Christmas Traditions for families

Meaningful Christmas Traditions to start with your kids

Family Christmas tradition ideas to do in 2020.

The second November hits I go into full Christmas mode. It is by far the most magical time of the year! The food, gifts, songs and decorations definitely encompass the Christmas spirit. However, it’s the traditions that make Christmas so meaningful.

Before I had kids the holidays were not as special anymore and the excitement was lacking. But the second I became a mom the Christmas spirit came flooding back just like I was a kid again. That’s when I knew I wanted to create Christmas traditions that my kids would remember for the rest of their lives.

So I began thinking of some fun Christmas traditions that I could continue as my kids grew older. Regardless of the activities my family ends up doing I know that simply spending time together will create a meaningful Christmas.

Christmas traditions for the whole family you can start this year:

1. Decorate your home together

You probably already do this one since it is the most popular tradition for every holiday. Decorating your home starts the excitement and is really fun do to with the whole family.

If you are a perfectionist like me you might need to move around some things afterwards but I do enjoy seeing where my daughter decides to put things. Sometimes she even surprises me with a better idea!

Oh and don’t forget blasting Christmas music adds to the fun as well.

2. Make a Ginger Bread House

Whether you are a big or small family you can have an awesome Ginger Bread House decorating contest. You also can forget the contest and just enjoy making them for a display.

There are two great methods to make a ginger bread house. You can make them using graham crackers or you can buy a set like this one to assemble.

Which ever you choose it will be a whole lot of fun.

3. Elf on the Shelf

Elf on the shelf is a tradition that was created in 2004 but it seems to have gained A LOT of popularity the past few years. This one is great for younger kids.

Basically an elf comes to visit your home from the North Pole and every night the elf will go back to tell Santa if you were naughty or nice. The elf moves around the house and even plays funny tricks.

There are a lot of great ideas of what to do with the elf. Check out these fun ideas.

Did you know that you can buy a complete Elf on the Shelf kit for the 24 days leading up to Christmas so you no longer need to think of silly ideas? Check out the kit here!

4. Christmas Movie Night

This tradition will definitely get the whole family into the Christmas spirit.

Here is a list of the best Christmas Movies for families:

  • How the Grinch stole Christmas
  • National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
  • The Santa Clause
  • Home Alone
  • A Christmas Story
  • Frosty the Snowman
  • Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas
  • The Polar Express
  • Elf

5. Wear Matching Pajamas

Wearing matching pajamas would make a great addition to movie night or a great picture each year. It may take some convincing to get your teens or hubby to wear them but trust me this one is worth it.

My favorite places to buy matching pajamas are Hannah Anderson or Burt’s Bees. Don’t wait these go fast!

6. Pick out a Christmas Tree

My family got our first real tree last year and now I will never go back to a fake one! First make sure to measure the space where you want to put the tree this will help tremendously when figuring out which one to pick.

I also suggest looking into the different tree types. This article does a great job at explaining the different kinds.

Lastly be prepared for when you bring the tree home. You will need a stand and lights (Rule of thumb is about 100 lights per how many feet tall your tree is). Don’t forget to water it either!

Going out with the kids to pick out a tree is so much fun and the second you get it into the stand your home will smell like Christmas.

7. Pickle in the Tree

The pickle in the tree tradition is when a pickle ornament is hung on the tree and the first person to find it on Christmas day gets a special gift or is said to have good fortune for the next year.

Of course the pickle isn’t hung on the tree till the very last minute but this gives yet another fun activity to do with your family.

You can get a pickle ornament here.

8. Christmas Cookies

This one is definitely one of my favorite traditions. Every year my extended family gets together to make a ton of cookies and I mean dozens and dozens. It is a whole day affair! We then split up the cookies between families and use them for whatever we please.

Here are some of my favorite cookies:

  • Sugar cookie cut outs
  • Peanut Butter Blossoms
  • Spritzers
  • Thumbprint Cookies
  • Chocolate Haystacks
  • Buckeyes
  • Snowball Cookies
  • Peppermint Bark
  • Toffee
  • Chocolate Crinkles
  • Gingerbread
  • Meringue Cookies
Christmas traditions for families

9. Go Caroling or Make a Playlist

My other all time favorite thing to do during the holidays is listen to Christmas Music. I always have a playlist made that I listen to on repeat throughout the entire holiday season.

If you enjoy singing I suggest looking into caroling. This does not have to be the traditional go around to people’s houses either. You can simply have a sing along at home with your family. Other great options are to sing at a nursing home or hospital.

10. Picture with Santa

This one is a classic. Get your kids picture with Santa each year. It is so fun to look back at how much everyone changed. Even if one year ended in tears it will live on to tell as a funny story.

11. Letters to Santa

In addition to getting a picture, you can also have your kids write letters to Santa. This is both a fun activity and a good way for you to find out what they are wishing for.

Also check with your city in which you live to see if they have a mail box to the “north pole.” Your kids can mail their letters and receive one back from Santa himself.

If your town does not have this you can certainly create one yourself.

