Christmas Tuff Tray Ideas (Toddlers, Preschool, and EYFS)

Are you looking for some fun Christmas Tuff Tray Ideas for your Preschool, EYFS setting or Toddler at home? Something seasonal, educational, and cheap, all at the same time? I’ve got you covered.

Check out some of our engaging ideas below!

Christmas is such a fun time of year and there is nothing like a bit of sensory play, small-world play, or Christmas crafting to get our toddlers and Preschoolers in the Christmas spirit.

This post is continually updated with new ideas as and when I come up with them. So be sure to save this post so you can refer to it each year and not miss any new ideas!

If you enjoy these ideas, you may also like, 10+ Christmas Sensory Bins for Preschool Kids and Toddlers.

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We’re in the UK, so I bought the Tuff Tray I’m using from Amazon UK.

I have searched and searched, and cannot find any Tuff Trays available outside of the UK. However This Tray from Amazon would work well for all my Tuff Tray ideas. It’s strong, waterproof, easy to clean and store, and has those handy edges that you want for messy play.

One of the best Christmas Tuff Tray Ideas, using rice as snow, miniture christmas tree models, a toy tractor, and lego figures. A Christmas Tree Messy Farm Play Tuff Tray Set up.
This cute little Christmas Tree Farm set up is the perfect Messy Farm Play idea for your Tuff Tray!

1. Christmas Tree Farm

This Christmas Tree Farm set-up was quick and simple to create, yet looks so pretty and inviting.

I rather want to get down there and start playing with it myself; helping the little girl choose her perfect tree, tying it onto her car, and driving it off home for her. I’d help the farmer load small Christmas trees onto the back of his trailer and then drive them off in the tractor.

To create this Christmas sensory activity I used rice as the snow, creating a little plowed path through the snow for the cars to drive to the parking lot.

I added in some model Christmas trees of various sizes, some Duplo figures, cars, and then the tractor and trailer.

This is a great little small-world play Christmas activity to really fire up their imaginations, as well as help with fine motor skills development, and social skills (if set up in a setting with more than one kid).

If your little one likes a bit of messy farm play then take a look at, Messy Farm Play on the Tuff Tray: Toddler Sensory Ideas for some more inspiration.

A tuff tray set up with a Christmas Nativity Sensory Play small world imaginative play set up.
These kind of messy, sensory, Christmas Tuff Tray ideas are often so popular with both Toddlers and Preschool and EYFS settings!

2. The Christmas Story

If you’re looking for Christmas Tuff Tray Ideas that explore the Biblical Christmas Story, this one provides a great opportunity for our Toddlers, Preschool, or EYFS Kiddos to reinforce the story through play.

I have used yellow shredded paper as the straw for the stable, and the stable has been created out of some old cardboard.

We used our toy animals and some Duplo people, along with an angel decoration from our Christmas tree decorating box! Camels were replaced with horses, and a green duplo base was used for the shepherd’s field.

This was a great chance for my little ones to use their imaginations and to act out the Christmas Story. We used The Nativity Book and Jigsaw, from Amazon, for our inspiration.

Christmas Tuff Tray Ideas - A tuff tray set up with ice and polar bear and penguin figures for some easy Christmas sensory play.
This ice play Tuff Tray makes a great Christmas Tuff Tray Idea for Toddlers and Preschoolers.

3. Frozen Lands: Christmas Ice Play

This fun ice play activity is as simple as blocks of ice and some polar bears and penguins.

You could add some people, some water, and some boats to the tray too, if you wanted, or keep it simple like I’ve done here.

I like that this one incorporates some science, as your little one can learn what happens when ice melts. It’s great for their imaginations, and it’s an opportunity to learn about shapes, as I have used different shaped containers to freeze my ice in.

For more fun Ice and Water Play ideas check out Water Play Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers: Fun, Easy, and Low-Prep.

A Tuff Tray set up with a Christmas Craft Activity - Snowflake making. There are circles of white paper, scissors, glue and glitter.

4. Make Snowflakes

Making snowflakes has to be one of the classic, traditional, Christmas kid’s activities. I remember this from my childhood Christmases.

I created a snowflake example and popped it in the middle of the table and then pre-cut some circles of white paper to get them started.

Then I added some scissors for them to cut the details.

Depending on the age of the kid you have, you could leave them to cut their circles independently.

They simply fold the circles in half or, like I have, into half twice and then cut out little triangles in the middle and round the edge. Once they open up their paper, they are left with this pretty pattern you can see in the photo.

I also provided glue and glitter to jazz the snowflakes up a bit.

