Simple Family Christmas Traditions to Make Christmas Special

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There is something so wonderful and magical about Christmas. It is a time of giving, receiving, joy and celebration for the birth of Christ. I don’t know if I love Christmas for all the warm cozy feeling it brings or the sweet family Christmas traditions that come each year.

All I know is I absolutely love the Christmas season. If it were up to me I would leave my tree and lights up year round (I know, I’m crazy!). I love finding and creating new simple Christmas traditions to make it a magical season.

20 Christmas Traditions to make your family Christmas memorable

So, here I am sharing my love and joy for Christmas as by giving you some tips and ideas for starting a Christmas tradition with your family. I hope you can find some fun ways to celebrate Christmas this year with these exciting Christmas traditions.

Why Christmas Traditions are Important

Traditions are ideas and activities that are passed on from generation to generation. Without traditions a lot of our cultural identity and family identity would be lost. As a former History Education major I love looking at the culture and traditions of societies, countries and families. It give a glimpse and tells the story of who they are.

This is why I think Christmas traditions are so important. They set your family up for telling your unique story of how you celebrate the Christmas holiday. Christmas traditions bond your family and give meaning and life to celebrating. Traditions of any kind are important but Christmas traditions are ones that will stand the test of time and continue to passed down to each generation.

I know for me and Hunter there are lots of family Christmas traditions that we cherished and passed down to our kids. There are some traditions we have merged to create new ones and then there are other Christmas traditions that simply started with us. That’s the beauty of Christmas traditions…they are constant yet ever changing.

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Make Christmas Magical with Christmas Traditions

There is never a right or wrong time to create a Christmas tradition. If your kids are teenagers or grown and out of the house, you can still create new Christmas traditions. Making Christmas magical for kids doesn’t have to end when they leave the house.

Starting a family Christmas tradition at any point is creating something that could last for years and years to come. The magic behind Christmas traditions is the flexibility and ability to grow into new and better traditions. So, whether your kids are little, grown and gone or you are looking for a first Christmas tradition this list of traditions has something to offer you. Come find a fun and new family Christmas tradition to make Christmas magical.

Christmas Traditions for the Month of December

There are lots of wonderful Christmas traditions that you can start way before Christmas ever arrives. I love making the Christmas season last as long as possible so we have chosen lots of traditions to extend the Christmas spirit in our home.

Christmas Themed Crafts

When you have young children, crafts quickly become part of your weekly (let’s be honest…daily) schedule. I have loved doing themed crafts with the kids and enjoy doing Christmas crafts with them. It makes everyday feel more like Christmas as we do Christmas sensory activities and crafts.

Advent Calendar Christmas Traditions

Counting down to Christmas has always brought me joy! I have loved being able to tick down the days until the big Christmas day celebration begins. Starting a Christmas Advent calendar is a great way to involve the family and countdown to Christmas. There are lots of advent options and ideas. I’ve listed a few for your viewing pleasure 

  1. Purchase an Advent Calendar (here is a cute Nativity themed one!)
  2. Make Your Own Advent Calendar (Fun tutorial here)
  3. Read Daily Advent Scripture Readings throughout the season (checkout this cute advent devotional)

Elf on the Shelf Christmas Traditions

I was originally kind of disturbed by the idea of a little elf watching and reporting back to Santa. However, my mother-in-law had a little Elf on the Shelf and when she passed away we inherited the Elf on the Shelf. We will be starting this with the kids this year in memory of her.

Pinterest has tons of creative Elf on the Shelf prompts and ideas. A friend of mine had the Elf give some scriptural lessons and point to Christ as the reason we celebrate too. This is actually a cute idea and even comes with a book to tell the story of the elf. If you prefer a Christian version of this check out this cute set

Decorating the Tree

Decorating the tree was always a tradition I looked forward to growing up. We would play Alabama’s Christmas album, drink hot cider or hot cocoa and reminisce on memories of past Christmases. It was such a fun and memorable time of family bonding. It is a little challenging to start this tradition with little kids but is still manageable with some extra planning. You can also get this cute tree for your child to “decorate” while you do the big tree.

