5 EASY Holiday Activities for Parents who Work at Christmas

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Do you have to work at Christmas? It’s so hard!! The whole world feels magical and beautiful, but we are stuck at our desks, in our office, or just hidden away in our place of work, while the world is celebrating. If you are working this Christmas, here are some easy holiday activities for your kids!


Ten years ago my husband was working for a valet company at the local hospital. His job was to either run and get cars, or work at a booth letting people into the Emergency Room. And, he had to work all Christmas week – including Christmas night.

I’ve been working in offices and at home for the last twelve years, and MANY of these years I have had to work on Christmas week, Christmas Eve, or the day after Christmas.

It is so hard to celebrate with your family, knowing that you have to duck out and go sit at a desk – or in a valet booth.

If you have kids, it’s even harder to give them a magical Christmas without you. Here are my favorite top EASY activities for you and your kids if you work at Christmas.

BTW, if you are looking for a job this holiday for extra pay and hours, check out this great list!


1. Take advantage of flexible working hours

Sometimes, like when my husband had to work that valet job, flexible hours aren’t possible. I get it! Many jobs are high-priority and require in-person hours (like the medical, firefighters, or military fields), and some just don’t have extra space for employees to have flex time.

But, if you are able to move hours around and take advantage of flex time, do it! Some companies offer evening or morning hours instead of the usual 9 am – 5 pm. You may be able to ask for something like four 10-hour days or Fridays off. Either of these options would give you a little more time at home with your kids. Read how I wake up at 5 am to work here!

Depending on your flex time over the holidays, childcare needs may change, and things get tricky! If you are looking for childcare options this Christmas, read my complete guide here for how we do childcare over Christmas.


2. Celebrate off-peak holiday hours during December

Can’t take off Christmas day? Thinking about changing your day of celebration to the week before or the week after. We have often traveled on Christmas day, so our actual family celebration wasn’t until near the new year.

Consider making the holiday special with your family by adding activities like ice skating, secret santa, holiday markets, or decorating your Christmas tree. All of these things will give your family Christmas cheer during this festive season because the actual day of December 25 is a little less available.


3. Use Christmas Decorations to Celebrate your Employees/Colleagues

What are YOU going to do to celebrate Christmas? I know you are focused on your family 100% now, but don’t forget to enjoy it yourself.

Decorate your workspace! One of my favorite memories at one of my crummy jobs was decorating the workplace. We pulled out the old decorations and spent an entire afternoon decorating the Christmas tree and drinking hot chocolate. It made it so worth it!

Also, definitely find some yummy food. Even if it means taking a holiday turkey sandwich to your valet booth, it will make you happy.

Lastly, I’m a firm believer that adults need to give themselves a gift to treat themselves. Do it! You deserve it!


4. Use Christmas Gifts to Celebrate your Kids

If you are having a tough holiday season where you need to work at Christmas time, then consider getting your children gifts or activities that will help during this perfect time. If your kids love legos, but they would need help to build that toy, then maybe get them something instead that can let them play independently while you work.

Click here to read how to help your kids play independently!


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KiwiCo Subscription Box under the Christmas tree several years ago!

5. Easy Christmas Day Activities when you Work at Christmas

Here are some gifts, toys, and activities to give your children joy this season while you work at Christmas time. You can adjust these to be Christmas or holiday-themed. But even if you lean into generic activities that your kids can play by themselves, that’s ok!

Enjoy your kids. Help them enjoy the holiday. And you will make it through.

1. Learning Subscription Boxes

We have used KiwiCo for years for both our kids. It’s an excellent monthly learning subscription that makes our lives so much better.

Every month my kids get an age-appropriate activity box that has 3-4 craft/activities that uses the STEM process (science, technology, engineering, math) to give you smart, hands-on activities to do with your child. They have awesome boxes that are age-appropriate for all ages.

You can even get just ONE BOX (no subscription necessary.) Just purchase one box and put it under the tree! It’s the perfect holiday surprise that your kids can create by themselves.

I also love keeping all the previous boxes so I have a supply of activities I can rotate year-round. I keep all her old activities in an organized plastic box and pull out one or two a week. (“Do you want to do your doctor kit or dinosaur matching game this week?”)


2. Homer Learning App

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So…I’ve tried LOTS of online learning apps for my kids device. I am tired of busy, loud learning programs that don’t actually teach anything.

But the Homer Learning App has changed everything for us!

If you need a fun (educational!) app to surprise your kids on Christmas, try this one!

My 3-year old son asks me to learn his “alphabet letter game” because he loves it so much! I can customize the program with his favorite topics – trains, dinosaurs, and animals!