This Christmas Tuff Tray idea was popular with my kids!

More Christmas Craft Ideas:

Easy Reindeer Craft for Kids

Easy Nativity Suncatcher Craft for Kids

Baby Jesus in a Manger : A Popsicle Sticks Craft

A tuff tray set up with a Christmas themed winter snow scene. There are duplo people throwing playdough snowballs and a star cookie cutter and rolling pin next to a big mound of glittery white playdough.

5. Snow Scene

This beautiful snow scene was created using white glittery Play-Doh.

I used Mess for Less’s Oatmeal Playdough Recipe, as it’s super simple, no-cook, and uses porridge oats (something I needed to use up at the time!)

It was great for a last-minut activity, when I hadn’t got much prep time.

I added some duplo figures to play in the ‘snow’ and made some ‘snowballs’ for them to have a snowball fight. On the other side, I created a small baking zone with a rolling pin and festive cutters.

This was a great Christmas tuff tray idea to suit a wide range of ages and preferences.

Educationally it was brilliant for fine motor skills practice, language development, sensory play, social skills, and imaginative play.

If you enjoyed this idea, you might also like Easy Sensory Tuff Tray Ideas Your Toddler will Love.

A Tuff Tray is set up with one of my popular Christmas Tuff Tray Ideas - Sensory Baking Play. There are weighing scales, a baking bowl, spoons, measuring spoons of various sizes, a tub of white rice and a bowl of mini pom poms in red and green.

6. Christmas Baking Sensory Play

My daughter absolutely loved this Christmas baking set up!

She played with it for ages.

She loved weighing out the rice, a great a bit of math practice, and then using the different measuring spoons to scoop her mixture into the cupcake cases and put them onto the oven tray.

I added some red and green pom poms for decoration.

Sometimes it’s the simplest set-ups that they play with for the longest.

A tuff tray with a Christmas tree on it, surrounded by tinsel and baubles for preschoolers to decorate.
This super simple Christmas Tuff Tray Idea is a mini tree decorating station for Toddlers and Preschoolers.

7. Decorate the Christmas Tree

I don’t think I have ever met a kid who doesn’t like to decorate the Christmas tree.

And then they take it all down and decorate it again, and again, and AGAIN!

If you’re in an early years setting, this is a great one to have set up for the weeks leading up to Christmas. The kids can enjoy coming and going from it as they like, re-decorating it over and over each day! It might even save their tree at home!

Not only is this good for helping their creativity, but it is also brilliant for fine motor skills practice.

If you need more fine motor skills activities for your Toddlers and Preschoolers take a look at Fine Motor Skills Tuff Tray Ideas for Preschoolers.

8. Christmas Potions

This Christmas Potion Station is an interesting STEM activity for little learners.

I used Christmassy-colors for the water, which I dyed with food colouring.

Then I added in extras like glitter, sequins, tinsel, and baubles. We had some different bowls, a measuring jug, and spoons, to get their imaginations going.

I really love this Christmas Tuff Tray activity as it encourages Toddlers and Preschoolers to test their ideas, introducing them to simple experiments.

It allows them to use their imaginations and develops their speech and language as they describe what they’re doing and why.

If you have more than one kid around your tuff tray, it’s also a great socializing activity for them as they work together and share.

How to Make a Potion Station on your Tuff Tray has lots more ideas and inspiration if you’d like to create more potion stations with your little one.

Pin text reads, 10+ Christmas tuff tray ideas for fun Christmas Sensory Play. 3 photos of my tuff tray being used for messy play Sensory snow activities.

9. Christmas Sensory Play

Sensory play is really good for Toddler and Preschooler brain development, and this fun Christmas-themed sensory play activity is such fun for them to get involved in.

This one was super quick and easy to set up, as is my style with kids’ activities. Let’s face it, none of us have time for the pretty Instagram-worthy set-ups and our kids don’t need that level of perfection to learn and have fun!

It’s just shaving foam, with glitter, and some colored Christmas baubles mixed in. Toward the end of the activity, we added in some people figures to play in the ‘snow’.

Sometimes, we add a splash of red and green paint into the mix and the kids have fun swirling the color around and mixing the colors too.

If your little ones enjoy painting, or just playing around with paint, there are loads more paint tuff tray ideas on Painting Tuff Tray Ideas for Toddlers and Preschoolers: Fun and Easy Activities.

A fun Christmas Tuff Tray Idea, using green playdough in the shape of a Christmas tree, with beads, sequins and buttons to decorate. Theres also a rolling pin, and cookie cutters in the shape of trees to make miniature ones.
This Playdough Christmas Tree worked great as a sensory play idea in our Tuff Tray.

