How to Survive the Holidays with Young Kids

Christmas ginger bread house

Learning how to survive the holidays with young kids gets better with time.

Each year, you begin to realize more and more the things that truly matter, versus the holiday shindigs you prefer to skip. (At least with young children in tow.)

It’s tempting to want to do all the activities, go to all the parties, and celebrate all the festivities.

But more often than not, taking on too many holiday commitments with young children can lead to stress and overwhelm.

You may find yourself feeling as if you just went through a holiday whirlwind as opposed to rejuvenating time spent with family and friends.

So what’s the secret to learning how to survive the holidays with young kids?

The answer…..realistic planning, realistic expectations, and patience.

Here are the topics we’ll cover today:

  • Preparing for the holidays
  • Managing stress and anxiety
  • Creating meaningful traditions with young children
  • Keeping children entertained
  • Teaching children about giving and gratitude
  • Maintaining self-care during the holidays

How to Survive the Holidays with Young Children

Plan and Prepare for the Holidays in Advance

You may want to start your holiday season by planning ahead as much as possible.

A little planning can go a long way in keeping stress low. Think about the people and places you want to see. And, the family traditions you want to create.

Also, take time to jot down “your have-to-dos, would be nice to do, and avoid at all costs”.

For example, this could include:

  • Must do” – family photos
  • “This would be nice to do”– matching Christmas pajamas for everyone
  • “This is something that should be avoided at all times.” – not sticking to an agreed-upon budget

Thinking through what you can realistically achieve during the holiday season is one of the best decisions you can make to survive the holidays with young children.

Try to Alleviate Stress and Anxiety

Identify the sources of stress and anxiety that are common around the holidays.

Overscheduling, less sleep, less health consciousness, fear of others’ opinions, and overstimulation can negatively affect adults and children during this time of year.

Take a breather, set realistic expectations, and don’t be afraid to ask for help, say “no”, or rest when needed.

Plan as much as you can but be open to changes – sometimes the best moments do happen spontaneously!

Extreme Christmas decorations, extravagant holiday trips, and non-stop holiday parties all sound exciting for most adults but, with young children this can quickly spiral out of control.

Create (Simple) Meaningful Family Traditions

Consider simple family activities that involve everyone.

If your children are old enough to comprehend, take time to explain to them the importance of being together.

As children get older it’s natural to want to begin to spend more time with friends but express how important family is especially during the holidays and how much they mean to your family.

Think of baking easy cookies together, where little hands can help shape the dough.

Make decorating the tree a family affair, allowing each child to hang their special ornament.

Engage in family storytelling sessions by the fireplace.

And don’t forget the joy of crafting handmade decorations.

But most importantly, don’t forget the beauty of togetherness.

Watching holiday movies snuggled up on the couch, with hot cocoa, marshmallows, and laughter are simple traditions that can knit your family closer together.

Ideas to Keep Children Entertained During the Holidays

I’ve compiled a list of 35 ideas to help you keep your children entertained and engaged during the busy holiday season.

Some of these ideas could potentially become yearly family traditions for years to come!

Many of these items cost little to no money and can be done multiple times throughout the holiday season.

  • Make homemade Christmas ornaments.
  • Put together homemade or boxed gingerbread houses.
  • Compile a holiday book basket.
  • Have a winter indoor picnic.
  • Enjoy (and dress warm) for an outdoor nature walk.
  • Create a holiday playlist and have a dance party.
  • Make homemade holiday colored playdough.
  • Enjoy holiday puzzles.
  • Enjoy board games set aside just for the holidays
  • Make homemade Christmas cards.
  • Create family entertainment with holiday karaoke and Christmas cookies.
  • Enjoy outdoor play in fall leaves or winter snow.
  • Make a scavenger hunt game.
  • Write Christmas letters with holiday-themed paper, envelopes, and holiday stamps.
  • Make holiday postcards.
  • Create open-ended play areas according to the holidays
  • Create sensory holiday play bins
  • Create a physical family photo album
  • Put on a puppet show.
  • Make a holiday wreath.
  • Plant indoor seedlings.
  • Make homemade ice cream with festive toppings.
  • DIY musical instruments.
  • Create a treasure box with holiday trinkets.
  • Enjoy bath paint.
  • Write a holiday family story.
  • Roast marshmallows outdoors or indoors.
  • Enjoy a holiday tea party.
  • Start a gratitude journal, gratitude jar, etc.
  • Start a collection of holiday coloring sheets.
  • Count down to Christmas with an Advent Calendar.
  • Experiment with different hot cocoa flavors.
  • Visit holiday festivals or holiday events at the library, nearby town, etc.

