We’ve had quite a year and I for one am glad for the holiday season. Even though our normal gatherings will need to be altered, the holidays still provide a good distraction from the trials of the world. It’s a great time to pause and remember what’s important.
For parents, teachers, students and groups like PTAs, that usually means holiday events. Holiday fundraisers can bring in a lot of money, especially given that it falls at the year end. Other types of events can boost morale and foster community, even when togetherness is not possible.
Here are 35 PTA Holiday Activity Ideas
Socially Distanced / Masked Event: 😷
Virtual Event: 🖥
In-Person Event: 👌
- Letters to Front Line Workers 👌😷 | From grocery store workers and teachers to medical staff, these are the true heroes of our current COVID era. Thank them by having students write letters of how a nurse or other front line worker has touched them this year.
- Angel Tree 👌😷 | From “Shop with a Cop” to retail toy drives, the reduction of in-person activities means many toy donation nonprofits need help to keep up this year. An angel tree at a central (secure) location can be a safe, socially distanced way to let students drop off new toys so that other families can have something new this year.
- Service Projects 👌😷 | Contact local nonprofit organizations and find out where help might be needed. Maybe there’s a socially distanced or virtual way students can contribute their time while off on winter break.
- Toy Roundup👌😷 | Have students and families gather gently used toys to donate to the local thrift store for those in need. Unlike the new toy purchase with the Angel Tree, when you donate to a nonprofit like Deseret Industries or Goodwill, not only will families be able to shop for what they want and need, those organizations also have other purposes that help those in need.
- Adopt a Nursing Home 🖥👌😷 | In normal times, this might mean singing carols and visiting friends in the nursing homes. But these are not normal times. With visitations not allowed, it’s time to think outside the box. Arrange a Zoom caroling session. Send a handwritten note. Arrange a window visit or simply call and ask the nursing home how you can help.
- Cards to the Troops 🖥👌😷 | Send some love to our troops stateside or abroad by sending cheer via a holiday card or send them a virtual video message.
- Coat Donation👌😷 | Winter is here and even colder days are approaching fast. Ask your students whether they have a coat (or three) that they haven’t worn much recently. If it’s just taking up space in their closet, maybe it would be better suited to help someone in need.
- Food Drive👌😷 | There has been a lot in the news about food insecurity in the U.S., especially this year. What a great way to have your students contribute to make someone’s day better than by contributing to a food drive. Ask each student to donate a few non-perishable items from their pantry to the local food kitchen or bank.
- Free Library👌😷 | Many of our neighborhoods have a little free library filled with books for those who want to read something new. Ask your students to donate some of their books that they are no longer reading. This could be holiday themed or not.
- Retail Partnerships 👌😷 | From a mason jar at the checkout to a percentage of proceeds, there are a few ways you can arrange charitable giving through a retail partnership. Reach out to your local retailers and then ask students, parents and teachers to make their purchases at the store to help.
- Santa’s Mailbox 👌😷 | Help Santa out this year by providing a “satellite” mailbox for kids to send their letters to Santa. Your Elves can even write a response to the children and help spread a little holiday magic. Provide a small donation box next to the mail drop.
- Holiday Book Sale 🖥👌😷 | Partner with Scholastic or another book fundraising company and promote a book sale this season. Another option would be to collect used books well in advance and price them yourself, garage sale style. For a virtual option, put the collection up for sale in your online store.
- Candle Sale 🖥👌😷 | Find a candle fundraising company or get creative and make labels to sell your own. Mark them up so your PTA makes a little extra money this holiday. Candles are another great option for an online store.
- Jingle Bell Jog 🖥👌😷 | Virtual fun runs and walks are all the rage in the year of COVID. If you already have an established run/walk fundraiser, consider going virtual and letting participants run at their own pace until things are safer.
- Holiday Bazaar 🖥👌😷 | Crafters, unite! Procure a hall or large space (hopefully donated or discounted) and let local artisans and makers purchase a booth space as they sell their wares. This could be adapted to a virtual selling platform, as well. Check out these 100 online fundraising ideas.
- Wreath Sales 🖥👌😷 | Make your own or partner with a wreath fundraising outfit to help raise a little money for your PTA this year.
