Looking for some simple Christmas activities for your toddler or preschooler? I cannot wait to get cracking on all things Christmas and finally, it doesn’t seem all that far away.
Hooray says the world. Hasn’t 2020 been tough? Anyway, enough of that. Luckily, those little kiddos are none the wiser. And busier than ever!
You need some easy activities to do at home with your toddler or preschooler to keep them out of mischief, right? And give you a moment to get on with the never-ending list of things to do, that is, just… life with little kids.
You need Christmas activities to keep that moving-way-faster-than-toddling toddler occupied for more than a nanosecond.
And the preschooler, who so desperately needs to be in preschool now but is stuck at home with mom who never has quite enough “building experiments” at the top of her mind (only me?!), engaged
Ideally, you want activities with minimal set-up, with things you already have at home. And not forgetting the even more importantly, that need for activities with minimal clean-up. Of house, child, furniture etc…
Possibly you want to get into the festive fun and find some Christmas activities to do with your toddler or preschooler.
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Let’s define ‘easy’ Christmas activities for toddlers & preschoolers
My definition of a successful and easy activity for my two littles ones is one which:
- has minimal prep – let’s say 5 minutes max to set-up
- doesn’t need fancy or expensive supplies, things you can get easily without breaking the bank
- keeps said toddler/preschooler busy for 15 – 30 minutes, with or without your help
- can be easily adapted to kids a little different in age (my two are 3 and 4 so that wasn’t too difficult)
- has minimal clean-up
This list of easy Christmas activities for your toddler or preschooler should tick all these boxes. There are a few exceptions, where I’ve felt said activity is too good not to include. Hopefully, you’ll see why.
These are simple play-based Christmas activities for toddlers & preschoolers aged 2,3 and 4-years-old
Although, after baby’s first birthday, she officially enters toddlerhood, this list of Christmas activities really DOES NOT cater for 1-year-olds. There may be a few, but really, these activities are best suited to kids aged 2, 3 and even 4 year olds. So older toddlers and preschoolers.
These are Christmas themed playing and learning activities
Kids learn best through play. In fact, whatever they’re playing with or whatever make-believe world their lost in, is their way of figuring out how the world works.
Even the annoying little things they do that you really don’t want them to, is a form of exploration and understanding of the world around them. Quite simply, all the things they do are things they actually need to do.
Touch and put their fingers in the flour? They’re learning about the texture, weight, density of flour. How quickly it falls, how much fits in their hands and so on.
So when I say that these are playing and learning activities, they’re all things little kids love to do when playing, which is all in order to learn.
As much as it’s lovely doing crafts with toddlers or preschoolers – what am I saying?! It’s hard work and often far from lovely, but the end result is occasionally worth it – simple play-based activities that allow this learning is normally my activity of choice.
What kinds of activities, Christmas or otherwise, do toddlers and preschoolers love to do?
Well, since you’re here and have little kids you probably have seen several of these.
They love to stack, sort, pour and scoop, rip, throw, cut (if they’ve started using scissors), throw, touch ALL the things, stand on ALL the things, post, pack and unpack, open and shut things…
Literally, every one of these is teaching your little one how something works. Or allowing to learn and practice a skill.
This list of easy Christmas activities for toddlers and preschoolers ticks a lot of those boxes.
And so, to it.
Simple Christmas activities for toddlers & preschoolers
#1 Pushpin Christmas tree decorating
Such an easy Christmas activity for toddlers and preschoolers to get started with. Cardboard, the ability to draw a Christmas tree and some pushpins are the main ingredients here.
Then all you need is something underneath, so those pushpins don’t go through to the table. I stapled a rectangle of cardboard to an egg carton tray which worked really well. Otherwise, a few extra layers of cardboard would do. A pinboard would obviously work well too – then leave that cute decorated Christmas tree up for the festive season.
#2 Old wrapping paper ripping or cutting
Here, you’re just giving your little one permission to do what they love to do – make a mess! So take those odds and ends of wrapping paper (a tradition handed down from my dear father, we always save every scrap of wrapping paper, which means this is a toddler Christmas activity that isn’t as wasteful as it sounds) and let them go to down – ripping or cutting.
