Picture of Jamie Bills with Christmas Box
November 21, 2020

Christmas Story and Activity Box

By Jamie Bills

Let me introduce you to my box.

About 10 years ago I decided to organize our Christmas season nightly activities. I gathered our Christmas stories and activities and made a plan of when we would read those stories and do those activities. What I REALLY wanted, was an antique-looking, wooden box that would feel MAGICAL every time it was opened.

Although I am still holding out for the magical-looking box, the interior has been lovingly worked on for years and it feels magical to me. Maybe it is just all the memories we have created with it.

We now have a story, song, and activity for every night, as well as a nightly Jelly Belly guessing game. I want to share our special Christmas Box with you in case you are interested in putting together a box of your own (or even just incorporating an idea or two into your own family traditions).

Christmas Binder, box and bird.
Our Christmas Box with the Organizational Binder

The “brains” (binder) in the box.

In order to keep every day in December straight, I have spreadsheets at the beginning of the binder. I update them before the season starts so we are ready to go. They look like this:

Typed schedule for story, song and activity ideas for Christmas time.
Daily Schedule for December

Here is a downloadable copy for you:

The first version is in Excel so you can edit it as you wish. The second version is a PDF, just in case you do not have Excel but would still like a copy.

Other information in my binder.

Behind the December daily schedule, I keep Christmas Song Lyrics, some typed Christmas stories, our family Christmas letters & photos from years past, and our annual family progressive story.

The Jelly Belly guessing game.

One year for Christmas we had a friend give us a set of Jelly Bellys divided by flavor in little clear baggies. We were to open one each day and guess the flavor, then we looked at the list to see if we were right.

My girls LOVED it so much, we now guess Jelly Belly flavors every year. In fact, it is the first thing we do every night (after putting on our Santa hats, of course).

Gingerbread house and Jelly Bellys
Little Jelly Belly Bags with Numbers & Our New Jelly Belly house.

For many years I would set up the game in little bags as you see in the picture above. I would get them at the dollar store or Amazon. Some years I bought a bag of Jelly Bellys and fished out the flavors, others I have felt it was worth the extra money to buy a box where they are already divided to save time.

A few years ago I came across this adorable advent gingerbread house at Hobby Lobby. Each of the little compartments is perfect for 5-6 Jelly Bellys. With both methods, I have the flavor typed on the daily organization sheets (in case I forget, yes this means I do not guess but I still get a Jelly Belly and love watching my family guess).

Time for a Christmas Song.

After the Jelly Bellys, we sing a Christmas song as a family. Somewhere along the road we were able to pick up some used Christmas song books. The rest of the song lyrics I keep in my binder.

Christmas song books and song props for kids.
Song Books and Fun

Some of the days we have extra things to make the songs a little more fun. For example, when we sing the 12 Days of Christmas, we all choose our days with the little laminated pictures and then you sing your part and hold up your picture when your numbers come along. We also have bells for Jingle Bells, mini Christmas trees to hold for ‘O Christmas Tree and a couple hand puppets for Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman.

And then we read.

After the song. A picture book. Yay! I am not going to say these are my absolute-favorite Christmas books (because there are SO many great ones out there), but they are all really good. The book titles and authors are all on the downloadable schedule above.

24 Christmas picture books
One Christmas story for each night leading up to Christmas.

Play time.

Last-but-not-least… we finish with a family activity. I have typed up a list of all the Christmas activities listed on our schedule. Some of the descriptions include website URLs or locations you can find and re-create these activities for your own family.

Christmas activities for kids
Christmas activities for kids
Christmas activities for kids.

We love December.

Having an ORGANIZED outline for the month makes this all very DOABLE for me. It has taken me years to put this together, so if you decide to duplicate…give yourself time. I have picked up the books throughout the years (including thrift store finds). Some of the activities take a little preparation, but many I can pull out of the box a few minutes before we gather. If there are concerts or other activities going on (you know…before COVID), we would just have those things replace our nightly activity.

When my girls start talking about Christmas time, they are equally excited for our nightly time together and their presents.

If you have a Christmas game or activity your family enjoys, I would love if you would write it in the comments below. Every year I am re-evaluating our list and changing activities (and sometimes books) based on the ages of my kids and how much we enjoyed them the year before.

Merry Christmas Season!

Jamie Bills