Following how popular some of my posts were back in the first lockdown for activities to do at home with the family and ways to still have adventures while at home, I decided to put together a Christmas version for 2020.
With Christmas looking a bit different this year, less time with families and potential further restrictions, we’re all looking a bit outside the box to still make it magical to end such a crazy year. We usually spend the time with my family, so I’ve been thinking of ways to keep Lily busy while she is off school for Christmas.
Like many other parents, I will also be working with Lily at home and no childcare options, so having fun go-to activities will really help while jumping on calls, so here are some of the ways we’ll be trying to keep Christmas magical for Lily this year.
Please remember not to put pressure on yourself for a “perfect” Christmas or feel guilty you’re not doing “Insta-perfect” activities. These are just ideas in case you’re looking for inspiration and remember that what you see when you’re scrolling isn’t always as perfect as it looks in squares.
We do know there are some real events still able to go ahead, however with many cancelled or with changes in Tier restrictions, there are so many that have unfortunately had to be cancelled. We really do feel for all the businesses and staff involved as it has already been a tough year, however some have managed to hold virtual events as an alternative to keep the spirit alive.
We were huge fans of some of the virtual festivals in the spring, and with virtual events and Christmas markets on the horizon too, we are particularly very excited for the virtual Camp Bestival Christmas party on the 4th December, which promises all kinds of fun, music and DJs streamed live to your living room.
If you can’t join in at the time then you can catch up afterwards on Facebook, keeping the runup to Christmas as festival-filled as it can be. Find out more about the virtual Christmas party from the legends at Camp Bestival here or find out more about Camp Bestival 2021 here.
We also love the sound of the Christmas Tales workshop with Axel Scheffler, as he reads some of the much-loved books he created with Julia Donaldson – ‘The Gruffalo’s Child’ and ‘Stick Man’! Axel will also be drawing his most famous characters, such as The Gruffalo, Stickman, Snail and the Whale…so grab a pen and paper and have a go too! This is a one-off workshop lasting approximately 30 minutes and will be followed by a live Q&A. Family ticket: £10 plus Eventbrite booking fee. Find out more here
If we find out any other virtual events, we’ll let you know 🙂
Letter & activities from Santa
Lily has already enjoyed this one in the run-up to Christmas, but we were kindly gifted a letter from Santa thanks to the lovely Lapland Mailroom.
In the pack came a beautiful festive activity book, packed with fun things to do this Christmas, such as a wordsearch, colouring activites, spot the difference and more.
It also came with a Nice List certificate and a huge sticker, both which put a huge smile on Lily’s face – as you can tell, she loved it and really started off that Christmas magic we all need this year.
If you use code DONNER10 you can get a 25% discount over at LaplandMailroom.com
We were really excited to be involved with the Age UK campaign for the Best Board Games to Play with the Grandchildren. If you’re looking for inspiration for board games suitable for all the family this Christmas and why they’re great to play together, find out more here.
We’ve already started cracking on with some after-school gingerbread decorating, but can’t wait to get hold of our Aldi Gingerbread House that we pick up each year.
It’s a really fun activity for all ages, whether you’re baking the gingerbread yourself, or picking up the premade kits like we do (£4.99 from Aldi is our favourite!)!
This year, many of our favourite Santa events in person can’t go ahead, and for those that are shielding, it makes it even more difficult to have that magical visit to the Big Man, which is why a virtual Santa visit is a lovely alternative.
We’ve not tried any out ourselves, but companies such as Santa – The Experience offer your own personal, virtual sleigh ride to the North Pole with a live chat with Santa too.
We’ve also just seen that the amazing Gloworm Festival has teamed up with Santa to offer virtual Christmas messages from Santa too. Visit them at www.santajolly.co.uk to find out more.
It may seem strange to have Santa streamed live to your living room, but at least you can be sure for a personal message and something really magical at home this year.
To top it off, the Gloworm Festival team is also hosting Stories with Santa on December 18th. Find out more here.
Christmas is a fantastic time of year to get involved with crafts – from wreath making out of paper through to your own lanterns. Why not take advantage of delivery boxes for inspiration, such as a treasure chest out of egg boxes?
Whether you use pre-made craft packs (The Works and Hobbycraft are great for them) or just search online for inspiration, there are some fantastic ideas out there for a festive craft – especially if you’re hearing the “I’m bored” and need to pick something out quickly!
We love some of these ideas for easy Christmas crafts.
Have you tried asking Alexa how many days there are until Christmas? This is now Lily’s routine each morning. From the daily North Pole news and the mince pie song, to Santa’s two minute workout and even some Santa meditation, it really is a fun way to start (or end!) each day with the family.
Festive afternoon tea at home
Many small businesses have been making afternoon teas that they can deliver to your home this year! Why not try this virtually with family members you can’t see in person? Send them an afternoon tea, send yourself one too and share this across the screens!
We all love a bit of den making and when we were in the depths of Lockdown 1, we found den making to be a great way to create a new “space” from the usual rooms of our house. Now it’s winter, our camping trips are on hold, so we’re loving setting up dens in the house, but with a difference – they’re now an “igloo”.