Have a Family Christmas Movie Night

A tradition we started before the kids were born was to have family Christmas movie nights throughout the season. We make this extra fun by wrapping all of our Christmas movies (we have quite the collection) and placing them in a little basket. Depending on the number of movies we have depends how frequently this is done through the season. One member of the family chooses a wrapped Christmas movie and whatever they uncover is the movie that is watched that night.

This has become a fun tradition that ensures our holiday movies are being viewed and it adds a little extra mystery to what will be watched that night. We make the movie night extra special by popping popcorn, eating Christmas cookies and candy and drinking hot cocoa. Check out our list of family friendly Christmas movies!

Christmas Eve Traditions for the Family

Christmas Eve Gift

When the kids were first born we started a new family Christmas Eve tradition. Every year on Christmas Eve the kids are given a gift to open. This gift in concept is the same every year. It comprises a set of pjs (they can be Christmas themed or just cute pajamas), a Christmas movie and/or a book.

Once the kids open the gift they put on their new jammies and we watch the Christmas movie or read the book together. This has been a fun family Christmas tradition that allows us to make sweet memories. It also gives the kids something to expect and look forward to year after year.

Related: Perfect Gift Guide for a Toddler Girl (more than toys)

Christmas Eve Baking Cookies

We have chosen not to make a huge deal about Santa Claus. This isn’t because of any religious reason but rather personal reasons that I won’t get into here. However, we do talk about Santa and still keep the magic alive. A fun Christmas Eve tradition to keep the magic of Christmas is to bake cookies for Santa (you could leave them on a cute plate). For an amazing sugar cookie recipe be sure to check out Our Everyday Victories recipe here

Read a Christmas Eve Story

Do you have a favorite Christmas story? Maybe you love sharing the true Christmas story from scripture? Turn this into a fun family tradition by reading the same story every year on Christmas Eve. Here are some book suggestions to get you thinking…

  1. Nativity Story from Scripture (Luke 2)
  2. The Night Before Christmas 
  3. The Polar Express 
  4. How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Christmas Day Traditions

Christmas Morning Breakfast

One of our family traditions growing up was to make a big Christmas morning breakfast. It was almost like a Christmas morning feast of sorts. We would have biscuits, gravy, eggs, bacon, livermush (a Western North Carolina meat), cinnamon rolls and grits. It was a sight to behold and was where we shared many memories. This is a tradition we have started carrying on with our kids.

Reading the Christmas Story from the Bible

For our family the most important aspect of Christmas, especially Christmas morning, is to point it back to Jesus. We want our kids to know the true meaning of the Christmas season. It would be nothing without the birth of Jesus. Before we open any gifts we read the Christmas story from Luke 2 and remember why we are celebrating. 

Ginger Bread House Building Contest

Building gingerbread houses is a fun Christmas tradition to start and turn into a fun family activity. We love having competitions in our house and building a gingerbread house is the perfect Christmas family competition. You can split into teams or do it as individuals. Set a time limit and decorate away. Have social media do the voting or assign a member of the family as the judge. Make it fun and of course play Christmas music! 

Play Dirty Santa as a Family

As your family grows and you spend the holidays with extended family, gift giving can become quite a task. One fun way to alleviate the burden of buying everyone a gift is to play a game of dirty Santa instead (tutorial on how to play). This has become a hilarious tradition on my husband’s side of the family. We usually set a price limit and buy gag gifts to play. You can set the price threshold and whether the gifts must be serious or funny. Try it out and see if it become a fun Christmas day family tradition.

Christmas Traditions to Start with a Baby

Before we had kids, Christmas traditions were fun but once we had kids they became so special and important. There are tons of ideas of traditions to start once your baby is born. This is the time to start any tradition that you have dreamed of. It is exciting and so memorable to celebrate that first Christmas with your baby.