- Ornament Kit Sales 🖥👌😷 | Do a little research and get your PTA group together and vote on some ornament styles you like. Then, just purchase all of the necessary items and kit them together in cute packaging, offered at a price that will make your PTA a profit.
- Amazon Smile 🖥👌😷 | This is one that groups often forget about. Set up your nonprofit on smile.amazon.com and the key is to encourage your entire school community to do their holiday shopping there. You’ll be surprised at how the donations add up!
- Gift Wrap 👌😷 | Set up shop outdoors at a local retailer and provide a socially distanced, masked gift wrapping service. Price is based on package size.
- Photos with Santa 🖥👌😷 | This one is simple. Find a jolly Saint Nick to fill in for the real deal and let area kids whisper to him their Christmas wish. Be sure to take some digital or Polaroid photos and charge a small fee as a fundraiser. To make this virtual, have a student, parent or faculty member who is adept at Photoshop edit submitted student photos to include the jolly old Mr. Claus! You can have a lot of fun with this one.
Multicultural Holiday Celebrations
Although Christmas tends to be the most discussed holiday in America, don’t forget to include Diwali, Hanukkah, Ramadan, Kwanzaa, Chinese New Year and more.
- Holiday Books Around the World 🖥👌😷 | Each week before the end of the year, ask students to research one type of holiday celebration that is not the one their own family celebrates. Have them present facts and tidbits about their findings to the class.
- Multicultural Coloring Contest 🖥👌😷 | This can be freeform art for older students or use printed pages for younger students.
- Holiday Charades 🖥👌😷 | Perfect for the last day of school before holiday break, this can be done in-person or virtually.
- Winter Solstice 🖥👌😷 | Learn about Winter Solstice and how different cultures celebrate it around the world. Then, take a vote on how your school would like to celebrate it on December 21st, unless winter break prevents you from doing so together.
- International Winter Holiday Festival 🖥👌😷 | This is really better as an in-school event as you can decorate different rooms of the school with different multicultural holiday decor. Enjoy games, crafts, food and drink that help show students what’s so beautiful about what makes us different.
Morale Boosters (Just for Fun)
- Cookie Show and Tell 🖥👌 | Ask each student to come up with their own cookie or holiday treat and share or present it virtually to the class.
- Story Time 🖥👌😷 | Great for younger kids, find a local, notable person such as a sports player, coach or athlete to read a favorite holiday tale. Perfect to adapt virtually.
- Scavenger Hunt 🖥👌😷 | This is fun even in a non pandemic year! Get creative and come up with holiday-related items and clues for your class to find. First one to produce all the items (or a photo of them) wins.
- Black Tie New Year’s Ball 🖥👌 | Sick of seeing students in their pajamas or sweats in the virtual classroom? Let them play fancy for a change! Arrange for a black tie affair complete with dress code and music.
- Caroling or Sing-Along 🖥👌 | All together now! Schedule a few rehearsals and then visit the local nursing home or walk around the neighborhoods caroling. For a virtual option, host a sing-along live event and record it to share with others.
- Holiday Book Club 🖥👌 | Great for older students who can read chapter books, provide ample time for reading a favorite holiday novel. Then, have a meeting or two to discuss what was so interesting about it.
- Deck the Halls 🖥👌😷 | Or better yet, Deck the Zoom Halls! If you can do this in person, all this means is get festive with decorating the school. Handmade decorations are even better. If you’re virtual at this time, ask each student to design their own Zoom holiday backdrop for the final week before winter break.
- Drive By Light Show 😷 | Ask students to use technology to create an online map of all the houses that have drive-by-worthy lights this holiday season. Share the map with the community and families can take a perfectly safe drive out to see the lights!
- Watch a Movie Together 🖥👌😷 | From Elf to Miracle on 34th Street, a movie night is a great way to get together with the entire school to have a little fun. If that’s not an option, try Netflix’s watch party feature.
- Year End Awards 🖥👌😷 | Recognize all the amazing things about your student body (teachers too!) this year. If hosting virtually, find a fun red carpet backdrop and ask students to wear their award ceremony finest.