YAY for 25 Days of Christmas play ideas for toddlers! We are very excited about Christmas this year. 2020 has definitely not been the best year (okay, it has basically sucked), so having something joyful to look forward to is a nice change. I love themed play, so doing Christmas themed activities is always so much fun. This year, leading up to Christmas, I am giving you 25 days of Christmas play! Basically an advent calendar, but with play! I will do my best to make the activities easy prep, and center them around items you may have already on hand, or can easily pick up at a local dollar store.
You can start on December 1st and do one activity per day leading up to Christmas, or you can pick and choose your favourites to do throughout the month of December. However you choose to use this play guide, I hope it provides lots of Christmas themed fun for your toddler(s)!
So let’s dive in!
Here are 25 Days of Christmas play ideas for your toddlers:
1 – CHRISTMAS TREE PLAYDOUGH TRAY
Using our homemade playdough recipe + green food colouring, we created this play dough tray. Obviously, the main objective is to create and decorate a Christmas tree. However, the thing I love about play dough is how open-ended it is! Playdough is do versatile and really brings out a child’s imagination. Playdough trays are my go-to activity because I always get the longest stretch of play out of them.
Our tree cookie cutter was a dollar store find. Our playdough tools are part of a great set you can find HERE, and our play dough tray is just a divided serving tray. You can shop a similar tray here, or find a similar one at any kitchen or home goods store!
Related Post: 7 Inviting Play Dough Trays to Try With Your Child
2 – DOT STICKER CHRISTMAS TREE DECORATING
A great little fine motor activity! We found these foam tree cutouts at a local dollar store, as well as the tiny dot stickers. You could just as easily draw or cut out a tree! Have your toddler peel and stick the dot stickers along the lines to “decorate” the tree. This could work well with dot markers too!
3 – HOT COCOA SENSORY BIN
Everything in this photo with, the exception of our sensory table and the snowflake cookie cutter, was bought at the dollar store. All you need is some Chocolate Cheerios, mini marshmallows, some candy cane straws, and some red mini cups, and you have yourself a hot cocoa making sensory bin! Not to mention, it is totally taste friendly (my toddler ate her fair share of this bin, let me tell ya!). Great sensory fun + a great dramatic play set up as well. Your toddler will love running their own little hot cocoa stand and serving you up some hot beverages!
4 – CHRISTMAS SENSORY BOTTLES
We buy our sensory bottles at Michaels Craft Store, however, you could just as easily buy a VOSS water and reuse the bottle. The best thing about sensory bottles is that they are totally versatile. You can literally put anything in them! We just grabbed some things from the dollar store (confetti, pom poms, wooden cutouts, buttons, etc.) and put them in our bottles. You can also add glitter, or sparkles, food colouring, or my little trick is to add about 2-3 TBS of clear glue to the water “slow down” the items as your toddler spins and twirls the bottle.
5 – WREATH DECORATING
We found these little felt wreaths at, you guessed it, the dollar store! However, it would be super easy to cut something similar out of a sheet of felt or card stock.
6 – CHRISTMAS BELLS + A MAGNETIC WAND
Sometimes simple is best. Last year I laid out this small box of jingle bells alongside our magnetic wand and my toddler LOVED capturing the bells, shaking them around and making noise, pulling them off, etc.
7 – PLAY DOUGH TREE DECORATING
Shape a tree out of play dough and add some little ornaments alongside to decorate with! Buttons work great too! The best part is this is a fun activity alone, but because it’s play dough it usually extends into something else and occupies for a long stretch of time!
8 – CRANBERRY SENSORY BIN
You can’t really go wrong with water! But throw in some cranberries and a few pine tree pieces, and you have a beautiful Christmas sensory bin! Lots of scooping and pouring opportunities with this bin, which is always a toddler favourite.
9 – CHRISTMAS COLOUR MATCH
A great option if your toddler is currently learning colours! I basically threw in any green, red, or white objects we had (Pom Poms, buttons, straws, etc.) and cut three large circles out of card stock. The goal was to place the red objects on the red circle, green on green, and white on white. It doubles as a explore / sensory bin too! You could also easily modify with larger objects if your toddler is still exploring with their mouth.
10 – WINDOW CLINGS
Every year I grab some window clings while doing our Christmas errands. These simple little window stickers are always a huge hit with my toddler and she goes back and moves them around over and over for days! You can usually find them for less than $5 and they are totally worth it!
11 – FINGERPRINT CHRISTMAS LIGHTS
This one was so fun. My 3.5 year old loves anything that involves paint, so this was a hit! You could just as easily use cotton swabs if your toddler doesn’t love the idea of paint on their fingers! You could also do this activity with our without the counting aspect!
12 – CHRISTMAS BIN LETTER HUNT
We died navy beans red and green added some wooden letters and wrote out some Christmas-inspired words on a sheet of paper. This super simple set up adds a learning element and the search and find element is always a hit! I added some wooden tongs too, but this could easily just be done using hands.
