Safe holiday activities for kids during the pandemic

If you have children at home, you may be wondering what types of activities you can do to provide entertainment and help them feel the spirit of celebration during the pandemic. Balanced You has put together a list of seasonal activities you can do as a family that foster connection and well-being while observing guidelines for staying healthy.

Invite kids into the planning process

Consider bringing kids into the planning conversation. Be very open about why you cannot participate in some of your normal traditions or spend time with beloved friends and family this year. Make space for whatever questions come up and validate feelings that arise. Then, move toward planning together by asking the kids what feelings they cherish most during the holidays. They may say their own versions of joy, happiness, connection, excitement, or others.  Brainstorm together safe activities you can do that will help cultivate those feelings in the coming weeks. Some examples are below.

Socially-distanced holiday ideas for kids

  • Take a walking or driving tour of holiday lights. There are fun displays across the Puget Sound region. Check out this Seattle Times article for recommendations and remember to wear a mask if you opt to walk through displays.
  • Organize a Secret Santa gift exchange with local friends and family. Gather friends and family members for a Secret Santa gift exchange. Use a free online system like Elfster or DrawNames to make organization easy and do gift drop-offs outside of homes to promote social distancing.
  • Watch holiday movies together. Make a list of favorite classic holiday movies and new ones you’d like to try and work your way through the list together. The Seattle Public Library has hundreds of DVD and on-demand holiday movies you can access for free. Or, if you’re a Netflix subscriber, you can invite loved ones from other homes to watch movies virtually with you using the Netflix Party feature.
  • Go on an outdoor adventure. Washington state has some of the most beautiful trails in the world, and hiking with a mask is a good way to practice social distancing during this pandemic. Check out Washington Trails Association’s list of recommended snowy hikes for kids, as well as their list of lowland (snow-free!) kid-friendly winter hikes. For safety tips, check out Washington Trail Association’s Trail Smarts resources.
  • Plan virtual celebrations with loved ones. Do your kids love opening presents with grandparents? Are they craving a holiday sleepover with friends? Plan virtual celebrations and as much as possible, engage the kids into the planning process. Do they want a virtual dance party with friends? Would they like to eat breakfast virtually while opening presents from family? What would help make sharing holiday traditions with others virtually feel special?
  • Cook together. This year, invite kids to join in menu planning and food preparation as much as possible. Consider planning for favorite recipe traditions and incorporating new ones. Cooking together is a great way to spend time together while creating memories for a lifetime.  The USDA has a compiled a list of seasonal favorites for inspiration.

Do you have other recommendations for holiday activities during COVID-19? We’d love to hear them! Please contact us at

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