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Don't Celebrate Christmas? Here's How to Spend December 25

No matter what your traditions are, this can be a meaningful day for your family.

Celebrating December 25th Without Christmas

If you don’t celebrate Christmas, December 25 can be a dreaded day for parents. Almost everything is closed, and many friends aren’t available. But there are options, so make it a day to look forward to it with these tips for meaningful family fun.

Bundle Up and Get Outside

Christmas Day is a wonderful time to experience and enjoy the quiet emptiness of winter. Bundle up, fill Thermoses with coffee or cocoa, and head to a favorite park: it’s a whole new experience in the winter, and there won’t be any waiting for the slides!  Check out one of our top playground picks open year-round: Freedom Playground, Ashbridge Memorial Playground, or Kids Castle.

Notice the sights, sounds and smells of winter on a winter trail walk or hike. While the visitor center is closed on Christmas, all trails in Valley Forge Park are open, and portions of the Schuylkill River Trail and trails in Ridley Creek State Park are also maintained in the winter.  If snow is on the ground, sledding is also great fun near these trails!  

Philly’s popular outdoor skating rinks, at Dilworth Park and the Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest at Penn’s Landing, are open on Christmas. Both have “cabins” where your family can warm up with some yummy hot cocoa and snacks.

If you’ll be out over a mealtime, plan a winter picnic! Pack up hot soup and enjoy it outside, or lay out blankets across your laps and eat your packed lunch in the car.  

Photo by Larry Albee, courtesy of Longwood Gardens

Avoid the Crowds

Visiting a popular winter break destination on Christmas can mean having the place to yourself. Longwood Gardens is open on Christmas, and offers both indoor and outdoor beauty to explore, as well as organ concerts and an open-air fountain show. Closer in on the Main Line, Jenkins Arboretum is also open.

Want to pretend it’s summer? Coco Key water park in Mount Laurel, NJ, is open on Christmas and offers day passes. Other waterparks are open, but require an overnight stay.

Do Good

Put your free time to good use by volunteering on Christmas. Call a nearby senior center and ask if any residents won’t have family to visit on Christmas, and make arrangements to visit — with homemade cards. Make cookies or sandwiches and thank you cards to bring to your local firehouse for the firefighters on duty on Christmas.

Embrace the Tradition

Chinese food on Christmas may be a joke, but it’s also a great idea!  Many Asian restaurants are open (call first), so Christmas is a fun opportunity to introduce your kids to new dishes or enjoy old favorites. If you normally get take-out, eat at the restaurant!  

The roads are often empty on Christmas, making it a great opportunity to drive slowly and take in your neighbors’ Christmas lights. If your family enjoys Christmas music, tune in to the final day of holiday programming. 

Photo by Gwyneth K. Shaw

Or, venture further away from home to catch the best lights!  Our Facebook discussion groups are buzzing with talk about the most over-the-top light displays around.  Enter “Christmas lights” in the search bar to make a list of addresses, and then involve your kids in mapping out a route.

Another way to enjoy music: consider blending into the Christmas crowd at a local church. The melodies are beautiful, even if Christmas isn’t your tradition, and the feeling of warmth and celebration is one that you can share, no matter your religion.

Snuggle Up

Christmas Day is the perfect time for a roaring fire, so get one going and then pick an activity. Choose a theme — from holiday films to all the iterations of Batman — and binge watch movies. Or haul out your board game collection and start a marathon game of Monopoly, Risk, or even Twister. Love puzzles? Get out the biggest one you own and see if you can finally finish it.

Look Forward

No matter how you choose to spend Christmas, the key to making it a fun day with no (or few) exclamations of “I’m bored!” is your positive outlook. Look forward to this day with no distractions. Talk with your kids about how you’ll spend it. Create your own traditions.  

Then, next year, they will be anticipating, not dreading, Christmas Day, and so will you!

Lead image via Canva. 

Contributing Writer