7 Must-do Holiday Activities with a Toddler

Looking for toddler fun during the holidays? Start here.

The holidays can be a magical, but sometimes overwhelming time for toddlers (think meltdowns on Santa's lap). Use this list of seven low-key activities to get some ideas of how to entertain your toddler during the holiday season.  

1
Deck the halls, or the house.

Let your toddler help you decorate a room, the tree or even the whole house for the holidays this year. Use the time you decorate for that holidays as an opportunity to tell stories about family, your beliefs and traditions. If you’re concerned about breakable ornaments or heirlooms, head to a discount retailer where holiday-themed decor is typically only a few dollars. Let your little one pick out items and then decide together where in the house they will go.

2
Take in a light show.

There is an upside to the early evening darkness -- at least for toddlers. The sun going down at a reasonable hour gives them a chance to experience the magic of holiday lights before bedtime. Many zoos and other community organizations put on magical light displays that will no doubt enchant little ones. Check your local zoo to see if they host a holiday lights display. Or, take a drive around your area to see how your neighbors have decorated their houses. 

3
Adopt a family in need.

It’s never to early to begin teaching gratitude, and participating in a service-oriented activity is a great way to start helping young children understand kindness. Consider adopting a family in need as a holiday tradition. Your toddler can help you shop while you explain that the holidays are a time for giving, not just getting. 

4
Learn about all kinds of holiday traditions and celebrations.

Whatever your religious or secular traditions may be, it's easy to feel like Christmas is the only game in town, especially if you're in the U.S. Now is the perfect time to help a toddler understand the various traditions and celebrations that exist in our diverse world. Head to your library and check out books about Hanukkah and Kwanza and learn about new December traditions. 

    5
    Bake and decorate holiday cookies.

    Toddlers love emulating mom and dad, and baking is a great way to get them involved with an “adult” activity. Have them help bake cookies for the holidays – they can mix ingredients, roll out the dough, cut out shapes, and, of course, make cookie masterpieces. Use this list of 13 ways to cook with your toddler to inspire you to find other easy cooking projects, in addition to baking cookies, that your toddler can help with during the holidays.

    6
    Get crafty.

    Toddler holiday crafts are fun and festive and can make great homemade gifts for grandma, grandpa, aunts, uncles and other family members. This list of toddler-appropriate holiday crafts includes 13 different ideas with directions – from gingerbread ornaments to Christmas-colored play dough to Cheerio garland, you’ll have more than enough crafts to keep you and your toddler busy in December.

    7
    Count down the days.

    If you celebrate Christmas, an Advent calendar can be a fun way to count down the days until Christmas morning. You can make your own calendar, or you can buy one. If you buy one, there are plenty to choose from: You can either use a paper calendar that just allows toddlers to open doors, or you can invest in one that gives you the option of filling the days with special treats and small toys. Advent calendars also give parents a great way to practice numbers with toddlers. 

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