5 family-fun activities to get in the Christmas spirit

Try these 10 fun and easy games and activities your family can do at home during the Christmas season (and beyond!). Each one teaches valuable lessons about gratitude, generosity, and giving back.

 

1. Family activity: DIY toy build

Most kids living in poverty don’t have many toys, but that doesn’t stop them from playing. They make toys out of what they find. The goal of this family activity is to be grateful for what you have — especially before Christmas Day arrives.

What you’ll need:

  •     10 simple items (not toys) picked by your kids from around your house or outside
  •     Tape
  •     Scissors
  •     Markers

Do the activity with your family.

Gather 10 items you can recycle from around your house or outside that aren’t toys (e.g., plastic bags, empty paper towel rolls, empty milk cartons, cardboard boxes).

Once you’ve gathered your supplies, ask your kids: How many toys do you have? Do you think you have enough toys? How many toys did you ask for last Christmas or on your birthday?

Then brainstorm together: How many toys can you make out of these items? What kinds of new games can you make with them?

Play it forward: What did you learn?

Creating your own toys means you activated your creativity. Building them took cooperation. What special talents do you see in your family? Take turns telling everyone in your family what talents you appreciate about them.

Pay it forward by helping your kids clean out their toys and donate the ones they don’t use anymore to a thrift store or a family who may not see toys under the Christmas tree. You can also choose to give fewer gifts to each other this Christmas and more gifts to a local family using your church’s giving tree (tip: email your pastor if you are worshiping from home).

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. —1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 (NIV)

 

2. Family activity: Food find

Chances are you’ve already dropped off extra food this holiday season at a local shelter or food bank. But hunger is an issue for many people year-round. In fact, nearly one in every 11 people on the planet doesn’t have enough to eat, even though enough food is produced worldwide to feed everyone. Why is that?

Many poor farmers around the world are unable to grow enough food to feed their own families. Sometimes it’s because they don’t have the money to buy good seeds. Sometimes it’s the weather — too much rain, or not enough, can ruin crops they’ve planted. Sometimes it’s because disease harms the plants. Sometimes it’s because they grow enough food for part of the year, but lack proper storage to save food for the cold or dry seasons.

People who don’t grow their own food often go hungry because they lack the money to buy it. And nutritious food is more expensive than less healthy, processed food.

This game will get your kids thinking about how hard it is for some children to find enough food to eat. You’ll need three to five food items for each child playing (e.g., banana, apple, orange, ear of corn, carrot, bag of rice, bread in a sandwich bag).

Play the game with your family.

Hide all the food items before you start the activity. Tell your kids the number of items you’ve hidden, and if you’re at home, let them know that you didn’t hide them in the kitchen or anywhere else you typically have food. Then give them an appropriate time limit to find them. After they’ve gotten them all, come back together.

Play it forward: What did you learn?

Sit down for a discussion with your kids: How did you feel when you found the hidden food? Were the items easy or hard to find? Think about the last time you were hungry. What happens to you when you’re hungry? Do you ever get “hangry”?

Then, learn more about how World Vision is fighting hunger around the world, and consider donating to Food Always in the Home (FAITH) Gardening

 

3. Family activity: Quick escape

The goal of this game is to differentiate between wants and needs (something good for kids to think about at Christmas!), and to imagine the choices refugees make.

What you’ll need:

A representative object for each item on the packing list: Food, candy, water, personal ID, other important documents, books, sports equipment, money, clothing, sentimental toy, bed, medicine, family, computer, phone

Backpacks or a bag big enough for all items on the packing list

Play the game with your family.

Close your eyes for a minute and imagine: A new planet has been discovered, and our family gets to go! How will we get there, what will it look like, and who will we meet? Okay, open your eyes. What’s similar and what’s different about what each of us imagined? Now let’s pack our 15 items to bring:

Wait! Mission Control has just limited our cargo space to 10 items, so we need to take out five items. What do we want to take, and what do we need to take?

Uh-oh. An emergency announcement just came through that there is even less space available. We can only take seven items. Take out three more items.

Alert! Alert! Dangerous weather conditions have caused us to unexpectedly lose two items (have a participating member choose those items while you aren’t watching).

