Family Christmas Traditions that you should start with your family now. Whether you are looking to start new and memorable traditions with your new baby, or with your older children, this list of my top 20 traditions is sure to create happy memories for your family!
Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday and in my opinion, it’s the best time of year! Something that adds to all the magic of December, is the fun and meaningful family Christmas traditions that we do every single year.
The important thing about family traditions is that they are done every year and it is always something families can count on doing together during the holiday season.
These simple traditions are incredibly special because they are done together, as a family, not because they are big or extravagant.
What are Christmas Traditions?
Christmas traditions are customs that you do every year during the month of December.
The traditions themselves can take on various forms in different countries, for different religions and for different families.
You can create your own traditions and add them to traditions that have been passed down to you.
Why You Should Start Family Christmas Traditions
If you have just had your first baby and are looking for Christmas traditions to start now, this list will provide lots of different options so you can start making incredible memories this year.
If your family is already established, there are always new traditions that you can add to your current traditions.
Christmas traditions don’t have to be a big production. What’s important is the togetherness and the memories that they create for each family member.
If you needed another reason to get started, check this out: According to Psychology Today, “Traditions establish and strengthen family bonds by providing a solid structure, a sense of continuity, and a feeling of belonging.”
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List of the Best Christmas Activities to Start Now
GIVE BACK & SPONSOR A CHILD – There are so many less fortunate children in this world that will not be able to have a magical Christmas. This is the perfect time to sponsor a child to help make their holiday special.
Sponsoring a child to help make their holiday special is rewarding and it is a great opportunity to teach your kids how to give back. If you can’t find a location near you to sponsor a child, look out for local toy drives hosted by Toys for Tots.
SEND CHRISTMAS CARDS – Gather your family together, take a picture, and create your Christmas card. This is a great time to send a small update about your family to friends and family you don’t see or speak to very often.
Writing holiday cards can seem daunting, but it doesn’t need to be. Take a picture, pick out a design you like on Shutterfly, add your signature, and select the order now button. No need to write a novel if you don’t want to. (If you are a new Shutterfly customer, use code FREEBOOKNEW to get a free 8×8 Photo Book.)
GO TO AN OUTDOOR ICE SKATING RINK – Get the kids bundled up and take them out for an exciting ice skating adventure.
This is fun for kids of all ages.
GO TO A LOCAL TREE LIGHTING CEREMONY – Find your local community calendar online and find the date for your local tree lighting ceremony. Such a fun tradition to create for your little ones where the entire family can spend quality time together making memories.
Make sure to take pictures so you can look back every year and see how much everyone has changed.
CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN CALENDAR – Start the countdown to Christmas by visually showing your little ones how many sleeps until Santa arrives with an adorable chalk calendar.
This calendar has rustic charm plus it’s easy to use – just grab a piece of chalk and cross out each day. Kids will easily be able to see when Santa is coming, which is the best way to prevent them from asking you about it daily.
ADVENT CALENDAR FOR THE KIDS – A really fun holiday tradition is an advent calendar. It is another special item that’s only around during Christmas time, which helps build the anticipation for Christmas morning. You can go with the traditional chocolate advent calendar that you can purchase at your local grocery store. Or, you can go with something that will give them something creative to do, like this Lego advent calendar or art set.
MAKE HOMEMADE HOT COCOA – There’s nothing better than a nice cup of hot cocoa on a cold winter day. Making it from scratch tastes so much better than the packaged mix, plus it’s really fun to do together as a family. Here’s my favorite recipe from Lauren’s Latest that you can make in the crockpot.
LET EACH CHILD PICK OUT A NEW CHRISTMAS ORNAMENT – Find a local mom & pop Christmas shop and let your kids pick out their own ornament every year. When you take them out every year to decorate, you can see how they’ve aged and how their personality and interests have changed.
Once your children are grown, pack up their ornaments so they can now be used on their family Christmas tree.
PURCHASE AN ELF ON THE SHELF – This is a tradition I hear mixed reviews on. Personally, we do this and my kids absolutely love it! You don’t have to use the Elf as a form of punishment (i.e. telling your kids the elf is watching and Santa will know they’ve been bad) but instead use it as a tool for fun. Let your kids experience the excitement of finding their elf every morning and seeing if he was up to no good. The elf doesn’t always have to be in creative poses either. Check out my post The Lazy Mom’s Guide to Elf on the Shelf if you need any ideas.
