The sweetest Christmas activity for kids is the wrapping station. With cast off wrapping paper and joyful, giving hearts, this easy activity is more than it seems. By the end of playing “Christmas wrapping station,” I was crying… and I’m teared up again sharing this post.
Don’t skip over this activity.
The beginning of the Christmas wrapping station
What began as a whim of an activity turned into me sitting teary eyed on our sofa watching my kids unwrap LEGO creations, old pens, and other random trinket treasures from our house.
Our Christmas wrapping station was not only a hit… it became a classic almost immediately.
As I began wrapping presents this Christmas season, I kept saving the remnants. The scraps. The “kind of too small, but maybe they’ll work” pieces of wrapping paper – but hoping I’d find a use for them.
It dawned on me that maybe the kids would want to create or play with these – kind of like when they were tabies or young toddlers and loved their ripping paper bins.
But now, as big kids, they can do so much more.
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How to launch this activity
I set down the wrapping paper along with tape, glue, scissors and stickers, and started chatting with my kids. I came up with three ideas for what to use the leftover paper for: a cutting station, a creation station, or maybe a “gift” wrapping station.
A “gift’ wrapping station?!
You’d think I had just suggested a trip to Disneyland.
The three kids (4, 5, and 7) were unanimous. A wrapping station bin.
“Can we wrap up things to give each other?”
What parent says no to that?
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The house was a buzz the next 45 minutes but also strangely quiet as our three little elves went to work gathering old toys, stuffies, LEGO creations, random art supplies, etc. and working swiftly to wrap each gift.
Were these real gifts?
Did that matter or make it any less special?
These were gifts from the heart. Gifted with such thought and kindness.
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- Scrap wrapping paper
- Extra Christmas labels
You don’t need much.
My kids worked so hard to wrap up their gifts for each other – using scissors, tape, and folding paper is not easy (and these are actually some of the kindergarten readiness skills I emphasize the most).
For my 4-year-old, I left him tape pieces along the side of the kitchen table… just like my mom did for me when I was a kid.
Opening the Christmas wrapping station gifts
Though they knew this was pretend, the kids were as excited about gifting these “gifts” as they would be any traditional present.
We saved many of the kids’ treasured gifts and put them under the tree because they were crafting, creating, and wrapping at such a rapid pace – and didn’t have time to stop and open.
We sat together as a family later that night to a special “practice Christmas.”
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The kids declared themselves Pretend Santas and oh, friends: the pride on their faces as their erases, stuffed animals, and LEGO creations were opened.
It was the most joyful little event in our little house.
My 7-year-old made me a LEGO mini fig and the initials of my website (BT).
And yet, it’s one of the sweetest moments so far in our Christmas season.
I can only sit here from my computer to encourage you to give this one a go.
While the gifts have been put away now (back in LEGO bins or onto beds or into pencil drawers), the magic of thankfulness and simple joy hasn’t faded.
Cultivating generous hearts
The kids were proud from what they gifted each other – and wrapped using scraps of paper that should have gone to the recycle bin without any fanfare. This shows such magic and the tenderness of kid hearts: the most love and appreciation for the smallest things.
Those little pieces of nothing paper became the kind of magical Christmas moment we parents live for.
Save your wrapping paper as you wrap.
Set up a Christmas wrapping station.
It’s a beautiful moment that I so hope you’ll have at your house.
Frequently Asked Questions
Stages. Not. Ages. Think about your child. Do they like cutting or ripping paper? Can they fold? Do they like playing make believe? If yes, this will be a slam dunk activity.
Look beyond the mess and see the learning. Nothing is ruined. Nothing is stained. Together, we had this cleaned up in minutes (check out my post on how to get kids to clean up).
Yes, the same way they understand a block isn’t a cell phone during imaginary play. Kids are great at understanding nuance – far more than we give them credit for. Make sure to tell them at the start that nothing is for “real” and they’ll be on board.
Susie Allison, M. Ed
Susie Allison is the creator of Busy Toddler and has more than 2 million followers on Instagram. A former teacher and early childhood education advocate, Susie’s parenting book “Busy Toddler’s Guide to Actual Parenting” is available on Amazon.
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