Are you looking for some new family Christmas traditions to try this year? If so, you’re in luck!
Whether you just had your first baby or your kids are older there is something magical about spending time together as a family during the holidays.
And if you’re like most moms, you’re already starting to plan (at least in your head) for Christmas. You want to make sure your family has the best holiday ever! But what traditions should you start this year? Here are 44 of the very best family Christmas traditions.
Don’t forget to sign up for my email list to get access to my FREE printables including this checklist!
Christmas Countdown Traditions
As the holiday season approaches, many families begin to excitedly plan for Christmas. One of the most common traditions is the Christmas countdown. Here are a few fun ideas for how you and your family can countdown to Christmas. For some families, the countdown is just a way to add some extra excitement to the holiday season. But for others, it’s a chance to create lasting memories and traditions.
1. Read a Holiday Book Each Night
Wrap 25 holiday-themed books at the end of November. Let your kids each take turns unwrapping a book of their choice starting on December 1. Snuggle up together on the couch and read it aloud.
2. Start The Elf on the Shelf Tradition
Love it or hate it, there’s no denying the Elf on the Shelf is a kid’s favorite! They will love waking up each morning to find Santa’s helper in a new and often funny spot. Bonus points that it helps them behave knowing he’s reporting back to the big guy each night.
3. Countdown to Christmas
Several years back when Grayson was really little I created my own FREE Christmas Countdown. This countdown to Christmas guide is filled with 24 days of fun activities, crafts, and treats that your child is sure to love! Check out my post and download your free countdown today!
Festive Family Christmas Traditions
4. Watch Holiday Movies
There is nothing better than cuddling up on the couch with your family and watching a holiday movie at the end of a long day. Or better yet, having a movie marathon on a cold and rainy day. Watch the same movie year after year or find new ones you all love. Here are some of our favorite holiday movies.
5. Decorate the Tree Together
One of the best things about Christmas is decorating the tree. No matter what style you choose, real or artificial, decorating your tree together is a great way to get into the Christmas spirit and create some lasting family memories. So put on some holiday music, grab some treats and trim the tree with those your love the most.
6. Visit Santa
This one is pretty obvious, but Christmas isn’t complete without a visit to Santa. Standing in long lines and spending too much on a photo might not be at the top of a parent’s list of fun things to do, but watching the excitement on your kids’ faces makes it so worth it. So take the trip to the mall or Santa Land so your kids can share all their Christmas wishes with the big guy!
7. Listen to Holiday Music
Whether you’re a fan of classic Christmas music or new and updated songs, listening to music is one of the best ways to get in the holiday spirit. Turn up the tunes in the morning before school, play them while prepping for dinner or end the night with a fun holiday dance party!
8. Play “I Spy” with Ornaments on the Tree
A festive twist on the classic “I Spy.” Use the ornaments on the tree to play this game that all kids love. They will have so much fun searching the tree and guessing which ornaments are the clues. It’s a great way to be able to sit back and enjoy your decorations too!
9. Take a Family Photo
Christmas is the perfect time of year to take an annual family photo. It is usually the time when everyone comes together and is dressed in their holiday best. Our family uses this time of year to make sure we get one great photo that can be used for Christmas cards, too!
10. Give New Ornaments to Your Kids
One unique tradition that can be started with your kids is giving them a new Christmas ornament each year. This can become a cherished tradition as they grow up and start their own families. Not only will they have fond memories of Christmas past, but they’ll also have a beautiful collection of ornaments to reflect their own personal style.
11. Write a Letter to Santa
It’s a time-honored tradition to write a letter to Santa each year telling him what you want for Christmas. To make it even more special, save the letters and keep them in your child’s memory box to gift to them when they are adults. It will be so fun for them to look back on years down the road.
12. Have a Gingerbread House Competition
Everyone loves building and decorating gingerbread houses around the holidays. This activity can be even more fun if you turn it into a competition. Gather all the supplies and candy you can think of. There are no rules and you can be as creative as you want. The family member with the most impressive gingerbread house is crowned the winner.
13. Make a Holiday Craft
Get into the holiday spirit by busting out the glue gun and making some festive decorations. There are so many fun and festive holiday crafts that you can make, from Christmas tree ornaments to glittery snowflakes. The best part is that you can personalize them to your own taste and display them around your house for years to come.