12. Ice Skating

This is one that I’ve been wanting to do for awhile now. I have not yet because my kids are still very little but I am definintly keeping this on my list.

Look for local skating rinks you can take your kids too. I’ll bet they have other things to do their as well such as getting a nice cup of hot cocoa.

13. Look at Christmas Lights

Hop in the car and take a drive to look at Christmas lights. This is a cool family Christmas tradition that is great for all ages.

Christmas lights on home

14. Secret Santa

Secret Santa is where you draw a name and whoever you get is who you will buy a gift for. The catch is they won’t know who will be buying them a gift so it is always exciting to see what people buy for each other.

My dads side of the family always did this because there are a ton of cousins so instead of having to buy for so many people we always drew names.

15. White Elephant Gift

White elephant gifts are a funny family Christmas Tradition. Basically you can choose to get a good gift or a really odd one. Everyone draws a number and number one would get to pick their gift first. They then open it and the next person can either choose a new gift or pick the one that was just opened.

I’ve ended up with some pretty cool gifts and some very useless ones too. White Elephant Gifts are also a fun Christmas tradition for adults.

Christmas Activity Printable

16. Advent Calendar

As a kid I loved having an Advent Calendar. I mean who wouldn’t love getting a piece of chocolate every night. Most of all it was exciting to open the next box and see the chocolate that was in there.

They also make a non candy option like this one.

17. Mail Holiday Cards

This is such a nice family Christmas tradition. I enjoy getting everyone else’s cards in the mail and love sending them out even more. This tradition has dwindled a little bit due to technology but I really hope people continue this because it is so nice to display everyone’s Christmas Card.

This website makes creating a holiday card super easy and it’s affordable too!

18. Christmas Crafts

Crafts are always a hit with kids. It may only last 10 minutes but it was the thought that counts right?

Check out these great ideas for Christmas Crafts.

Kids Christmas Craft Ideas

19. Christmas Ornaments

This is a great Christmas tradition for new families. You can start this tradition when your kids are babies too. The Christmas ornament tradition is when your kids receive a special ornament each year. The ornament will reflect on something important that year for them.

You can even take this one step further and write a journal entry each year for why you chose the ornament. My Nana did this for my sister and I and it is the most precious thing. I love reading the journey each year. It never gets old and truly holds a special place in my heart.

20. Volunteer or Give back to others

Volunteer as a family or give back to others by participating in a toy drive. It is important show your kids that giving is just (if not more) important as receiving during the holidays. After all the holidays are about being thankful and giving to others.

21. Attend local events

There are so many different things to do in our community so I highly recommend looking up local events near you. My family enjoys seeing the Canadian Holiday Train come through town and having breakfast with Santa.

22. Just for you and spouse

Christmas isn’t just about the kids it is also about spending time with your significant other. So make time for you and your spouse.

This could be dinner and a movie or simply enjoying some wine by the fire.

23. Spend Christmas Eve with family

Christmas Eve has definitely produced some of the best stories. My whole moms side of the family gets together on Christmas Eve and it is so much fun. I highly recommend always spending Christmas Eve with family. It does not matter if it is with your extended family or just your immediate family but you cannot beat spending time together.

Make lots of yummy food, snack on Christmas cookies, make crafts, get into your cozy pajamas and watch a Christmas movie the options are endless.

Don’t forget to set out milk and cookies for Santa! You can also put out reindeer food as well.

24. Christmas Eve Service

Another common Christmas eve tradition idea is going to a Christmas Eve Service. Most churches offer a Christmas Eve Service.

25. Christmas Day Breakfast

Besides opening gifts a wonderful Christmas Day tradition for the family is to have a big breakfast. I can almost taste the freshly squeezed orange juice and smell the bacon as I write this.

I should also probably mention that breakfast is more like brunch for our family. We typically eat around 11am.

Christmas Day Breakfast

26. Christmas Day Dinner

In addition to breakfast, Christmas Day dinner is another great option. My family actually does both breakfast and dinner. We love hanging out in our pjs for breakfast and then we meet back for dinner in our nice outfits.

I’m not sure who started this tradition but I could not picture Christmas Day any other way.

27. Read Christmas Books

This is a great one for the younger kids and even babies too! Every year we read The Night before Christmas.

28. Family Game Night

This really should be done year round because it is so much fun but even more during the holidays. You can find games for all ages as well.

29. Holiday Recipes

The food really makes for an awesome Christmas. Include the whole family in making several staple recipes or simply make a favorite meal each year.

30. Take a vacation instead

Last but not least I thought I would include a totally unique Christmas tradition which is to take a vacation instead. Save your money from buying gifts and instead take a family vacation.

This might be a better Christmas tradition for older kids or Christmas traditions for teenagers but could very well work for any age.

Overall, spending quality time with your family is the best way to celebrate Christmas meaningfully.

I hope you were able to find a few meaningful Christmas Traditions in this list. These 30 family traditions are great to start with your kids and will be treasured for many years to come.

30 Family Christmas Traditions

Family Christmas tradition ideas.

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