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Family Fun: Christmas Checklist

Christmastime is here! It's officially December and that means All. Things. Christmas. In my family growing up, we had a lot of traditions for the holiday season and I am loving every second of making new traditions with my growing little family. Whether you are looking for a day trip, weekend trip, or just something to burn a few hours in the afternoon, here are some festive activities to kickstart your Christmas spirit.

1. Visit a Christmas Tree Village

In the Baltimore area, there are lots of Christmas villages and tree farms that are all decked out to the max for Christmas. One of my favorites is Valley View Farms - their Christmas trees are stunning and all the ornaments are for sale, so it's full of great tree inspiration. On the weekends, they have food vendors, kettle corn, and other holiday things going on, so it's great for the whole family.

2. Build a Gingerbread House

If you are doing this with a group, using graham crackers and pre-made icing is surely the way to go. But if you are just doing this with your family at home, make a day of it and bake the gingerbread from scratch! This is my favorite way to do it - the whole house smells amazing! While it does take longer, the gingerbread can cool while you make the Royal Icing used to stick your house together. Let the kids go crazy decorating with their favorite candy - it's a great photo op and perfect way to spend a cold winter's day.

3. Breakfast with Santa

Restaurants all over have holiday events, and most likely, if it's a family restaurant, there will be a Breakfast with Santa. This is a super fun way for you and the family to have a yummy breakfast, see Santa, and participate in other Christmas activities. There are even a few events that combine lots of Christmas activities - the B&O Railroad museum puts on a great Breakfast and Train Ride with Santa and many Christmas. For kids who get a thrill from trains and all things Christmas, this is the ultimate activity! Pictures with Santa are timeless and a keepsake!

4. A Nighttime Drive to See Christmas lights

When I was little, we lived on the outskirts of a massive neighborhood and one of our favorite things to do was to crank up the Christmas music and drive around to look at all the lights. It's so fun to see the streets lit up at night with Christmas lights, nativity scenes, huge inflatable lawn decorations, and more!

5. Bake Christmas Cookies

I am a big fan of Christmas cookies of all shapes, sizes, and flavors. So it's fun to make an assortment of cookies for Christmas. Get your kids involved and make some kid friendly recipes, sugar cookies they can help decorate, and make it a fun learning activity to help with dexterity, coordination, and if you have older kids, it's a great way for them to learn measurements and fractions as you make cookie dough.

6. Christmas Advent Calendar

The countdown to Christmas is very exciting for kids (of all ages!), so make it a little more fun this year and build up the anticipation by using an Advent Calendar. You can make these, buy them, or even just make old-fashioned paper chains to help countdown the days to Christmas. There are printable advent activities to help teach the Christmas story while counting down the days. This is a fun dinnertime activity and a nice quiet evening activity to do as a whole family.

7. Watch Classic Christmas Movies

Every family has their own idea of what a "classic Christmas movie" is, but in my house, it's all the old stop-motion movies like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, A Year Without Santa Claus, and Santa Claus is Coming to Town. They air on major TV networks throughout the season and can be found on Amazon movies. We throw in a lot of other classics too, like It's a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, along with some newer "classics" like The Santa Claus and Elf. Curl up with some Christmas cookies, a glass of cold milk, and watch some movies as a family!

8. Roast Marshmallows in the Fireplace

If you have a real fireplace, this is a fun way to spend the evening. S'mores aren't just for campfires! Set up an indoor picnic area and get your marshmallows roasting on a nice fire.

9. Write Letters to Santa

How will Santa know what to bring without a letter?! Write letters to Santa telling him what a good girl or boy you've been this year and what great things you'd like to see under the Christmas tree. You can find printable templates or have fun and make your own! The kids will love it and you'll get some idea as to what they really want this year!

10. Put Cookies and Milk out for Santa

Before the kiddos go bed on Christmas Eve, make sure you put some on Santa's favorite cookies and milk out to greet him after a long flight. (Plus I hear mom and dad like this tradition, too! *wink wink*) After the cookies and milk are set up for the Big Guy in Red, read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas before shuffling the kids to bed.

These are just a few family favorites to help get you in the Christmas spirit. What are some of your family traditions? I'd love to hear!



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