Inside: Here are 8 exciting Christmas celebrations for kids & grandkids of all ages. Candy trains, gingerbread houses & ornaments, paper hugs, decorating Christmas trees, reading under the Christmas tree & more…
Christmas Celebrations with Kids & Grandkids
Christmas is a magical holiday filled with traditions, excitement, and celebrations.
My teacher once said, “anticipation is greater than realization.”
Over the years, I’ve pondered what this wise teacher said and it’s so true! Especially when it comes to Christmas. The anticipation of the holiday almost outweighs the holiday itself.
And filling your December with Christmas celebrations and activities in anticipation of the holiday is loved and cherished by children and grandchildren all over the world.
Here are 8 Christmas celebrations and activities we did with our grandkids. No particular theme this week—just lots of fun activities to make the season bright!
#1: Christmas Celebrations: Making Candy trains
In the 1980s my husband took cake decorating classes. In 1984, he won 2nd place at the annual Chef’s Convention at the Disneyland Hotel.
He also learned how to make Christmas trains.
Every year he made trains for the family and for the kids in our son’s school classes. It became one of our favorite Christmas celebrations.
This week, my husband taught the grandkids how to make a Christmas Candy Train Engine. They’re easy to do but require some adult help.
Click below for the video and step-by-step instructions.
Supplies for each train
- 2 Milky Way candy bars
- 1 package colored lifesavers
- 6 Wintergreen Mint Lifesavers (wheels)
- 1 Fruit Slice or Orange Slice (cowcatcher)
- 2 Licorice sticks (red or black)
- 1 Chocolate Bell covered in red or green foil
- Spice drops
- 8” or 10” cardboard cake rounds for the base
- 1 batch royal icing
- Make a batch of royal icing
- Cover the cardboard in a thin coat of royal icing—to look like snow
- To make the tracks, use cake tip #47. Make about 7 short tracks across the board
- Put down 2 licorice sticks horizontally across the tracks
Assembling the train
- Cut in half one Milky Way candy bar. Leave the other one full size
- Spread royal icing on the large Milky Way. Glue flat to the middle of the track
- Take the ½ size Milky Way; spread on royal icing and glue to the back of the larger Milky Way standing up (it’s the back of a train)
- Lifesavers—take the package; spread royal icing on one side and attach to the top of the Milky Way bar
- Cowcatcher: take one red fruit slice; spread royal icing on the bottom and attach to the front of the train
- Wheels: you need 6 wintergreen lifesavers (white). Spread royal icing on each and attach to each side of the train—2 in the back, one in the front. Use tip #4 to hook and connect the wheels together with royal icing
- Smoke Stack: use the chocolate bell; turn upside down; coat with royal icing and attach to the front of the train. Take a toothpick and bend it (it will break but don’t completely break it) and push the shorter end into the top of the bell. Using tip #30, push the cake tip over the toothpick, and as you are pulling the tip out, squeeze out frosting to create a smokestack effect
- Back of train: use royal icing and glue on 2 small gumdrops.
#2: BIG Paper Hugs & Homemade Christmas Envelopes
We’ve all heard the saying, “it’s more blessed to give than receive.” And it’s never too early to teach kids how to give at Christmas—starting with their parents.
After reading the book, A Paper Hug by Stephanie Skolmoski, our grandkids unanimously decided it would be fun to make BIG paper hugs for their parents at Christmas.
The hugs shown in the book are small, but we made ours lifesize and colorful. We also made decorated envelopes to put the “hug” into for gift-giving.
Here are supplies and directions:
- Roll of sturdy brown utility paper or white butcher paper.
- Pens to trace each grandchild
- Recent face photo of each grandchild printed out
- Scissors & glue
- Different items to decorate their “hug”—paint, buttons, glitter, etc.
- Have each child lie down from the waist-up onto the utility paper. Their arms need to be outstretched and hands facing up and open
- Trace around each grandchild’s body from the waist up.
- Cut out each figure
- Glue on their face photo
- Decorate their “hug”
- Carefully fold the paper hug and put it into the large white envelope the grandkids have decorated.
Supplies for Envelope (to put the hug into)
- Large white envelope (10×13”)
- Red & green tempera paints
- Purchase sponges at the Dollar Store and cut out a stamp of a Christmas tree.
