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Christmas Activities for Toddlers

Fun Toddler Activities for Christmas


When it's time for the family to get together and make Christmas ornaments and decorations or trim the tree, don't forget about your toddler. These Christmas activities for toddlers can teach your child concepts about Christmas and help your child feel helpful and included in traditional holiday events.

1. Paint with Christmas Cookie Cutters

Christmas Stars
Photo © Stephanie Brown

Like using stencils or sponge painting, a cookie cutter can help your toddler create something he recognizes when he doesn't know how to draw the object. It's also a good starting point for the toddler is reluctant to participate because he doesn't want to get messy or doesn't like the way tactile activities like finger painting feel. You can also use this activity to get ready for making ornaments with cookie cutters.


  • For a young toddler, put the paint and cutters inside a newspaper-lined pan. This will keep him from making too big a mess as he scoots the cutters around while loading them with paint.
  • Older toddlers with a bit more practice can just use a paper plate. Both clean up easy.
  • All ages should wear a smock or old T-shirt.

2. Paint Holly Leaves with a Potato

Christmas Holly Leaves Potato Print
Photo © Stephanie Brown
If you don't have cookie cutters to go with every season (and who does?) then use what you have around the house. You can easily cut shapes into a potato leaving behind a surface that will hold paint and leave a uniquely patterned print behind. To make this activity toddler friendly, you can stick a craft stick or a fork into the potato so it's easy to handle. After you get the leaves printed, your toddler can dip his fingertip in red paint and add the berries. If you have large enough paper you can even make a wreath.

3. Make Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments

Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments
Photo © Stephanie Brown
Making these ornaments isn't just fun, it's a learning experience, too. Toddlers can practice following instructions and increase their motor skills as they help measure, pour, stir, roll and press out the ornaments with cookie cutters. Plus the smell of apples and cinnamon will stimulate your child's sense of smell.

4. Talk About Christmas in the Environment

Nativity Scene
Susan WD / Flickr
Christmas is everywhere you look starting as far back as October, so take this opportunity to teach your child about the things you see. Since this time also marks the early winter in most areas, taking a walk around the neighborhood or to a park will likely yield plenty to talk about. Walk around churches to inspect the nativity scenes. Take a walk in the snow and build a snowman (top him off with a Santa hat.) Take a drive to look at all the Christmas lights. Pick a different thing to talk about during each shopping trip, focusing on the things that interest your child or that are a part of your own family's celebration. This is also a great time to reinforce colors since there is such an abundance of green, red, silver and gold.

5. Play with Christmas Colored Playdough

Christmas Playdough
Photo © Stephanie Brown

Another reinforcing activity for Christmas colors can come by playing with red and green playdough. Make it with Kool-Aid or add a few drops of peppermint extract and stimulate your toddler's sense of smell. Or make it without, add a drop or two of food coloring and let your child experience the mixing of color as he plays. Playdough is an activity that stimulates pure creativity and does so much to help your child master fine motor control.

Tip: Use the same Christmas cookie cutters you used for the painting activity to make festive holiday shapes out of the playdough.

6. Make Gingerbread Cookies and Houses

Gingerbread Men
DaveFayram / Flickr

Making gingerbread cookies is one of my favorite holiday activities. We love to make the men and flat pieces for gingerbread houses, too. Like making cinnamon applesauce ornaments, this is an activity where toddlers can participate in stirring, mixing, measuring and using cookie cutters. If you're not into baking or are short on time, try picking up a gingerbread house kit like this one from Wilton where all you have to do is start decorating (just watch out for items your toddler can choke on like gum drops.)

For years, I've been using this recipe to make gingerbread men because it's low in fat and the cookies come out very soft. For houses, you'll want one that crisps up like the gingerbread recipes here (house instructions included).

7. Make Gingerbread Man Ornaments

Don't put your gingerbread cookie cutter away just yet. Use it to trace and cut out a gingerbread man on cardboard that your child can decorate while you eat cookies fresh from the oven.

Some tips:

  • Use a small dish of glue and a paint brush to brush the entire surface of the cardboard for decorating. This is good for young toddlers who can't yet control the amount of glue they squeeze out of a bottle.
  • Decorative items you use could be fabric scraps, little pom poms, buttons, red rickrack, googly eyes, puffy paint or just plain crayons, colored pencils and markers.
  • If you use small items like buttons or googly eyes, make sure your toddler has constant supervision to prevent choking and hang it high on the tree when it's finished.

8. Finger Paint with Christmas Colors

Finger Paint in Christmas Colors
Photo © Stephanie Brown

Using finger paint exposes your toddler to a unique sensory world involving sight, slippery touch and squishy sound as well. Add mint or vanilla extract and excite his sense of smell, too. Finger painting helps your toddler gain fine motor control: Each time his hand moves the way his brain directs or expects, he is closer to fully controlling a paint brush, crayon or pencil. Don't be afraid to let your toddler mix different colors of paint together. This is part of the learning experience. Finger painting is mostly about the process of art rather than producing a finished product.

Tip: Line the table with newspaper or do this activity in a high chair for easy clean-up.

9. Make Contact Paper Ornaments

Contact Paper Ornaments
Photo © Stephanie Brown
Contact paper is a clean and simple way for toddlers to make collages and these ornaments look great on the tree or as window decorations. Just lay a sheet of contact paper sticky side up on a table and provide your toddler with collage materials. I like to use paper scraps, confetti (make this at home with a hole puncher) or scraps of metallic ribbon. For a stained glass effect (if you'll be hanging these in a window) use small scraps of tissue paper. When your toddler is done placing the pieces, cover the entire thing with another piece of contact paper, sticky side down. Then cut into shapes, punch a hole in each shape and use fabric or curl ribbon to hang where you'd like.

10. Hang Candy Canes

Candy Canes on the Christmas Tree
PugnoM / Flickr
When it comes time to trim the tree, you probably don't want your toddler involved in hanging lights or handling glass ornaments. Candy canes, however, are definitely something your toddler can keep busy with while being supervised by other decorators.
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