We’ve got 20+ holiday activities for high school students that will keep your teens busy this season.
As soon as you turn the calendar page to December, many teens begin to lose steam. With Christmas holidays in a few short weeks, it can be hard to stay motivated. But it’s okay to change things up during the holidays even for our teens.
Much of the holiday activities are geared toward younger siblings. But if you have middle and high school students in your home, what can you do with them that isn’t a complete loss of learning? Here are 20+ ideas to consider.
Holiday activities for homeschool high school students
Here are 20+ holiday activities for homeschool high school students. Even mature middle schoolers will appreciate these activities.
And while it’s okay to just relax and do “non-educational” things leading up to the holidays, most of these ideas will encourage a love of learning, a new skill, or asking teens to do something for others. I think we can all agree that these are valuable things to spend time on, even if it’s not progressing our high schooler through their Algebra II lessons.
What kinds of activities can you do right before the holidays?
There are so many activities you can do – or NOT do – right before the holidays. But keeping some sort of routine is always a good idea. Teens thrive on a predictable routine.
It’s okay to put away some (or most) of the normal homeschool subjects. Clear it out of sight so you can enjoy the lead-up to the holidays. Let your kids deep dive into one or two subjects for the first few weeks in December. Or let them get lost in their favorite book series instead of doing math.
Some families purposefully take the whole month of December off from homeschool. If you homeschool year round, you can plan your year to still get in the required number of days of school (if your state has regulations) and then enjoy December off with no guilt!
How do I keep my homeschooled teenager busy during the holidays?
If you want to keep your homeschooled teenager busy during the holidays, choose a couple items from the list below and let them change their focus during December. Changing up your homeschool expectations and routines is a good way to prevent burnout, both for you and your teen.
But just because they’re not doing their full load during December doesn’t mean they’re not learning. Remember, all of life is education. And sometimes some of the most important aspects of learning fall to the wayside because of the required classes on the transcript.
Yes, they need their math and English and science and history. But they also need to learn life skills like budgeting, maybe focus on serving others, and making fun memories with the family. Those things are all important too!
How do you celebrate the last day of homeschooling?
On the last day of official homeschooling before your Christmas break, no matter how long your break, it is nice if you can wrap up loose ends so you can start fresh in the New Year. It’s pretty hard if you’re in the middle of a unit or chapter to be able to remember where you left off. So, if you can close down the regular schedule in between new topics, your teen will be better off.
It’s also a lot of fun to plan a celebratory activity for the last official homeschool day of the calendar year, whether that falls before Thanksgiving for you, on December 1st, or not until the week before Christmas.
It could be as simple as enjoying a meal out with the family or watching your favorite holiday movie. Or, you can make a bucket list for your holidays using the list below.
Print out this holiday bucket list and encourage your teen to write down the top activities he would love to do during this holiday season. Then, each day your teen can work towards those fun, educational, or service activities on the list.
What kind of activities do you do in the school holidays when you’re homeschooling?
Here are 20 holiday activities for homeschool high school students that will encourage learning, fun, community, and friendship.
Organize a musical performance
If your teens are musical, they can perform at a nursing home or other venue. Maybe they have friends who also play instruments or sing, then consider gathering a group and blessing nursing home residents with a Christmas concert or recital.
A book exchange party with friends can be a fun idea! There are a few variations you could try.
One fun idea is to wrap your books and then write just the first line on the wrapping paper. It will be a nice surprise to pick books by the first line!
Or, on top of the wrapping, have your guests write a little note about why they loved the book, but don’t reveal the name of the book. Then, you can run a book exchange like a white elephant gift exchange. Go around your circle and each person chooses a book to unwrap. On your turn, you can either choose a new book to unwrap or steal a book that was previously chosen.
Dress up like your favorite book character or have a snack table where everyone brings a snack based on the book theme.
A cookie exchange is a lot of fun for teens who love to eat cookies and experiment in the kitchen! Enlist half a dozen or more friends to participate with you. Decide on how many cookies each participant will bring – usually this is about 2 dozen.
Then, decorate your venue (even if it’s just your kitchen or living room!) for the exchange and remind everyone to bring copies of their cookie recipe plus a large container for taking cookies home.
Now every participant gets to sample other cookies, take home some new recipes, and leave with an assortment of cookies baked by other guests to enjoy over the holidays.
One of the most important holiday activities for homeschool high school students is to volunteer. It’s wonderful for our teens to be able to nurture a servant’s heart, compassion for people, and selflessness. There are many ways to volunteer in the community! Check out the local pregnancy center, soup kitchen, free food pantry, or gather toys and toiletries for women and kids at a shelter.
Secret Santa for Foster Kids
Do you know any foster families? Your teens can be a huge blessing to those families over the holidays. Get a list of favorite toys, clothing sizes, and other gift ideas from the foster parents. Then, raise money or use some of your own money to purchase these gifts and surprise the foster kids as a secret Santa!
Create a scavenger hunt for younger siblings
If you have a houseful of younger children, your teen can create a scavenger hunt for those younger siblings. It could be a nature scavenger hunt, Christmas-themed scavenger hunt, or photo scavenger hunt around your local town.
Enlist your teen’s help to create handmade gifts for family, friends, and neighbors. Need some ideas?
Instead of spending a crazy amount of time playing computer games, go ahead and haul out the favorite family card games or board games! Or purchase a new game to play this month.
My teens’ favorite board games and card games include Carcassonne, Ticket to Ride, Pandemic, Scattergories, Pit, and Settlers of Catan.
