What to Do on Christmas Day When the Family Lives Away


Family Lives Far AwayPacking suitcases and gifts in the car for a 10-hour road trip doesn’t exactly put the Merry in Christmas for our family of six. The thought of buying gifts, wrapping, packing them and transporting them 626 miles so they can be unwrapped in the presence of family, packed again and unloaded at home isn’t our brand of fun. We go visit family for a few days before Christmas so we can be home on Christmas Day. That said, what is there to do on Christmas Day when the family lives away?

Go sledding

There may not me snow on the Front Range, but a short drive into the millions of acres of National Forest that Colorado offers will likely afford you all the snow you want. Grab your sleds and a picnic to keep it cheap, or visit one of the the state’s fun tubing parks. Frisco has an awesome adventure park.

Host friends or dine progressively

Invite a couple of families over, even if they’re people you don’t typically hang with. Make building new relationships part of the fun. Plan a menu together, or even make it a progressive dinner — appetizers at one place, main course at another and dessert at the next. End with a hot cocoa bar and Christmas light peeping. Don’t want to clean house? Go out to eat. Plenty of restaurants are open on Christmas.

Puzzles and PJs

Poor Richards downtown has a great variety of puzzles. Pick up a couple of 250-piecers or a monster 1000-piece option a few days beforehand. Bake cookies, light candles, put down the electronics, and create a masterpiece together.

Serve the homeless

It’s no secret that the homeless population in the Springs is massive. There are loads of organizations here who open their doors to serve food on holidays. Some require an application a few weeks in advance, so keep that in mind. Serving doesn’t have to be done through non-profits, though. Visit a wholesale store to buy items in bulk and fill plastic ziplock bags or string backpacks with beef jerky, trail mix oranges and juice boxes. Ask a local hotel to donate items like shampoo and conditioner, and a dentist for toothbrush, toothpaste and floss kits. Fill the bags and pass them out. Serving feels so good.

Movie marathon and candy houses

Remember that bag of rejected Halloween candy in your pantry? Buy tubs of frosting and a few boxes of graham crackers and cookies to accompany it, and craft houses out of them. Hack for all the mess-hater moms: Spread a trash bag on the floor, place cookie sheets on top of the trash bags, and build the houses on top. Use a muffin tin to hold the candies and icing, and voila — no mess.

Open Christmas gifts on the hour

Have kids take turns opening gifts on the hour. This way the house stays tidy, as the paper can be pitched and the new item put away before opening something else. It’s also fun because kiddos play with each new item for a while before unwrapping something else.

Spend the night in a hotel

The sweet part about hotels is they can be as swanky or relaxed as you’d like. My kids adore going to a hotel, popping popcorn, watching a movie and going out to explore a new town. Choose a town your family hasn’t visited, and make an overnighter part of their gift — especially if Grandma sends Christmas money and you have no idea what to spend it on.

Paint holiday canvases

Not Christmas paintings — all the other holidays. Can’t decide who should paint which? Have a drawing! Johnny can paint something for Valentine’s Day and Susie can take care of Halloween. Pinterest has tons of tutorials, and with the 40% off weekly Hobby Lobby coupon, a four-pack of canvases can be bought for under $10.

Try something new

This is could be on the more on the expensive side if you don’t have the gear, but try snow-shoeing or ice fishing. Outfitters in small mountain towns often rent out equipment, and your family may fall in love with a new sport.

Start a new tradition

Several years ago when we still lived in Oklahoma with our extended family, we would have my Grandma and Grandpa over on Christmas evening. My Grandma’s birthday is Christmas Day, so we would make a birthday cake and a meal, and celebrate her birthday with Jesus’. Now that we’ve moved away, we still make a cake and celebrate Jesus, and we call and sing her happy birthday and blow out candles. It’s my kids’ favorite part of Christmas.

Do you have other ideas? I want to hear them!


  1. You have such a beautiful gift of writing . I love reading your blogs . Keep up the good work.
    God Bless You

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