If you’re looking for simple Christmas invitation to play ideas for toddlers and preschoolers, then you’re in the right place! Featured here are 10, easy to set up activities, that will help your child (and you) get into the Christmas spirit.
Christmas is an exciting time, especially for young children but it can also be stressful for us as parents when we have a million things on our plates. The majority of these activities take less than 5 minutes to set up and most can be used more than once.
Not only are these activities engaging and fun, but they also have many education benefits too. Read on to find out more about each activity and how it helps your child’s development.
5 Benefits of the Christmas Invitations to Play
All play invitations have many benefits, but it can feel off putting when the play is messy! As well as being a great way to make connections to the world around them, here are some more reasons why you should try these play ideas for Winter
- Gives children the freedom to explore new materials which in turn fosters curiosity and imagination. There is no right or wrong outcome when it comes to sensory play.
- Helps to develop fine motor skills and hand strength. This is crucial for learning to write later on down the line
- Encourages communication and language development. Play invitations can be a social activity, particularly if you invite friends to join in!
- Helps to develop spatial awareness as children begin to understand the environment around them via exploration of materials.
- Boosts brain development which in turn helps ability to problem solve. Sensory play is a great introduction to STEAM learning.
All of Christmas invitations to play are suitable for children aged from 3 onwards and are intended to be done under supervision. If your child is at the stage where they put items into their mouths avoid small object that might pose a choking hazard – pompoms and small beads, for example.
10 Christmas Invitation to Play Ideas
All of the ideas featured should simply be used as inspiration for your own play at home. You don’t need to use the exact same resources as I did, but here are some core materials that we use for play all year round.
- A tray – the IKEA Flisat table or a tuff spot tray are great purchase options for sensory play
- wooden serving platter from Amazon
- Learning resources fine motor set
- wooden scoops and tongs
- small craft resources – e.g. buttons, beads and pompoms
Christmas Invitation to Play Idea 1: Create a Christmas tree with loose parts
If you have a set of magnetic tiles, invite your child to create a Christmas tree. Let them think about the shapes that would work best and provide some small loose parts and Christmas decorations.
Try to include some magnetic items (like jingle bells), to add a STEAM based element to play.
Quick tip: don’t give the same away!
Whilst it’s tempting to simple say – ‘use triangle to make the tree’. Allow your child the opportunity to explore for themselves too.
If they are completely stuck, sit by their side and start creating a tree yourself. They might copy you – or simply go off in their own direction. That is also okay.
Christmas Invitation to Play Idea 2: Explore Decorations
We all know that children love to explore the Christmas tree and decorations. One of the ways you can avoid getting the tree pulled down is to provide a small selection of Christmas ornaments for them to explore.
When you add in mirrors to this exploration, they – quite literally – add a new dimension to the play invitation.
We used the perspex mirrors from IKEA
Christmas Invitation to Play Idea 3: Washi Tape
Make a basic triangle shape from washi tape, then invite your toddler or preschooler to decorate it. You can use loose parts from your toy collection, Christmas decorations or recycling to make this work.
Christmas Invitation to Play Idea 4: Tuff Spot Tray
For this invitation to play, I drew a large Christmas tree onto a tuff spot tray by using a paint stick. Then I simply provided a selection of Christmas decorations and loose parts so that my children could decorate it.
Christmas Invitation to Play Idea 5: Sensory Play with real snow
Over the Winter months, I often leave an empty IKEA Trofast tray outside in the garden when snow is predicted.
Once we have a full tray of snow, I add a selection of liquid food colouring into the Flisat table so the children can explore colour mixing.
Christmas Invitation to Play Idea 6: Polar Express Sensory Bin
Polar Express is a classic Christmas story which makes it ideal for bookish play too. For this Christmas Invitation to play, we simply added some expired chocolate pops to a Flisat table along with scoops and cups.
Christmas Invitation to Play Idea 7: Starbucks ‘Red Cups’ Sensory Bin
If you’re a Starbucks fan, Christmas time is also synonymous with red cups. Whilst we try our best to take along our Keep Cups, sometimes we end up with a takeaway coffee cup or two! When this happens, we simply wash out the cups and reuse them for play!
To make the bubble foam:
This is so simple to make and looks really pretty too! All you need is:
- 2 tbsp of dishsoap
- 2/3 cup of water
- splash of food colouring
We made this batch in a food processor, but whisking by hand works just as well.
Christmas Invitation to Play Idea 8: Christmas Themed Play Dough Box
Every season, we tend to make at least one batch of homemade playdough. Featured below is vanilla and cinnamon playdough that smelt absolutely divine!
Storing playdough in an IKEA Glis box is also a great way to set up an easy invitation to play that can be brought out repeatedly.
Take a look at our basic playdough recipe here.
Christmas Invitation to Play Idea 9: Letters to Santa
This really simple Christmas Invitation to play is great for children who are just starting to learn how to write. ‘Letters to Santa’ will help your child to make marks on the paper, then use stickers and stampers to personalise it.
At this stage, don’t worry about the writing – it’s very likely there will just be a few scribbles on the paper! The point is, your child will start to make connections between what their hand is doing and what happens on the paper.
You can read more about pre-writing skills here.
Christmas Invitation to Play Idea 10: Hot Chocolate Playdough Box
Chocolate playdough is one of our favourite playdough options for the winter months. Not only does it smell gorgeous, but it really evokes the rich scents of Christmas-time hot chocolate.
Find out how to make it here.
More Christmas & Winter Play Ideas
More Sensory Play Activities
If you enjoyed this blog post on how to create simple Christmas Play Invitations , you might also enjoy some of our other sensory play ideas too:
Do you need more help with sensory play?
Sensory play is more than just the activity itself. If you are worried about starting sensory play (or you hate it), I have just the course for you!
Head on over to my membership, ‘How I drink my Coffee Hot’, to access the mini course ‘Starting Sensory Play’.
Topics covered include:
- The importance of Sensory Play
- How to plan and prepare for sensory play
- Do you need to use food in sensory play?
- Essential sensory play resources
- Simple Sensory play activities + 80 page guide