1.) Visit a Colorado State Park for FREE!
Turn Black Friday into a blue sky Friday, a green trees Friday, a white snow Friday, a Fresh Air Friday. Colorado Parks and Wildlife is providing free entry to all state parks in what has become an annual tradition of encouraging Coloradans to get out and give thanks. #FreshAirFridayCO
This year, Denver Botanic Gardens is also offering a free day on Black Friday during regular Garden hours! Online registration is required; reserve your tickets here.
2.) Cut Down Your Own Christmas Tree!
When you cut down your own live Christmas tree in a national forest, you take an active part in managing our national forests as you celebrate the holiday season! A permit is required, so if you can't go on Friday, you can at least begin the process of getting a permit, gathering your supplies, and finding a date on your calendar for a fun family outing!
The Every Kid Outdoors initiative provides one free Holiday Tree permit to 4th graders enrolled in the program. These permits are only available at U.S. Forest Service District offices; your 4th grader and your pass must both be present.
3.) Enjoy the First Lights of the Season!
Many venues with ongoing light displays are now open for the season. With wide-open spaces and drive-through options, it is easy to practice social distancing while creating family memories. Check out all the Best Holiday Light Displays on the Front Range.
4.) Decorate Your House!
Now that Thanksgiving has passed, crank up the Christmas music and begin the process of decorating your house. Starting the process now will make the holiday season feel longer, and you can take the whole day to enjoy it and get everything just so.
5.) Just Play!
Play, move, learn, and bond together as a family. Toss a football in the backyard, play hide-and-seek throughout your house, or break out a favorite board game.
Bored with board games? Make your own!
6.) Adopt a Furry Family Member!
November is Adopt a Senior Pet Month, and the Dumb Friends League has a number of older feline and canine companions eagerly waiting to meet their new families. All adoptions include spay/neuter surgery, initial vaccinations, microchip ID implant, and a free initial office visit with a participating veterinarian.
For more information, visit ddfl.org or call (303) 751-5772.
7.) Host a Christmas Cookie Exchange!
Invite 10-20 of your friends and family members for a fun party. Each person brings 3-6 dozen cookies (depending on the size of the guest list) along with enough copies of the recipe for all the guests. Everyone leaves with enough baked goods to last the rest of the season.
Can't gather in person? Email your favorite holiday recipe to a few friends or family members, then gather on Zoom or another virtual platform to prepare it together. You can even make it a weekly get-together with a new host (and new recipe) each time.
8.) Purge Outgrown Toys and Books!
Between Santa, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers, and friends, many kids get a LOT of new things coming in, so it might be a good time for a pre-holiday toy purge. Donate what you can and throw away the rest... no regrets!
9.) Give to others!
Give your children the gift of compassion in a very tangible way and make another family's holiday wishes come true too. You can adopt an entire family or simply donate one new unwrapped toy.
Check your pantry to see if you have any extra food items to donate to the local food bank.
Or visit the Colorado Gives Day website to choose one or two organizations to support. Even $5 can make a difference!
10.) Plan Your Elf on the Shelf Adventures!
Prepare your menu for a North Pole Breakfast on the first day and then come up with a loose plan for the remaining days or follow ours to make it a little easier on yourself. Make it really easy on yourself the first few days with our "Elf on the Shelf is in Quarantine" printable.
Want even more ideas? Our Elf on the Shelf Pinterest Board has hundreds!
Note: If you haven't started Elf on a Shelf in your house, you should know that it is a LOT of fun but also a LOT of work. DH and I have used most of our brainpower in coming up with or copying new ideas. We've been doing it for more than a decade! Since it is our boys' favorite tradition of the holiday season, we think we'll be doing it till they go off to college!