I love Christmas traditions! Some come from my childhood, others are new with our family. Here are some of our family favorites and a ton of YOUR tradition ideas.
Let’s talk about some great Christmas traditions!
There’s basically nothing better and more magical for me than Christmas traditions. My family had tons growing up, and I love starting new ones with my family and carrying on a few of our favorites. It’s just the very best time of year to be a kid.
Most of my favorite traditions happen in our home with the twinkle lights glowing, something cooking in the oven, and everyone snuggled up, so comfy clothes are a must.
These are five of my favorite family traditions
1. Putting up the Christmas tree. This is always a magical night, and we typically do it the day after Thanksgiving. We turn on Christmas music or a classic Christmas movie (Miracle on 34th Street is one of my favorites!), turn down all the lights except the Christmas tree twinkle lights, and decorate the tree all together. One of the best parts is showing my boys my favorite ornaments from my childhood or that we’ve collected on our travels.
2. Secret Santa for a family in need. Christmas can turn kids into little me-me-me monsters, so we’ve started the yearly tradition to help a family in need. We buy gifts for their kids and usually do a gift card for the parents, and then spend an evening at home wrapping everything up and then doorbell ditching it. It’s fun for the kids to ring the doorbell and run (and try not to get caught!!), but also a good reminder to serve this time of year.
3. Getting hot chocolate and driving around looking at Christmas lights. Christmas lights are so magical, and hot cocoa (with extra marshmallows) always makes it better. We find the best neighborhoods and a good Christmas radio station, and spend the whole evening driving around (and sometimes getting out and walking). Someone suggested to integrate an act of service by getting hot chocolate in the drive-thru and paying for the car behind you — I love that idea!
4. Treasure hunts to the big present on Christmas morning. My parents started this tradition years ago and it’s my favorite thing. We try to make Christmas morning and present opening last as long as possible (we take turns in age order opening a gift and sometimes stop to assemble or try out the gifts), because when it’s all over it’s so sad!! So we like to go out on a high note with a big treasure hunt to a hidden grand finale. One year when I was 9 or 10, my parents gave us the end of a string and told us to follow it. It took us all around the house, outside, and finally across the street to our neighbor’s home where we found our new bikes! It’s such a fun way to end Christmas each year.
5. Reading a Christmas read aloud book during December. I’ve been doing this for the last few years and it’s my favorite. It helps get us all in the holiday spirit and there are plenty of great Christmas books out there. This year we’re reading Kringle.
I turned to you guys on Instagram and asked for your favorite Christmas traditions, and you guys shared THE BEST ideas. I’m ready to incorporate a few them this year!
50+ Christmas Tradition Ideas Submitted by YOU!
- Wrap all your Christmas books and put them under the tree. Open one each day and read under the lit up Christmas tree! Add a new book or two every year.
- Cut down a Christmas tree as a family at the Christmas tree farm. Bonus idea: bring hats or gloves and give each person one to “mark” their favorite tree, then vote which one to cut!
- Host a white elephant exchange with extended family on Christmas Eve.
- Do a service advent calendar. One small or large act per day. Bonus idea: add little pieces of candy in each pocket to keep it fun for kids!
- Attend a musical performance as a family (Rockettes, Nutcracker, Boston Pops, High School Christmas band concert, local college Christmas a cappella performance, etc)
- Have a hot cocoa party with different flavors and toppings. Bonus idea: have a contest for the best or craziest combination!
- Drive around to houses with nativity scenes and leave thank you notes to say thank you for remembering the true meaning of Christmas
- Open Christmas pajamas on Christmas Eve!
- Give a new Christmas ornament to each child each year that represents a special trip or memory from the year.
- On Christmas morning, read a book in between opening each gift to avoid the Christmas present frenzy.
- Create a Christmas playlist each year. Each family member picks out a few favorite songs and everyone gets a copy of the CD.
- Hold a special family night at the beginning of December to start the Christmas season focus on the Savior. Have Dinner, musical numbers, a spiritual thought, and then a live nativity and cookie decorating so it’s a mix of fun and spiritual.
- Create a treasure hunt to the big gift at the end of presents each year.
- Be a Secret Santa for a family in need from church or the community.
- Make cranberry garlands for the tree.
- Make a special Christmas morning breakfast. Choose an overnight recipe you can prep the night before so you can spend Christmas morning together instead of cooking!
- Make a “December First Box” for each family member with new Christmas jammies, new Christmas books, hot chocolate packets, and popcorn. Everyone opens on December first, puts on their new jammies, and snuggles up to watch a Christmas movie with hot cocoa and popcorn!
- Get hot chocolate in a drive through and pay for the person behind you in line, then drive around and count how many houses had Christmas lights. Bonus idea: Create voting sheets and tally the best houses, or play bingo with game cards and try to find things like a blow up santa, or a christmas train!