10. Scented Playdoh Christmas Tree

I used Playdates to Parties Easy Recipe for Homemade Playdough as it was the simplest and just used ingredients I already have at home (no cream of tartar in this one, thank goodness!)

I love this playdough, by the way. As well as being super quick to make, it feels so soft!

Once I had my playdough down, I arranged it in the shape of a Christmas tree on the tuff tray. (I know, my artistic skills needs some work!)

Then I popped some sequins, glitter, buttons, and small strands of tinsel to be used as decorations for the tree.

I also had a Christmas tree cookie cutter that I added so my little ones could make their own mini Christmas trees as well as work together to decorate the big one.

Closer to Christmas, when we have bought our tree, I plan to try the Early Learning Ideas Christmas Tree Playdough recipe. I think the added element of scent will add so much to this sensory activity.

A tuff tray with wrapping paper, scissors, tape and some little gifts on it for kids to practice wrapping.

11. Christmas Gift Wrapping Station

In my experience, Preschoolers and Toddlers just love helping to wrap up Christmas gifts, making this tuff tray activity ideal.

Simply lay out everything they need to get gift wrapping and leave them to it!

My little girl just loves running around the house, finding precious things to wrap up as gifts to give to me and her dad.

My son did this a few years ago and then hid them under the tree as extra gifts for himself on Christmas day!

If you like this easy tuff tray set up, you can find more simple ideas like this on Easy Sensory Tuff Tray Ideas Your Toddler Will Love.

A Dinosaur Christmas Party set up in a tuff tray.
This fun little Dino Party is so engaging!

12. Dinosaur Christmas Party Tuff Tray

Have a little dinosaur lover? This is the perfect Christmas Tuff Tray for them!

We used the blocks to make the rooms of the party house, with a Christmas tree and some strands of tinsel to decorate the dino dance room!

We had a ball pool playroom filled with mini pompoms in festive colors.

There was a table for Christmas dinner with hand-drawn plates full of whatever the Preschoolers thought the dinosaurs would eat for Christmas dinner!

This makes a great collaborative tuff tray, where Preschoolers and Toddlers can help design the space together.

Lots of opportunities for imaginations to run wild!

This one went down a treat as a Tuff Tray Idea with my 7-year-old and 5-year-old who love dinosaurs!

An image of a tuff tray set up with a messy play activity for Christmas involving oobleck with gingerbread men cutters, flour, and buttons for kids to create snowmen.

13. Sensory Snowmen Play

This snowman tuff tray is a great messy play activity for your tuff tray.

I used oobleck, which is a simple mix of flour and water whisked together into your desired consistency. I left some flour around the edges of the tuff tray so the kids could alter the consistency and make it stiffer if they wanted.

We used gingerbread men cutters to create our snowman shapes and buttons to decorate them.

The flour on the table also created a great opportunity for early writing or mark-making. If you’re looking for more activities to encourage writing skills, take a look at, Teach Your Kid to Write Their Name: 15+ Fun and Easy Activities.

This was also great for little imaginations’ and speech development.

We practiced our fine motor skills during this one too.

If you’re interested in more fine motor skills ideas for toddlers and Preschoolers take a look at Fine Motor Skills Tuff Tray Ideas for Preschoolers.

14. Christmas Rock Painting

These little Christmas pebbles are so cute!

They also make perfect little home-made Christmas gifts!

I love how each design is completely unique to the little one who designs them.

Pin text reads, 10+ Christmas sensory play ideas. Easy Christmas Toddler Activities. 4 images of a tuff tray set up with a nativity sensory play activity.

Christmas Tuff Tray Ideas for Preschool and EYFS Settings

I hope you enjoyed looking through our family’s favorite Christmas Tuff Tray ideas for Toddlers, Preschool or EYFS settings. Hopefully you are now armed with the inspiration to create your own!

Christmas is such a fun time of year for kids, but it can be so over-stimulating sometimes. These activities help to add a calming, sensory experience for them in amongst all that busy-ness and excitement.

It also keeps them learning through that busy, party-filled, season without them even realizing!

If your kids get a little over-excited around Christmas time, you might like, Make Christmas Calmer with Young Kids.

You may also like:

Easy, Last Minute Elf on the Shelf Ideas

Pin text reads, 10 Christmas tuff tray ideas for fun Christmas sensory play. 3 photos of my tuff tray set up with this fun Christmas tree farm sensory play.