SEND SANTA A LETTER – Have your kids send a thoughtful letter with their wish list to Santa every year. The USPS even has a program where they will send back a letter from Santa with a North Pole postmark. You can see my free Letter to Santa Christmas Tradition here with instructions on how to get your return letter from Santa. Or feel free to just print out the PDF so your kids can leave a letter to Santa on Christmas Eve.
BUILD & DECORATE A GINGERBREAD HOUSE – Get a decorating kit from your local store and let your kids spend some time being creative.
Typically our gingerbread house gets eaten the same day it’s made, but even though the house doesn’t last, it’s a really fun activity and the memories last forever.
Visit Santa Claus – Take a trip to Santa’s workshop and have a magical visit with Santa. The memories of looking back on the photos every year is worth every penny of the overpriced photos.
**Tip – If possible go to the same place every year. We live in a small town and there is a local mom and pop shop that hosts Santa every year. It’s really wonderful to have all of our pictures arranged and have the same Santa in all of them.
Have a Christmas Movie Marathon – Once Thanksgiving rolls around the Christmas movies start airing. Hallmark Christmas movies are my go-to but probably not something most kids want to sit through. But between cable, Netflix, Disney+, etc.., there are so many options for a great holiday movie.
Pick a special day of the month for this tradition and have your movie night every year. Christmas Eve is a really good day for this if it’s usually a chill day at your house.
Bake Christmas Cookies – Is there anything better than being cuddled up on the couch, watching the Hallmark Channel, and eating fresh Christmas cookies? A fun tradition is to spend Christmas Eve baking cookies for Santa. Whether you bake from scratch or use pre-made dough, your kids won’t care. Just have fun together.
Play Christmas Music – Hearing the songs my mom always played on Christmas never fails to bring back memories of my childhood.
Make Personalized Gifts – Grandma and Grandpa always appreciate handmade gifts from the kids. If you’re feeling crafty, you can check out these tutorials for DIY Christmas Photo Ornaments. If you’re not feeling crafty, I love purchasing items like these stepping stones, because they don’t require a lot of effort, but they’re still a special gift.
CLEAN OUT TOYS AND DONATE TO LOCAL CHARITIES – Each year, each family member clean out their toys and find stuff that they no longer need or want.
The best part is that you are simultaneously cleaning the house while making space for new toys and teaching your kids the true spirit of Christmas.
BUY MATCHING CHRISTMAS JAMMIES – You can go all out and buy matching pairs for everyone in the family or be like me and just get them for the kids. I love the way our Christmas morning pictures look with the kids all in coordinating jammies. I usually find the best deals at The Children’s Place and Target.
LOOK AT CHRISTMAS LIGHTS & DECORATIONS IN AND AROUND YOUR AREA- The Christmas season is such a beautiful time of year! Outdoor lights and decor are everywhere and there’s nothing better than seeing everything lit up in the evening.
There are so many wonderful light displays to look at and enjoy. This will easily become a favorite family Christmas tradition!
CHRISTMAS MORNING FAMILY PICTURE IN FRONT OF THE TREE – Once the kids have finished tearing through their gifts, get a yearly picture of the kids or the whole family in front of the tree.
This is a great way to preserve memories and see how much everyone has changed since the last Christmas Day picture.
Free Christmas Activities
Want to have some Christmas fun without breaking the bank? Here is a list of activities that will keep you in the holiday spirit.
Christmas Bucket List – Download this free printable by clicking the image below, and see how many items your family can check off the list.
Christmas Scavenger Hunt – Download this free printable and pass it out to the little kids and let them search the neighborhood for these Christmas items. If you have older children at home let them help guide the little ones around.
Use Social Media to find local events – Take to your local Facebook pages to find out about local community events. Another great option is Macaroni Kid. This is a free website that provides you with a calendar of kid-friendly events happening in and around your community. Just enter your zip code to find your local page.
Christmas Would You Rather Game – If your kids are anything like mine, getting responses to questions can be pretty difficult. Everything is always fine, school was always boring and nothing happened all day that they can tell me about. That’s why I love activities that give provide great conversation starters. Jen at Family Fun Simplified created a Christmas version of the Would You Rather game that you can download for free. Guaranteed to get your kids talking and laughing.
Getting Started with your New Family Christmas Traditions
This list should provide you with several fun activities that you can start this year. Cherish the memories you make and enjoy the special time with your family.
What are your favorite things to do during the most wonderful time of the year? Let me know in the comments below.