#3 Make a festive bracelet
This is an easy no-prep Christmas activity that also practices those fine motor skills; threading red, green and sparkly beads and some mini bells onto a pipe cleaner.
My daughter also decided the one above needed a big black button. Each to their own. (Pretty as that one is, I don’t recommend using the sparkly pipe cleaners as they’re very itchy… rather go for the normal soft ones.)
Hands up if you have a preschooler that loves to build? My 4 year old builds stuff out of everything and anything so building little Christmas trees with pipe cleaners, sticks and mini bells will be right up his street. Can’t wait to see what he comes up with. (In all likelihood he’ll build a truck, but as long as he’s enjoying that’s fine with me.)
This Christmas activity for toddlers will definitely also keep a preschooler busy. It does require a tiny more prep but since these will become part of your Christmas decor, they should be worth the effort. Contact paper, some construction paper or card (for the outlines) and some fun bits and bobs to stick inside is all you need.
#6 Christmas tree name puzzle
A fun and simple Christmas activity for toddlers and preschoolers with a few different elements of learning involved. Other than the fact that this one is also one which takes less than 2 minutes to prep, I also really like that you can make this is easy or complicated as you like, dependent on the age of your child.
For young toddlers just starting out with scissors, draw straight lines for them to cut along; for preschoolers, you can draw some wiggly lines and zigzags. Then write their name on, one letter per puzzle piece. Even if your child hasn’t started on letters, exposure to those in their name can be a fun place to start.
Mixing the pieces up and putting the puzzle back together is then the final element.
If you do this with a more than one kid, you can make it even harder by mixing all the puzzles up for them to sort and piece each puzzle back together.
A fun Christmas activity for toddlers or preschoolers that practices the pre-maths skill of matching. Simply draw around some Christmas cookies onto a giant-sized piece of paper (or several smaller ones) and have your toddler or preschooler match the cookie cutters to the correct place.
This Christmas activity for toddlers definitely needs a fair amount of help and adult supervision. My 3-year-old is going to love hammering in the nails so I’m sold already.
#8 Make & decorate Santa’s postbox
I could have gone to town on this one and finished with a beautiful post box that looked like a Snowman or Santa but this was the almost zero prep version. A large empty cardboard box with an opening for letters and some text.
Then my two (2 and 3 years old at the time) had a blast painting and stamping it. Since we were at home in rural Africa until early December last year, where it’s summer, I let my two get to work with paint outside. But if you’re indoors and you want to avoid mess, sharpies, stickers and any other craft materials you can get your hands will keep your little ones busy just as well.
Of course, Santas post box can only mean one thing – you need to send him some letters! So this is next on this list of easy Christmas activities for your toddler or preschooler.
Pretend sending letters to Santa is also a fun Christmas tradition ; these letters make great keepsakes.
They “drew” (ie scribbled) a picture of what they wanted. But now I’m looking forward to giving one of these printable Christmas letters from Cendu Param a go and having my two dictate their wishlist.
(I’m also super curious as to what they’re going to ask me to write where it says “I’ve been EXTRA good this year. Here’s a few of the nice things I’ve been doing.” These are going to be a keeper, for sure.)
#10 Ice balloons
This Christmas activity for toddlers and preschoolers is definitely one for outside. If there’s snow on the ground so much the better! Just wrap those kids up warm if necessary because this one is going to be cold on the fingers.
This is another that fascinates kids way beyond preschooler years. It was actually my 9-year-old niece who did this experiment with my 3 and 4-year-old but I love this version from Mombrite which adds that festive element.
Toddlers or preschoolers plus stickers is always a winning combination. I think you can get the idea from the picture just how easy and engaging this Christmas activity is.
