12 Days of Christmas: 36+ Ways to Celebrate The Holidays at the Library


While the tradition of the 12 Days of Christmas begins on December 25 and lasts until January 5, I propose a new kind of celebration for the library. In the few days before Christmas, consider doing it up big at the library with a 12 Days of Christmas celebration. It takes careful planning on the librarian’s part to create a cheerful, festive user experience in celebration of the holidays, especially to avoid doing the same events every year. So to brighten up the atmosphere at the library and create new memories, try some of these programming ideas for all ages! (Listen to “12 Days of Christmas” by Straight No Chaser for a great variation of the song!)

Day 1: Decorate for Christmas!

  • If you haven’t put up the library’s Christmas tree, today can be the day you pull out all tree and decorations.
  • Create Holiday ornaments with patrons.
  • Display the best and most loved Christmas books, movies, and music.

Day 2: Share the story of Christmas!

  • Have story time for kids (even with Santa and his elves).
  • Create Christmas and holiday bookmarks.
  • Create and send Christmas cards with patrons.

Day 3: Explore other countries’ traditions for Christmas and the holiday season.

  • Watch movies on various countries’ holiday traditions.
  • Have a live speaker (in person or on Skype) discuss traditions around the world.
  • Listen to holiday music (or have a band / band members play) from other countries. Have guests compare the songs to our own music.
  • Bake cookies or create a craft that is found in another part of the world during the holidays.

Day 4: Engage the community in sharing their family holiday traditions.

  • Host a recipe swap.
  • Have a cookie tasting contest. (Make sure water and / or milk is available as well.)
  • Have someone who is interested in crafting share their tree decorating tips and ideas for decorating for the holidays.

Day 5: Encourage and share opportunities for patrons to help others.

  • Have a Christmas card making party and send the cards to elderly people living in the nursing home.
  • Host a canned food drive and take the food to a food pantry or soup kitchen.
  • Allow patrons to volunteer at the library. (Make sure it’s more than just shelf reading! For volunteer program ideas, see this webinar: Teen Volunteer Programs: There’s More Than Simply Shelving!)
  • Host a book drive, and donate the books to elementary students.
  • Host an angel tree. (For more information, see Prison Fellowship.)

Day 6: Promote spectator Christmas events in the community.

  • Play a Christmas movie for families.
  • Have a band / band members play Christmas music. (It’s also a great time for them to promote any Christmas concerts their band will have.)
  • Provide a map of houses that are decorated for Christmas in the community. (Make sure the houses are view-able from the street and that the streets are relatively safe. Patrons can drive their families through the streets and have a Christmas light viewing party.)

Day 7: Craft away the Holiday Blues by making gifts to share.

  • Ideas for crafting include:
    • Quilting
    • Crocheting
    • Knitting
    • Painting (Drawing or coloring might be more suitable for younger children, but don’t be afraid to get messy. Just use newspapers under the painting areas to ensure paint doesn’t get on the floor or furniture.)
    • Photography
    • Decorate a picture frame.
    • Sew a Christmas stocking.
    • Decorate coffee mugs
    • Christmas cards
    • Key chain lanyards
    • Holiday Angels

Day 8: Satisfy your sweet tooth with a candy-making party.

  • Ideas for candy to make:
    • Fudge
    • Sleds made from candy canes and other candies.
    • Mice made from Hershey kisses, etc.
    • Rolo snacks made from Rolos, pretzels, and almonds (or M&Ms).

Day 9: Build more than a gingerbread house at a Cookie Decorating party.

  • Reindeer head cookies with pretzel antlers and M&M eyes and noses.
  • Sugar cookies (Make sure to have sprinkles and cookie cutters available.)
  • Gingerbread Houses & People

Day 10: Dress your doors! Have a wreath-making event by partnering with a flower shop and / or someone interested in craft-making.

  • Wreaths with greenery, Poinsettia flowers, and pinecones
  • Wreaths with non-shattering ornaments
  • Wreaths with plastic lids, puzzle pieces, paint, glitter, and ribbon

Day 11: Wish for Holiday Happiness by hosting a Letter Writing program.

  • Write letters to Santa.
  • Write letters to your favorite author.
  • Write letters to someone you care about.

Day 12: Fun-tertain your library patrons with a Family Game Night.

  • Games to play:
    • Scrabble
    • Yahtzee
    • Rummy
    • Uno
    • Monopoly
    • Minute-to-Win-It games

No matter how you choose to celebrate the holidays with your community, remember that it’s all about making memories and a great user experience. For more ideas and for the specifics for some of the crafts and ideas mentioned, please follow my Pinterest board: http://www.pinterest.com/sbd1988/12-days-of-christmas-your-library/! I hope you and your library have a wonderful Christmas and holiday season!

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