25 Family Holiday Traditions to Start with Your Kids
Family holiday traditions make Christmas all the more memorable. Whether you have no kids, a newborn, or young kids, there are plenty of ways that you can incorporate new holiday traditions into the Christmas season without too much effort. Check out our ideas below:
Family Holiday Traditions Before Christmas
1. Buy a new Nutcracker every year and write the date on the bottom
My kids love going to the store and helping choose a new nutcracker to add to our collection, and it’s also their favorite thing to unbox and set up every year.
2. Send Santa a letter
Spend an afternoon writing your letter to Santa while drinking hot cocoa. You might even find someplace nearby with a “Letters to Santa” red mailbox that you can drive to and drop it in!
3. Start a tiny Christmas village and add to it each year
I started this tradition a few years ago and my daughter loves setting it up and helping me pick a new piece each year. It doesn’t have to be a cheesy Christmas village like your grandma once owned; we buy white ceramic houses, bottlebrush trees and metal houses and accessories.
4. Have a Christmas lights scavenger hunt
My kids have always loved this tradition. We pack up some hot cocoa in to-go cups, blast Christmas music, and drive around trying to find items on our scavenger hunt list or bingo card. You can find tons of great printables on Pinterest for this!
5. Have a gingerbread house building competition
Buy a kit and extra candy and let everyone go to town! Winner gets a winter accessory (like slippers, socks, gloves or a scarf). Get tips for hosting a simple, but pretty gingerbread party at thelovedesignedlife.com
6. Host a Christmas movie marathon one Saturday, complete with hot cocoa
7. Watch a local Christmas parade or tree lighting
8. Have a campout by the Christmas tree
Grab some sleeping bags, blankets and pillows and watch a late night movie with popcorn. Then fall asleep next to the twinkling lights.
9. Take a themed family photo
Get everybody in their pjs, ugly christmas sweaters, or holiday outfits and take a family photo. Read our tips for taking your own family photos
10. Go ice skating or sledding
11. Fill an advent calendar with fun things to do
Our advent calendar has always been filled with parts of the nativity story to read and fun activities to do. I usually plan when we are going to do fun Christmas activities (like game night, movie night, Christmas light scavenger hunt, tree lighting, etc) and then put them in the appropriate days.
12. Make Christmas cookies or treats and deliver them to friends
When the kids are young, you might try something simple like dipping pretzels or peppermint sticks in melted chocolate and sprinkles. I found this easier than doing a whole baking session!
13. Read a holiday or Christmas-themed book before bed each night
Find some good ones here. Here are some of our favorites:
14. Make a family “year in review” letter or video
Reflecting on the year is a sweet way to spend time as a family. Make a video sharing your favorite moments, or pick up our On This Day Album to document your top 3 moments and fill it in for memories throughout the year.
15. Let the kids each pick a sibling's name from a hat and help them buy a gifts for each other
16. Do a Christmas craft to create gifts for grandparents or extended family
Try your hand at some handmade ornaments, Christmas cards, or DIY gift wrap. (photo: kelseybang.com)
Family Holiday Traditions for Christmas Eve
17. Chinese food for Christmas Eve Dinner
Eating the same food every year can make for a tradition that everyone looks forward to. Every Christmas Eve, we order Chinese food and pick it up after we attend Christmas Eve church service. It’s one of the only places open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and it saves me from having to cook!
18. Give everyone matching Christmas PJs with a game or movie
I always buy my kids matching pjs and they get to open and wear them on Christmas Eve (I plan to embarrass them with this tradition for the rest of time). I also include a game or movie in the present so we can do it together before going to bed.
19. Open one present on Christmas Eve
Growing up, we always opened all our presents on Christmas Eve. Once I had my own kids, I wanted the traditional Christmas morning, but we still allowed our kids to open one present each Christmas Eve. Sometimes it’s a gift from their siblings or a gift from their grandparents. This can also help lessen gift fatigue on Christmas morning if you have overzealous grandparents!
20. Create a Santa sack to teach kids to give back
Each year, have the kids take some of their gently used toys that they wish to donate and place them in a sack in under the tree for Santa to take to other kids. It teaches them that the holidays aren't just about receiving, but also giving (and, bonus, it helps you clean out your stash of toys before incorporating new ones!).
21. Attend a Christmas Eve church service
Each year, we get dressed up and attend a local church service on Christmas Eve. It’s a great way to remember the reason for the holiday and create a rhythm for each Christmas Eve.
22. Host a Christmas Eve game night with extended family
Find some fun games here. Here are some of our favorites:
23. Place Santa’s footprints in your home with flour or sugar
The kids love this! Place boots on the ground and then sprinkle flour or sugar around them. You’ll be left with prints surrounded by magical snow that doesn't melt, and the kids will be amazed.
Family Holiday Traditions for Christmas Day
24. Make a Christmas morning brunch
Make an egg or french toast casserole the night before and leave it in the fridge. Then you can pop it in the oven when the kids wake you all too early, and by the time you’re done opening presents, it will be ready! (Mimosas for the parents are a must)
25. Have the kids write thank you notes to show gratitude
You might want to wait to do this after the holiday passes, but having the kids write thank you notes to friends and family is a great way to teach them gratitude. We have some color-in, fill-in holiday thank you cards for kids that make it easy.
Additional Resources For Family Christmas Traditions
If you liked this guide on family Christmas traditions, check out our Christmas Memories Keepsake Journal where you document all the fun activities and traditions you did this year and for the next ten years!
And if you’re looking for additional Christmas resources for the family, check out our collection of personalized gifts.
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