#13 Christmas lights sticker activity
Sticker line tracing is such a fun and simple toddler or preschooler activity and one of my go-tos when I need a no-prep activity. (Hence, it’s on this list of 39 simple & sanity-saving activities for toddlers & preschoolers to do at home (minimal prep, minimal mess))
This one just has a festive spin; stick the lights on the tree is a must-do Christmas activity for toddlers or preschoolers.
One where you use those cookie cutters for their intended purpose. But depending on how out of control your kids are when it comes to baking, you might want to skip that part and just decorate some store-bought cookies.
If you have little angels or are feeling brave, here’s a simple cookie recipe you can use with some Christmas cookie cutters. (I have the standard Christmas shapes but these pretty snowflake ones are my favorite).
And if you just want a giggle, check out this hilarious video of a Granny baking with her grandson. OMG it’s too funny!(My two aren’t quite this bad, yours?)
This is a festive spin on age-old potato stamping. If you have some large enough paper and your toddler or preschooler can show restraint around paint (sometimes my two absolutely cannot) this might turn out good enough for wrapping paper. I’m crossing fingers for you!
#16 Pinecone posting
I didn’t really realize that “posting” was really a thing for toddlers until of course, I had one. (And then another one soon after.) Another thing they love to do which helps them to understand how the world works.
By posting pinecones (or balls, toys, stuffies or a billion other things) through the cardboard Christmas tree, your toddler will be figuring out “object permanence” – that something exists even if you can’t see it.
This is why toddlers love to drop things off their high chair. Repeatedly. Pinecone posting will be endless fun for them (and hopefully a little less annoying).
Get your toddler or preschooler their very own Christmas tree to
make a mess of decorate with an easy felt Christmas tree. Felt sticks to felt – so they can have endless fun sticking and re-sticking! Will have to try one of these this year I think.
A simple Christmas activity for your toddler or preschooler that loves to sort and color match. (Mine love both). Skip the painting part so you can prep within that 5 minute window. Your little one will never know.
With sparkly white pompoms or even cotton wool balls, a clear bottle and a few accessories you should have something that resembles a snowman and a toddler who’s had his fair share of posting! Win and win.
Then a sprinkle of glitter to finish.
I love this idea and cannot wait to try this Christmas activity with my 3 and 4 year old. Use some masking tape to outline the Christmas tree shape and then supply your preschooler or older toddler with shiny stars, buttons, bottle tops – whatever is going – to fill in and decorate the tree. Simple festive fun.
#21 Bottle top snowman posting
Ok, I admit, this one is a lot more than 5 minutes prep – the making of said snowman was a fun toddler Christmas craft – my 3-year-old loved it, particularly the ripping of the cotton wool and squeezing the glue…
This is just another version of the pinecone posting activity earlier. But this snowman has different sized holes – for mouth, eyes and button holes – for different sized bottle tops, so it ups the anti just a little bit.
I also intend to use this to practice number and letter recognition. Label each hole on the snowman with a different number or letter marked on the post-tit and then write the same letters or numbers on bottle lids.
Match and post.
Which toddlers or preschoolers have a good concept of time? Neither of my two, that’s for sure. So some kind of countdown is necessary. This one will help your preschooler on number recognition – killing two birds with one stone, can’t beat it!
This is also a double win – keep those little hands busy and make some new Christmas decorations. Perfect for a toddler or preschooler who loves to build and create (that’s my boy).
More sorting and color matching, but this one just uses colored cups. Up the anti for an older preschooler or dextrous toddler by getting them to use salad tongs or a range of different utensils to transfer the pompom into the cup. Excellent fine motor practice.
Leaving a plate of scrumy treats out for Santa on Christmas eve is an age-old Christmas tradition that my kids loved last year. Sprinkling reindeer food on the lawn is a new activity that I’m sure my two (plus the birds) will enjoy. So mixing up their food (oats, sprinkles and edible glitter) is an easy festive Christmas activity to add to the list.
This is a cute and simple stacking activity for little ones. Cut squares of felt, slit the middle and then your toddler or preschooler can enjoy threading and stacking the squares onto a rainbow hoop stacking toy (or similar, maybe a kitchen roll holder?).
