family decorating gingerbread house for their 12 days of christmas activities

12 Days of Christmas Activities for Families

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The holiday season will soon be upon us – the perfect time to create memories with your family. And what better way to do that than with some fun 12 days of Christmas activities?

In today’s post, I wanted to share some activity ideas for each of the 12 days of Christmas to do together as a family. It doesn’t matter whether you have a toddler or if your kiddos are a little older – I’ve got you covered!

From heartwarming traditions like decorating the Christmas tree to baking yummy treats… From spreading joy through acts of kindness to crafting homemade ornaments… You’ll find ideas that will make your holiday celebration unforgettable!

Grab a cup of cocoa, gather the family around, and let’s begin! Get ready to embrace the spirit of the season together as a family and make memories that last.

mom and children decorating a gingerbread house; text that reads: the twelve days of christmas family activity ideas

When Do the 12 Days of Christmas Start?

Traditionally, the 12 days of Christmas run from December 25 through January 6. This is the period spanning from the birth of Christ (Christmas Day) to the coming of the Magi (the Epiphany, or Three Kings’ Day). 

However, many families celebrate during the twelve days leading up to Christmas (Advent), ending the celebration on December 25. 

Some families even celebrate during the entire 24 days leading up to Christmas, either by giving gifts, opening an Advent calendar, or simply by doing some fun traditional Christmas activities together each day.

Honestly, though, it doesn’t matter whether you celebrate during the traditional 12 days of Christmas or during the time leading up to December 25. Either way, you’re making precious memories with your family – and that’s what matters!

12 Days of Christmas Activities for Families

First, I’m going to share a different “12 Days of Christmas” activity idea for each of the twelve days. Obviously, pick and choose those that work best for you – and rearrange the activities as you see fit.

Stick with me, though! Because after this list, I have more 12 Days of Christmas activities (and theme ideas) for you.

Day 1: Decorate the Christmas Tree

While it might not be a pear tree, decorating ONE Christmas tree is the perfect activity for the first day of Christmas!

And if your family typically puts up two trees? Decorate them on the second day! Or three on the third day… And so on.

Day 2: Read Two Christmas Stories

Read TWO Christmas stories on the second day of Christmas. Popular choices include “A Christmas Carol” or “The Night Before Christmas.”

Or, if you want to keep with the theme of the song (“two turtle doves”), buy some Dove chocolates to share. 

Day 3: Spend Three Hours Volunteering

On the third day of Christmas, brainstorm a few ways your family can volunteer your time over the course of THREE hours. Ideas include: 

  • Helping in an animal shelter.
  • Shoveling the elderly neighbors’ driveways.
  • Read in a classroom or nursing home.
  • Offer to babysit for someone with young children.
  • Serve food at a local shelter.

There are lots of ways you can offer your time, and you don’t have to just pick one! 

Day 4: Play Four Rounds of a Family-Favorite Game

Select your family’s favorite game to play together on the fourth day of Christmas, then play FOUR rounds… Or choose four different games to play, play for four hours, etc. (Depending on how much time you have and your kids’ attention span!)

Need some new game ideas? Christmastime favorites include:

Day 5: Create a Village of Five Gingerbread Houses

Rather than just building and decorating one gingerbread house, create an entire village on the fifth day of Christmas.

Depending on the number of people in your family, your village might have FIVE buildings (or more/less, in which case you might want to move this activity to another day!). 

Short on time, or not feeling super crafty? Keep things simple and grab a gingerbread village kit or five different gingerbread house kits.

(We use kits every year and buy extra candy to customize them!)

Here’s my daughter making a couple of the houses in our village:

my daughter decorating some of our gingerbread village houses -- one of the fun 12 days of christmas activities for families!

Otherwise, keeping with the “five gold rings” part of the song, you could play a ring toss game.

Day 6: Perform Six Random Acts of Kindness

On the sixth day of Christmas, bring holiday cheer to SIX different people by performing random acts of kindness. Ideas include:

  • Bake cookies and bring them to six neighbors.
  • Leave a gift for the mail carrier and delivery people.
  • Pay for another table at a restaurant.
  • Smile and greet people on the street.
  • Pay a compliment to someone.

Work together to brainstorm a list of kind things you can do for other people. Then get busy working on that list!

Day 7: Bake Seven Dozen Cookies

Bake SEVEN dozen cookies on the seventh day of Christmas. 

Sharing them with loved ones will make them smile, of course. But since cookies freeze well, you could also save the extras to eat over the coming weeks (or months!).

