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December 2017 Subscribe to the Toddlers to Tweens newsletter >>

Vicki Bentely
Vicki Bentley

10 Last-Minute Christmas Ideas for Families

by Vicki Bentley
HSLDA Toddlers to Tweens Consultant

Does your family gear down to a more relaxed homeschool routine during the week (or weeks) before Christmas?

We usually did. In fact, my family deliberately took off four weeks in December each year from our regular schedule so we could enjoy the activities and traditions of the season—we just considered it a Christmas unit study, with a home economics, practical arts, and organization emphasis.

How would you like to downshift your homeschool schedule right now? Even though Christmas is just a few days away, I’ve assembled a bevy of creative last-minute ideas to help you simply enjoy some family time.

1. You can bake, build, and decorate a gingerbread house (or if you’re like me, you can buy a kit or build it from graham crackers, and concentrate on the fun of decorating!). One support group even made it a group event, with more than 30 children and 13 moms gathering in one home for the royal icing event of their year.

Ginger bread house
Photos courtesy of Rebekah McBride. Used with permission.

2. Collaborate on this fun, simple-to-make, inexpensive, and practical gift idea for the guys in your life from Dara Ekanger ( Great for kids to make for daddies, granddads, and uncles.

3. Haven’t gotten a lot of decorating done yet? This 15-minute Christmas wreath from Megan at The Homes I Have Made looks simple enough for even the craft-challenged.

4. Cut out and decorate some less-fuss sugar cookies—no chilling of the dough required! Check out these cookie and icing recipes.

5. Adorn your windows or rooms with lovely, lacy paper snowflakes. All your children need are paper, scissors, and a glue stick.

6. Enjoy read-alouds from Mimi Mason’s Top 10 Christmas Picture Books for Younger Children.

7. For 31 Days of Gift Guides to Inspire Learning, check out Heather Haupt’s series. One of my favorites is this post: “The Value of Giving Experiences Instead of More Stuff.”

8. Launch a Christmas-themed art day with watching this free video tutorial from Tricia Hodges: How to Make a Christmas Wreath with Chalk Pastels.

9. Transform your family’s winter walk into a Christmas Nature Study: A Red, White, and Green Walk. This is just one of the activities in the unit study guide, Nature Study through the Holidays by Cindy West and Melissa Leach (Christian-themed).

10. Looking for ways to keep Christ at the center of your Christmas celebration? Refocus your family with Rachel Ramey’s creative Advent tradition e-book, Finding Christ in the Christmas Tree (Christian-themed).

Need more ideas? You can find lots of budget crafts, holiday recipes, and easy tutorials at Family Fun (published by Parent Magazine).

Making cookies is a tradition your kids will enjoy.
Photos courtesy of Rebekah McBride. Used with permission.

Explore kid-friendly ideas for celebrating Christmas (and other holidays) in these books:

Want to document your kids’ holiday studies and adventures? Introduce your children to easy lapbooking or search “holiday notebooking” or “holiday unit studies” to discover activities, templates, worksheets, and more.

Got a late start this year? You’re not alone! Many of us may be feeling as if our holiday preparations could be featured on a Pinterest Fail board. However, you might be encouraged and inspired by homeschooling blogger Marla Schultz’s account of her family’s creative response to starting late (

In my perfect world, the tree would be put up and decorated on December 5—the day before St. Nicholas Day—and we would already be counting down the days until Christmas. Instead, by the time the thirteenth of December rolls around, I’m finally ready to start that countdown.

Because of this, many years ago we stumbled into our own tradition—our take on the Twelve Days of Christmas. Traditionally the Twelve Days of Christmas starts on December 25 and the 12th day lands on January 5. . . . Because we’ve revamped this tradition to meet our needs, we can choose how we celebrate.

So maybe this can be the start of a new tradition for your family!

As my family and I celebrate the advent of our Savior, we wish your family a holiday season filled with joy and peace.

Merry Christmas!

NOTE: This newsletter is based on and adapted from the December 2014 Toddlers to Tweens newsletter here.

The 2018 student art contest will begin accepting entries December 1.

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