A good test for a preschooler to pick out the correct order of loads of different sized squares (my 4-year-old would love this). Toddlers may need help, if you do want to end up with the classic Christmas tree shape, but really, as long as they’re enjoying, what does it matter.
Pompom decorations and a fairy or star for the top of the tree finish it up nicely.
#27 Ornament toss
This one is suited more to the younger and gentler toddler or preschooler, which counts my 4 year old right out; his throw is strong but very inaccurate! A recipe for disaster to have him throwing anything inside.
Of course, plastic baubles only.
Christmas sensory bins
Not only do sensory bins keep kids ranging from 1 to, mmmm 9 or 10 years old, busy and occupied, but they’re also really good for them. Amazing how nature aligns the activities kids enjoy with what they actually need for healthy development; sensory bins and other sensory activities employ all the different senses, normally only with the exception of taste.
(And if you do have a toddler or preschooler how still loves to put everything in their mouth, then you just need to choose carefully).
Exploration of new textures, scooping, measuring, pouring can mean hours of fun for a toddler or preschooler. Plus, with their crazily active imaginations, your little one can be lost in a make-believe land far and away for a surprising amount of time… also great for little hands that just cannot stop fiddling! (Just mine?!)
So here are some easy to set-up Christmas sensory bins.
Baking soda and white conditioner (in the ratio of 6 parts to 1) is all you need to make this easy snow sensory bin. Mixing the two together starts an endothermic reaction so the “snow” starts off icey cold. Sadly the chill won’t last forever but the soft fluffy texture will – I’m pretty sure my two are going to love making snowmen out of this stuff. The addition of some colorful beads and pipe cleaners is all it needs.
#29 Christmas decorations sensory bin
This one is perfect for a day or two before you put up the decorations. Let your toddler or preschooler play with all that sparkly tinsel and baubles (as long as they’re not glass, of course). This kept my two busy for a long time last year – so much so the decorations did go up a bit later than normal but well worth a bit of extra peace and quiet for me! Even this Christmas, at the ages of 3 and 4, I know they’re going to love it just as much.
Another fun texture that toddlers and preschoolers can’t get enough of is rice. Rather than diving their grubby mitts into the rice you intend to eat, a sensory rice bin is the way forward. Add in some bells, sparkly ribbons and something to scoop and pour with and let your little one get to work!
(To dye rice, simply add vinegar and food coloring to uncooked rice in a plastic container, leave for an hour or so giving a stir once or twice. More detail on dyeing rice here.)
#31 Sparkly ice sensory bin
Ice cubes are another favorite with most little kids it would seem. Since this is a Christmas activity for toddlers and preschoolers and it’s probably bitterly cold outside just a few ice cubes will do. No need to get those fingers colder than necessary!
You can just grab ice straight out the freezer, but if you have a bit of forethought, make glittery ice the night before: sprinkle some glitter into a jug of water before pouring into ice cube trays. Some Christmas themed ice cube trays would make this even more fun.
#32 Christmas gloop
Gloop, also called oobleck, is just cornflour and water mixed to the perfect sticky, gloopy consistency. A few drops of green and red food coloring and some other Christmassy things and you have a sticky sensory experience that your toddler or preschooler is going to love.
It could get messy so your containment plan needs to be good!
Water beads are pure heaven for a little one – so there has to be a waterbed bin Christmas activity for toddlers or preschoolers in the list. Once they’ve got over the delight of the pure slipperiness and squidginess, set up a Christmas tree-shaped framework for them to fill in with green waterbeads, with a few colored ones as decorations. Great fine motor fun!
Christmas playdough activities
I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with playdough. I love that my kids love it and it’s another sensory activity that benefits them in so many ways.
The thing is, they get so involved and love their creations so much they want to put them on display. Too sweet for me to say no to… but then there are dead playdough carcasses, mainly of snakes at the moment, all over the place going crusty and crumbly. Eventually, they get thrown away and I have to make yet more playdough… Ok, rant over.
