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Free Christmas Visual Schedule for Kids

Visual schedules can be a life saver for parents of children with special needs, especially when children have autism, anxieties, PTSD, Reactive Attachment Disorder and other trauma related issues.  Whether they're used for daily routines, school day schedules, or a major event, a visual schedule can help a special needs child function and remain calm, when used appropriately and consistently.

Our family has used various types of visual schedules since Dinomite was a toddler.  All of our kiddos have benefited from them.  Their favorites include our daily visual schedule and our Christmas visual schedule.  You can receive your FREE Christmas Visual Schedule for Kids today!

Christmas Visual Schedule

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We spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at home alone, just the six of us due to the special needs of the kiddos.  So that we don't cause unnecessary anxiety, meltdowns, aggression, and rages,we try to keep the day as low key as possible .  However, even a low key day can be challenging, especially when it's Christmas.  The kiddos' daily routines and schedules are changed.

We spend several days preparing the kiddos for the upcoming changes in their routine.  A social story is read, and we review our Christmas Visual Schedule Flip Book.

Our visual schedule hasn't always taken the form of a flip book.  When the kiddos were little we used a pocket chart.  It hung on our dining room wall.  We discussed the day's events every morning during breakfast, including holidays.  

I laminated 3x3'' PECS images with labels to represent each aspect of our day.  Cards were stored in photo boxes.  It was a great system until the kiddos out grew it. 

Introducing the Visual Schedule Flip Book

The kiddos started to participate in activities outside of the home.  They needed a visual schedule that provided both visual and tactile input, and one they could bring with them where ever they went.  None of the kiddos enjoyed the PECS images anymore.  They wanted true to life images they could relate to.  This is how the visual schedule flip book was born.

It didn't take long before it became all the rage at our house.  Everyone wanted one, especially those that were holiday themed.  The visual schedule flip books were so fun to look through and triggered such happy memories from years past.

I love the flip books because they provide opportunities to teach the kiddos about flexibility.  If for some reason we are unable to complete a task on a card, we simply undo the clasp, and move the card to a different spot.  The kiddos are able to adapt to the new schedule and move forward with their day knowing they'll still be able to do everything.

Flip books are also easy to save from year to year for holidays and other special occasions.  I put them with our holiday decorations stored in the attic.  When I bring a bin out in preparation for the upcoming holiday, the visual schedule flip book is right there.

Our Christmas Visual Schedule Flip Book

As we grow closer to the holiday season, I thought it would be fun to share our Christmas Day routine and schedule.  A visual schedule for the day has been created in flip book form.

1.  The kiddos wake up on their own. They play in their rooms until it's time to go downstairs.

2.  Stockings are filled and waiting for the kiddos in their "special spots."  
  • All items are unwrapped.  
  • Special spots provide comfort for those who may be anxious Christmas morning and provide kiddos with clear visual boundaries as to where they'll sit and open up gifts.  
  • Kiddos also see their one large Christmas gift unwrapped next to their stocking.  
  • No candy or sweets are put in stockings to prevent behaviors.

3.  Breakfast comes next.  We've learned that a healthy breakfast at the start of the day helps prevent meltdowns before lunch.

4.  Once everyone is finished eating we open presents.
  • Kiddos are in their "special spots."  
  • Dinomite hands out gifts.
  • Everyone take turns opening gifts one at a time.

5.  Christmas pick up is next.
  • Everyone helps pick up packaging and wrappers.
  • Kiddos taking their gifts upstairs to their rooms.  If gifts stay downstairs one is sure to be broken before the day is done.

6.  Kiddos get dressed.

7.  They brush teeth.

8.  Mommy and Daddy help everyone brush hair.

9.  Then they finally have time to play with some of their new toys until lunch.

10.  Our Christmas Day lunch is a  relish platter, with meat, cheese, crackers, fruits, vegetables and dips.  All are very easy foods to prepare.

11.  Nap time is always necessary on Christmas.  It comes right after lunch.  The anxiety leading up to the day is enough to keep everyone on edge and cause some to not sleep well.  An afternoon nap helps us avoid meltdowns before dinner.

12.  When everyone's awake, we all get our snow gear on.

13.  It's time to play outside.  We always hope for snow to make the experience extra fun.

14.  Once inside, we warm up with some hot chocolate and a few Christmas cookies.

15.  Then Renae starts preparing Christmas Dinner while Jason spends time playing with the kiddos.

16.  Besides playing with new toys, the kiddos and Jason also have fun with board games.

17.  Each of the kiddos takes turns helping me cook dinner.

18.  While Mommy sets the table Jason reads books with the kiddos.

19.   Finally it's time for Christmas dinner!

20.  After dinner we turn off all the lights but the Christmas tree lights and watch a Christmas movie.

21.  Once the movie is over the kiddos change into pajamas.

22.  They brush teeth.

23.  Next they brush hair.

24.  Finally it's bedtime.

I have created a flip chart card for every step in our Christmas Day. You'll notice it includes every detail and transition throughout the day.  This is a must in order for it to be effective.  When the kiddos use the flip book, they feel calm knowing what's coming next.

Receive Your Free Christmas Visual Schedule Flip Book Printable Today!

I have provided you with the link to our Christmas visual schedule below.  The printable includes all of the individual cards we use for Christmas Day, Christmas Eve and more.  If you notice that I am lacking a card you need for your own Christmas visual schedule, please leave a comment below describing the event I'm missing.  I would love to update the printable so it works for your family.

If you're interested in the free printable, follow the directions below.

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3. Open the thank you message you receive after subscribing. (Be sure to check your spam folder, as sometimes it ends up there.)
4. Locate the link to our Subscriber Only Freebies page as well as password to access it in the "Thank You" message.
5. Click on link and type in password.
6. Find the printable pack you are looking for listed in alphabetical order, click on it, and viola!

We hope you enjoy your free printable.

Note: If you are already a newsletter subscriber, open your most recent newsletter. At the bottom you will find a link to the Subscriber Only Freebies page, along with the password in case you forgot it.

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Visual schedules for holidays are discussed in detail in a new book called, Holidays and PTSD:  A Parent's Guide to Survival.  It is now available for purchase in ebook and paperback forms!

Book:  Holidays and PTSD: A Parent's Guide to Survival

If you're interested in learning more about how visual schedules can help your child with PTSD, anxiety, or other trauma related issues, you'll want to buy this book today!  It includes amazing resources and support for parents who are craving it.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy the posts below.
Special Needs Event Planner

Free Incident Quesstionnaire for Parents of Special Needs Children

Preparing Childrne for Their First Fine Arts Experience

Christmas Visual Schedule

This post is part of the Parenting Children with Special Needs Series. If you're interested in reading more surviving the holidays with special needs children, be sure to visit the links below.

Free Christmas Visual Schedule for Kids | Every Star is Different
Holiday Myths & Autism | My Home Truths


  1. You could add guests arriving and guests leaving or the opposite, traveling to see friends and family and returning from the visit.

    Some people go to a Christmas Eve church service, which often causes lots of excitement and anxiety here.

  2. I will look to see if I can find images to create cards for guests arriving and leaving. I do include a car ride card, for travel in the printable pack. There is also a church card. It chose scriptures as an image because every church looks so different. Thank you so much for the ideas!

    1. Thank you so much for the e-mail. :) I love hearing from my readers. The link to the printable is now fixed!

  3. This is such an amazing resource Renae. So many find it difficult to even know where to begin when it comes to creating printables for themselves. I know this will help so many families - well done!!!!

  4. We use schedules for everything in our house! I'm just preparing ours for the imminent school holidays. Yours are so adaptable to any situation. Thank you for sharing