Count down to the big day with these festive family-friendly activities that focus on accumulating memories instead of more stuff

    1. Start a gratitude jar. Each day during the holiday season, every family member writes down one thing they’re grateful for and places the slip of paper in the jar to be read out loud on Christmas Eve.
    2. Research unusual Christmas traditions around the world, such as roller skating to Christmas morning mass in Caracas, Venezuela, or including a pooping figure known as the Caganer in nativity scenes in Catalonia, Spain. Also learn about other holidays at this time of year, such as Hanukkah (Nov. 28 to Dec. 6, 2021), Kwanzaa (Dec. 26, 2021, to Jan. 1, 2022) and winter solstice (Dec. 21, 2021).
    3. Find a local business that offers free visits with Santa Claus and snap a few photos. Some places even offer special days for your furry four-legged friends. Or borrow a Santa suit and do your own festive photos at home.
    4. Make Christmas cards by hand or on the computer (perhaps using the photos from  number 3). Old Christmas cards can be upcycled into new and beautiful cards using some ingenuity—and a little glue and glitter.homemade Xmas cardsPhoto by pure julia on Unsplash
    5. Host a gift exchange in which no one is allowed to spend any money, so every present must be either something made by hand using upcycled materials or a handwritten coupon for a service, such as babysitting or shovelling snow.
    6. Write a letter to Santa. Be sure to thank the jolly fellow for last year’s gifts.
    7. Bake seasonal sweets, such as sugar cookies and shortbread.cookiesPhoto by Yulian Karadzhov on Unsplash
    8. Attend a free outdoor concert, tree-lighting ceremony or Christmas parade.
    9. Sing Christmas carols, whether that means around a piano, in front of a karaoke playlist on the computer or strolling through the neighbourhood.
    10. Tune in to a radio station that plays non-stop Christmas music.
    11. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, food bank or toy drive.
    12. Make decorations for the tree or for the whole house using a mix of found objects (pinecones, fallen branches) and upcycled materials (old CDs, used wrapping paper). Paper snowflakes, paper chains and popcorn garlands are fun and easy. For a whole wealth of ideas and inspiration, search on Pinterest.
    13. Dress up in a tacky Christmas sweater and seasonal deely bobbers, then decorate the Christmas tree while sharing the stories behind beloved ornaments.ugly Xmas sweaterPhoto by Skön Communication on Unsplash
    14. Wrap gifts using creative, sustainable alternatives to wrapping paper.
    15. Watch your favourite seasonal movies and TV specials. You can’t go wrong with classics such as Elf, Home Alone, A Charlie Brown Christmas, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, A Christmas Story (based on five short stories by the very funny Jean Shepherd) and It’s a Wonderful Life (inspired by Philip Van Doren Stern’s story The Greatest Gift). Then argue (good-naturedly, of course) over whether Die Hard is or isn’t a Christmas movie.
    16. Drink hot chocolate in front of a roaring fire—or a video of a crackling fire on TV.
    17. Dust off the old sleds, snowshoes or cross-country skis buried in the garage, then enjoy the snow—and maybe build a snowperson or two. If Mother Nature stubbornly refuses to deliver the white stuff, then make snowpeople out of paper while watching videos of winter sports on YouTube.
    18. Find a free community skate in your area, and channel your inner Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.
    19. Make a Christmas video to share with friends and family. Don’t forget to include precocious pets wearing festive outfits.
    20. Borrow a big stack of Christmas books from the library. Some classics: How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss, A Visit from St. Nicholas by Clement Clarke Moore, The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg and A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. To learn how Dickens dug himself out of debt and saved his career by self-publishing this classic tale (after his publisher turned it down), dig into The Man Who Invented Christmas by Les Standiford. Fans of Hallmark Christmas movies will enjoy reading Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory, One Day in December by Josie Silver, Comfort & Joy by Kristin Hannah, Christmas in London by Anita Hughes, Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand and Starry Night by Debbie Macomber.
    21. Bake and decorate gingerbread people and a gingerbread house.gingerbreadPhoto by Oriol Portell on Unsplash
    22. Walk around your neighbourhood to admire all the Christmas lights.Christmas lightsPhoto by Steven Van Elk on Unsplash
    23. Write and illustrate your own seasonal story, weaving in some of your family’s holiday tales and traditions.
    24. Reminisce about past Christmases by sorting through old photos or compiling an online memory album.