14. Have a Holiday Music Dance Party
Is there anything better than a dance party in the living room? How about a dance party to Christmas music? Turn it up loud and let loose!
15. Have an Ugly Sweater Day
This is the day for everyone to let their inner Christmas spirit shine by donning their tackiest, most garish holiday sweaters. It’s a day for laughs and good cheer, and it’s a day for coming together and celebrating the season. Make your own tacky sweaters or buy one.
16. Start a Holiday Collection
What better way to get into the holiday spirit than by starting your own Christmas collection? You can collect Christmas houses, ornaments, cards, nutcrackers, china, or anything else that reminds you of the holidays. Each year, you can add new items to the collection and look back on all the happy memories.
17. Camp Out in Front of the Tree
This magical tradition is one your kids will love. Just pitch a tent in your living room, unroll a sleeping bag or two, and get ready for some Christmas camping fun. Pull out some snacks and hot cocoa and put on a movie. This will get everyone in the Christmas spirit for sure!
18. Make a Holiday Card Booklet
One of the best parts of the holiday season is getting cards in the mail from your family and friends. You get to see how much everyone has grown in their pictures and have a sentimental message from them too. Instead of throwing them away at the end of the holidays, put them on a ring and make a book to display year after year.
19. Host an Ornament Exchange
Another great way to add to your ornament collection is to host an ornament exchange. Have everyone bring an ornament (or several) and swap them out. You can do it white elephant style or simply pick the one that you love the most.
Outdoor & Community Family Christmas Traditions
20. Go Caroling in Your Neighborhood
One of the best ways to spread Christmas cheer during the holiday season is to go caroling in your neighborhood. Bundle up, grab some friends and go door to door singing your favorite Christmas songs. Sing loud and round and spread the joy of Christmas!
21. Have a Family Fun Day
One of the best ways to check lots of these activities off your list is to have a family fun day. Have mom and dad take one day off of work and dedicate the day to spending time as a family. Go into your local city, shop for Christmas gifts, and just enjoy this special time with the ones you love most.
22. Go Ice Skating
Whether you live in a location where you can ice skate on a pond or you have to go to an indoor mall, ice skating is the perfect family holiday activity. Bundle up in your winter gear, grab your skates, and hit the ice. Just do your best not to get hurt!
23. Visit a Christmas Tree Farm
This family Christmas tradition is great for those who love a real tree complete with that awesome smell. Visit a tree farm to find the perfect tree as a family. If you’re really adventurous, you may even cut one down yourself.
24. Go Sledding
For many kids, Christmas isn’t complete without a trip to the sledding hill. It’s a great way to get outside and have some fun in the snow.
25. Play Tourist in Your Town
There is no better time to play tourist in your home town than during the holiday season. Everything is lit up and decorated beautifully and there is magic in the air. Most towns also have many events or activities going on during this time that your family can take advantage of.
26. Build a Snowman
Do you want to build a snowman? Depending on where you live this may or may not be possible. If you’re lucky enough to have snow around the holidays, make sure to take a day to bring Frosty (or Olaf) to life! Don’t forget the corn cob, buttons, and coal!
Religious Family Christmas Traditions
27. Set Up a Nativity
Christmas is a time for celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, and what better way to do that than by displaying a nativity scene in your home? Not only is it a beautiful decoration, but it’s also a reminder of the true meaning of Christmas. By taking the time to set up a nativity display in your home, you’ll be spreading the Christmas spirit to all who see it.
28. Read the Story of Christmas
This time-honored tradition is one that helps us all remember the true meaning of Christmas- that God loves us so much that he sent his only Son to be our Savior. Reading the Christmas story is a cherished tradition for many families, one that helps us to keep Jesus at the center of our holiday celebration.
29. Light Candles on an Advent Wreath
Each Sunday during the Christmas season take a few minutes to light one of the four candles and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. Whether you make your own advent wreath or purchase one from a store, it’s sure to add some extra excitement to your Christmas season!
30. Go to Church as a Family
Christmas is a perfect time to go to church as a family. It’s a time to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas and to receive blessings from God. Whether you choose to attend Christmas Eve mass or on Christmas Day, this is a wonderful way to celebrate the birth of Christ and deepen your faith.
