Activities to Go with Popular Christmas Books

Every year after Thanksgiving, I bring out our family collection of Christmas books. It includes many re-tellings of the biblical account of Jesus' birth, plus a number of secular Christmas classics. But this year, inspired by the folks over at The Crafty Crow, I wanted to do something different: For each Christmas book, I wanted at least one activity that tied into the book that I could do with my children.

What follows is the result of hours of work scouring the web for ideas or finding examples of what I already had in mind. Often there are more ideas for each book than most of us will want to tackle. The idea was to offer you a range of ideas so you could choose one or more for your own family. I haven't included every book in our Christmas book collection (maybe I will add them later), but have focused on those that are most popular. Have fun!

Secular/Mainstream Books

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens:

* Make a gift basket and deliver it to someone in need.

* Print out and make a Christmas Carol diorama and carriage.

* Make Christmas pudding (or try the recipe here).

* Sew an old fashioned sleeping hat, like Scrooge's.

* Roast a goose for dinner.

* Dress Victorian: Long skirts and blouses for the girls (with hair up on the head) and long pants and dress shirts for boys. Make top hats for the boys and simple mob caps for the girls (or see the versions here and here).

Frosty the Snowman by Annie North Bedford

(Or other snowman-themed books):

* Learn some snowman jokes.

* Build a snowman online (designed for beginning readers).

* Play snowman stacker online, or the Snowman Salvage game.

* Make donut snowmen

* Drink Frosty! Serve hot cocoa with whipped cream covering the entire top. Add chocolate chips to form a mouth, a candy corn for a nose, and two chocolate chips for eyes.

* Make a simple snowman scarf. (Use fabric glue instead of embroidery floss for a no-sew version.)


Gift of the Magi by O. Henry:

* Make some wassail (or try this recipe).

* Decorate a hair comb. Some ideas here and here.

* Think about what you could sacrifice in order to give someone else something they will really like. Now do it!

Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett 

(Many of these ideas would work for the classic Gingerbread Boy story, too.):

* Print and make masks of characters from the book.

* Make a Gingerbread Baby gingerbread house – or a pretend one. There’s even a virtual way to do it.

* Color some Gingerbread Baby pages.

* Print out and paste together your own gingerbread baby.

* Make a gingerbread baby paper chain.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss:

* Cook up some Who Pudding.

* Print and color a Grinch mask.

* Play Seussville, a free online game.

* Print and color Grinch doorknob hangers.

* Make Grinch Pills as a fun Christmas gift; this version uses an Altoid box; this one, a jar.

* Make Grinch cookies. These simple green crinkle cookies work, or how about these spiral cookies?  My favorites, though, are these green cookies with a heart in the center.

* Make a healthy Grinch kiwi snack.

* Turn guacamole into the Grinch and serve with chips or veggies.

A Merry Little Christmas by Mary Engelbreit:

* Make a doily angel.

* Make a handprint wreath.

* Make a paper snowflake.

* Do a nutcracker toilet paper roll craft - or use this one, designed for a Pringles can.

* Do the Wonder Pets (preschool) Nutcracker activity book.

* Make a Mouse King crown (or try this one). 

* Make a printable Nutcracker stage and characters - not free, but adorable!

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg:

* Spend the day in your pjs and have hot cocoa "as thick and rich as melted chocolate bars" and candy with nougat centers "as white as snow."

* Play “The Conductor Says” (instead of Simon Says).

* Play Polar Bowling: Spray paint 10 two-liter soda bottles white. With a black Sharpie, draw a polar bear or snowman face on each. Paint a cheap ball from the Dollar Tree white. Now bowl!

* Make and eat a graham cracker train snack.

* Make a bell necklace by stringing “jingle bells” onto a string.  (Find bells here.)

* Make elf hats.
* Do a Mad-Libs version of the poem.

* Make a handprint Santa.

* Make sugarplums.

* Make a 3-D reindeer head to mount on the wall.

See also, St. Nicholas, below.

Christian Books

* Decide what you can do for those in need – then do it!

* Decorate a jar and begin saving money to give to the poor.

* Print and play with a free printable King Wenceslas.

* Learn all the lyrics to this old song.

The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg (or any book that compares the candy cane to Christ's story):

* Make a “candy cane” snack from apples or from other fruit

* Make chocolate dipped candy canes to give as gifts. Attach a condensed version of the legend of the candy cane with a free printable like this or this.

The Legend of the Christmas Stocking by Rick Osborne:

* Make a paper stocking.

* Buy an inexpensive felt stocking and decorate it with fabric glue, felt cutouts, ribbons, etc.

* Make a no sew felt stocking with fabric glue.

* Make stockings to hold utensils for Christmas or the month of December.

* Make and eat crispy cheese stars.

* Make and eat star-shaped sandwiches.

* Drink hot cocoa!

* Make a Christmas star garland.

* Make a star Christmas tree topper like this or this or this.

See also, The Pine Tree Parable, below.

St. Nicholas by Julie Stiegmemeyer

(or any book about the real St. Nicholas or Santa Claus):

* Create a handprint Santa.

* Make and eat Santa crackers.

* Make simple Santa hat cupcakes.

* Make Santa cups.

* Host a treasure hunt to look for St. Nicholas’ gold coins.

* Print and use a nativity advent calendar.

* Print a 3D nativity scene (or use this one or this one).

* Make a crèche (manger scene). Another good one is found here.

* Create a paper plate angel - or this one - or a doily angel.

* Make angel cookies.

* Make an angel cake.

* Create a toilet paper roll angel.

* Make a handprint angel.

The Pine Tree Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs:

* Make edible “Christmas trees" - from fruit, brownies, vegetables, and more.

* Make a “Charlie Brown” style Christmas tree from a branch.

* Create and eat a healthy vegetable and cheese Christmas tree snack.

* Donate a gift to a charity for children.

* Plant a Christmas tree for next year.

See also, The Legend of the Christmas Tree, above.

The Three Trees by Elena Pasquali:

* Make a 3-D illustration of a treasure chest - or turn a shoe box into a treasure chest.

* Make a walnut shell ship - or use a single cup from an egg carton instead of the nut shell.

* Create a handprint ship.

* Turn a milk carton into a ship - see here also. (Or use coffee sleeves as the basis of the ship.)

* Make a paper boat.

* Make a cross from two popsicle sticks.

See also, "Nativity books," above.

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