Here is a huge list of Christmas traditions to consider starting for your family. Holiday traditions make the season meaningful and fun. The best time to start a new Christmas tradition is now, and this list of over 100 options will spark fresh ideas for you.
WHY HAVE FAMILY TRADITIONS?
Traditions are a long-established custom that has been passed down from one generation to another.
Your family may already have some traditions surrounding the holidays that have been passed down in your family. Many couples decide when they get married to start their own family traditions that they will pass down to their children. They may blend ideas from each family, or start new ones.
Traditions are for single people, too. Make your holiday meaningful by celebrating it with things that bring you joy.
Family traditions are important for children because they give them a sense of security. They provide consistency and can bond families in a special way.
Important family stories are created through these traditions, and it is something kids will love to hear about and later tell their own children about.
DO HOLIDAY TRADITIONS HAVE TO BE COMPLICATED?
Family traditions do NOT have to be complicated. You can make your traditions as simple or as involved as you choose.
A tradition can be as simple as always having a special breakfast casserole on Christmas morning. It could be as complex as having Santa Claus stop by for a visit every December.
This is your family and your heritage, so create traditions based on what will work for your family. As you think about Christmas traditions to consider starting, be sure to remember this is something you will be doing every year.
Don’t start too many and make things too hectic for yourself. Start small and add more later.
As a mom to five kids and many foster children, I’ve been surprised a few times when my kids clamored to do something at the holidays and told me, “Mom, we have to. It’s a Christmas tradition!” I didn’t even realize that it had become a tradition, but it was meaningful to our children.
101+ CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS TO START THIS YEAR
I researched and came up with a huge list of Christmas traditions that you and your family will love.
Do not get overwhelmed. This is a list of ideas you can pick and choose from what will be most impactful for your family. A few solid traditions are all you need to make Christmas meaningful.
- Drive around and look at Christmas lights as a family every December.
- Go to a Christmas tree farm and pick a live tree together and cut it down.
- Decorate the Christmas tree as a family.
- Buy each child a new Christmas ornament (or make one) and write the year on the ornament. When they are grown and move out they can take these ornaments to start their own tree traditions.
- Go caroling around your neighborhood or host a caroling party.
- Spend an afternoon each December taking cookies and small gifts to a local nursing home.
- Go see a production of the Nutcracker every December.
- Have a family movie night during December and watch your family’s favorite holiday movies.
- Make homemade Christmas sugar cookies and decorate them as a family.
- Send a family Christmas letter to your friends and family each year and have every person sign the letter by hand.
- Get family pictures taken each year around Christmas time.
- Have a big Christmas party and invite family and friends over for a fun time.
- Put together Operation Christmas Child boxes for Samaritans Purse.
- Work at a food bank for a day during December as a family.
- Make and decorate gingerbread houses.
- Go ice skating indoors or outdoors.
- Participate in a local fun run during December.
- Listen to Christmas music in the car during December.
- Decorate the outside of your house for Christmas by putting up lights and other decorations.
- Set up a hot chocolate bar on family movie night and enjoy this special treat.
- Have the kids write letters to Santa early in December each year and wait for his reply in the mail. Parents may want to snap a picture or make a copy of the letter so kids can look back on the letters when they are older.
- Decide on a special Christmas breakfast or brunch that you will make each year.
- Go see a production of “The Best Christmas Pagent Ever”. There are usually high schools or local theater groups putting this show on every year.
- Get matching Christmas pajamas for the whole family and snap some silly photos.
- Make homemade paper snowflakes and hang them around the house.
- Buy or make an advent calendar and open a window each day during December.
- Sleep under the Christmas tree one night.
- Make reindeer food and leave it out for Santa’s reindeer on Christmas Eve.
- Leave a plate of cookies and a glass of milk out for Santa on Christmas Eve.
- Get personalized stockings and hang them up each year.
- Start a Christmas village collection and get a new piece each year. Watch as the village grows and grows.
- Make some homemade gifts each year and give them out to neighbors and other people that you want to bless.
- Adopt a less fortunate family each year and give them a box of gifts and food anonymously.
- Watch Santa’s journey around the world on the NORAD website.
- Pay it Forward to someone during December.
- Go to your local zoo in December. It may be cold, but the animals will probably be more active in the cooler weather. Plus it is a low attendance time of year and zoos can use the money from your admission fees.
- Clean out the kid’s toys early in December and donate the toys they no longer play with.
- Make homemade marshmallows and put them in hot cocoa.
- Learn how another culture or country celebrates Christmas. Have each family member share their findings one night and make food specific to that country.
- Go to a Christmas Eve service at your church or a local church.
- Make homemade fruit cake. You may be surprised at how good homemade fruit cake can actually be.
- Host a cookie exchange with friends. This is a great way to try out new cookie varieties.
- Read the true Christmas story out of the Bible every year on Christmas Eve.
- Wrap each child’s gifts from Santa Claus in a special wrapping paper you pick out just for that child. Only that child’s gifts will be in that paper. Each child will have a different paper. Because Santa doesn’t have the same wrapping paper as mom and dad do!
- Play a game of dirty Santa (or white elephant) with friends or extended family.
