The festive season brings with it a magical aura, one that’s woven through with warmth, joy, and a sense of belonging.
Christmas, with its glittering lights and heartwarming carols, isn’t just a holiday; it’s a tapestry of memories and moments shared with those we hold dear.
Think back to when you were a child, your fondest memories of Christmas and the magic that comes with it. I know for myself so much of that magic is anchored in the things we did as a family each and every year.
In the hustle and bustle of modern life, it’s easy to let these precious times slip by unnoticed.
That’s why starting Christmas traditions with your family can be like anchoring your festivities in moments of joy and togetherness.
Christmas traditions aren’t just a list of activities you need to tick off and share on social media; they’re creating memories that will be cherished for generations to come.
Why Have Christmas Traditions?
Traditions are the threads that sew the fabric of family bonds tighter.
They are more than just repeated activities; they are the rituals that give rhythm to our lives and a sense of continuity across generations.
For children, I’ve noticed it helps them to find these anchor points and allows them to safely and excitedly predict what’s happening next and what to expect.
As an adult and parent, they can also help me to refocus on what is actually important, instead of getting overwhelmed by my to do list and my (self-imposed) expectations.
Having Christmas traditions is particularly significant because they:
Create a Sense of Anticipation: There’s something uniquely exciting about looking forward to a cherished family activity that occurs year after year.
Whether it’s baking cookies or decorating the tree together, the anticipation of these events creates a buzz of excitement long before the actual day.
Foster Family Bonds: In our fast-paced world, traditions slow us down and bring us together, providing a much-needed opportunity to strengthen family ties and create shared memories.
Provide Comfort and Continuity: For children, traditions can be a source of comfort and security. They offer a predictable and reassuring structure in a world that is often unpredictable.
Offer Teachable Moments: Many Christmas traditions are steeped in history and values. They provide a natural way to pass down beliefs, cultural heritage, and family values to younger generations.
Make the Season Unique: Finally, traditions give your family’s Christmas celebration its unique flavor.
They make the holiday about more than just gifts; they turn it into a celebration of togetherness, love, and shared values.
How To Choose Your Christmas Traditions To Have As A Family
Creating your own Christmas traditions can be a whole lot of fun. But where do you start?
The key is to find activities that resonate with your family’s values, interests, and lifestyle.
Here are some thoughtful considerations to help you craft traditions that will be eagerly anticipated year after year.
What Is Important To You?
Start by reflecting on what matters most to your family.
Is it the joy of giving? The dedicated and undistracted time together? Is it time at home or getting out and doing activities? Is it having a beautifully decorated home or is it decorating your home together?
Identifying these core values can guide you towards traditions that truly reflect what your family cherishes about the holiday season.
What Did You Do As A Child That You Loved?
Think back to your own childhood. Which Christmas activities filled you with joy and wonder?
Sometimes, the best traditions are those that are passed down through generations.
Whether it’s a special recipe, a particular decoration, or a festive song, these nostalgic activities can be a bridge between past and present.
What Are You Already Doing?
Sometimes traditions form without us even realizing it.
Look at your current holiday routines. Maybe you always watch a certain movie on Christmas Eve, or perhaps you have a special way of opening gifts.
These habits can be formalized into traditions, giving them a special place in your family’s Christmas celebrations.
A Christmas tradition we stumbled into is decorating gingerbread cookies. Now, every year, I bake a massive batch of cookies and my kids, plus all of my nieces and nephews get together and decorate the cookies before Christmas Day.
What Do You Think Your Family Will Enjoy?
Consider your family’s current interests and hobbies. A tradition doesn’t have to be conventional to be meaningful.
If your family loves the outdoors, maybe a Christmas hike could become a cherished tradition. Love cooking and a little competition? How about an annual bake-off?
The possibilities are endless and can evolve as your family grows and changes.
By considering these aspects, you can create a collection of Christmas traditions that are not just activities, but reflections of your family’s unique spirit and joy.
Remember, the best traditions are the ones that bring you closer together, light up your heart, and are fun and joyful.
Is It Too Late To Start A Christmas Tradition?
One of the most beautiful aspects of traditions is that they can begin at any time, and it’s never too late to start.
Whether your family is just beginning, or your children are already growing up, the perfect time to start a tradition is now.
Christmas traditions aren’t about how long they’ve been around, but about the joy and connection they bring each year.