Add some fairy lights, cushions inside and (if you’re like Lily) maybe a few other home comforts, then you’ve somewhere cosy to escape to while at home. We especially recommend it as a little reading corner while the kids are home from school.
Calories don’t count at Christmas, right?! From cookies and gingerbread to festive cupcakes and more, there has never been a better excuse than Christmas to get baking some treats!
Check out some of these awesome festive baking ideas from BBC Good Food here.
Christmas activities box
A bit like a Christmas Eve box, I’ve started putting together some items for a Christmas activity box filled with puzzles, mazes, wordsearches, magic painting, easy crafts and more screen-free activities to keep her busy this year across the festive period.
I plan on giving it to her on the day she breaks up from school as a go-to box while she’s on the school holidays.
If you’re looking for pre-made activity bags, I really do recommend Time Out Bags for their age-appropriate pre-filled bags and My Busy Bots for their educational activities as well as their incredible Fun Folder with activity books.
Make your own gift cards / tags / presents
With Christmas being very different this year and many families still not being able to get together, making your own gift cards, gift wrap or gift tags can make a present even more special. We are sadly unable to visit several family members this year, but Lily is already working on some special pictures for them.
Lily is also a huge fan of Aquabeads which are great for making special cards, gifts or decorations with too!
These could also be a great idea for neighbours or family friends who may be a bit lonelier this year without being able to meet up with others. Just letting someone know you’re thinking of them can really make a difference.
Christmas movie nights
Lily isn’t the greatest fan of movies, but we’re hoping this year to get her into her Christmas movie zone this year and make it into a proper movie night – festive pyjamas and all!
For a great list of Christmas movies for the family this year, check out this great post over at MummyEst2014 with 19 Must Watch Family Christmas Films.
Winter scavenger hunt
Winter is a great time to wrap up warm and get out for a walk, with frosty mornings and crisp days to explore. Yes, we all know there are days with absolute downpours where noone wants to head outside, but those days where you can, it is a fantastic time of year to explore nature.
We loved our scavenger hunts in the summer during the first lockdown, so why not try and do a winter scavenger hunt? We love this selection from the Woodland Trust or you can make up your own.
Outdoor Advent Calendar – 1000 Hours Outside
We’re loving the idea of the free outdoor advent calendar from 1000 Hours Outside. With ideas to do on different days, there is so much fun to be had this month.
You can mix up the ideas by putting them all in a jar and picking one out each day, or pop one in your calendar each day to follow the ideas daily, but however you join in, you’re sure to be able to enjoy everything the outdoors can offer with the fantastic ideas.
Festive Treasure Hunt
You could even set up your own festive treasure hunt indoors around the house or outdoors if you can – a bit like you would with Easter treats, but with Christmas treats instead. For older kids, try using rhymes or little maps to help them along the way.
Educational games and activities
We’re huge fans of wasting hours with educational games, especially those from Learning Resources UK. Lily’s favourite is the Space Mission: Nonsense Words (kindly gifted but has already been her go-to activity), but you could try STEM activities, such as building, or make up your own to practice what the kids have been learning at school.
Learning Resources also have some downloadable activity sheets for different ages that are fun and great for learning.
We ordered our first ever Toucan Box and really do recommend them for kids’ activities at home.
Toucan boxes are a monthly subscription of activities that can easily be cancelled any time. We chose the gingerbread house and a little greenhouse for the spring that she can build herself.
We were really impressed and Lily loved the box so we’ll definitely keep going with the subscription. The instructions were fun and really clear – and she couldn’t wait to get building.
You can get half price on a box using this link here. It isn’t an ad, just gives me half price on my next box too – you’ll get a link too if you sign up too 🙂
24 Days of Play
The amazing Good Play Guide has put together 24 Days of Play this month with some lovely festive ideas to keep the family active and having fun at home.
Follow them on Facebook to find out new ideas each day for #24DaysofPlay.
As a beautiful way to spread a little happiness to those who walk past your home, while keeping the kids entertained, why not try some window painting with Little Brian Paint Sticks? They’re washable, mess-free, and great fun for all ages!
Not ready to paint the windows? That’s fine, the paint sticks are great for mess-free activities too – why not use your imagination with the paint sticks and some delivery boxes?
Back at Halloween, Lily’s school set up a virtual Halloween disco for the year group, with a virtual host. They used Party Peeps and although I wasn’t sure how a virtual disco would go down, it was absolutely fantastic.
If your kids are having a birthday party or would like to host a party with their friends, we really do recommend them. They are also doing virtual Christmas parties, so find out more about Party Peeps here.
Firstly, I want to reassure you that you should not feel guilty about screen time. This year is so different and we all need a bit of time out. If that involves screen time, then let it happen!
If you are wanting to limit screen time, then we could not recommend Time Tokens enough. Find fun ways for kids to earn their tokens for screen time, including with a special timer to set those times – and great too if you’ve siblings who may be battling over who gets their choice 😉
Round the World Christmas Challenge
The amazing Sarah at Tired But Crafty Mummy has come up with the Round the World Christmas Challenge which we this is fantastic.
You can virtually travel to 10 countries to learn about how they celebrate Christmas, including activities to do together in each country as well as a downloadable passport and stamps when you complete the challenges.
A great way to learn and have fun together at the same time. Find out more here.