If you have young kids, or if there will be some around as you're decorating for your next holiday party, it can be hard to keep them occupied and out of your way. But what if there were a way to keep them busy AND help you get all your decorating work done - wouldn't life be so much simpler? Luckily for you, we've found the top kid-friendly holiday decorating activities and broken them down by age range, so you can get the young kids involved and also have one of the most creative, inclusive holiday parties of the year. Plus, when the kids help decorate, you'll have more time to enjoy that last mug of adult-friendly eggnog!
Some of the activities below can be adjusted for kids in the younger end of the age range as well as the higher end, so don't hesitate to modify when you have to. Some of the older kids can also be responsible for helping the younger kids with projects, and make sure you thank them when they do. Get the kids going and prepare to lay back and relax!
For Kids 0-3 Years Old
Ok, so infants can't really help with the decor on their own, but they can certainly be a part of the holiday decorating! Instead of store-bought cards, use some non-toxic, washable paint and the little ones' hands and feet to create festive images for DIY holiday cards. Try using footprints for snow angel wings, or handprints for reindeer antlers. Not only will the holiday cards be taken care of, but you and your extended family will have a keepsake to look back on for holidays to come.
For Kids 3-4 Years Old
At this point, the little ones might seem more likely to destroy the holiday decorations than create them, but with some planning and some guidance it's totally possible to focus that energy. Throw down some newspaper (they'll still be messy) and set up a station along the floor or across a long table with a long roll of blank white or brown paper; then, have the kids use holiday-themed stamps and ink pads to create homemade wrapping paper for the gifts this year. You'll have customized presents that the kids can be proud of, and you'll be helping them to learn about fine-motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Everybody wins!
For Kids 5-8 Years Old
Is there anything better than building a model house made completely out of candy and sweets? By the time the kids are 5 years old, they're probably wanting to do more than stamping wrapping paper, and decorating a gingerbread house will keep them occupied for hours. You can buy relatively cheap gingerbread house kits at most grocery stores and when it's done, you can display it as a centerpiece until dessert rolls around and you all decide to dig in. This is especially a great activity when you have mixed age groups and/or lots of kids around - not only can the older kids help out with the younger ones, but you can buy more than one kit and have them set up a "gingerbread village".
For Kids 9-12 Years Old
By this age, kids are somewhere in between being a kid and being ready to participate with the rest of the adults in the holiday decorating. Rather than a guided activity, give them some options for decorating the tree that they can do on their own, such as traditional cranberry garlands or bows made of ribbon tied on the branches. They're also old enough to help with the rest of the decor, and even if it doesn’t match your interior design perfectly, don't be afraid to tag team who unwraps the decorations and who decides where they go. They'll feel good with more responsibility and might even be more willing to help keep the younger kids in check after they're done helping with the more grown-up parts.
For Kids 13+ Years Old
Once your kids (or your family's kids) are teenagers, it's impossible to know how they'll want to show up for the holidays, but there is one thing that works for kids from 1 to 92...cookies! Baking and decorating holiday cookies is an entire family activity, whether you're going for funky snowman-shaped sugar cookies with sprinkles to mature and classy tea cakes with powdered sugar. It's pretty hard to feel left out when you're focused on delicious cookies, and the snacking doesn't hurt, either, so get into the kitchen, break out the old family recipes (or new ones), and get baking! As the aromas fill the house you'll finally feel in the holiday spirit.