Organize, plan, and cook a meal
The holidays can be a great time to allow your teen to organize, plan, and cook an entire meal for the family. They can make shopping lists, budget, decorate the table, and cook a meal. Even if your teen doesn’t love the idea of cooking, you can use the time around the holidays to teach your teens the life skill of cooking a complete meal.
Christmas art lessons
Sometimes we’re so busy during the normal homeschool meal that we ignore the arts. So give your high school students the time and space to enjoy some Christmas art lessons.
Here a great mix of free + paid Christmas art tutorials from Masterpiece Society.
Joy to the World Mixed Media Ornaments for Kids – Yes, I know this says it’s for kids, but I would personally love to make this even as an adult! So I think your crafty (and non-crafty) teens could definitely do this project. These would make cute gift tags.
LiterARTure: A Christmas Carol – Read Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and then your teens can create an old fashioned wreath in front of a frosty window in this festive mixed media project.
Process Art Christmas Ornaments – This free tutorial might be a bit messy, but I think your teens will love it!
Winter Wonderland Mixed Media Workshop – This Winter Wonderland Mixed Media Workshop will give you enough art lessons and projects to last all season! Your teens will learn to create 20 different art projects using various art forms, including sketching, acrylic painting, watercolor painting, chalkboard art, collage art, sculpting, hand lettering, art journaling, and more.
Hand Lettering Course – Your teen can learn how to create beautifully hand lettered art to frame or use on greeting cards or as gifts.
Classic Family Friendly Christmas Movies
What would the holidays be without classic family friendly Christmas movies? What are your favorites? Pull them out and spend a day (or two or three) binge-watching in between baking cookies. It’s okay not to “do school” during the lead-up to the holidays. In fact, building family bonds and relationships is one of the reasons why watching a family friendly movie is a great activity in December.
Need some new ideas? Here’s a small list of the best family friendly Christmas movies:
- It’s a Wonderful Life
- Meet Me in St. Louis
- Home Alone
- A Christmas Story
- White Christmas
- Miracle on 34th Street
- The Santa Clause
- Christmas in Connecticut
- The Polar Express
- A Charlie Brown Christmas
- Little Women
- The Man Who Invented Christmas
- The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
- The Muppet Christmas Carol
Family Tree Project
The holidays tend to include wonderful family traditions, so why not encourage your teen to spend some time researching the family tree? It can be a full project where they create a digital scrapbook or physical scrapbook, highlighting grandparents, great-grandparents, and showing connections on the family tree.
Create holiday décor
Maybe your creative teen would love to be in charge of the holiday decor this year. They could make beautiful garland, create a centerpiece for the big Christmas dinner, or help create a special display area for all the Christmas cards and family photos that will be arriving in the mail.
Make Handmade Crafts with Felted Wool
This is a fun creative activity for your teens and it doesn’t even have to cost a dime! Just upcycle some old wool sweaters. Check out my beginner’s guide to felting wool sweaters. Then it’s time to make some beautiful wool sweater crafts! These would be lovely handmade gifts.
Another way for your teens to serve their community is to organize a group of friends to go caroling. You can find a list of shut-ins from your church or just go around your own neighborhood.
Can you think of another Christmas activity that is so tied to the season like making gingerbread houses? You could just do one for fun as a family, or you could invite friends over and make it a bigger event with a table full of supplies and gingerbread house decorations.
Advent Bible Readings
Even if you’re taking a pause on some other subjects, it’s a great idea to give your teens a meaningful Advent Bible Reading. Either with the family or independently, your teen could:
- read through the Old Testament prophecies and New Testament fulfillment in Christ – if you want an open & go resource for this, you’ll love our Advent Bundle: Jesus – Prophecy Fulfilled
- study the Names of Jesus
- read through one of the Gospels
Home and Life Skills
If you don’t regularly include home ec or life skills in your teen’s high school routine, don’t beat yourself up about it. But realize that the change of pace that can come in December might give you the perfect opportunity to focus on some of these skills.
They could include a couple of these items on their holiday bucket list so that they grow their life skills!
- how to sew
- grocery shopping
- laundry (I really hope they’re already doing this! It will change YOUR life!)
Organize a white elephant gift exchange
Organizing a white elephant gift exchange with friends is one of the most fun holiday activities for homeschool high school students. You could
This fun activity is perfect at Christmas. Or, you could host yours in the new year and regift items you don’t want! It could be a fun way to declutter the house in the new year. Teens can regift items they don’t want anymore.
Open an Etsy Shop
Do you have an entrepreneurial or crafty teen that would love to open an Etsy shop? Maybe it’s just been too busy with your normal high school routine. But the weeks leading up to the Christmas holiday give your teen the perfect window to focus on opening an Etsy shop.
Here’s a free checklist for your teen. If your teen wants more help opening an Etsy shop, try the Etsy Quickstart Guide or the more comprehensive Selling on Etsy Masterclass for Teens. (Hint: this would make a great Christmas gift for your creative teen and if you use the coupon code HOLIDAY, you’ll save 20%)
Start a Podcast
Is your teen interested in the newest technology and media? Do they love listening to podcasts? Maybe they’d love to launch their own podcast during the holidays? I’ll show them how in the Podcast Launch for Teens.
More Winter & Holiday Homeschool Ideas
I’m joining forces with a few dozen of my homeschool blogging friends to bring you some great winter & holiday homeschool ideas, activities, resources, and freebies.