Make dove-shaped cookies with your tot for the 12 Days of Christmas.

How to Celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas With Activities for Children

by Zora Hughes

Every year without fail during the holiday season, it seems like you cannot go a day without hearing that song that never seems to end, "The 12 Days of Christmas." Love it or hate it, it is ingrained in the American holiday experience, so you might as well embrace it. If your toddler or preschooler has started to learn bits and pieces of the song, indulge her with activities that relate to the 12 days of Christmas. With a little creativity, you can incorporate learning opportunities, such as counting, into each activity.

Have a "12 Days Of Christmas Treasure Hunt." Place items that represent each gift in the song around the house for 12 days. On the first day, place an item representing the partridge in a pear tree somewhere in a clearly visible area, safe for her to reach. It can be as simple as a drawing or something you constructed out of card board.

The next day, place two items that represent turtle doves for your child to find and so forth for the rest of the days. Reinforce numbers and counting as she searches for the correct number of items each day. If the idea of doing the treasure hunt for 12 days in a row sounds exhausting, you can always do it all in one day.

Plan 12 days of cooking or baking with your toddler. Now the thought of your tot being in the kitchen with you, near a hot stove and sharp knives might cause heart palpitations, but it might be the perfect opportunity to teach kitchen safety. Using child safety latches on all cabinets and drawers, keeping ingredients out of reach and setting up an area far from the stove for her to help keeps kitchen dangers low.

Set rules about not touching anything without permission and give her simple, safe tasks, such as mixing. The items you make with your tot should be inspired by the 12 days of Christmas, such as a pear pie for the first day and chicken drumsticks for the 12th day.

Turn each day of Christmas into a fun learning activity, spending one day each on the gifts given in the song. For the first day, discuss partridge birds with your toddler and learn all about pears. For the fifth day, for the "five golden rings," you can give your child her first lesson in minerals. Talk about where gold comes from, what it looks like and for older preschoolers, provide a basic background about the California Gold Rush.

For "nine ladies dancing," invite friends over with their kids for a mini dance party. You and the other parents can show the kids how to get down on the dance floor. If there is a farm near you, perhaps you could visit to see hens, for the "three French hens" and geese, for the "six geese a-laying."

Have your child come up with her own version of the 12 Days of Christmas. Instead of hens, maids and leaping lords, your child could probably come up with a much cooler, updated list. Ask her what she would want for each day and write it all down. It can be anything she can think of, from toys to puppies, to nonsensical things like eight flying turtles. Sure, it may not make sense, but that is your child's imagination at work. Help her memorize her version of the song to perform for friends and family, which is sure to be an amusing hit.


  • Be sure that all items used for the treasure hunt and themed learning activities are large enough to avoid choking dangers.

About the Author

Based in Los Angeles, Zora Hughes has been writing travel, parenting, cooking and relationship articles since 2010. Her work includes writing city profiles for Groupon. She also writes screenplays and won the S. Randolph Playwriting Award in 2004. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in television writing/producing and a Master of Arts Management in entertainment media management, both from Columbia College.

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