- Go Ice Skating on Christmas Eve
- Do 12 days of Christmas stocking stuffers leading up to Christmas. Each morning the kids get a prize (candy, small toys, a book, etc)
- Read a chapter out of Luke each day starting December 1st. Put up one paper “ornament” on a board or your tree each day symbolizing the different aspects of Christmas
- Make chocolate biscuits and gravy at Grandma’s house on Christmas Day
- Go to a movie in the theater on Christmas Eve to speed along the kid’s Christmas anticipation.
- Draw names, and each person makes a handmade gift for the person whose name they drew. On Christmas Eve, each person sits in the “special chair” one at a time to receive their handmade gift, and then everyone goes around and says why that person is special.
- Open one gift on Christmas Eve and read the Christmas story from Luke while eating homemade pumpkin bread and hot cocoa
- Sleep under the Christmas tree on the night before Christmas Eve. (Don’t do Christmas Eve or else you’ll see Santa!)
- Make a bunch of different Christmas cookies, box them up and deliver them to neighbors.
- Hold a themed gift exchange. Each year, rotate which family chooses the theme, and all gifts must fall into that theme. (Theme ideas: Local Gifts, As Seen On TV, Family Date Nights, Made in Your State, Games, etc). All gifts go in the middle, and each person goes around and chooses one. Gifts can be traded two times.
- Make a fondue dessert and then walk through the snow to look at Christmas lights.
- Get a new family game on Christmas Eve and play it together for the evening!
- Go to the bookstore to pick out a Christmas book. Then go outside to read it under all the Christmas lights. So simple yet so magical.
- Have each family member pick out a Christmas ornament on each family vacation and have them write their name and the year on the back. It makes decorating the tree so fun as you pull out *your* box of ornaments and talk about memories from old trips!
- Do a Christmas activity advent calendar. Examples: open matching Christmas pajamas from Grandma, read Luke 2 on Christmas Eve, Make Christmas cookies, Deliver neighbor gifts etc.
- On Christmas Eve, read the Bible story of the birth of Christ and sing Silent Night by candlelight.
- Go on a snowy horse drawn sleigh ride the day before Christmas Eve, bundled up and sipping hot cocoa.
- Dress up fancy and go out to eat dinner at a nice restaurant on Christmas Eve, then have a big homemade dinner at home on Christmas night.
- Do the 12 days of Christmas for a family in the neighborhood.
- Go Christmas caroling!
- Instead of giving presents to siblings, go on a special date together!
- To keep your Christmas gifts simple, give four presents: something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read.
- On Christmas Eve, go around and share your biggest accomplishments from the year, or something you did that you’re proud of.
- Have the entire family save their spare change in a jar throughout the year. In December, everyone guesses how much is inside (just for fun!) and then cash it in to buy your Christmas tree!
- Stay up until midnight with your husband and open up your gifts right when it turns 12:00.
- Instead of gift tags, wrap each person’s gifts in their own wrapping paper. It makes it easier for kids who can’t read yet, and it’s fun to see all the different paper!
- Have a stocking shopping night. Draw names in your family so each person is assigned another person. Pick a store (like Target), a price limit, and a time limit, and then shop for each other’s stockings. On Christmas morning, everyone guesses who stuffed their stocking!
- Do an indoor snowball or nerf gun fight on Christmas Eve!
- Have a fondue dinner on Christmas Eve.
- Make a new Christmas ornament each year. Give one to Grandma, and have one for each kid so they can take them all into their new home one day. Don’t forget to write the year on each one!
- Set up your tent (or build a fort) and have a “camp in” while watching a Christmas movie, and then sleep in the tent for the night!
- Host a gingerbread house decorating party! Tip: I wrote a post last year with my tips for throwing one!
- Study the various names and titles of Jesus each day til Christmas to learn more about Him. Print out or draw each name and hang them around your doorway so you can see each time you come in.
- Host a progressive dinner with extended family. Start at one family’s home for salad, then move to another house for a main course, and then finish at the last house for dessert and a gift exchange.
- Find a new figurine nativity scene each year and create a collection. You could even make your own out of gingerbread!
- Do an Iron Chef cook-off! Kids are in teams, and parents are the judges.
- Have a Shepherd’s Dinner on Christmas Eve. Make food that they would have eaten back in Jesus’ day, dress up as shepherds, sit on the ground and eat by candlelight, and then read the Christmas story from Luke.
- On Christmas Eve, give a gift to Christ. Everyone write down something they’re going to do better next year, and then wrap it up and leave it out all year as a reminder. Add to your box each year and look back to see how you’ve changed and improved your life over the years!
If you have other Christmas traditions you’d like to share, leave a comment below!
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