- Go see a movie on Christmas day after you open gifts and eat.
- Get a special Christmas ornament on vacation each year and hang it on the tree as a way to remember all your family trips.
- Read a Christmas themed book to your kids each evening during December. If you don’t have enough at home just check your local library.
- Spend a day binge-watching Hallmark Christmas movies.
- Host or attend an ugly Christmas sweater party.
- Go to the mall and visit Santa. Be sure to tell him what you want for Christmas.
- Watch old home movies and reminisce about days gone by.
- Look through photo albums of past Christmas’s.
- Go to a drive-through live nativity.
- Take the kids to local thrift stores and give them each some money to find gifts for family and friends.
- Make handmade Christmas cards to send to loved ones.
- Host an ornament exchange with friends that live far away. This is a fun way to stay connected with long-distance friends.
- Participate in your local Angel tree program or donate a toy to Toys for Tots.
- Make snow angels and have a snowball fight. If you are in an area that doesn’t get snow try having a snowball fight with indoor snowballs!
- Have a Happy Birthday Jesus party on Christmas day.
- Put together a Christmas themed puzzle during December.
- Get a new game each December and play it on Christmas day.
- Let each child put up a small Christmas tree in their room and decorate it however they want.
- Open one gift on Christmas Eve each year.
- Have a Christmas scavenger hunt for gifts.
- Play Christmas mad libs for a good laugh.
- Buy an Elf on the Shelf and start this as an annual tradition.
- Go on a mini-vacation over Christmas break each year. It could be ski trips, a beach vacation or just a getaway to a nearby hotel within an indoor pool.
- Hire a local Santa to stop by your house for a special visit during December.
- Hang mistletoe in the house and remember to kiss if you get caught underneath it.
- Get an elf costume or at least an elf hat and the person with the hat/costume gets to hand out gifts on Christmas morning.
- Get stockings for your pets and fill them with pet treats and small gifts.
- Have a regifting party where everyone brings a regift and play a game to distribute the gifts.
- Hide a Christmas pickle and the person who finds it gets a special gift. Remember to set the rules before the search begins so it is fair.
- Go on a Christmas train ride like the Polar Express.
- Play Christmas Bingo complete with fun Christmas-themed prizes.
- If you get a real tree be sure to cut a slice off the trunk at the end of the season and make it into an ornament for the following year.
- Do themed parties throughout the month. Some easy ideas would be a Grinch theme with green foods and green punch. An Elf party where you watch the movie, drink Eggnog and sing Christmas songs.
- Make homemade eggnog, nonalcoholic for kids, and spiked for adults if you wish.
- Leave footprints from Santa’s special delivery behind. This can be done by dusting the bottom of a shoe with flour.
- Start a family scrapbook of every Christmas and add to it each year.
- Do an Advent wreath each Sunday in December to remember the true meaning of Christmas.
- Sign up for a service that will have Santa call your kids on the phone during December to check in with them. Some services will also send a text message from Santa.
- Make Christmas candy and give a container of candy to relatives on Christmas.
- Attend a local Christmas market or craft fair and look for handmade gifts for friends. This is a great way to support local artisans.
- Make a wreath out of fresh pine boughs to hang on your front door.
- Keep homemade Christmas potpourri on the stove during December to make your home smell divine.
- Start a tradition of having a special meal on Christmas Eve like pizza, taco bar, or even just appetizers. Let the kids help choose what it will be each year.
- Start a memory book of Christmas letters you receive from friends and family. These letters are fun to read back through in the coming years.
- Put on a family Christmas play or skit. This can be hilarious and written by the kids. Invite the grandparents over to watch it.
- Make handprint crafts and ornaments for grandparents each year. They will love getting these gifts even when the kids get bigger!
- Create a Christmas recipe box and add to it each year as you come across new Christmas recipes your family loves. This is great to pass down to the kids so they will have the family’s favorite holiday recipes to use with their own families.
- Put out a nativity set each year and talk about the meaning behind each piece as you put it out.
- Set up an elf door each year. This is how the elves can come in and out of the house to keep an eye on the kids and their behavior during the month. Plus these are adorable!
- Buy a special plant like a poinsettia each December in memory of loved ones who aren’t with you on earth anymore.
- Go into the country away from the lights of the city and look in the sky for the Christmas star.
- Save back one gift for each family member that they can’t open until dinner time on Christmas day. This stretches out the gift-giving fun.
- Create a Christmas Eve box and fill it with small trinkets, candy, and maybe new Christmas pajamas. This is especially fun for young children who are so excited for Christmas.
- Do random acts of kindness during December. Use a random acts of kindness calendar for ideas and to keep track of what you have done.
- If you don’t care for Elf on the Shelf you can do a Kindness Elf, North Pole Ninjas, or even Shepherd on the Search as alternatives.
- Take turns opening gifts on Christmas morning so you get to see each person’s reaction to their gifts.
WHICH CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS WILL YOUR FAMILY START?
This list of over 100 Christmas traditions to consider starting has surely got you thinking. Which ones seem to be a good fit for your family?
Does your family have a tradition that isn’t on this list? Be sure to leave me a comment and let me know!