Each program is customized towards my child’s age and learning abilities. Because my daughter is advanced with her learning, I can customize her program with what words/math she does and doesn’t know!

Subjects include reading, math, SEL, creativity and thinking. I love their logic games!

Read my complete review of Homer Learning App here and see how we use it for our family.


Do you have to work at Christmas? It's the WORST! The whole world feels magical and beautiful, but we are stuck at our desks, in our office, or just hidden away in our place of work, while the world is celebrating. If you are working this Christmas, here are some easy holiday activities for your kids!

3. The Facebook Portal

Three years ago we decided to give the Facebook Portal to my in-laws for Christmas. Little did we know, it was going to SAVE Christmas and transform our relationship with our parents.

You guys, this contraption is a life-saver. The Facebook Portal is a direct portal from one person’s house to yours. You set it up, login with Facebook, and it gives a direct connection to anyone that has Facebook or WhatsApp.

Why do I like it? I am able to VERBALLY call my mother “Hey Portal, call Grandma!” and the Portal will connect and let my kids run around and talk to their grandparents while I make dinner.

It pans and zooms in, so grandparents can see the kids while they are playing cars, and running in circles.

It can “babysit” my kids while I work. My daughter can have play time or story time with her grandpa…all by herself with no parent aid.

I can call my kids’ great-grandma (who is 90!) who has WhatsApp, and she can see my kids from her phone.

Bonus: I use it play music, watch YouTube videos, and do Zoom calls – its a great screen for your kitchen!

Tips for a good deal:

  • These go on great sale on Black Friday.
  • Get an older version on Amazon that works just as well for a cheaper price.
  • We also got a new one for sale on Facebook Marketplace at a steal. Check there and Craigslist!
  • If you don’t want to wait for a backordered one from Facebook’s website, Amazon has faster delivery times.

How can you use this for Christmas? Set this up in your house and let your kids learn how to call you! Use this as a fun family way to video call your kids from wherever you are. If you are on an assembly line at work, you still have a video feed into your kid’s Christmas activities!


4. Portable Bluetooth Speaker for Kids

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My kids got this for Christmas and LOVE IT. It’s the perfect size to hold, and to carry around while they listen to music. I stream music to it from my phone (usually a fun Spotify playlist!), or they listen to audio books!

My favorite way to get free audiobooks, is to use my library card and hook it up to the The Libby App. You can download audiobooks for free!

TIP: Include these headphones for your kids which are our favorite!


5. Craft and Art Activities

My kids LOVE crafts and art activities, and they could spend countless hours playing with these while I work. If your child is easily amused by stickers, paint, and crayons, try these options for PARENT-FREE FUN.

Paw Patrol Sticker Puzzle Book – This book is the perfect combination of stickers and puzzle fun. My kids ADORE this book, and asked for it for months. Definitely a win if you need quiet kids while you work.

Scissors and Tape Activities – If you have children in preschool or kindergarten, I totally recommend these learning books! They are fantastic scissor and tape exercises to teach them, and make their hands tired. My kids love them!

Twistable Crayons – These are our FAVORITE crayons. We keep them in a pencil pouch, and they easily can be transported to school, church, the car, work…

Mess-Free Marker Books – These mess-free books are amazing! They give your child coloring fun, without any real markers that can stain your office chairs. WIN.


6. Pack a “Fun Toy Bag” for your kids

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Last year grandparents gave my children these Land’s End Zippable Bags for Christmas. Let me tell you, these are the best gifts they have EVER RECEIVED. Yes, I know they aren’t “fun”. But we use them almost every week.

We use these as “fun toy bags” that we keep packed with crayons, stickers, toy cars, coloring books, and portable fun things that we can take with us in the car.

We also use these bags to take their winter gear to school, if you live in a place near snow during the winter months!


Work at Christmas and Still CELEBRATE!

This season is definitely challenging. And sometimes it won’t feel magical and festive. But it will be perfect for this season! Adjust your hours, work late at night, fit in those early morning shifts, and let your kids have fun even when you are stuck in the office.

You can do this! Merry Christmas.


You might also like:

How To Manage Childcare Over Christmas Break (Without Paying For It)

9 BEST Christmas gifts for mom 2022! 

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Oh hey there!

I’m Ginny and can’t wait to meet you! I work 50+ hours a week. Mom my two kids. And strive everyday to spend more real time with my husband and kids.

All I want to be is a good mom who works hard. That’s not too much to ask, right?  Come hang out with me and do more than the bare minimum.

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