Learn how to make Christmas magical for adults with these festive tips that help you tap directly into the spirit of the season.
It’s the most magical time of the year, so you may be wondering, “How do adults make Christmas fun?”
When I think of Christmas magic as a child, I think of the book The Polar Express, with its lyrical words and immersive illustrations that take you on a trip to the North Pole to visit Santa and learn about the power of belief.
Fast forward a few years, and now the spirit of the season, I think more of the movie, The Family Stone — a chaotic mix of family and love, but also conflict, grief, and so much more that is grounded in the reality of life in an imperfect world with flawed, mortal people.
While the movie is beautiful in its own way, it evidences that the magic of Christmas can become lost as we age.
That’s why it makes sense to turn back time, so to speak, and learn how to make Christmas magical for adults again.
You will love these dozens of ways you can find the simple joys of the season this year.
How to Make Christmas Magical for Adults
How can I make Christmas more magical?
Read Christmas Books
As a bookish lifestyle blogger, one thing I OBVIOUSLY recommend for making Christmas magic as a grownup is reading Christmas books. It’s no secret that books are uniquely transportive, and that’s especially true for holiday books!
There’s no shortage of Christmas-themed books on the market, but these posts will help you decide what to read:
- Best Christmas Books for Adults
- Best Books About Christmas Spirit
- Best Christmas Romance Books
- Best Christmas Short Stories
- Best Christmas Book Club Books
- Most Classic Christmas Books
- Best Young Adult Christmas Books
Watch Christmas Movies and TV Shows
The next most fun thing to do on Christmas Day at home (or anytime during the month of December) is to watch Christmas movies and tv shows. This ALWAYS gets me in the holiday mood, no matter how I’m feeling. It’s such an all-encompassing experience of sights, sounds, and storylines.
A few of my favorites are:
- The Office’s Christmas episodes (A Benihana Christmas is my favorite episode!)
- Gilmore Girls holiday episodes (The Bracebridge Dinner is my favorite episode!)
- Home Alone (my favorite movie of all-time!)
- National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
- A Christmas Story (my family actually does watch it the entire 24 hours of Christmas Day)
- Love Actually
- The Family Man
Listen to Christmas Music
The holiday season comes in such a small window of time, but the music is so beautiful! It’s nice to take the time to make a Christmas songs playlist or listen to one that’s already curated in order to feel the spirit of the season.
Back in high school and college, I worked at the Gap, which had the BEST holiday playlists of both old and new songs, slow and fast songs, and non-holiday-themed songs that just FEEL like Christmas. The good news is they now post them on Spotify! I listen each and every year.
Decorate Your Home
The very FIRST thing I do to transition from Thanksgiving to Christmas is to decorate my home with a Christmas tree, fairy lights, and lots of RED. While it ALL makes the world feel magical again, I especially think the glow of little white fairy lights is simply extraordinary at giving that cozy, festive aesthetic.
Feeling extra creating? Make your own ornaments or decorate a themed tree with these posts:
- DIY Harry Potter Ornament
- DIY Wedding Invitation Ornament
- How to Make a Grinch-Themed Tree
- Best Book Ornaments
Burn Holiday Candles
The sense of smell is so powerful in recalling memories and/or changing your mood. I love to enjoy Christmas with lots and lots of candles, which I burn all December long with scents like pine, gingerbread, berries, and candy canes.
A few of my favorites are:
- Trader Joe’s Cedar Balsam candle
- Nest’s Holiday candle
- Nest’s Crystalized Ginger and Vanilla Bean candle
While these days, I do most of my shopping online, there’s no better time than the holidays to shop in person! We LOVE to visit little towns with cute shops and window displays. It’s an extra fun way to also cross a holiday task off your list!
Shopping online? I’ve got a lot of gift guides that can help you with that.
Make Holiday Treats
Baking is a fun holiday activity with a payoff at the end! Since many of these types of treats are seasonal, they are sure to bring back that holiday magic for you.
Personally, I like to make simple (vegan and gluten-free) chocolate chip cookies.
Perhaps, instead, you prefer gingerbread men, fruitcakes, or even candy canes!
Drink Holiday Drinks
Let’s get REAL. If you want to know how to make Christmas special for adults, the secret is likely in the sauce…er, beverage.
Whether it’s a non-alcoholic hot chocolate or egg nog, or a cocktail ONLY for adults, like mulled wine, a good drink can instantly make you feel like “it’s a wonderful life” again.
Eat a Holiday Meal
Quintessential to most holiday celebrations is a meal. In fact, even the thought of certain foods eaten at each yearly celebration can make you feel the comfort of Christmas.
For my husband, that’s the traditional Christmas Eve roast he’s eaten his whole life. He talks about it ALL year round.
Use an Advent Calendar
If you want to have a FUN holiday season as an adult, get back into the tradition of using an advent calendar. The anticipation it creates is a big part of the magic of Christmas.
PLUS, you can use it to enjoy a daily treat! Personally, I use Keurig’s K-cup coffee advent calendar, and I look forward to my daily brew every morning in advent.