Teach Children About Giving and Gratitude

Imparting valuable lessons of giving and gratitude in the midst of the holiday hustle is worth the pause and slowdown it requires.

Donating toys, volunteering, praying for others, or taking to reflect and share what you’re grateful for does positively impact your child.

Gratitude can be nurtured through daily practices any time of year; encourage your children to express thanks for the simple things, from a warm meal to playing outdoors.

Contentment is still a quality worth teaching our children despite a world that’s constantly telling us we need more and that what we already have is never enough.

Children of all ages can participate in gift-giving. Let them actively participate in choosing or even making gifts for family and friends.

Remember, children learn best by example. When your children see you embody the spirit of generosity and appreciation, your children will naturally follow suit.

These lessons of giving and gratitude aren’t just for the holidays; they’re lifelong lessons that foster a kinder, more compassionate world.

Maintain Your Self-Care During the Holidays

The holidays can be hectic and heavily focused on giving to everyone else.

But, to give physically and emotionally to your family especially your younger children you have to be inwardly filled up yourself.

The holidays can be delightful yet demanding all at the same time.

Find moments for yourself.

Maybe it’s stealing a few minutes with a hot cup of tea and a good book, or indulging in a soothing bath after the kids are tucked in bed.

Even a short walk outdoors can work wonders, filling your lungs with fresh air and your mind with peace during the holidays should not be neglected.

Remember, taking care of yourself isn’t selfish; it’s essential!

When you are well-rested and nourished, you’ll find the patience and energy to be more in the Christmas spirit for your little ones.

You Can Enjoy the Holidays with Young Children

Remembering the shared moments during the holiday season, from the hugs, the giggles, and the memories you’re creating are what will be most heartfelt and lasting.

Don’t overcomplicate your plans and expect the imperfections; they’re what make your family unique and beautiful.

Bask in the twinkling lights, enjoy the cozy warmth of your home, and anticipate the taste of freshly baked goodies from your kitchen.

The holiday season with young children is a time to savor the small joys and be grateful for the love, sound of running feet, and squills that fill your home.

How has the celebration of the holiday season changed over time?

The celebration of the holiday season has undergone significant transformations over the years, reflecting the evolution of our society.

In decades past, traditions often centered around intimate gatherings within close-knit communities.

Families would come together to celebrate the festivities in a more localized manner, emphasizing shared meals, storytelling, and family traditions.

With the advancement of technology and globalization, the landscape of holiday celebrations has expanded physically, monetarily, and with greater expectations often with a higher price tag.

The commercial aspect of the holidays has become more prominent in recent years with less focus on the spiritual meaning (for those who believe in the birth of Christ).

The season has become synonymous with elaborate decorations, elaborate feasts, and the exchange of lavish gifts which sometimes overshadow the true essence of the holidays.

But, many families are now yearning and determined to return to simplicity, focusing on meaningful experiences, acts of kindness, and quality time spent with loved ones.

Thankfully, many families are reminded of the importance of unity, compassion, and the joy of sharing moments with each other.

Technology can help connect families that are farther away.

We have plenty of information and resources readily available to give us ideas and inspiration to help us keep this exciting yet sacred time filled with values, meaningful conversation, and special moments with those we cherish.


Are you looking for gift ideas for kids that are not toys? If so, here are some suggestions to help you out.

Non-Toy Gift Ideas for Kids

Want to stay encouraged in your homeschool during the holidays? Check out homeschool resources from Homeschooling Today!

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