Going back to the loving of playdough, it’s a no brainer; playdough has to be on the list of easy Christmas activities for preschoolers and toddlers.
For a winning playdough recipe, mix the following together, heat gently and stir until you have a lump of the stuff – dead simple. Even works when my 3 and 4-year-old are doing the measuring!
- flour – 2 cups
- salt – 1 cup
- cream of tartar – 4 tsp
- vegetable oil – 1 tbl
- food coloring – a few drops
Green playdough, a Christmas tree cookie cutter and some kind of mini Christmas ornament is all you need for this easy Christmas playdough activity. Tons of fun and great for fine motor practice. For toddlers use bigger things as tree ornaments, such as pompoms or large buttons, while preschoolers will probably manage something smaller, like the Hama beads shown in the photo above.
#34 Make up/buy some Christmas scented playdough
Pine cones, cinnamon sticks and even a short frond of a Christmas tree branch would make a lovely addition to this simple playdough printing activity.
Fun game-type Christmas activities for toddlers & preschoolers
These ones involve a bit more prep, mainly printing. But are good fun activities you can enjoy together as a family. And that’s what Christmas is all about, right?
Sorting and matching is a pre-math skill that little kids seem to get quite a kick out of once they get the idea. Both mine have gone this stage of being quite orderly about things – lining things up that match, even tidying up their rooms with a surprising amount of logic. (It didn’t last, sadly!)
What I love about this is that it can also be used as a memory game. (My 3-year-old beats me hands down at her matching Peppa Pig game – she can definitely teach me a thing or two about mindfulness; while she can concentrate on it fully, albeit not for very long, my mind is trying to figure out what to cook for dinner, when the washing will be done and so on and so on…)
A festive and toddler-friendly version of a classic game. My two loved a weather-themed bingo game we did recently so this is must-do Christmas activity to try this year.
#38 Wrapped puzzle piece scavenger
Christmas still an age away and your kids are dying to get unwrapping? This us a must-do Christmas activity for toddlers and preschoolers.
Another one for that old Christmas paper, or if you’ve ended up letting your kids shred the last of it, newspaper will work just too.
First, the puzzle pieces need to be wrapped. Dump out all the puzzle pieces and start wrapping. For preschoolers, this is definitely part of the activity. My 4 year old loved this part as much as the rest.
Then go hide the pieces all around the house. Then the scavenging and unwrapping begins. Finally, the unwrapped piece makes it home to his spot in the puzzle.
With my two, I divided the puzzles into two piles, then they got to wrap and hide the pieces for each other. It really was so much fun!
A fun Christmas activity to get those busy preschoolers and toddlers moving! Sometimes that’s exactly what they need. “Most of the time” is probably more accurate. This pack from Organized 321 has 4 different scavenger hunts for indoors and another 4 for outdoors – time to get printing!
Printable quiet time Christmas activities for toddlers & preschoolers
All the below have free printables and are perfect Christmas activities for toddlers and preschoolers for when you’re out and about for example when visiting family over the holidays.
This is a Christmas activity for a preschooler or older toddler who’s lost the ability to entertain himself and you have negative 5 minutes to come up with something (happens often, right?!) Enter an easy dot marker activity. Add this one to your printer queue now.
Easy Christmas-themed coloring activity for little ones, plus a maze (this is the one my preschooler will go for first, for sure).
Santa’s beard needs to be stuck on cotton ball by cotton ball. You could follow the numbers in sequence or have your little one roll the dice and find the number. So great for number recognition and practicing number order.
So this Christmas activity is geared a little more towards preschoolers and older toddlers. But if you have a younger one, they can just stick anywhere. Hopefully, you’ll end up with a cute Santa craft too.
Coloring printables with the added fun of sticking on Christmas tree decorations to the tree (pompoms), Santa’s beard (cotton wool balls) and holly berries to the holly leaves (more pompoms, this time red).
That’s all the Christmas activities for toddlers or their slightly more mature preschooler siblings for now. Hope they bring fun, lots of wonderful memories and some peace and quiet to your Christmas this year.