12 Wonderful Christmas Traditions Your Family Will Love
Christmas is a magical time of year. There’s nothing like spending time with family around the fire as the snow falls outside or driving around town looking at the twinkling lights. Even as an adult, there’s something special about the holidays and we all want to create memories that our family will cherish for years to come.
If you’re looking for a Christmas tradition to start with your family, this list is for you! It includes ideas that you’re probably familiar with, but hopefully, you’ll find some that are new. Either way, they are all sure to get you into the holiday spirit!
Set aside a day for Christmas decorating.
It’s one thing to decorate the Christmas tree, but it’s a whole other thing to make a day out it. Bring the whole family together to go through the ornaments, hang up the stockings, decorate the house, bake cookies, drive around and look at Christmas lights, and then top it all off with a Christmas movie (we recommend The Polar Express) and a mug of hot chocolate!
Tell a story.
If you don’t feel creative enough to come up with a story of your own, pick up a copy of The Magic Christmas Ornament to read to your children. James, the coauthor of the book, told the story to his children when they were younger. The tradition started nearly 25 years ago. “Almost every night we’d sit under the tree and play Christmas music and look at the lights and then once in a while I’d tell a story,” James said. “This story was an original idea I had about an ornament that came directly from Santa’s own tree that I found in a mysterious old tree.”
Use an Advent calendar to keep track of the holidays.
These calendars traditionally countdown the four weeks until Christmas Day, with a special candy or treat for each day. The tradition started in Germany in the 1800s and was originally a wooden box with a little door for each day. Now, you can find cardboard versions with everything from small toys to chocolates to even beauty products.
Host a neighborhood Christmas or holiday party.
Christmas is about gathering with family and friends and there’s no better way than by getting everyone together for some fun. Turn the annual Christmas cookie exchange into a whole event, complete with caroling, a gingerbread house contest, and—if you have a big backyard—a Christmas bonfire to roast marshmallows and make s’ mores!
Most children think about visiting Santa at their local mall, but if you like to travel for the holidays, consider a trip to see a “real” Santa. The Santa Claus House in the North Pole, Alaska, has been around since 1952 and is home to unique ornaments, gifts, and real reindeer.
If Christmas is your absolute favorite time of year, add Santa Claus Village in the Finnish Lapland to your wish list. Located in the Arctic Circle, kids can meet Santa, his elves, and his reindeer!
Write a letter to Santa (and get one back!)
If you can’t take your kids to Santa, bring Santa to them. The complete directions can be found on the USPS website, but the gist of it is that your child writes their letter to Santa and before mailing, you add another letter “From Santa,” and the post office will postmark it from the North Pole in Anchorage, Alaska, and mail it back!
Another option is to order an Original Letter from Santa from the Santa Claus House mentioned above for a special gift they’ll never forget.
Give back to your community.
Many of us are blessed with abundance during the holidays, but others aren’t so fortunate. Teach your children about giving back by donating a gift from an Angel Tree. Many department stores and places like Starbucks have trees with tags that have a gift on them for a child in need. Purchase the gift and bring it back to the store and they will deliver it for you! Another wonderful option is to donate canned goods or volunteer your time at a food bank.
Give each other a book on Christmas Eve.
Called Jolabokaflod, or “Yule book flood,” this Icelandic tradition started during World War II. Everyone is gifted a book and then you spend a quiet night reading.
Need a few more quick ideas?
- Wear matching pajamas.
- Make ornaments or decorate stockings together.
- Give handmade gifts.
- Take a family photo (and maybe even turn it into an ornament for the next year!).
- Make Christmas cards.
Whatever you decide to do this Christmas, it can’t help but be special if it’s with the ones you love!
Do you have more ideas to add? Please share them below!
Purchase The Magic Christmas Ornament Book Collection (book plus ornament) in hardcover here, or ebook here. A portion of all sales proceeds goes to Toys For Tots.
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Great list! I wished we lived close enough to family that we could do #1. We’ve been doing #8 Jolabokaflod for a few years now and everyone absolutely loves it! IDK about the PJs but I can def see us all wearing ugly sweaters or our favorite sports teams or some other theme. Thx for the ideas!
Good for you! It sounds like a wonderful time. Thanks for sharing your holiday traditions, Lissa. Have a great holiday season.