Making Toddler Christmas Memories Special

toddler christmas

The holiday season is an enchanting time full of excitement and family traditions. As a parent of a toddler or baby, you get to experience your little one’s eyes light up with wonder as they partake in Christmas festivities for the first time.

Toddlers and babies have short attention spans, so it’s important to have a variety of simple, engaging activities planned to hold their interest. Incorporating multisensory and open-ended play encourages discovery and supports cognitive, motor and social development.

This comprehensive guide is full of developmental stage-appropriate ideas for celebrating with your tiny tots so you can make heartwarming Christmas memories together.

Christmas decorating image by pixabay

Getting Into the Christmas Spirit

The sights, sounds and smells of the holidays permeating your home is what makes Christmas feel magical. Toddlers will love helping out with age-appropriate tasks as you deck the halls and set the scene for seasonal fun.

Christmas Tree Decorating

Trimming the tree is a beloved family tradition. Make it fun for toddlers too with these tips:

  • Set up the tree several weeks before Christmas so your tot can enjoy it longer. Secure it tightly in a sturdy stand positioned away from high traffic areas.

  • Cover the tree skirt area with large pillows or soft foam mat pieces so the space doubles as a play spot.

  • Place unbreakable bulbs, textured balls with cutouts or patterns, fuzzy pom poms and felt or fabric decorations low where tiny hands can reach.

  • Let toddlers stick on sparkly foam star and tree cutout stickers or glue on yarn hair onto paper gingerbread people.

  • Set out a basket of pipe cleaners, pom poms, jingle bells and hole punch scraps of wrapping paper for them to create DIY garlands and ornaments.

Supervise closely and store fragile decor out of reach to prevent safety issues. Praise your mini helper’s creations displayed proudly on the tree.

Babies will be mesmerized by twinkling lights so keep visits brief. Set them up playfully on activity gyms underneath dangling toys. New sights, sounds, colors and textures indoors pique curiosity about the festive transformation taking place.

Christmas Books and Music

Reading cheerful holiday stories together surrounded by festive home decor creates lasting memories. Toddlers learn about Christmas traditions, build vocabulary and increase attention skills through interactive reading activities.

  • Cozy up together and let them turn sturdy board book pages. Ask questions about the pictures as you read short blocks of text.

  • Act out scenes with nativity sets, stuffed animals or toys. Use silly voices, make animal sounds and emphasize rhyming words.

  • Place holiday books in activity centers for independent reading. Provide magnifying glasses, puppets and felt story props or puzzles to extend learning through play.

Toddlers learn concepts like colors, counting and patterns from song lyrics too. Play Christmas tunes and watch their faces light up when recognizable carols come on.

  • Encourage clapping, marching or freeform dance as you play rhythm instruments like jingle bells and rain shakers.

  • Sing simple songs with repetitive verses involving hand motions like “Five Little Reindeer” or “Frosty the Snowman.”

  • Make up silly new lyrics together like “Rudolph with the sparkly nose” as you snuggle at bedtime.

Holiday lullabies and playful peek-a-boo games with themed puppets stimulate baby development too. Display family photos so they can see everyone partaking in the seasonal revelry.

Festive Sensory Play

Incorporating Christmas themes into toddler sensory activities develops fine motor skills, cognitive growth and self-regulation through purposeful play.

Touch and Feel

  • Finger painting using white and green colored mashed potatoes or bananas
  • Mix up scented play dough with cinnamon, peppermint extracts and glitter
  • Create textured garlands by stringing together pom poms, pine cones and bells
  • Sorting games with large foam sticker cutouts like ornaments and snowflakes


  • Colored ice cube or jello sensory bins stored in foil tin pans
  • Frozen ornament excavation by burying small toys into ice cube trays
  • Sorting pompom candy canes into colored scoops and cups
  • Snowflake window clings and stickers for trailing down glass panes


