Great Ways to Celebrate Yule With Kids

A brother and sister blowing snow towards the camera.
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What does Yule, the winter Solstice, means to you and your family? Do you focus on the solar aspect of Yule, or do you see it as a transformation of the Goddess? Perhaps your family has a diverse cultural blend, and you celebrate a combination of Yule, Christmas, Hanukah, and other holidays? Do you mark the week of Saturnalia? Figure out how exactly this holiday is important to you.

If you haven't taken a moment yet to explain to your children why you value the winter solstice, do so. Explain in terms they can understand, depending on their ages. A younger child may simply know that now the days will start getting longer, but a teen may be more interested in the deity connections related to the event itself. Either way, make sure your kids understand WHY you're celebrating — otherwise, it's just another day with no meaning.

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Do Something Good For Someone Else

Girls placing cans of food in donation box
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In a season inundated with so much mass marketing and merchandise, kids in particular need a little reminder that it's just as important to give as it is to get. You can teach your children about the value of kindness towards others in a small way, or a big one. Try one or more of these as a way of setting examples for the season:

  • Make up inexpensive gift bags of small items for residents of a local senior center. Buy paper sacks in bulk, have the kids decorate the outside. Fill with travel-sized items like lotion, toothpaste, lip balm, Kleenex, pencils & notepads, puzzle books, etc. Include a hand-made ornament if you're feeling crafty. You can easily fill about two dozen bags for about $50, if you shop wisely. Take the kids with you when you drop off your goodie bags.
  • Adopt a needy family. Get a name from either a social services agency, a mall Christmas tree, or even a school. Put together a holiday dinner for them, as well as gift items. Find out what they need — gift cards for a local gas station might be perfect, or even a shopping spree at a grocery store. Get the names and sizes for the kids in the family, and do some shopping — buy items in multiple colors or styles if you can manage it.
  • Help out a soup kitchen or homeless shelter. During the winter months, when the weather gets colder, these organizations see increased traffic, and can use any helping hands that come along. Volunteer for an afternoon, and see what an eye opening experience it can be.
  • Donate to a local toy or book drive — the US Marine Corps and many fire stations host an annual Toys for Tots drive each year. Have your kids select a toy or two to purchase and donate — be sure to take the children with you to drop of the toys, and explain to them why you're doing it. Some large bookstore chains do a holiday book drive, where customers are invited to purchase a book to donate to a local children's hospital or other organization.
  • Got a neighbor who's elderly or disabled? Surprise them by shoveling snow for them, or raking leaves up out of their yard. Offer to help them hang up their holiday lights, so they're not injured climbing a ladder.
  • Bake cookies or bread for a teacher, friend, or neighbor, just for fun. Drop them off with a note telling them how much you appreciate the recipient.
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Create Something New

Young brother and sister crafting at kitchen table
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The winter holidays are a great time to get in touch with your creative side, because (a) we're often cooped up in the house, and (b) it's a chance to give gifts to people. Why not raid those big boxes of fabric and craft supplies in the basement, and put together something fun as a holiday decoration?

  • Felt: Felt is one of the most versatile and easy-to-use craft materials ever made. You can make tree ornaments, stockings or a tree skirt for your home. Or, stitch pieces together into squares, stuff with polyfiber, and add herbs for an instant sachet.
  • Chenille stems: Also called pipe cleaners, these easily bendable twigs are loads of fun. Shape them into anything you like (such as a pentacle ornament) and hang them around your house for the holidays. Make a set, and give them as gifts.
  • Salt dough: Make some salt dough ornaments, bake them, and paint. You can hang them yourself, or give as gifts to others.
  • Make holiday cards: Instead of spending money on generic holiday cards this year, make your own. Get out some card stock, stamps, finger paint, yarn, and anything you can think of. Have the kids decorate the cards, and all you'll have to do is address the envelopes and place a note inside.
  • Outdoorsy stuff: Collect twigs, acorns, small pine cones and pretty leaves. Use them to decorate a photo frame, make a collage, or an altar centerpiece. Cover a pinecone with peanut butter and bird seed, then hang outside for an easy birdfeeder, or turn it into an ornament.
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Create Your Own Yule Log

Yule log decorated with candles, holly leaves and berries
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A Yule log is a great family craft, because first of all, it gives you an excuse to go out walking in the woods. Take some time to go wandering, and see what you can collect while you're outside. Make an adventure of it, if you like, and pack a lunch or a thermos of hot chocolate. When you've found nifty stuff to put on your Yule log, and decorated it, you can use it as an altar centerpiece, or at the heart of a family Yule Log Ceremony. Be sure to save a bit of your Yule Log at the end of your ceremony, so you can burn it with next year's Yule Log!