If you’re starting later, embrace the opportunity to involve your family in the decision-making process.
Older children can bring fresh ideas and a new perspective to your holiday celebrations. This can be a chance to create traditions that are meaningful and relevant to your family as it is today.
It’s also a chance to blend old with new. If you’re blending families or celebrating your first Christmas after a significant life change, new traditions can symbolize a new chapter and create a sense of unity.
Remember, the essence of Christmas traditions lies in their ability to adapt and evolve with your family.
So, whether you’re rekindling old traditions or creating new ones, what matters most is the spirit of togetherness and joy they cultivate.
21 Ideas For Christmas Traditions To Start With Your Family
Here’s a list of ideas for Christmas traditions you can start with your own family. You can use these ideas as inspiration and modify them to suit you, or just go ahead a pick a few off the list that resonate and start there.
1 – Decorating a Family Christmas Tree Together
Gather everyone around for one of the most classic and cherished Christmas traditions – decorating the tree!
Make it a whole event: play your favorite holiday tunes, serve hot cocoa, and let each family member hang their special ornaments.
You can even make it a tradition to add a new ornament each year, representing a significant event or memory.
Whether your tree is perfectly coordinated or a charming mix of homemade and heirloom decorations, what truly matters is the laughter and stories shared during this festive family activity.
2 – Annual Christmas Photo
Capture the joy of the season with an annual Christmas photo tradition.
It’s a fantastic way to document how everyone grows and changes year by year. Choose a spot in or around your home, or pick a favorite festive location.
Get creative with matching outfits or ugly Christmas sweaters, and don’t forget to include fun props like Santa hats!
These photos will not only bring smiles for years to come, but they’ll also tell the story of your family’s journey through each holiday season. And hey, they make great Christmas cards too!
We do this with all of all of the grandkids and give the photo to my parents every year for Christmas. It’s so much fun to see how much the little ones change year after year.
3 – Baking Christmas Treats
Turn your kitchen into a sweet-smelling bakery with a tradition of baking Christmas treats.
Whether it’s gingerbread cookies, candy canes, or a family-recipe fruitcake, baking together is a recipe for fun and bonding.
Encourage everyone to pick their favorite treat to add to the baking list, or try a new recipe each year for a mix of tradition and adventure.
Don’t forget to blast those Christmas tunes and have a little dance party while the cookies are in the oven.
The best part? Enjoying the delicious results together while creating sweet memories that last a lifetime.
4 – Write Letters To Santa
Keep the magic of Santa Claus alive with a family tradition of writing letters to Santa.
Gather around the table with paper, pens, and a hefty dose of imagination. Encourage everyone, kids and adults alike, to write down their wishes or messages to Santa.
You can make it even more special by having each person read their letter out loud.
For an added touch of whimsy, send the letters up the chimney, leave them in a special “Santa’s mailbox,” or even mail them to an actual address that responds to Santa letters.
5 – Holiday Lights Tour
There’s something truly magical about the twinkling lights of the holiday season. Why not make a family tradition of taking a holiday lights tour?
Bundle up in your warmest clothes and set out to explore your neighborhood or city’s best light displays.
You can walk, drive, or even find a local lights tour. Make it an adventure by bringing along thermoses of hot chocolate and playing holiday music as you go.
6 – Create a Christmas Bucket List
Kick off the festive season by creating a Christmas bucket list with your family. Gather everyone and brainstorm all the things you’d love to do together before December 25th.
This could include things like building a snowman, having a snowball fight, going ice skating, or watching a Christmas parade.
Write down each idea and put it in a visible place, like on the fridge or a bulletin board. As you complete each activity, check it off the list.
This is not just about doing activities; it’s about cherishing each moment and making the most out of the holiday season as a family. It’s a fun way to ensure you don’t miss out on any of your favorite seasonal activities and even add some new ones!
7 – Advent Calendar Activities
Put a fun twist on the traditional advent calendar by filling it with small, family-centered activities instead of chocolates or gifts.
Each day, as you count down to Christmas, open a door to reveal a simple, joyful activity to do together. It could be anything from making a hot cocoa bar, having a pillow fight, writing heartfelt notes to each other, or watching the winter stars.
This daily dose of fun keeps the excitement building throughout the month and brings a new surprise every day. It’s a great way to make each day of the holiday season special and to build up the anticipation for Christmas in a fun, interactive way.