  • Fine motor pounding play with golf tees and foam Christmas tree shapes
  • Ring jingle bells strung along ribbon strips and clothesline tied into arches
  • Shake sensory balls filled with rice, bells and pom pom trim
  • Stomp along a room perimeter lined with masking tape “reindeer tracks”

Smell and Taste

  • Sprinkle cinnamon sticks, vanilla beans, cloves and ribbon into sensory bins
  • Mix up “reindeer food” using cereal, chocolate candies and marshmallows
  • Bake holiday sugar cookies and let them decorate with thick icing and sprinkles

Set up baby activity gyms and play spaces with textures, sounds, songs and colors that appeal to their senses too.position them near the action so they absorb the happy holiday sensations.

Christmas Arts and Crafts

DIY holiday crafts boost development as toddlers work on fine motor, communication, focus and creative skills. Adjust projects to match age and ability for independent accomplishments.

Ornaments and Decor

Handmade ornaments for trimming the tree or decorating gift packages allow creative expression. Cover work surfaces for mess-free creating!

Finger or Footprint Crafts

  • Glue pom pom trim around outlined prints on cardstock for cute mittens
  • Turn cardboard tubes and traced prints into mini wreath hangings

Natural Materials

  • Glue acorns, pine cones or candy canes onto cardboard cutout shapes
  • String large beads or buttons with yarn for tree garland

Paper Crafting

  • Fold paper strips into rings or spirals for paper chain links
  • Cut out symmetrical shapes like stars, trees and stockings


  • Assemble styrofoam ball snowmen with glued on hats, scarves and buttons
  • Dip craft sticks into paint for coloring the “bristles” on paintbrush reindeer
  • Collage torn paper scraps into cardboard canvas scenes

Display your mini Matisse’s creations on the fridge, mantels or tabletops so they feel proud of their artistic contributions.

Christmas Gifts and Cards

Toddlers relish in giving their special handmade gifts and cards to loved ones almost as much as receiving presents themselves! DIY holiday presents don’t have to be fancy or perfect. The joy is in the process of creating together.

Food Gifts

  • Bake and decorate sugar cookies cut into fun holiday shapes
  • Make hot cocoa mixes paired with festive mugs

Decor Gifts

  • Evergreen potpourri sachets with essential oil blends
  • Coffee filter wreaths threaded onto pipe cleaner rings

Miscellaneous Homemade Gifts

  • Adorn plain frames with puffy paint, glitter and ribbon
  • Handprint stepping stones formed from cement and stones
  • Pine cone fire starters dipped into wax

Handmade Cards

  • Cut fringe along cardstock edges using scissors
  • Glue on stickers, sparkles, beads, pom poms and wiggly eyes
  • Fingerpaint easy designs like trees, stockings and ornaments

Gift homemade play dough, kinetic sand and paint sets to littles so they can create presents too! Wrap boxes in tissue paper securing them with stickers and ribbon your mini gift giver can peel off.

Christmas Play and Pretend

Imaginative and independent play allows toddlers to freely express themselves while learning social skills. Set up Christmas-themed invitations for creativity that align with their interests and development.

Dramatic Play Invitations

Use open-ended toys and household items to design purposeful play prompts:

Kitchen Pretend Play

  • Child sized aprons, chef hats, cookie cutters and rolling pins
  • Mixing bowls with measuring cups, spoons and kitchen tools
  • Play food ingredients like frosting, sprinkles and candy canes

Blocks and Building Materials

  • Provide wooden blocks, cardboard bricks, boxes and tubes
  • Add toy nativity figurines, fake evergreen trees and toy animals
  • Encourage storytelling and role playing familiar Christmas tales

Dress Up

  • Santa hats, elf ears headbands and reindeer antler headwear
  • Sparkly tutus, boas and costume jewelry for dance parties
  • Angel wings, halos and star wands for pretend play


  • Toy tool belts, workbenches and building toys
  • Shopping carts and baskets for “gift buying” explorations
  • Toy cars and ramps for racing down snowy hills

Set up activity mats on the floor where babies can visually take in the action as toddlers actively play. Secure garlands and hanging sensory objects out of reach above for visual tracking practice.