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Get Green

Christmas gifts wrapped in brown paper, decorated with fern and string, overhead view
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While we're focusing on giving gifts, teach your kids to "go green" when possible. While no one really loves the idea of re-gifting, there are a lot of ways you can make the holidays a bit more environmentally friendly.

  • Use something other than wrapping paper. Wrap gifts in recyclable bags, fabric, or decorative boxes that can get re-used next year, instead of ending up in a landfill. Or, eliminate gift wrap altogether by giving gifts that don't need wrapping — gift cards, live plants, etc.
  • Instead of buying a plastic tree that will eventually end up in a landfill, decorate one of your outdoor trees for the holidays. If you like having an indoor tree, it's still more environmentally friendly to chop one down which has been grown at a tree farm than to buy a commercially processed polyvinyl chloride tree!
  • If you're giving gifts this year, purchase them online when possible, because that cuts down on pollution and gas used on those mega-trips to the mall. Another option is to purchase from vendors who have local warehouses; that keeps the amount of fuel used in shipping low as well.
  • Hold a holiday swap meet. Okay, no one likes to re-gift (or re-get), but sometimes it's not such a bad idea. Get together with neighbors and friends for coffee, and have everyone bring one or two items that they've been gifted with but never taken out of the box. While your friend Susie may HATE the Chia pet she got last year, Theresa might know it's the perfect present for her Chia-collecting sister. If you have young children whose toys are only gently used, you can try this as a toy swap as well, or invite your Pagan friends for a magical swap meet.
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Hold a Family Celebration

Family carries the perfect Christmas tree in snowy landscape
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A lot of times we get so caught up in the hullaballoo of the holidays, that before we know it, Yule is here and we have no idea what to do. It's December 21, and all you know is that the sun came up. Plan ahead a little — and get the kids involved — and figure out what sort of rituals you'd like to do to celebrate this year. Wondering what to try? Hold a celebration to welcome back the sun, bless your holiday tree, or honor the goddess of your tradition.

If you're more into the holly-jolly aspect of the season, why not start something new for your family, and go out Wassailing? It's a lot of fun, a good way to get kids and adults out together, and when you're all done, you can snuggle up in front of a fire.

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Hold a Feast

Child eating Christmas dinner.
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Like any Pagan or Wiccan sabbat, Yule is as good a time as any to hold a big feast. Invite friends over, either for a potluck style dinner or a big spread you make yourself. There's nothing better than getting together with the people you love on a chilly winter night. Make sure you provide lots of things for the kids to keep busy — coloring pages, ornament decorating, etc.

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Start a Storytelling Tradition

Grandmother reads story to grandson at Christmastime
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Sometimes kids — and adults too — need to be reminded that not too long ago, we found our entertainment from storytelling, rather than television. Start a family tradition on these cold winter nights, of story-telling. You can do a couple of different things:

  • Have a round-robin story-telling session. One person makes up the beginning of the story, another continues, and so on. If your children are in elementary school or older, this can be really entertaining!
  • Read a book aloud to the family. If the kids are beginning readers, you may want to have them "help" you with certain words, or have them provide sound effects ("Okay, guys, every time I say the word winter, you shake these bells!").
  • Learn some traditional folk tales, and share them with your family. If someone plays an instrument, have them join in with flute, guitar, or other music in the background.
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Your Citation
Wigington, Patti. "Great Ways to Celebrate Yule With Kids." Learn Religions, Sep. 20, 2021, Wigington, Patti. (2021, September 20). Great Ways to Celebrate Yule With Kids. Retrieved from Wigington, Patti. "Great Ways to Celebrate Yule With Kids." Learn Religions. (accessed June 1, 2023).