Planning a Family Christmas Trip Focused on Festive Activities

The holiday season is a magical time for traveling with family. Between the festive decorations everywhere, fun Christmas events and activities, and the chance to enjoy quality time together, a Christmas-themed family vacation can create memories to cherish for years to come.

This comprehensive guide will walk you through choosing a festive destination, finding accommodations, planning Christmas-y activities, enjoying holiday meals and treats, and making time for rest and connection with your loved ones. 

Choosing a Destination That Feels Like Christmas

When planning your Christmas family trip, choosing a destination that embraces the Yuletide season is key. You want to pick a spot where you’ll find plenty of festive things to see and do throughout your vacation. Here are some top Christmas holiday destinations to consider:

Christmas Magic Across the U.S.A.

  • New York City: Aside from the incredible Rockefeller Center Christmas tree and ice skating rink, N.Y.C. hosts the Radio City Christmas Spectacular and elaborate department store window displays.
  • Chicago: Sip hot cocoa as you admire the ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo. Don’t miss the Christkindlmarket Chicago Christmas market too.
  • Orlando: At Disney’s parks, you’ll find special Christmas parades, shows, food, and, of course, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
  • San Francisco: Take a Christmas lights tour or go ice skating outside Union Square before exploring the Embarcadero Center holiday market.

European Christmas Destinations

  • London: Check out Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, with its ice rink and Christmas market, or catch a festive show on the West End like the Nutcracker ballet.
  • Paris: Stroll down the Champs-Élysées to admire the glittering lights before sipping vin chaud at a Christmas market.
  • Prague: Wander Prague’s Old Town Square to experience its wonderful Christmas markets and listen to carolers in the Gothic setting.
  • Munich: Munich really feels like a winter wonderland, with thick blankets of snow and glowing lights everywhere you look during the holiday season.

When choosing a destination, think about travel costs, necessary travel documents, weather/temperature, and ease of getting around. Researching the specific Christmas events, activities, attractions, and decor unique to each potential location can help inform your decision, too.

Finding Festive Holiday Accommodations

Once you’ve settled on a Christmas-y destination, it’s time to find accommodations to match the holly-jolly vibe you want for your family trip. Look into these options to stay somewhere that really celebrates the season:

Hotels Decked Out for Christmas

Many nice hotels go all out with Christmas decor and theming. Seek out accommodations advertising:

  • Christmas trees and lights in hotel lobbies.
  • Festive welcome gifts in guest rooms.
  • Christmas carols playing.
  • Holiday meals and buffets.
  • Christmas movies playing in rooms.
  • Santa meet-and-greets and carolers.
  • Family-friendly Christmas events and activities.

Cozy Cabin or Cottage Rentals

For a peaceful family Christmas getaway, rent a secluded cottage or cabin! Look for rentals with:

  • Fireplaces to hang stockings.
  • Kitchens to cook Christmas dinner together.
  • Cozy spaces for family game nights.
  • Nearby winter recreation like sledding hills.

Spacious Vacation Rentals

Renting a house is ideal for gathering extended family under one roof. Look for:

  • Multi-bedroom rentals to fit the whole crew.
  • Christmas-decorated homes are available.
  • Kitchens big enough to host Christmas meals.
  • Large living rooms with space for a family Christmas tree.

Be sure to book accommodations early and inquire about cancellation policies in case anything changes with your trip.

Planning Out Christmassy Things to Do

The key to an amazing family Christmas getaway is planning lots of festive, fun activities and attractions to enjoy together. Here are ideas of quintessential Christmas things to do:

Outdoor Christmas Fun

  • Drive or walk through Christmas light displays.
  • Go on horse-drawn sleigh rides together.
  • Have an old-fashioned caroling session.
  • Take winter hikes and look for animal tracks.
  • Build snowmen and have a snowball fight.

Indoor Yuletide Activities

  • Attend Christmas crafting workshops to make ornaments or gifts.
  • Bake gingerbread houses and Christmas cookies together.
  • Go to a performance of the Nutcracker ballet.
  • Watch a live production of A Christmas Carol.
  • Tour historic Christmas-decorated mansions and buildings.

Cultural Christmas Events

  • Check out a holiday choir concert.
  • Visit a museum exhibiting nativity scenes from around the world.
  • Look for Christmas plays and musicals like A Christmas Story.
  • Watch symphonies and orchestras perform holiday classics.
  • Listen to Christmas Celtic music at a concert.

Seasonal Christmas Attractions

  • Ice skate at an outdoor rink under twinkling lights.
  • Go to a Christmas tree farm to cut down your family tree.
  • Visit Santa at the mall or a holiday festival for photos.
  • Attend Christmas parades and festivals.
  • Tour an elegant hotelâ€TMs over-the-top Christmas decor.

When researching activities, look into Christmas experiences and traditions unique to your destination, too, like visiting SantaPark in Lapland or seeing the Rockefeller Center tree lighting ceremony. Get tickets for popular events in advance when you can.

Enjoying Christmas Meals and Sweet Treats

Family Christmas vacation is only complete with partaking in festive holiday meals and sugary treats! Here are some ways to enjoy Yuletide food and drinks during your trip:

  • On Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, enjoy a multi-course holiday dinner with dishes like roasted turkey with stuffing, glazed ham, mashed potatoes, eggnog, and more.
  • Build gingerbread houses together, then have fun decorating sugar cookies in festive shapes.
  • Indulge in hot chocolate, apple cider, and spiced Christmas punches during your travels.
  • Make reservations at restaurants serving special Christmas menus for brunch, afternoon tea, or dinner.

Cooking up some old family recipes together or trying Christmas meals from other cultures could make for extra memorable experiences!

Making Time for Relaxation and Connection

While planning many festive activities is important, remember to schedule downtime for relaxing and reconnecting as a family during your Christmas trip, too. Here are some ways to do this:

  • Spend an afternoon snuggled up together watching classic Christmas movies like Home Alone or It a Wonderful Life.
  • Let the kids play with new toys or games they may receive as gifts during the trip.
  • Schedule time for the adults to enjoy a couples massage or a nice dinner out while the kids are under a babysitter’s care.
  • Simply unplug from the screens and go for quiet walks to admire the Christmas scenery.
  • Set aside time when you all put away devices to play Christmas games like making snowflake paper chains or doing a holiday puzzle.
  • Make time for heart-to-heart conversations to discuss favorite Christmas memories.

By balancing festive activities with quality downtime, your family can make meaningful connections and recharge amid the holiday excitement.

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