Christmas Books Come to Life

Use beloved holiday stories as inspiration for hands-on learning through play invitations:

The Polar Express

  • Provide train tracks and mini trains for pushing and building
  • Add engineer hats, ticket punchers and lanterns for the conductors
  • Use blue sensory bins filled with packing peanuts “snow” to excavate small toys

The Night Before Christmas

  • Recreate Santa’s magic sleigh ride with blocks ramps and toy cars
  • Sprinkle “reindeer food” oats and glitter near their beds or handprints
  • Decorate “milk and cookie” sensory bins with measuring spoons and cups

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

  • Light up the space with battery operated and glow in the dark balls
  • Guide pom pom cotton ball reindeer along masking tape races lines
  • Play reindeer dress up with headbands, scarves and red nose stickers

Outdoor Winter Play

Brave the cold weather for occasional outdoor play since toddlers and babies need fresh air and movement daily. Limit time outside and ensure proper clothing coverage.

Make Snow Paint

  • Fill spray bottles with watered down washable paints
  • Squirt designs into fresh snowfall and watch it spread
  • Use sticks, cups and objects for stamping shapes too

Go Sledding

  • Pick a small slope or hill that allows them to safely roll down
  • Push toy cars, balls or disc sleds down for climbing and chasing

Make Snowmen

  • Provide rubber balls, hats, sticks, scarves and buttons
  • Spray snow figures with colored water bottle “paint”

Don’t stay out long with infants under 1 but let them peek out windows at the winter scenes. Bring some snow inside for tactile play that develops their senses.

Christmas Baking and Cooking

‘Tis the season for holiday treats! Baking is beneficial for developing math readiness, following step-by-step directions and practicing fine motor skills.

Toddler-Friendly Recipes

Simplify these recipes for beginner baking skills but monitor closely for safety:

Salt Dough Ornaments

  • Mix 2 cups flour, 1 cup salt and 1 cup water
  • Roll dough flat with mini rolling pin and cut out shapes with cookie cutters
  • Use plastic straws to make holes for hanging before baking

Hot Cocoa Playdough

  • Mix 1 cup flour, 1⁄3 cup salt, and 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • Add 1 tablespoon oil, 1 cup water, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder and mix
  • Sprinkle in holiday sprinkles as you knead dough

Decorated Sugar Cookies

  • Roll out slice-and-bake dough with cutters for shaping
  • Allow decorating with thick icing, sparkling sugar and candy toppings

No-Bake Cereal Treats

  • Combine miniature marshmallows, butter and green/red decorating gel
  • Mix in crispy rice cereal until fully coated
  • Scoop out portions to shape into discs or trees

Offer pretend mixing bowls, utensils, aprons and chef hats for extended imaginative play. Display their tasty creations as edible decor around the home.

Baby-Safe Activities

Give babies a front row view of kitchen creations and let them explore ingredients safely:

Feed Them – Mix up single grain infant cereals, pureed veggies or fruits into holiday molds and shapes.

Set Up – Secure high chairs a safe distance away with toys and sensory bins filled with measuring spoons, cups or silicone muffin tins.

Explore – Allow tasting small pieces of baked goods or dough under close supervision.

Play – Stir spoons in bowls filled with batters like applesauce, bananas or yogurt.

Praise their observation efforts, kicking feet and reaching hands as they absorb the happy sights and sounds. Capture adorable fine motor play and facial expressions in festive baby’s first Christmas photos!

Christmas Traditions by Age

Keeping toddler and baby interests engaged can be challenging amidst the holiday hustle and bustle. Focus on simple activities tailored to your child’s unique development age and stage.

1 Year Old Toddlers

The end of the first year is full of monumental milestones like walking, understanding language and finger feeding themselves.