Do Something Nostalgic
When you think about what made Christmas magical when you were a child, I’ll bet family traditions play a big role. So, tap into that feeling of nostalgia by doing something you did as a child during the holiday season.
Perhaps that means visiting the local light display or Santa, buying a live Christmas tree, or dining at the old spot.
For me, this means simply going home for the holidays!
Do Something Festive
There are so many things you can ONLY do in December, so getting out and doing them just may be what sparks holiday joy for you as an adult.
Go and visit Santa or a live Nativity display. Shop at a holiday market. Ride a holiday train. Go on a sleigh ride!
There’s nothing like a holiday market if you ask me. Ours became a beloved modern tradition for us, complete with mulled wine, carolers, and shopping, of course!
Do Something Charitable
A big part of the Christmas spirit is giving. So, take advantage of Giving Tuesday (and beyond) by giving something back. As a bonus, giving even a little bit often creates holiday magic for both the giver and the recipient.
Travel Somewhere Festive
Perhaps your holiday vibes are low because you’re stuck somewhere that’s not festive.
This year, we discovered EXACTLY how to make Christmas fun for adults… at the (already magical) Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, Florida, decorated to the brim with extra holiday spirit!
Other possibilities include New York City, Quebec City, and Germany.
Write a Holiday Journal Entry
If you want to feel Christmas magic on a budget, it doesn’t get cheaper and easier than journaling! Writing always helps me process my thoughts and emotions, so I have no doubt it can help you too.
So, simply sit by a warm fireplace and write about a holiday memory, what you are grateful for this December, or your holiday wishes.
Play a Holiday Game
When we become adults, we give up the game-playing that was so characteristic of joy in our youth. Playing a holiday game quickly conjures up all of those feelings of simple joy and in-the-moment fun.
In my family, after Christmas dinner, we play the “left-right” game with wrapped gag gifts. Everyone holds a present and one person reads “The Night RIGHT Before Christmas,” which is a spin on the classic that contains A LOT of the words “left” and “right” in it. Each time “left” or “right” are spoken, you pass your gift likewise and, at the end open them.
It’s honestly a HOOT, as even passing can cause chaos, and then, it can also be funny to see who gets what…like the year my dad opened a lace thong!
Visit with Someone Special
A great way to make Christmas magical without spending any money is by visiting someone special, especially if it’s someone you haven’t seen in a while or someone who is ill.
As we learned during the Coronavirus quarantines, there is something so special about the simple act of gathering in person.
Send Holiday Cards
Discover how to make Christmas magical for adults by sending cards or letters to family and friends.
Designing these cards at Minted is another one of my Black Friday traditions, and receiving them all December long is a great feeling as an adult.
It’s also fun to browse them at other people’s houses. They are all so cute and festive that they are bound to make you feel good.
Let’s be real. One of the reasons Christmas loses its magic over time is that our lives become filled with things like expectations and obligations.
Saying “yes” to Christmas magic as an adult can mean you need to work on saying “no” to that which is overly intrusive in our lives… from work to the desire for perfection, nosy family members, and so on.
I spent a lot of time working on boundaries myself, and it has brought me so much more peace during the holiday season.
Spend Time With Children
The best source of Christmas magic just may be the kids themselves! They believe in Santa and wish so readily and fully.
Build that snowman with them, write a letter to Santa, or even let them pick out one present for themselves, and you’re nearly guaranteed to feel a spark of childlike wonder.
Get a Holiday Manicure
As an adult, a little luxury that always makes me feel instantly better is a manicure. It looks good, it feels good, AND you can play with color, design, and embellishments as a child would.
In fact, doing my own weekly manicure at home with my Olive & June products is my Friday night wind-down routine. It’s extra fun at Christmas because you can go EXTRA on things like glitter and color mixing.
Olive & June also always has lots of seasonal goodies like stickers and press-ons.
Give Gifts (To Others AND Yourself)
Giving a gift is so powerful that it’s actually one of the five love languages. Perhaps nothing is more magical at Christmastime (although fresh snow is high up there too).
Although we are childless adults, my husband and I still love to give each other gifts on Christmas, and we try to make a whole experience out of it with music, movies, and snacks.
Get Dressed Up
Part of what made Christmas special as a child, for me, was wearing special clothes. That feeling now translates into a similar feeling at holiday parties as an adult, especially because I now work from home and am most often dressed down.
So, don’t be afraid to wear that red lipstick!
Wear Holiday Pajamas
I don’t know why, but one of my favorite feelings is putting on new pajamas, and that’s extra true on Christmas morning. Since you are at home when you are wearing them, you can get extra silly with them (like a zippered onesie), which can be part of the fun.
We love this feeling so much that we now spend ALL of Christmas Day in our pajamas.
Create New Holiday Traditions for Adults
Last, but not least, learn how to make Christmas magical for adults by creating new holiday traditions. As we age, we can feel like the past was “the good old days” and the present can seem to never quite match up.
Creating fun Christmas traditions for adults especially can breathe new life into what you HAVE and are grateful for now versus what is gone or in the past.
It can be as simple as cooking something new out of your holiday leftovers or scouring the sales at the mall on the day after Christmas.
Now you know exactly how to make Christmas magical for adults.