Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

Holiday ideas

Holiday idea: Get those lights and that tree up early. (Yes, today!)

25 ways to make the holidays a little EXTRA

How to add more cheer to the season, whether you go out or stay in

Holiday tips, updated for 2022: By now you’ve heard about the flu, RSV, and COVID hitting families hard and sometimes putting a pause to holiday celebrations. With all that we’ve been through these past few years, families try to make this winter a little extra … extra fun and extra cheerful while staying healthy this season. 

If you’re looking to make your holidays a little “extra,” here are 25 ways to do it this year:  

1) Put your holiday decorations. Lights, candy canes, reindeer, large blowup snowmen, a turkey! Put them all out and make your yard look extra festive. Keep your decorations up through March!

2) Decorate the inside of your home and display your tree. Kids will love lights in their room or garland around their doors. Have them make a paper garland to count down the your special holiday or the new year! 

3) Start reserving your holiday books from the library or pull out the ones that you already have. Let your kids read about your own holiday celebrations and explore other holidays of the season too (Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, the Dongzhi Festival and Christmas).

4) Start your day off with holiday music. Have a daily dance party or wiggle it out to your favorite holiday song at bedtime. Get your group together to sing carols!

5) Cartoons, movies and the Hallmark Channel! Indulge in weekly (or daily – no judgment!) movies. For the kids or for yourself, holiday movies can lift your mood and put you in the holiday spirit.

6) Communicate with extended family. With family members sick, flight cancellations, and all the logistics around meeting with other family members, in-person holiday festivities may have to be postponed. Use a digital platform to stay in touch with Grandma and Grandpa, aunts, uncles and cousins. Friends too! Some families have taken it to the next level and planned nightly story times. Have a loved one read a picture book to your little one remotely. They’ll cherish these moments for years to come.

7) Bake! Bread, cookies, cake, candy – just bake. A stress reliever for some, baking lets you get creative, while the kids get to have fun mixing, cracking eggs and decorating. Too many cookies? Wrap them up and drop them off at a friend’s house. Take it a step further and have relatives bake with you over Zoom or FaceTime.

8) If you love the theater, but can’t make a show … make a day of it at home and watch the play with a streaming option: PNB’s The Nutcracker offers digital access for a fee.

9) Make a holiday bucket list: What would you and your family like to do this holiday season? Start crossing things off the list.

10) Advent calendars: A plethora of options are out there to purchase. You can buy one for each family member and choose a time to reveal the little treat inside for each day. Or create your own advent calendar for your family to use year after year.

11) Along with having lights and holiday decorations up, keep your house smelling like hot apple cider, candy canes or pine!

12) Craft with kids. Choose a craft to do with your child each day of the week. Holiday tip: Send homemade ornaments, cards, collages and more to friends and family! Make a wreath out of collected greens and pine cones. 

13) Pass on a tradition: Share and teach someone your favorite holiday recipe. Need some ideas? Here are some traditions that we’ve shared in the past.

14) Been wanting to add to your traditions? Maybe this is the year to try out an Elf on the Shelf — or to forget about all the gifts and do a family outing or local trip instead.

15) Get outdoors! Plan an outdoor adventure for each week until the end of the year. Hiking? Biking? Snowshoeing? There are plenty of places open for outdoor activities.

16) Can’t get out to see Santa this year? Probably not time to tell your kids the truth, either. Instead, rent a suit and play the role. Your kids just can’t miss a visit with the big guy!

17) Take a family photo and record this time in your family’s journey. Here are some tips on how to take the perfect pic. 

18) Volunteer. Some options: Adopt a family. Donate food. Make packs of essentials for people experiencing homelessness. Pack a Thanksgiving meal for a person in need. 

19) Snowstorm a neighbor’s house! Make it festive by cutting out snowflakes and taping them to a friend’s door.

20) Visit a light show! Woodland Park Zoo’s WildLanterns, Zoolights at Point Defiance Zoo, Evergreen Lights and several neighborhood light shows make it a special treat to get into the holiday spirit. See our complete list of holiday light shows.

21) Gingerbread houses. Make your own gingerbread or purchase a village at your local grocery store. Start building!

22) Puzzled? Choose a 500- or 1,000-piece puzzle and have the family help put it together. It’s a great way to catch up with older kids and check in from time to time as the puzzle gets built.

23) Make it a fancy dinner! Kids love to dress up and it doesn’t have to be for a holiday. Get dressed up and cook your favorite foods, or shop local and purchase a meal. Holiday tip: Put on some fancy music and have fun with the idea of going out — while staying in.

24) Game night: Turn one day of the week into game night. Play charades with a holiday theme or make up a game of your own. You can also just play board games.

25) Listen to your kids and find out what they really want. Sometimes, it may not be the hottest toy around, it may be watching a favorite show with popcorn to snack on, or snuggling up for a story before bed. Gifts don’t have to be expensive or bought at a store/online it may be something straight from the heart that fills your child’s with love and joy.

More Holiday Things to Do

Adopt a family holiday programs around Seattle

The Playlist: Activities for kids that are all about teaching gratitude

Feeling like a holiday outing? See our list of events and join in! 


About the Author

Jasmin Thankachen

Jasmin is the Associate Publisher at Seattle's Child and an Eastside mom of two boys. She enjoys parenting with lots of love and laughter. Co-Founder of PopUp StoryWalk, she also loves children's picture books, essay writing, and community stories.