Related Post: How to Dye Your Own Sensory Bases
13 – CHRISTMAS TREE DOT STICKER MATCHING
A classic! We’ve done this activity in many forms. This time we are using a Christmas Tree! All you need is some green paper and some dot stickers. Write letters on the tree and then the matching letters on the dot stickers and have your toddler match! We used the letters from “Merry Christmas” but any letters work! You could also use numbers, shapes, etc.
14 – SMALL WORLD VILLAGE
I set this little Winter Village up using all DIY items or things from the Dollar store. The only exception is our little train which is from Ikea! The main thing I used was felt. The little wooden houses were dollar store finds, and the trees and peg dolls I just painted myself using Paint Markers. My toddler loves this type of play, so it was a big hit with her! I left this set up on our table for a few days and she played with it daily.
15 – CHRISTMAS COUNTING
This is a super easy activity but great for toddlers currently learning how to count objects. You can grab the free printable counting templates HERE. You could just as easily draw this out on a sheet of paper if you don’t have a printer!
We used bells as our counting object, but you could use any loose parts you have on hand that are Christmas-y (red and green Pom Poms would work great!)
16 – TREE ORNAMENT DECORATING
These adorable wooden ornaments were a dollar store find! Add a little paint and you have yourself a fun activity that your toddler is sure to love! Plus you get a cute addition to the tree that will provide memories for years. Or we like to send these “made with love” ornaments to the grandparents for Christmas!
17 – POM POM PICKING
I found this cake tray and the smaller cookie cutters all from the dollar store. I added them alongside some Pom Poms and wooden tongs and we have a quick and easy fine motor activity! Toddlers tend to love transferring objects, and having the big tray and cookie cutters to fill up gives them a goal to help them stay focused!
18 – SNOWMAN NUMBER MATCH
I found these little snowmen cutouts at Michaels Craft store and knew we could use them for some fun activities. I added a different number of buttons on each snowman, and then traced them onto a piece of cardboard to create this count and match activity! You could just as easily cut out the snowmen from a sheet of white paper!
19 – TREE LACING DIY
This super simple DIY makes for a great fine motor activity! All you need is some cardboard, some lace or yarn, and a hole punch! We chose a tree shape, but you could use any Christmas inspired shape of your choice! This was inspired by one of my toddlers favourite Melissa & Doug lacing toys. I knew she loved the toy version and figured she would love the DIY version too! (I was right!)
20 – DOT MARKER TREE DECORATING
We love us some dot markers! Any dot marker activity is a win with my 3.5-year-old. For this activity, I simply drew out 7 trees (that was all I could fit on my paper). I wrote the numbers 1-7 on the tree stumps and then told my toddler to dot the same amount of dots as the number on the tree stumps! She loved this activity and it led to her playing with the dot markers long after she was finished with the count & match activity!
21 – CHRISTMAS TREE MAGNETIC TILES
We used our Magnetic tiles to create this cute little Christmas tree and then used our jingle bells to decorate it! Magnetic tiles are by far one of my toddler’s favourite toys in our playroom. She plays with them independently, but they are also really fun to play with together. If you need a Christmas gift idea, this is a great option and works well for a variety of ages too! We have both the Picasso Tiles and the Connetix Tiles. Both are great! Picasso is a little bit more budget-friendly, but Connetix is a little bit higher quality / has stronger magnets.
22 – GINGERBREAD PLAY DOUGH
Ok so let me tell you, we tried this new playdough recipe for the first time using cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Holy moly it smelled AMAZING! I seriously had to convince my toddler not to eat it. We used our amazing gingerbread playdough to make some pretend cookies. We used buttons, some little wooden cutouts for decoration, cookie cutters, and some play dough tools.
23 – CHRISTMAS TREE MATCH UP
We used some foam trees we found at the dollar store, some dot stickers, a marker, and some scissors. However, you could just as easily cut some tree shapes out of green paper! The idea was to match the written number with the number of “decorations” on the tree. A super easy little Christmas activity with some learning mixed in!
24 – BAKE COOKIES FOR SANTA
Day 24 would ultimately bring us to Christmas Eve if you’ve followed this as an advent calendar style post. So today, just do something fun with your toddler and enjoy your day. A great idea would be to make some cookies for Santa. Find your favourite cookie recipe on Pinterest and let your toddler help pour and mix all the ingredients. My toddler LOVES to help in the kitchen. We bake together all the time, and it truly is one of my favourite activities we do together.
25 – CUDDLE UP AND ENJOY THE DAY TOGETHER AS A FAMILY
Okay, mama (or daddy!) if you followed this post for 25 days, that means today is Christmas. So today, just enjoy it. You do not need to be doing any kind of Christmas activity or setting anything up for your child today. Because today you just get to enjoy the day, be present, take it all in and snuggle your sweet little one(s) tight. Today, the only thing you need to do is love your kiddos and enjoy being their mama (or daddy!).
Lastly, I just want to say Merry Christmas from my family to yours. If you are here and reading this blog post, thank you! You are supporting my little venture just by being here. If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it or to follow along with all of our activities on Instagram (@learning.for.littles).