8 – Homemade Ornament Crafting
Get crafty this Christmas by starting a tradition of making homemade ornaments. This can be as simple or as elaborate as you like.
Set aside an afternoon in early December for everyone to create their own ornament. Use materials like paper, fabric, wood, or recycled items.
Each year, your family can look back at the ornaments made in previous years and see how everyone’s skills and creativity have grown. It’s a lovely way to personalize your Christmas tree and make lasting memories.
Plus, these homemade treasures make wonderful gifts for grandparents and friends, spreading the joy even further.
9 – Christmas Movie Marathon
Is there anything cozier than curling up with your family for a movie marathon? Choose a day in December, grab your comfiest blankets, and line up all your favorite Christmas movies.
Make it extra special by preparing themed snacks — think gingerbread cookies or hot cocoa.
You can even have everyone vote on the movies ahead of time, turning it into an eagerly anticipated event. Laugh, cry, and sing along to classic holiday films, creating a tradition of shared stories and magical moments right in your living room.
Another option is to have a Christmas Movie checklist and work your way through the Christmas movies throughout December.
10 – Christmas Eve Box
Add a sprinkle of magic to the night before Christmas with a Christmas Eve box.
This can be a simple box filled with small gifts, like new pyjamas, a holiday book, or hot chocolate mix. Imagine the excitement as everyone opens their box together on Christmas Eve, setting the tone for a cozy, festive night.
You could even include a family game or a craft activity to do together. It’s like a little pre-Christmas celebration that builds up the excitement for the big day!
11 – Put Out Cookies For Santa and Reindeer Treats
Embrace the enchantment of Christmas Eve by setting out cookies for Santa and treats for his reindeer. This tradition is perfect for stirring up excitement in little ones (and the young at heart!).
Bake cookies together earlier in the day, and let everyone decorate a special one for Santa. Don’t forget to leave a carrot or two for the reindeer; they need a snack too after their long journey!
As you set out the treats, you can share stories about Santa and his reindeer, building a sense of wonder and anticipation.
This simple yet delightful tradition creates a magical moment on Christmas Eve, setting the stage for a night filled with dreams of sleigh bells and hooves on rooftops.
12 – Make Christmas Cards Together
Spread the holiday cheer by making Christmas cards as a family. Gather your supplies – colorful paper, glitter, markers, and any other crafty materials you love.
Set up a card-making station at your kitchen table and let everyone’s creativity flow.
You can make cards for neighbors, friends, family members, or even send them to a local nursing home or hospital.
This tradition is not just about crafting; it’s about spending quality time together and spreading joy to others through your handmade creations.
Plus, receiving a handmade card is always a special treat that’s sure to brighten someone’s holiday season.
13 – Have A Christmas Craft Day
Dedicate a day in December to a family Christmas craft day. This is a day for everyone to get together and create festive crafts.
You can make anything from homemade wreaths, paper snowflakes, to DIY Christmas stockings.
Set up a crafting station with all the necessary supplies and maybe some holiday tunes to set the mood. Not only is this a great way to decorate your home with unique, personal touches, but it’s also a wonderful opportunity for family bonding.
The crafts you make will be cherished decorations for years to come, each with its own story and special memory attached.
Plus, it’s a fantastic way for kids and adults alike to express their creativity and get into the holiday spirit.
14 – Wear Matching Christmas Pyjamas
Embrace the cozy side of Christmas with a tradition of wearing matching Christmas pajamas. This can start on Christmas Eve, where everyone unwraps their festive PJs and changes into them for the night.
Imagine the fun photos and the laughter as everyone, from the smallest to the tallest, sports their holiday-themed sleepwear.
It’s a cozy and comfy way to bring everyone together, and it adds an extra layer of excitement to the holiday festivities.
Plus, it’s a wonderful way to wake up on Christmas morning, ready for gifts and celebrations, already dressed in holiday cheer!
15 – Embrace Christmas Carols
Whether you go caroling in your neighborhood, host a caroling karaoke party, or have a Christmas Carol Dance Off, embrace the festive music and the joy it brings.
Gather your family and friends, choose your favorite carols, and let the music fill your home and hearts.
You can even make a playlist of everyone’s favorite songs to sing along to during the holiday season.
Don’t forget to include some instruments if you have them – makeshift tambourines and drums add to the fun.
