We all have cherished Christmas movies or holiday specials and it’s a Christmas tradition to watch them every year. For many of us, it’s an exciting rite of passage to share them with our new families. I love movies too but the only bummer is they aren’t exactly interactive. That got me thinking, what if we made Christmas movie night into more of an event! Here are some ideas to turn your favorite Holiday Special in to an exciting event for the whole family!
A Charlie Brown Christmas (25 min)
Perhaps one of the most iconic of the Christmas Specials, A Charlie Brown Christmas is a great starting point for a young family. It’s short in length and it highlights to true meaning of Christmas with a distinct Christian message discouraging materialism and holiday perfection. Plus, it’s Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the gang so it’s hilarious and the soundtrack is to die for!
Turn this show into more of an event by decorating your own Charlie Brown inspired Christmas tree. Visit a local tree farm for a small, misshapen tree or find a large bare branch. I recommend aiming for more of a table top tree that won’t take up much space. Then work as a team to decorate it with homemade ornaments and garland made from found items in your house. Tin foil stars, popcorn garland and paper chains will bring your family together while breathing new life into a discarded item.
The Polar Express (1 hr 40 min)
Also a favorite for the pre-k/kindergarten crowd, The Polar Express chronicles the journey a few lucky children take to the North Pole to meet Santa Claus via train. Trains are always a hit with kids and, if you’re like me, you’ve got a whole box of wooden train tracks waiting for some family fun!
Pick a couple of other toys to represent your house and the North Pole (you could also build them in advance out of Legos) and work together building different tracks to connect the two. You could start by building the curviest track and then the longest track or a track that goes over a mountain of pillows. Think extreme train building! Of course, you can all celebrate reaching the North Pole with a festive candy cane.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (25 minutes)
Also a timeless classic on the shorter side, the Grinch that Stole Christmas is all about spreading Christmas Cheer. This Christmas favorite ends with the Grinch and the citizens of Whoville hand-in-hand singing a merry Christmas song.
Use this classic as an opportunity to spread some Christmas cheer in your neighborhood. Team up with another family and hit the pavement caroling. Pay attention to elderly neighbors who may not get many visitors or have a lot of interaction with kids. I promise, lifting someone’s spirits this way will make your heart grow three sizes!
Elf (1 hr 37 min)
A new classic, the story of Buddy the elf’s adventures in New York City reconnecting with his father is a hit with all ages. Even Buddy’s scrooge of a dad can’t help but come around by the end of the movie. One of the running jokes throughout the whole movie is Buddy’s amazing ability to decorate an entire house with paper chains and snowflakes made mainly out of plain old white printer paper. Take a cue from Buddy and spend some time as a family decorating your front window elf style. Make different paper snowflakes, paper chains, and paper dolls and string them across your window to welcome holiday visitors.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1 hr 37 min)
A great option for an older family or for extended family when you get together, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation hilariously captures the reality of the holidays. It has been so sewn into the fabric of American culture that we even say some has “Griswolded” their house when they decorate with an overabundance of lights.
Celebrate this uniquely American tradition by touring the local neighborhoods that are known for impressive displays. If you do a driving tour, you can also listen to Christmas music and stay warm. If you aren’t sure where to go in your town, check the local paper or use your social media to source suggestions. There has been a huge up-tic in the fancy automated displays that sync with music that are lots of fun to check out! Warm everyone with a festive hot chocolate bar to enjoy while watching the movie when you return!
Hope this gives you some ideas to spark some togetherness activities that go along with your favorite Christmas movies. If you have a good idea for a Christmas movie activity, please share it in the comments below!