And while not necessary, all of these winter events become more fun with the addition of fresh-baked cookies and hot chocolate!
1. Get a real Christmas tree and have the whole family decorate it. Yes, we know the needles get everywhere and somehow get stuck in the carpet until June, but the smell and feel of a real tree is something that can’t be faked. You can even start a new family tradition by chopping down your own tree at any number of Christmas tree farms in the area.
2. Hang outdoor decorations. Our advice? Pick a warmer day to do this so that you’re not stuck out in the cold until dark freezing your fingers off. And always try to put the lights away in an orderly fashion so you’re not untangling a huge light ball next year. Here’s some great holiday organizational recommendations from Pinterest.
3. Have the kids write letters to Santa! And thanks to the US Postal Service, here’s how to make sure they get a reply from Jolly Old Saint Nick himself!
4. Play in the snow. You can build the perfect snowman, make snow angels, have a snowball fight, or even go sledding. Not sure where to go sledding in St. Louis? Check out this list. Any outdoor activities you can do with the little ones will make you feel like a kid again too!
5. Visit Santa. While the mall Santa’s are all well and good, do a little research to find a place that suits the season a little better. We love Santa’s Magical Kingdom at Jellystone Park in Eureka, MO. It’s a drive through holiday light display filled with animated scenes, special effects, and millions of shimmering lights.
6. Make Christmas cookies and deliver them to neighbors. Sounds a little old fashioned, but what better time of the year to deliver gifts? Plus, all of the leftovers will go directly to Santa!
7. Get rid of gently used toys and donate them. This is not only a great way to keep the clutter in the toy box down; it’s also a wonderful way to create joy in a needy child’s life. When you have the kids help out, make sure to explain why you’re doing it. That’ll give them the opportunity to learn about helping others in need.
8. Watch a Christmas movie. There’s the classics like: Miracle on 34th Street, It’s a Wonderful Life, and White Christmas, but for the younger audiences, Freeform has 25 days of Christmas themed children’s movies all month long, so get the DVR ready!
9. Go see the holiday lights displays around the St. Louis area. If there’s one thing we love about St. Louis’ Christmas traditions, it’s the amazing holiday light displays that pop up this time of year. From The Lady of the Snows to the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Garden Glow to Brewery Lights at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. Check out our favorite displays and let us know if we missed any.
10. Make a gift for the kid’s teachers. While a gift card to a coffee shop is practical, it’s not very personal. Especially for the person that spends 8 hours a day with your child. A homemade ornament or a heartfelt ‘Thank You’ card are perfect reminders of the time they’ve spent with your child, even after they’ve moved on to another grade.
11. Make a gingerbread house. Let’s be clear. Your gingerbread house WILL NOT look like the one on the box. They have artists work on those for days and your young one’s patience level isn’t anywhere near theirs. That being said, building a gingerbread house really is a fun experience that the kids will have a blast putting together. Don’t have the patience to bake gingerbread? Try it with graham crackers instead!
12. Do a secret service for a friend or family member. Do one great thing for someone close to you and never tell them it was you. It will be a Christmas present to yourself.
13. Sing Christmas carols. You can gather your friends together and go around the neighborhood in the classic carol singing tradition or you can just turn on the holiday radio station and have a sing along in the living room.
14. Candle Power! Turn off the TVs, tablets and phones and use only candles to tell stories, read books, or play games. One night out of the year with no distractions will bring the family closer together.
15. Cut out paper snowflakes for the windows. You can go with the route of traditional snowflakes, or for those thinking a little more ‘out of this world’, check out these cool Star Wars themed templates.
16. Go ice skating. There are a ton of great indoor and outdoor ice skating rinks in the St. Louis area including: Steinberg Skating Rink, Shaw Park Ice Rink, STL Ice Zone, Kirkwood Ice Rink, Hardees IcePlex, Creve Coeur Ice Arena and the St. Peters Rec-Plex. Don’t forget the hot cocoa afterwards!
17. Sleep under the Christmas tree. Pull out some extra pillows and blankets and take a snooze under the tree. The lights and ornaments will have a special glow as you drift off to sleep as visions of sugar plums dance in your heads. Winter is magical!
18. Make reindeer food for Christmas Eve. Here’s an eco-friendly recipe that will give Santa’s reindeer something to snack on while he delivers the presents:
2 cups regular oats
2 cups sunflower tropical birdseed
mix 2 tablespoons red decorator sugar crystals
2 tablespoons green decorator sugar crystals
19. Be nice. Obviously no one wants to be on Santa’s ‘Naughty’ list, but this holiday season, make it a point to do one extra nice thing every day. Drop an extra dollar or two in the red bucket. Buy an extra present for the local toy drive. Ask a complete stranger if they need help loading their groceries into their car.