With the festive season right around the corner, it’s time to start hyping up your children for all the excitement in store and digging out the ugly Christmas sweaters. Making Christmas a special time for the family that the little ones look forward to is one of the most fun parts of parenting, so you’ll want to make sure you pull out all the stops (with the exception of flying to Lapland or paying for Winter Wonderland).

This year, Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday, which is ideal for some family quality time and spread Christmas cheer and holiday spirit nice and early. They grow up so fast, and some older kids may have lost the faith, but the magic of Christmas is more than Saint Nick and his helpers.

Not sure of what you can do to make things fun in the run up to Christmas Day? Here are some ideas for getting the children (and yourself) into the holiday mood this year that are cheap and affordable. So here is our list of top tips to get the kids in the Christmas spirit.

child decorating christmas tree
Embrace the magic of the holiday season with a real Christmas tree

Decorate ASAP to kick-start the Christmassy feels

Getting the Christmas decorations up is the easiest and most obvious way to get the whole family feeling festive. Seeing the Christmas tree covered in baubles and tinsel, and turning on the lights in the evenings just brings on that wonderful feeling of excitement. Plus the smell of the pine is just divine.

There is often debate on when this is socially acceptable, and while October seems to be okay in Britney’s house, most people at least get Halloween and Bonfire’s night done first!

This year, 1st December is a Friday. And a real Christmas tree should last 4-6 weeks if kept well watered. Everyone is different, but with our kids off school in the UK from the 15th December until the 2nd January, we like to keep festivities going for the second week and take the tree down on New Years Day.

We usually go tree shopping in the last weekend of November to get a good one, and the annual trip to a Sussex farm to pick ours is the start of the lead up to Christmas. If we do anything early, it’s the outside snow fall style and Reindeers on the lawn, which brightens up the street.

Make some DIY Christmas Cards and Decorations

Christmas decorating is also the perfect time to bust out the craft box and create some DIY Christmas decorations with the kids. You can make this an annual tradition and look back at each year’s creations together, too.

It’s amazing what you can do with some coloured card, cotton wool, glitter, glue, a blank ornament and a handprint. If you need some tips, paper snowflake chains, mini Christmas trees, and gold stars are so easy to do. Wreath making is good for older children, plus you can decorate stockings

By involving children in Christmas crafts or homemade Christmas cards, we are not just keeping them busy; we are instilling in them the essence of celebrating Christmas. So, let’s turn the Christmas activities into a cherished family tradition. Let the little hands work, let the eyes sparkle with pride, and let the Christmas spirit shine brightly and jingle in their hearts.

You can also turn decorating itself into a fun tradition, turn on the Christmas tunes, put on festive hats, and do it together as a family to the soundtrack of Mariah Carey, Wham, Bublé, Elton John, Bing Crosby et all. Whatever song to get into the Christmas Spirit.

treat for dog at christmas
All family members can get advent calendar gifts, including pets, for a merry Christmas

Get an Advent Calendar

Starting on the 1st December, having something to look forward to every day leading up to Christmastime is a sure-fire way to bring on some festive cheer in your children. An advent calendar can be filled with something as simple as a daily chocolate or as extravagant as a gift every day leading up to the 25th which is what we do. Either way, these countdowns are great fun and sure to build the excitement for the big day.

Nowadays, you can even buy an advent calendar for dogs, to make sure that the whole family is involved. Which is great, as we know chocolate is not good for canines, so they can have special treats instead.

child baking with her mother
Christmas for me is all about the food, with rare extravagance and excess.

Do Some Christmas Baking

One of the special things about the Christmas season is the delicious festive foods we only really eat around this time of year. What’s even more special is doing it together together as a fun tradition. Baking and decorating festive cookies or whatever the kids love provides an interactive and sweet-smelling way to kindle the children’s Christmas spirit.

Again, highly listening to Christmas music in the kitchen when mixing the dough to cutting out whimsical shapes, every step can be a delightful experience for the children. The aroma of baking cookies can effortlessly set the Christmas mood in your home, making it a sensory delight.

Once the cookies are baked, get your child involved in adorning them with colourful icings and Christmas decorations. This engaging activity can enhance your child’s creativity while intensifying the festive atmosphere.

If you and your family are tired of the same old Christmas cookies, look for some new and exciting Christmas baking recipes to try out together as a team in the kitchen this year. Keep the flavours traditional, but see how you can switch it up to make things exciting and more delicious each year.

child visiting father christmas
It’s the most wonderful time of the year for kids when visiting Santa Claus and his sleigh and Elves

Plan Some Festive Activities

Of course, planning some fun Christmas activities is an amazing way to make this season special and exciting for the kids. Doing all the things you only really do once a year will bring novelty and even a tinge of happy nostalgia to the holiday season, and your activities don’t even have to be expensive!

Building and eating gingerbread houses, going out together to pick out a Christmas tree, writing letters to Santa, go carolling or looking at Christmas lights in your neighbourhood, and going ice skating are all low-cost or free activities that just feel special and festive, and will bring Christmas joy in abundance to your kids.

And if it snows, winner. Get out there are go sledging and make some snow people, have a snowball fight. Yes you will get cold, but nothing that a hot chocolate and marshmallows won’t fix to keep the festive spirit alive.

Not enough ideas? How about you get your family involved in a Christmas-themed scavenger hunt around the house? Or go on a family hike or nature walk to collect pinecones, mistletoe, holly, berries and other greenery then make DIY Christmas wreaths.

Or you can even volunteer your time (and any spoilt children) at a homeless shelter, to remind about the gift of giving, and how the true meaning of Christmas is to spread a little comfort and joy.

Get involved with Elf on the Shelf (at your peril)

For some houses, Chrimbo is nothing without the antics of Santa’s little mischief makers. For others, it’s a mad scramble to think of new and unique ideas to keep the magic alive. Whatever your thoughts, you can’t deny the tradition has spiced things up a bit, even if I can’t do the Frozen idea again.

hans gruber falls from christmas sleigh
It’s not Christmas until Hans Gruber falls off the Nakatomi Tower

Go on a Christmas Movie Marathon

Another delightful way to infuse the Christmas spirit in your children is through a Christmas movie night marathon. Handpick a selection of Christmas movies that embody the spirit of Christmas and are full of festive cheer. These could include timeless classics like the Snowman, Elf, the Christmas Chronicles, Home Alone, The Santa Clause, The Polar Express, A Christmas Carol, Miracle on 34th Street, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Scrooged, and Arthur Christmas.

And for the adults, It’s a Wonderful Life, Love Actually, The Holiday, Bad Santa, and Die Hard (yeah, I said it).

If films are not their thing, there are plenty of Christmas stories that can be read.

Creating Personalized Letters to Father Christmas

An integral part of fostering the Christmas spirit is the cherished tradition of creating personalized letters to Santa. This activity can be an engaging way for children to express their hopes and dreams of the season, plus giving some vital hints on presents.