Give a Yearly Christmas Ornament

A tradition we began with Blake and have continued with Raelynn is to give them each a handpicked Christmas ornament each year that they get to put on their tree. This has become a fun task for us to find the ornament that fits them, their personality, or likes that year. When they were first born it was a “Baby’s 1st Christmas” ornament that I made. Each ornament tells a story of who they are that year. Once they are grown I plan to hand them all their ornaments to take with them.

Visit Santa and Take Pictures with Santa

Like I mentioned previously, the kids don’t believe in Santa but that doesn’t mean we can’t still enjoy his presence and a cute photo opportunity. When Blake was first born we took him to get a picture with Santa and it just kind of took as a tradition since then. It is always hilarious to see a baby and child’s reaction to Santa for the first time.

Give or Make a Personalized Stocking

It has been our experience that babies don’t really use their stocking the first year or so but it is still a great tradition to start. I remember spending time creating Blake’s first stocking and the care I took in making it just perfect. With Raelynn I bought her a cute one to hang up with the rest of us. This is a great tradition to start with a baby since it is a visual of their place in the family. 

Write A Letter to Your Baby

This is an idea I had after Blake was born and wished I would have done it sooner. Start that first Christmas by writing a letter to your baby about how they celebrated their first Christmas and what it felt like to have them as part of the family. You can decide to give them to them once they are grown and out of the house. Write one each year your celebrate together for a super special gift!

Spending Christmas Morning at Home

This is a tradition I wish we would have started as soon as Blake was born (hindsight is 20/20). Up until last year, we would spend every Christmas Eve and Christmas day with our extended family (We have to travel almost 2 hours to see either side). This can get exhausting and make it trying on kids to spend Christmas morning in different places every year. 

So, take it from me, start the tradition of spending Christmas morning at your house as soon as the baby is born. This sets up a tradition for your child to be able to open presents in the comfort of their home and have consistency during the crazy holiday season. This doesn’t mean you won’t see family on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Just choose time to prioritize your little family over the holidays. We now spend Christmas Eve evening at home and Christmas morning. It gives us a break between holiday travel and allows the kids to sleep in their own beds. It has been so sweet to start this tradition. 

Family Activity Christmas Traditions

Sometimes Christmas traditions need to be fun-filled family activities that can only take place during Christmas. Make this Christmas a memorable on with family outings and activities.

Ice Skating

Now, I know, ice skating can take place all winter long but this is a fun family Christmas tradition as most ice skating rinks decorate for the holiday and play Christmas tunes. This is an activity that the entire family can enjoy together regardless of where you live. Most big malls have ice skating rinks in the winter and ski resorts have some fun options as well. 

Going to See Christmas Lights

Whether you live in a neighborhood decorated with lights or a rural area, there are always Christmas lights to go see. Find a local town or park that is hosting a Christmas light show and take the family. We have found some pretty wonderful drive-thru park Christmas light shows and the kids have loved them! 

Giving Back to Others

A tradition we will be starting with the kids this year is to give back during the holidays. This can be done through an Operation Christmas Child Shoebox, Angel Tree gift or serving at your local soup kitchen. We want our kids to see the importance of showing the love of Jesus during the holiday season when it is difficult for a lot of individuals. Choose an activity that speaks to your family and share some Christmas love with others.

What Family Christmas Traditions Do You Choose?

I know this year has been a crazy year with everything! That is why I think we should end it on a strong positive note with lots of love, laughter and family time. Make 2020 a year full of sweet Christmas memories, not ones of bitterness and missing out. So, start new family traditions this year and do something fun despite the craziness of the year. 

Which traditions do you do? Share your family traditions in the comments below. 

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Adriane

    We try to make Christmas Eve special with just the immediate family. I look forward to Christmas Eve traditions way more than the chaos of Christmas day when we bounce between houses all day.

    1. Morgan P

      Glad y’all have put aside time for your immediate family! That is so important! Visiting everyone over the holidays does get exhausting…even though it is nice to see everyone.

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