When it's time for the family to get together and make Christmas ornaments and decorations or trim the tree, it's always a challenge to find activities that keep little ones interested and involved. These Christmas activities for toddlers help children feel included and make memories along the way.
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Christmas Cookie Stencils
Like using traditional stencils, a cookie-cutter can help your toddler create recognizable shapes when they don't yet know how to draw. To create this project with your little one, purchase a few holiday-themed cookie cutters (like gingerbread men, Christmas trees, or snowflakes), then allow your child to dip the cookie cutter onto a paper plate filled with paint before pressing it onto another piece of paper like a stamp. The end result can be used to make greeting cards (probably better for older toddlers with a bit more coordination), charming gift wrap, or just a fun mess on a slew of old newspaper.
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Another fun DIY way to make a "stamp" to help your toddler paint is by cutting a shape into a potato. To save you too much hassle, stick to easy forms, like a bell, simple tree, or star shape. Toddlers can then dip the potato into paint before pressing it onto a surface as a stamp (for especially young children, place a fork into the potato to make it easier to handle). This easy stamping method is also great on fabric, which you can turn into a Christmas day tablecloth or fun t-shirt for your child to wear proudly.
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Colorful Play Dough
Another activity themed to the colors of the season is red and green playdough. Mix up your own batch, then dye it red using Kool-Aid or add a few drops of peppermint extract to stimulate your toddler's sense of smell. Not only does playdough allow your child to flex their creative muscles, but it's also beneficial in helping them master fine motor skills. For an additional fun element, provide your child with Christmas cookie cutters and a rolling pin to help make festive holiday shapes out of the dough.
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Gingerbread Cookies and Houses
If you like to make gingerbread cookies from scratch, enlist your toddlers in easy baking tasks like stirring, mixing, and measuring. If you're not into baking (or are short on time), try picking up a gingerbread house kit instead. Most just require a bit of easy (parent-assisted) assembly, then your child can go wild adding decorations like gumdrops, frosting, sprinkles, and more.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
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This next idea is great for young toddlers who can't yet intricately craft something on their own. Using a cookie cutter, trace and cut out a gingerbread man from brown cardboard, then invite your child to decorate it with sparkles, googly eyes, pom-poms, puff paint, or any other craft supply you have hanging around the house. Once their masterpiece is complete, punch a hole at the top, string with bakers twine, and use to decorate your Christmas tree or create a garland for your mantle.
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Festive Finger Paint
Using finger paints exposes your toddler to a unique sensory world involving sight, slippery touch, and squishy sound. It also helps your child gain fine motor control—each time their hand moves the way their brain directs or expects, they are closer to full control of a paintbrush, crayon, or pencil. Depending on the age of your child, you can line your table or high chair with a newspaper and let them have at it with the paints, or give them a more specific hands-on task, like using their handprint to create silly reindeer.
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Contact Paper Ornaments
Contact paper is a clean and simple way for toddlers to make creations that look great on the tree or as window decorations. Lay a sheet of contact paper sticky side up on a table and provide your toddler with materials they can press atop it, like holiday stickers or small scraps of tissue paper for a stained-glass effect. 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.
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Hang Candy Canes
When it comes time to trim the tree, you probably don't want your toddler hanging lights or handling glass ornaments, but you can still ensure they're involved in the fun by tasking them with easier items like candy canes. The hook neck of a candy cane is super simple for a little one to place atop a branch and no tears will be shed if one or two of them break in the process.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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Stringing popcorn and cranberries often involves a needle and is a job better suited to adults and older siblings. Get your toddler busy alongside you by letting them string cereal that already boasts a hole in the middle, like Fruit Loops or Cheerios. The task is a great way to help them master the use of their little hands and is especially fun to then hang up in the backyard, where they can watch critters come for a daily snack.
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Paper Chain Garland
Making paper chains is probably too complicated for most toddlers to manage alone, but it's definitely something that can be done alongside an adult. Encourage your little one to select the shades of craft paper themselves, then assist them in attaching each chain together using colorful washi tape. Older children can even practice their numbers by using the chain as a countdown to Christmas day.