Focus On Teachers With a School Holiday Countdown

Make the crazy days of December better for everyone.

2020 is almost over and I’m sure we all are in need of a morale boost! If you’re looking for ways to energize your staff, we have a great idea: a staff Countdown to Holiday Break!

Tons of talented administrators and school leaders have been sharing the ways they use a countdown-type of activity each year during the busy days of December. We’re all excited about the holidays and our looming vacation. But this time of the year can be especially challenging for students and teachers alike. Turn up the fun with easy, joyful gestures that make everyone excited to come to school. 

How to do a school holiday countdown

Ultimately, this is a way to have staff look forward to each school day in December. Mix it up by alternating between offering a treat or posing a group challenge. 

Either the staff is given a small treat each day, or there’s a challenge to complete each day. At some schools, staff turn in their countdown sheet on the last day before the break to be put into a drawing for bigger, more exciting prizes. The administrators in our group tell us that planning even small, short activities for their hardworking staff generates great joy throughout the building. It is a great investment in the well-being of your school!

Make it easier with a customizable countdown

We want to make it easy for you to make these culture-building activities happen! That’s why we made this customizable Countdown to Winter Break calendar just for you.


First, download your winter countdown calendar . The PDF is fully editable, so you can make it your own. Just open it in Adobe Acrobat and type over any of the text!

Not sure what to include? Here are just a few of our 12 Days Before Winter Break ideas (several are already included for you). Some activities work better for in-person teaching, others better for those teaching virtually, so choose what works best for your staff’s situation.

  • Jeans and sneakers day
  • Sealed candy canes and hot cocoa mix in every mailbox
  • Bitmoji classroom competition
  • Winter door decoration competition 
  • Flannel day
  • Cozy sock and slipper day
  • Zoom holiday staff lunch get-together (use one of these Zoom games for staff!)
  • Favorite team jersey day
  • Off-duty day! Your duty will be covered.
  • Virtual gingerbread wars (a timed gingerbread building contest!)
  • Thank you note station—spread gratitude!
  • Chapsticks in mailboxes for a “chappy” new year 
  • Ugly holiday sweater day
  • Crazy holiday sock day
  • Holiday hat/headband day
  • Book, magazine, and/or puzzle swap
  • Zoom eBook exchange
  • Beat the chill with Hawaiian shirts 
  • GOOSE (Get Out Of School Early pass)
  • Gift card raffle every hour on the last day of school

Grab the printable Countdown to Holiday Break Calendar here

Do tell us what other ideas you’d add to this list—we’d love to know! Share your ideas in the Principal Life Facebook Group

Happy holidays! 

Focus On Teachers With a School Holiday Countdown