We should now have only the items that are essential for survival, and perhaps have lost one or two sentimental items, torn away by the elements. What do you think? What was easy about choosing what to leave behind? What was harder? How do you feel?

Play it forward: What did you learn?

Discuss the difference between want and need. What does a person truly need to survive? What would you take if you had to leave your home because war broke out and it was too dangerous to stay? Millions of families have had to make that choice. They are called refugees. What is a refugee? It’s a person who has been forced to flee their home country because of war, persecution, or violence.

What do you know about refugees? Learn more about the difficulties faced by refugee families, consider adding them to your prayers. Here are some prayer ideas:

Heavenly Father, help refugee families get the food, water, and medicine they need. Protect them and bring them to a place of safety.

Prince of Peace, take care of refugee children. Help them find safe homes and access to school. Help their parents find jobs to take care of them. Heal them of scary memories.

 

4. Family activity: Gift-giving

This game encourages your family to take time during the giving season to discover the abundance of gifts within your home — and within you.

Behind every item in our homes is the talented work of others — people who use their knowledge and gifts to produce the things we need, as well as all the people in between who get these items to us. How would your life change if everyone stopped using their God-given talents?

What you’ll need:

  •     A glass of water
  •     A fruit or vegetable
  •     A book
  •     A loaf of bread
  •     A shoe
  •     Pen and paper

Do the activity with your family

Place the items on a table and give everyone a pen and paper to write on.

Ask each person to write down how others were involved in the making of each item. What talents, tools, or knowledge were required for them to be able to create each item? In what way do they depend on the talents and knowledge of other people? Where did they learn how to create these things?

Once everyone has finished, ask them to share and discuss their answers.

Next, ask them to go and pick out their favorite possession — a toy, book, instrument, hat, ball, etc. Ask them to answer the same questions for these items. Then ask how they would feel if the makers behind these items didn’t use their God-given talents to create them.

Play it forward: What did you learn?

To survive and thrive, we depend on the outpouring of other people’s gifts. People are making and creating throughout the world, for the world — and it is good! In James 1:17, we learn that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (NIV). We need to recognize that there are hands and hearts behind the items we use daily.

Discuss how God, the ultimate gift-giver, created each of us with a unique set of talents, passions, and abilities. Do you love to draw or dance? Are you great at basketball or math? How could you use your strengths to help others? Also, what does it mean when we speak about “gifts” in terms of talents and skills and not presents under a tree?

 

5. Family activity: Christmas ornament

As 2020 comes to a close, a sign of hope is needed more than ever. The star of Bethlehem serves as that sign — on the first Christmas and always — symbolizing the fulfillment of God’s promise to send a Messiah. It also brought joy to the magi who followed the star to the place where Jesus was.

The goal of this activity is to celebrate the hope we have in Jesus, the light that shines in the darkness.

What you’ll need:

  •     Modeling compound (white works best; be sure it’s the type that air dries)
  •     Parchment paper or silicone mat
  •     Roller (a glass bottle works, too)
  •     Star cookie cutter
  •     Straw, thin wooden dowel, or chopstick
  •     Sandpaper
  •     Mod podge
  •     Paintbrush
  •     Gold glitter
  •     Sharpie (optional)
  •     String

Do the activity with your family

Gather all your materials for the craft.

Roll out the modeling compound on the parchment paper or silicone mat to about a centimeter’s thickness.

Cut stars out with your cookie cutter.

Punch a hole in the top with your straw.

Dry ornaments overnight (leave on the parchment paper/silicone mat for easy removal).

Sand the edges the following day.

Brush with mod podge.

Dust with gold glitter.

Write on the star an encouraging, seasonal word like joy, hope, or love.

Knot a string through the hole.

Play it forward: What did you learn?

Creating your own ornament is a beautiful reminder of God’s promised Messiah come to life. Can you make an extra ornament or another Christmas craft to pass on to friends, teachers, or neighbors, or to leave as a surprise for someone who could use hope?

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. —Matthew 2:9–10 (NIV)

The greatest gift of all came into our lives the day Jesus was born! Spend time with your family enjoying the blessing of their presence, the joy of the Lord, and the many lessons learned by participating in these activities.

Original Post: 10 family-fun activities to get in the Christmas spirit Updated on: November 2, 2020