This tradition isn’t just about the songs; it’s about the laughter, the shared moments, and the warmth that comes from celebrating together. It’s a merry way to create memories that will last long after the holiday season has passed.
16 – Christmas Story Time
Gather round for a special Christmas story time, a tradition that can become a cherished part of your holiday celebrations.
Choose a night close to Christmas, perhaps Christmas Eve, and select a heartwarming Christmas story or a classic holiday tale. You can take turns reading aloud, or have a designated storyteller for the evening.
Make it extra cozy with blankets, a roaring fire if you have one (or pop a fireplace video on the TV from YouTube), and maybe some of those cookies you baked.
It’s a peaceful, reflective way to enjoy the holiday spirit together.
This tradition is not just about the story itself, but about the togetherness it fosters, providing a quiet, meaningful counterpoint to the season’s excitement.
17 – Holiday Baking for Neighbors
Bake extra treats and share them with neighbors to spread holiday cheer. You can create cute little gift tags from your family and share them among the neighbors, friends, or anyone you know.
It’s also incredibly kind to drop some treats off to local Hospitals and Emergency Services who often spend their holidays working and caring for others (as a Paramedic, I can vouch that these kind gestures mean so much to us).
18 – DIY Gift Making
Add a personal touch to your Christmas gifts by making a tradition of DIY gift-making. Set aside a day or a weekend in December for the family to create homemade presents for each other and for friends.
This could include anything from baking a batch of cookies, crafting a photo album, knitting a scarf, to making personalized ornaments.
Encourage creativity and the joy of giving something that’s made with love and care. This tradition not only makes gift-giving more meaningful but also teaches valuable skills and the importance of thoughtfulness.
Plus, there’s a special kind of joy in seeing the surprise and delight on a loved one’s face when they receive something handmade just for them.
19 – Christmas Eve Reflections
Create a heartwarming tradition of Christmas Eve reflections. This can be a quiet, introspective time where each family member shares their favorite memory from the past year, something they’re thankful for, or their hopes for the coming year.
Gather in a comfortable space, perhaps by the Christmas tree or a cozy fireplace, and let everyone take a turn to speak. This tradition fosters a sense of gratitude and connection within your family.
It’s a beautiful way to pause and reflect on the true meanings of the season amidst the excitement of Christmas. This moment of sharing and listening can become one of the most anticipated and cherished parts of your holiday tradition.
20 – Visit Santa
Embrace the magic of Christmas by making a tradition of visiting Santa Claus.
Whether it’s at a local mall, a community event, or a special Santa’s workshop setup, the excitement of meeting Santa is a timeless joy for children.
Capture the moment with a photo, a tradition that becomes even more special as you see how your kids grow from year to year.
Encourage your children to talk to Santa, share their wishes, or give him a letter they’ve written.
This tradition is not just about the fun photo op; it’s a magical experience that ignites the imagination and wonder of childhood, creating memories that both you and your kids will treasure for years to come.
21 – Go To A Christmas Parade or Carols By Candlelight
Write Round off your list of Christmas traditions with an outing to a Christmas parade or a Carols by Candlelight event.
These community gatherings are a fantastic way to feel the festive spirit in a larger setting.
Wrap up in your warmest clothes, take along some blankets, and enjoy the colorful floats, marching bands, and festive performances of a Christmas parade.
Alternatively, a Carols by Candlelight event offers a serene, reflective atmosphere where you can join in singing traditional carols, often accompanied by a live orchestra.
These events not only provide entertainment but also a sense of community and shared celebration.
It’s a delightful way to see the joy of Christmas reflected in the faces of those around you and to create lasting memories with your loved ones.a letter to each other to be opened next Christmas, reflecting on hopes, dreams, and memories.
Above all else, remember that the true essence of these traditions lies in the joy, love, and togetherness they bring.
Each tradition, whether it’s baking cookies, crafting together, or sharing reflections on Christmas Eve, is meaningful if you choose to make it so.
These traditions are more than just activities; they are the heartbeat of holiday memories, the backdrop to your family’s laughter and stories, and the spark that lights up the magic of the season.
So, as you pick and choose which traditions to adopt or adapt, focus on the love and connection they foster. After all, these moments are the gifts that truly last a lifetime, far beyond the holiday season.
May your holidays be filled with the warmth of family, the joy of shared experiences, and the glow of new traditions that will brighten your Christmases for years to come. Happy Holidays!