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When you think back to Christmas growing up, what do you remember most? Is it the presents you got from Santa, or is it baking Christmas cookies with your family, decorating your tree and watching holiday movies?
Whatever it is, it probably involves some sort of yearly tradition. Something you did year after year. It’s memories like these that last the longest for most of us.
There are so many ways to celebrate Christmas that doesn’t involve gift-giving. And although Christmas will look a little different this year, there are still plenty of ways to make sure that the Holiday season is full of joy, love, and fun.
From making homemade Christmas cards and writing letters to Santa to taking Christmas photos and wearing matching pajamas – there are a ton of festive activities that are surefire ways to get you and your family into the holiday spirit.
Now is the best time to start some new memorable Christmas traditions that you’ll cherish for years to come.
Memorable Christmas Traditions Ideas to Start This Year
1. Decorate the House on Dec 1st
Growing up, there never was a question of WHEN we would decorate our house for Christmas. As soon as December hit, we started hanging the lights and decorate every corner of our home.
I love having the whole month of December to enjoy the decorations so to this day, on December 1st, I turn on Christmas carols, pour myself a cup of hot chocolate, and deck the halls.
2. Make a Family Holiday Bucket List
At the beginning of December (or even the end of November), sit your family down and let each person pick at least one thing they’d like to do as a family in December.
It can be small activities like watching a Christmas movie or decorating cookies to bigger activities like picking out your Chstiamas tree or catching a local production of the Nutcracker.
Schedule out the activities to make sure everything on your Holiday Bucket List gets checked off and start making Holiday memories with your family!
3. Make a Christmas Playlist
While you might enjoy listening to the classic Christmas tunes from Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Dean Martin, your kids might not.
Create a Christmas playlist that you can add to every year and let the mix of classic songs and new hits be the soundtrack for your December.
Everyone in your family should have a say in which songs make the Christmas playlist so that they can join in and sing along too!
4. Make Homemade Christmas Cards
Homemade Christmas cards are a fun way to reconnect with family and friends far and near and it’s way more appreciated than the impersonal social media updates or messages.
You don’t have to be crafty to create your own Christmas cards. Anything from a simple family photo to adorable handprint Christmas trees will make the receiver smile from ear to ear!
5. Make a Christmas Wreath
Give your guests a warm welcome by placing a beautiful wreath on your front door.
Get your kids involved and craft a wreath made of paper plates, greenery, or even M&M:s!
6. Write Letters to Santa
Write a letter to Santa with your kids, and send them to Santa here and he will send a reply faster than Rudolph the reindeer can fly!
Or get a personalized reply letter from Santa to your child here.
Just imagine the look on your child’s face as they’re opening up their letter just before Christmas Eve and realizes who it’s from, priceless!
7. Fill Boxes with Treasures for Less Fortunate Kids
Teach your child that Christmas isn’t all about getting, but it’s also about giving.
The Samaritan’s Purse project Operation Christmas Child collects shoebox gifts‑filled with fun toys, school supplies and hygiene items—and delivers them to children in need around the world to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way. Get more information on this amazing opportunity here.
You can also help bless children all around the world without leaving your home by building a shoebox online here. Make sure to include your child in building the shoebox to teach them about the importance of giving.
8. Decorate a Gingerbread House
There’s a reason this tradition has been around for centuries – decorating Gingerbread Houses are so much fun! We do this every year and the kids love it!
You can buy your own kit or start from scratch, but either way, you and your kids will enjoy being allowed to play with their food.
Whether you keep things intimate with just you and the kids, or host a fun gingerbread decorating party for family and friends, this is sure to become a yearly favorite.
9. Bake and Decorate Christmas Cookies
What better way to get into the Christmas spirit than making a batch of Christmas Cookies to decorate with your kids? Here are 29 easy Christmas cookies that kids (and adults!) will love both to make and eat!
Or give yourself the gift of skipping right to dessert with these easy no-bake Christmas treats!
10. Make Christmas Treats for Friends
There’s nothing more delicious than a fresh batch of Christmas cookies. Reach out to your friends and neighbors to see if they want to do a cookie exchange so you get to enjoy a bunch of different Christmas cookies without the hassle of having to bake them all.
If you’re feeling extra generous, you can make Christmas bark or sugar cookies and give the treats to your friends without expecting anything back. I promise that they’ll love it and you’ll have so much fun baking with your kids!
11. Watch Christmas Movies
This is a really simple tradition but it’s my absolute favorite! There are many different ways to add Christmas movies to your family’s Christmas traditions.
Kick-off the Christmas season by having a Christmas movie marathon the day after Thanksgiving or on Christmas Eve (with matching Christmas pajamas of course!).
You could also make a list of must-see Christmas movies and watch one each night on the 12 days leading up to Christmas.
Some of our favorite Christmas movies to watch with the whole family are Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, Disney’s A Christmas Carol, A Muppets Christmas, Elf, The Santa Clause, The Grinch, and The Nightmare Before Christmas.
12. Family Game Night
Everyone loves a good game night and can you imagine a more entertaining way to spend an evening with your family than gathering around the table, drinking hot cocoa, playing fun board games, and laughing together (okay, the person who loses might be crying).
Play your favorite classic board game or create a new tradition of playing Christmas themed games like:
- Rudolph Monopoly
- Christmas Bingo
- Christmas Memory Match
- What’s in the Bag
- Saran Wrap Game
- Snowball Showdown Card Game
- Twinkling Lights Game
- Christmas Story
13. Elf on The Shelf
The Elf on the Shelf can be a really fun tradition to start this year. If you’re not sure what it is, the idea is that an elf is sent to your home from the North Pole to keep an eye on your kids to see if they behave (yep, a bit creepy).
