related shapes, such as a tree, cookies, stars, Santa, and more. Take photos of their creations, or let them air dry and display their Christmas sculptures throughout the season.

Look for playdough recipes that are safe and OK to let dry.


Enjoy Christmas Crafts

Preschoolers making Christmas crafts
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There are loads of Christmas crafts for preschoolers to enjoy. Look for ideas that are specially designed for little ones. Using materials that you already have at home will keep Christmas crafts as a low-cost activity. Use the finished projects to decorate your home or give as gifts!

By Amanda Rock
Amanda Rock, mom of three, has spent more than a decade of her professional career writing and editing for parents and children.