Food-Related Family Christmas Traditions
31. Bake a Holiday Dessert
One of the best parts of the holiday season is indulging in all of the delicious treats that seem to be everywhere you look. Making Christmas desserts is a great way to spend time with your kids and create some cherished memories. Put on an apron and apron and pull out the mixing bowls to make your favorite holiday dessert each year.
32. Make a Traditional Family Recipe
Cooking food based on recipes that have been in your family for years is a great way to bring loved ones together. It may have a dish that reminds you of your great-grandmother or a secret recipe passed down from another relative. Cooking special family dishes at the holiday time is a great way to honor and remember those we love the most.
33. Decorate Cookies
Decorating Christmas cookies is a fun activity for everyone in the family, and it’s also a great way to show off your creativity. There are endless possibilities when it comes to cookie decorating, so feel free to get creative! To make it even more fun, try hosting a cookie swap with friends or neighbors. Have everyone bring a different homemade cookie to share so you can try them all.
34. Make Hot Chocolate
Making hot chocolate is the perfect way to warm up on a cold winter day, and it’s also a great activity to do with kids. With so many delicious variations to choose from, there’s something to suit everyone’s taste. Whether you like your hot chocolate with marshmallows, whipped cream, or a sprinkle of cinnamon, there’s no wrong way to enjoy this classic Christmas treat.
Gifting and Giving Family Christmas Traditions
35. Volunteer at or Donate to a Food Bank
Teaching your kids to give back, especially during the holidays, is a great lesson to instill in them. By donating food or your time, you can help to make a difference in the lives of others. And what could be more Christmas-y than that?
36. Practice Gratitude
Christmas is an ideal time to express gratitude because it is a season of giving. Each day of the Christmas season makes it a point to have each person in your family say something they are grateful for. Nothing is too big or too small!
37. Adopt a Family
Help make another family’s Christmas a little brighter and teach your own kids the importance of giving back. Many churches or local charity organizations have programs that make it easy for you to adopt a family for the holiday season.
38. Play Secret Santa
Christmas is a time for giving, and there’s no better way to spread the holiday cheer than by playing Secret Santa. There are many ways this classic Christmas tradition can be done but the most common is simply drawing names. You can give small gifts for a few days to the person you have chosen and then one big gift on the day of the big reveal.
Family Christmas Eve Traditions
39. Wear Matching PJs
Getting into the Christmas spirit is a lot easier when you’re twinning with your loved ones. Plus, it’s a great way to get everyone in the holiday mood before Christmas morning. So go ahead and find the perfect matching set – you’ll be glad you did come Christmas Eve.
40. Open One Present on Christmas Eve
Let your kids open one gift under the tree on Christmas Eve. This can be a gift of their choice or a designated gift that you want them to have for the night like matching PJs, an activity, or a Christmas Eve Box.
41. Christmas Eve Box
A Christmas Eve box is the one present under the tree that is supposed to be opened on Christmas Eve. It’s filled with fun things to do as a family while waiting for Santa to arrive. Get some ideas for what to include in your box here.
42. Make Reindeer Food
This magical food is essential for Santa’s reindeer, who need all the energy they can get to deliver presents to good boys and girls all around the world. To make your own reindeer food, simply mix some oats and glitter, together and sprinkle it on your lawn for the reindeer to eat when they arrive.
43. Track Santa
Thanks to modern technology, it’s now possible to follow Santa’s journey all around the world on Christmas Eve. There are even apps that allow you to get real-time updates on Santa’s location. Before your kids go to sleep on Christmas Eve, let them track the progress Santa has made so far. This will have them eagerly anticipating his arrival.
44. Cook a Fancy Christmas Eve (or Day) Dinner
Christmas Eve is the perfect time to cook a big fancy dinner for your entire family. Everyone can come together and enjoy the evening before gearing up for the big day. The best part is you’ll have plenty of leftovers to eat on Christmas Day so you can relax and enjoy watching your kids play with their new gifts.
No matter what family Christmas traditions you choose to implement, you’re sure to have the best holiday ever when you’re making memories with the ones you love. Don’t get wrapped up in making things perfect because the truth is, no matter what you do it will be the best Christmas ever!
This post was all about family Christmas traditions.
Happy Holidays and thanks so much for reading and sharing!