Each night, the elf returns to the North Pole to report on whether they were naughty or nice. The elf tends to get in trouble as it returns from the North Pole and land in a different spot in your home.
Kids love seeing what sorts of trouble the elf is getting into or where the elf has moved from the day before. The most important rule though is that you can’t touch the elf or it’ll lose its magic!
14. Christmas Countdown Calendars
Each year when I was growing up, I got one of those Advent calendars with chocolate in them. It was a ton of fun and I could feel the excitement grow every day leading up to Christmas morning.
There are lots of different ways to do countdown calendars for Christmas. I usually buy Lego Advent Calendars for my kids. There are a lot of themes to choose from (Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lego City, Lego Friends and more) and every day, they get a character or small building kit to piece together.
No matter if you make a DIY Christmas Countdown Calendar with small toys in them, buy a Chocolate Advent Calendar or any of the many other fun countdown calendar ideas, this is a fun way to get the kids excited about December 25.
15. Read Christmas Books
This is another idea for a countdown to Christmas. Gather the whole family and read a Christmas book together that’ll make them even more excited for December 25th.
There are many books to choose from. You can read shorter stories and read one each day or read a longer book and read one chapter each night.
Here are some Christmas books for toddlers:
- Christmastime Is Here
- Who Will Guide My Sleigh Tonight?
- That’s Not My Reindeer
- Pete the Cat Saves Christmas
- The Christmas Tree Book
Christmas books for Preschoolers & Kindergartners:
- Dasher: How a Brave Little Doe Changed Christmas Forever
- Santa’s Story
- The Christmas Wish
- Tough Cookie
- The Great Santa Stakeout
16. Decorate Your Christmas Tree
It truly isn’t Christmas in your home until you’ve decorated your Christmas tree.
Put up your Christmas tree on December 1st, the weekend before Christmas day or on Christmas eve, and make it a tradition to put it up on the same day every year.
Make it extra special by turning on Christmas music, make Christmas cookies, and heat up some apple cider. It’s Christmas traditions like these that make lifelong memories.
17. Decorate an Outdoor Tree
While you’re at it, bring your Christmas spirit outside and decorate a tree in your yard.
Brighten your walkways or add some color by hanging star lights or red sparkling balls in a tree to bring the Christmas spirit to life outside.
18. Want, Need, Wear & Read Gifts
Has Christmas become more about what can be found under the tree than enjoying the spirit of the holidays?
Simplify the present tradition by giving the kids only four gifts – something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.
The Want, Need, Wear, Read strategy can in most cases mean less chaos, clearer expectations, and less disappointment for the whole family.
19. Go Christmas Caroling
Got a whole family of little performers? Grab your crew and go door to door to sing Christmas carols together.
You can also check with nursing homes and assisted living facilities if they would be willing to open the doors to let the residents listen to their favorite songs of the season.
This is a wonderful way to share your family’s talents and bring joy to your community.
20. Christmas Traditions for Grownups
Guys, Christmas isn’t just for the kids. It’s just as important that you create a couple of Christmas traditions for yourselves and focus on each other once in a while.
When the kids have gone to bed, you can watch Christmas movies together. The Holiday, Love Actually, and A Christmas Prince is some that we watch every year.
Other fun Christmas Tradition ideas for couples include having a Gingerbread decorating competition, opening an Advent Calendar together, or just enjoying a cup of hot cocoa together.
21. Christmas Morning Breakfast
Nothing beats the feeling you get when you first wake up on Christmas morning — the excitement is often tangible.
Make Christmas morning extra special for the whole family by making a fun and creative breakfast that’ll give everyone enough energy to open all the Christmas presents.
With a bit of imagination, you can turn pancakes, fruit, toast, or even oatmeal into a Christmas tree or a fun Holiday character.
22. Get Matching Christmas Pajamas
23. Christmas Morning Family Photo
Document your Christmas morning with everyone in their jammies, crazy hair, and wrapping paper everywhere.
These photos are not just for you though. One day when you’re gone, your kids will look for photos of you so make sure that there are some for them to find!
Stack some books to put your camera on top of, set a timer, and document your Christmas morning while being present with your family.
24. Ditch Gifts and go on a Vacation
Most of us celebrate Christmas by wrapping and putting exceedingly expensive toys and too-expensive electronics under the Christmas tree.
The presents will then be passed around, shaken, torn open, tinkered with and eventually, they’ll be set aside and forgotten.
Memories you make together as a family will last far longer than the action figures and dolls you buy, and YOU will actually get to enjoy the thing you spend money on too!
So if you’re feeling overwhelmed and exhausted from the Holiday stress, ditch the store-bought presents (or get a few, cheaper gifts for the little ones to open) and plan a getaway for Christmas instead!
Creating Christmas traditions is a great way to be present with your family during the holidays – these are the things your children will remember when they look back on their childhood.
In the end, it doesn’t matter how many toys they got for Christmas, or how much decoration you put on display in your home, what matters is the time you’ve spent together. And that’s something you’ll never regret.
Explore More Christmas Fun
Looking for even more Christmas traditions to start with your family? Don’t miss this Free Printable Christmas Bingo Game for Kids and these Top 100 Easy Christmas Crafts for Kids to Make in 2020
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