There’s nothing quite like waking up on Christmas morning. Whether you’re a kid anticipating Santa’s arrival, a parent excited to witness your childrens’ joy, or a college kid thankful to wake up in your childhood home, it’s a morning full of warm fuzzies. Your alarm is slightly less annoying and even your morning coffee tastes better than usual. It’s arguably the most wonderful day of the year, yet sometimes figuring out exactly what to do on Christmas day is harder than you think. The reality is that opening Santa’s gifts is often over in a blink, and then there are still precious hours of the holiday left to enjoy. 

For my family, most of our traditions take place on Christmas Eve, so it’s always important for us to keep the festive momentum up by planning a fun Christmas Day, as well. At our house, after we finish opening gifts, we invite our loved ones over for a big Christmas brunch that is definitely my favorite breakfast of the year. Then, like all good meals, it’s followed by a time to relax, which often includes watching a Christmas movie, and a nap, to rest up and prepare for my personal favorite part of the day: fajitas and margs at my grandparents’ house. 

However, it didn’t always look like this. When my sisters and I were growing up, our energy was unmatched on Christmas day. Our parents had to beg us not to wake them up before there was “a seven at the first” on the digital clock they put in our room (since we couldn’t yet tell time). My parents were constantly having to get creative with what to do on Christmas Day in order to keep us entertained. Luckily for us, my mom was and is, queen of creativity, so we were never too bored. In the spirit of keeping the magic alive, I’ve brainstormed the ultimate list of what to do on Christmas Day to ensure that I make the most of the best time of the year.

From giving yourself a break to paying it forward, there’s something on this list for everyone and every family.

Photo by Kristen Kilpatrick

Something Generous

  1. Pay it forward. Chances are you received some new clothes, so go through your closet and make a pile to give away. 
  2. Deliver Christmas cookies to your local fire station or police station. This is my favorite Christmas tradition, considering the people at the station are giving up time with their family to work. Their smiles make it all worth it. 
  3. Write thank you notes for the gifts you received. Let your loved ones know how much you appreciate their thoughtfulness. Plus, this doubles as a craft for kids. 
  4. Serve a meal at a homeless shelter. Find your nearest homeless shelter and volunteer to serve Christmas lunch. After all, it’s better to give than to receive. 
  5. Call all of your family and friends to wish them a happy holiday. Since you might not be able to gather with your loved ones, call them to let them know you’re thinking of them. Sometimes a simple phone call will make someone’s whole day merrier. 

Something Relaxing

  1. Watch your favorite Christmas movie(s). Choose your family favorite, or check this list for something you haven’t seen.
  2. Give yourself an at-home facial. Follow this guide to put any new skincare gifts to use and give your face a break from all the holiday party makeup. 
  3. Go walking in a winter wonderland. Stretch your legs, walk off the cinnamon rolls, and get some fresh air. Throw on your snow boots, or if you’re in Texas, perhaps some flip flops. 
  4. Drive around to look at Christmas decorations. Take it all in before the wreaths and lights are sent back to storage. 
  5. Light a fire. There’s nothing more relaxing than a cup of hot chocolate next to a warm fire on a cold winter day.
  6. Take a hot bath. Create a spa-worthy bath and quite literally soak in the fact that you pulled off another successful Christmas.  
  7. Give yourself a festive manicure. Check out these winter nail trends and recreate one to show off at Christmas dinner.  

Something Tasty

  1. Bake and decorate classic Christmas cookies. Let your creativity run wild with all the icing and sprinkles you can imagine.
  2. Make gingerbread men. Our food editor found the best gingerbread recipe so you don’t have to. Find and try the winning recipe here
  3. Cook a fancy meal you’ve been wanting to try. There’s no time like Christmas time to indulge in a delicious meal. It’s the perfect day to go all out in the kitchen.
  4. Make s’mores by the fire. Remember that relaxing fire you started earlier? It now doubles as dessert. 
  5. Build a Waffle Gingerbread House. Check out this guide for tips and inspiration.
  6. Mix up a Christmas cocktail. May I suggest this Bourbon Apple Cider?
  7. Cook a big Christmas morning brunch. When it comes to Christmas breakfast, you gotta go big or go home. 

Something Creative

  1. Build your perfect Christmas playlist. Add all of your favorite festive songs to play throughout the house all day. Or, feel free to borrow ours
  2. Brainstorm your goals for the New Year. Christmas Day is a great time to think about all that you are grateful for, and reflect on how to pay that forward in the New Year. 
  3. Create a photo book with your favorite memories from the year. Celebrate the year by memorializing your favorite photos so they don’t end up lost in iPhotos. 
  4. Do a festive puzzle. After all of the holiday parties, sometimes it’s nice to sit around and do an old fashioned puzzle. Bonus points if it’s Christmas themed. 
  5. Host a White Elephant Gift Exchange. Get creative with the most random, hilarious gifts you can think of. 
  6. Have a Christmas Carol Karaoke Night. This might just become your new favorite tradition. Look up sing-a-long videos to all of your favorite Christmas tunes and sing like no one is watching. 

Did we miss anything? Share what you love to do on Christmas Day below!

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