Physical Traditions

  • Practice walking while pushing mini shopping carts
  • Ball rolling and mini indoor bowling with textured balls
  • Fine motor play hanging chunky ornaments on low tree branches

Sensory Traditions

  • Play with scented play dough and finger paint
  • Explore baskets filled with jingle bells and plush toys
  • Taste supervised pieces of soft holiday cookies

Developmental Traditions

  • Read singsong stories and act out with stuffed animals
  • Begin showing wrist and finger waving “bye bye”
  • Clap along to upbeat Christmas tunes

Capture first holiday memories by collecting handprint paintings, tiny tree ornaments and capturing milestones on camera!

2 Year Old Toddlers

The year of the “terrible twos” brings bounties of newfound independence. Activities allow freedom within structure.

Physical Traditions

  • Join in household duties like sweeping, wiping or moving decor
  • Do reindeer antler ring tosses or pom pom pick up races
  • Jump with excitement to see outdoor holiday lights

Sensory Traditions

  • Play and mold batches of sensory dough
  • Engage in pretend play with themed dress up clothes
  • Help bake using mixing tools with close guidance

Developmental Traditions

  • Recite short verse books from memory
  • Understand behaviors like unwrapping gifts conceptually
  • Initiate conversations by pointing and using short phrases

Let your strong-willed toddler feel purpose by assigning special helper tasks and capturing their personality in yearly photos!

3 Year Old Toddlers

Three year olds have blossoming vocabularies and vivid imaginations that set the stage for Christmas magic.

Physical Traditions

  • Partake in movement games like reindeer freeze dance
  • Toss pom poms at community tree decoration stations
  • Construct train track routes under the tree space

Sensory Traditions

  • Sensory bin play with pretend snowballs and small toys
  • Use peppermint scented play dough to make candy canes
  • String cereal and candy “garlands” with supervision

Developmental Traditions

  • Answer “what if” questions while reading holiday tales
  • Roleplay nativity storylines with small figurines
  • Recognize repeating songs and guess rhyming words

Capture classic moments posing in whimsical holiday pajamas, doing crafts or baking tasty treats to compile memories.

babies first christmas

Baby’s First Christmas Ideas

The first Christmas is extremely monumental for your little one. Though they won’t remember details, establish heartfelt traditions during the magical time.

Holiday Photos

Professional photo sessions make stunning mementos but capturing candid moments is important too.

  • Set up festive backdrops and props around the home and let your crawler explore the holiday landscape.

  • Fussy babies relax in warm tubby time. Add sudsy bubbles and Santa’s hat or Rudolph noses for whimsical bathtub photos.

  • Capture milestones like sitting up, rolling over and crawling plus reactions to experiences like meeting Santa.

Handprint Crafts

Preserve precious tiny hand and footprint keepsakes on special ornaments and homemade goods.

  • Create dough ornaments and gingerbread shapes using clay imprints.

  • Use ink pads to stamp patterns onto canvas bags, book covers or paper.

  • Carefully press hands into plaster mix pouring into ornament molds or ceramic plates.

First Christmas Books

Reading holiday board books promotes early literacy and logical thinking skills.

  • Touch and feel textures in “That’s Not My Reindeer” for sensory input.

  • Lift flaps to uncover hidden pictures in “Where’s Spot’s Christmas Present?”

  • Simple stories like “Baby’s First Christmas” introduce the holiday with concepts they understand like balls, stockings and trees.

Christmas Dinner

Incorporate baby into the holiday feast even before they eat solids!

  • Hold them as everyone gathers around the table before mealtime prayers and blessings.

  • Let older siblings or relatives engage baby with songs, silly faces and peek a boo games if they get fussy.

  • Set aside small portions of mushy foods once introducing solids to share tastes under close watch.

The first Christmas may not last long in baby’s memory but it sets the foundation for nostalgic traditions. Savor every snuggle, smile and milestone during this special time!

I hope these ideas spark holiday magic with your little ones! Let me know if you need any other Christmas inspiration for toddlers or babies. Adjust activities based on your child’s unique needs and wonder-filled stage. Most importantly, give them your presence rather than presents this season.




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