- Pour red and green tempera paints into a dish
- Have each child dip their sponge Christmas tree and pinecones into the paint and “stamp” onto the white envelope
- Let dry
#3: More Christmas Celebrations: Making Gingerbread Houses
Bakers in Ulm and Nuremberg, Germany were making gingerbread houses as early as 1395, and Nuremberg was known as the “Gingerbread Capital of the World.
Many of our ancestors are from Germany—so we’re familiar with the tradition of making gingerbread houses each year at Christmastime.
You can build your gingerbread houses from scratch, buy a kit, or purchase a kit where the entire gingerbread house is assembled and just needs decorating. I’d opt for the last one.
I found these pre-assembled kits at Costco for $12/each.
Here’s what’s included in each kit:
- 1 gingerbread house fully assembled
- Gingerbread men, trees, and stands
- Pre-made royal icing (white, green, red) & tips
- Candies to decorate the house
- Additional candy for decorations—gumdrops, M&M’s, Dots, skittles, etc.
- The house comes with a small base, but hot glue onto another cardboard base to keep everything sturdy.
This activity builds fine motor skills because it’s not easy to squeeze out that frosting!
#4: Gingerbread House Ornaments made from popsicle sticks
These colorful gingerbread houses are perfect as tree ornaments. If your kids/grandkids are young, pre-build the houses because they require using a hot glue gun. Then the kids/grandkids can decorate them with stickers.
- 6 popsicle sticks for each house
- Foam sheets (Dollar Store)
- Christmas stickers
- Ornament hooks
- Using a hot glue gun, glue the sticks into the shape of a house—triangle roof, square base
- Using foam, cut out the shapes needed for the house—square, triangle. Hot glue in place
- Provide different Christmas stickers for your kids/grandkids to decorate their gingerbread house with
- Attach a hook to the back to hang on the tree
End result—a colorful and bright gingerbread house!
#5 Game: Picking up Christmas paper w/Straws
This is a fun game for kids ages 4 and above. Little kids will have difficulty with the concept of sucking into a straw to pick up pieces of paper.
Each child is given little pieces of paper (not cardstock) and a straw. They suck into the straw and pick up each paper with the straw and put it in a bowl.
See how many pieces of paper they can pick up in 1 minute!
- Different colors of paper—including Christmas paper
- Plastic bowls
- Cut the paper into 1”x1” squares
- Give each child a pile of the paper squares and a straw
- Show them how to suck into the straw while picking up the paper square
- Once you have the paper sucked up with the straw—put it into the bowl
- Rinse and repeat!
#6: A Fun Christmas Celebration: Singing, Dancing & Moving to Christmas Music
There is nothing like listening to Christmas music to bring the spirit of Christmas celebrations into your homes. Our grandkids love to sing and dance to the merry tunes of Christmas music.
Turn on the music, give everyone some jingle bells (Dollar Store) and sing and dance away!
You can access these holiday favorites (and many others) for kids on YouTube:
#7 Decorating the Christmas Tree
One of my fondest Christmas memories as a child was helping to decorate our Christmas tree.
Bring out your boxes of ornaments, bells, and baubles, and let the kids/grandkids decorate the tree. Decorating a little tree in their bedrooms is also fun. Going to sleep with a lighted Christmas tree is the ultimate experience for little kids!
Here are some basic rules for decorating a tree with kids/grandkids:
- Start with large ornaments first, then medium size; then small
- Include ornaments your kids/grandkids have made
- All ornaments should be safe, touchable, and appeal to a child’s sense of wonder and curiosity
- Provide step ladders for little kids to reach the higher branches
And if your tree doesn’t look like something from Martha Stewart or Fixer Upper–no worries. You’re building memories with your kids/grandkids–not a perfectly decorated Christmas tree!
#8: Christmas Celebrations: Reading under the Christmas Tree
Grab a blanket and your kids/grandkids and spend an evening reading books under the Christmas tree. Here are some favorites as well as links to my other blogs about Christmas books and activities:
- There Was a Cold Lady who Swallowed Some Snow! by Lucille Colandro
- Never Let a Unicorn Meet a Reindeer by Diane Alber
- 5 More Sleeps ‘til Christmas by Jimmy Fallon
- It’s a Wonderful Life by Paul Ruditis
- The Gingerbread Mouse by Katy Bratun
- Fritz the Farting Reindeer by Humor Heals Us
Click here for more Christmas activities and ideas to do with your kids/grandkids:
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