Don’t be a grinch this year! Embrace the holiday cheer. Challenge yourself to find a way to celebrate the holidays literally every day of the month of December. From little things to do at home and fun family outings to holiday prep, you will have the whole family feeling merry and bright. Here are some ideas to get you started:
1. Break out those advent or holiday countdown calendars to kick off December. Who doesn’t want one chocolate a day!
2. Make your own salt dough ornaments. Mix four cups flour with one cup salt, then gradually add 1 ½ cups warm water. Knead, roll out and use cookie cutters. Don’t forget to make a hole to hang the ornament from. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour. Paint with acrylic paint when cool.
3. Have a favorite holiday movie-a-thon. Whether it’s “Home Alone,” “Charlie Brown Christmas” or “Elf,” make it a movie weekend and watch these classics as a family.
4. Deck the halls. Let the kids help decorate your home, both inside and out. Get everyone their own Santa or elf hat to feel even more festive.
5. Ride the CTA Holiday Train and Elves’ Workshop Trains to totally get in the holiday mood.
6. Put those shoes out on the eve of Dec. 6 for Saint Nicholas to visit and leave a little treat behind.
7. Write and mail letters to Santa. Double check that everyone is working to make it on the nice list this year!
8. Visit a cut-your-own tree farm to select the absolute perfect tree for your family.
9. Go see The Nutcracker, whether it’s Joffrey’s version or a local ballet theater. If you can’t see it in person, watch a recorded version from On Demand at home!
10. Show the fun of giving. Take each of your kids on a special shopping outing where they focus on selecting gifts for others, whether it’s their siblings, grandparents or cousins. Stress the joy of giving to others.
11. Ice skate at Millennium Park. If you are there on a Friday evening, stop by Cloud Gate, aka “The Bean,” to hear caroling at 6 p.m.
12. Make care packages for the homeless filled with socks, hats and gloves. Either drop them off at a local shelter or give to those you see in need to help keep them warm this holiday season.
13. Holiday music ALL.DAY.LONG. Start the music first thing in the morning and keep it going until bedtime. Have impromptu sing-alongs as a family.
14. Try your hand at making homemade fudge. On medium heat, cook two cups sugar, one tsp salt, six tbsp butter, one cup heavy cream, and 3 ½ cups mini marshmallows until melted. Bring to boil, remove from heat and add three cups white or semi-sweet chocolate chips and one tsp vanilla extract until melted. Pour into wax-lined 9×13 pan. Sprinkle top with peppermint, nuts or your choice of treat. Let cool three hours.
15. Have a gingerbread house decorating contest with friends and families, where each family gets to pick a theme and decorate to their heart’s content. Provide tons of yummy candy and frosting options for all.
16. Make sugar cookies with cutters. Everybody loves festive holiday cookies, so make those delicious sugar cookies with holiday cookie cutters and decorate with sprinkles or frosting.
17. Hit up Christkindlmarket in Daley Plaza. Indulge in the spiced wine for adults and hot cocoa for the kiddos.
18. Pick a trip to either Lincoln Park’s ZooLights or Brookfield Zoo’s Holiday Magic to celebrate the season with some feisty and festive animals. Go earlier in the day before it gets too crowded.
19. Wrap it up! Throw a present wrapping party that involves the kids. The more bows and ribbons the better.
20. Visit the Magnificent Mile on Michigan Avenue to check out all the holiday lights and cheer. Splurge and take a horse-drawn carriage ride.
21. Take a drive. Get some hot chocolate in to-go cups and drive around your local neighborhood to check out the holiday lights and decorations. If you are feeling adventurous, hit up some other areas where people are rumored to go out all with decor.
22. Have a cookie exchange and recipe swap. Make your favorite holiday cookies and plan a swapping party with other families. You’ll walk away with delicious treats and recipes on how to to recreate them.
23. For a truly magical experience, visit Illumination: Tree Lights at the Morton Arboretum for a one-mile outdoor walk surrounded by trees that are brought to life with lights and music.
24. Get ready for the big guy’s visit! Write that letter to Santa and prepare a plate full of cookies and milk, and don’t forget carrots for the reindeer.
25. Enjoy and soak up every minute of the holiday!