Day 8: Sing Eight Christmas Carols

Spend the eighth day of Christmas singing carols together in the warmth of your home… Or, if you’re feeling brave, go out and sing Christmas carols to EIGHT of your neighbors!

Alternatively, you could use Honey Maid graham crackers to make s’mores (in honor of the “eight maids a-milking”part of the song). 

Day 9: Make Nine Tree Ornaments

On the ninth day of Christmas, make NINE new Christmas tree ornaments. Salt dough ornaments are super simple and will look great on the tree!

Another option: You could hold a dance competition (“nine ladies dancing”) or even watch The Nutcracker ballet together. 

Day 10: Create Ten-Minute Christmas Crafts

Spend TEN minutes on the tenth day of Christmas doing a quick and simple craft. Here are some easy Christmas craft ideas you can quickly make at home.

Here my daughter is making one of the simple crafts on the list:

my toddler making a christmas tree ornament

Alternatively, you could jump rope together or go to a trampoline park in honor of the “ten lords a-leaping”. 

Day 11: Donate Eleven Toys to Charity

On the eleventh day of Christmas, work together to declutter the house and help people in need. Select ELEVEN gently used toys (or shop for new ones, if it’s in the budget!) to donate to a local charity. 

Otherwise, you could make a “piping hot” drink (for the “eleven pipers piping”) like hot chocolate or apple cider. Then snuggle up in front of the fire or play some games as you enjoy your hot beverage!

Day 12: Go on a Christmas Scavenger Hunt

On the twelfth, and final, day of Christmas, put together a list of TWELVE Christmas themed items to seek. Then go on a scavenger hunt! 

Another idea is to read The Little Drummer Boy children’s book in honor of the “twelve drummers drumming”. Or, put together some drum-shaped tins filled with baked goods to gift your loved ones.

Twelve Days of Christmas – Theme Ideas

Now that I’ve given you a number of different activities to consider, I wanted to share a slightly different list. This one consists of twelve-day-long “theme” ideas for your family. 

You might want to do something different every day – or maybe your family prefers the consistency of one theme. Either way, I wanted to provide a couple different ideas to spark your imagination!

“12 Days of Christmas” Themed Gifts

For each of the twelve days, give your family a themed gift based on the “Twelve Days of Christmas” song. For example, a box of pears on the first day, Dove brand personal care products on the second day, and so on.

12 Days of Books

One year, I wrapped up 24 books (a combination of Christmas-y and others). Then, starting December 1, they were allowed to open one book per day. 

In your case, rather than 24 books, you could wrap up twelve – one for each of the twelve days of Christmas. 

12 Days of Kindness

Perform a random act of kindness every day for twelve days. Ask each family member to share their act of kindness at the end of each day, then compile a list in a notebook or journal.

This could become a treasured keepsake, perhaps one that you add to every year during the twelve days of Christmas!

12 Days of Games

Does your family love playing card or board games together? Spend a little bit of time each day playing some of the family’s favorites.

12 Days of Crafts

Do a craft together each day! In case you missed it earlier, here’s that list of Christmas craft ideas again.

12 Days of Baking

Bake something different each day for the twelve days. Then you can either give away the extras or freeze them for later!

My girls love helping me make Christmas goodies, and almond bark pretzels are a great choice (if a bit time-consuming!).

my daughter helping make almond bark pretzels, a popular choice for the 12 days of christmas activities

12 Days of Service

Volunteer as a family for a little while each day. Here’s that quick list of ideas I shared earlier:

  • Helping in an animal shelter.
  • Shoveling the elderly neighbors’ driveways.
  • Read in a classroom or nursing home.
  • Offer to babysit for someone with young children.
  • Serve food at a local shelter.

12 Holiday Movie Nights

Does your family love snuggling up for a holiday movie night? Make this time extra-special by doing just that every day/night during the twelve days of Christmas!

A few of our family favorites:

Additional 12 Days of Christmas Activity Ideas

There are SO MANY fun activities that families can turn into annual Christmas traditions. Naturally, every family has its own set of preferences. For more ideas, check out my Ultimate Christmas Bucket List and see if anything calls to you!

Final Thoughts

This is such an exciting time of year! And there are so many different options to suit a variety of preferences… Which of these 12 days of Christmas activities will your family choose this year?

More Christmas Content from The Writer Mom:

17 Delightful Christmas Eve Box Ideas for the Whole Family

75+ Christmas Gift Ideas for Kids (That AREN’T Toys)

Thoughtful DIY Gift in a Jar Ideas for Christmas

15 Personalized Christmas Gifts for Mom (That She Actually Wants)

21 Fun and Unique Christmas Gifts for Preschoolers

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