Easy Christmas Traditions To Start With Your Family This Year
Unless you’re very intentional holiday stress can make it hard to find time or ways to make memories with your family during the Christmas season. There’s shopping, gift wrapping, extended family and community events, and more that are all consuming your calendar and attention. Making memories with your family can get put on the back burner during the Christmas season. However, simple traditions can help you to prioritize your immediate family and create moments to treasure or laugh at for years to come!
As a child and young adult Christmas was my favorite season of the year. I loved the festive music, lights and decorations, gift exchanges, and time with family. However, as I started my own family the season became more stressful and I often found myself dwelling in the stress rather than the wonder. It’s still a work in progress, but I’m trying to shift my expectations from my own relaxing enjoyment to making lasting memories with my husband and kids. One way that I try to do that is by enjoying traditions together each year!
In this post I want to share with you simple family Christmas traditions that you can start today to make memories with your own family. Some are traditions that I’ve created with my husband and kids, some are traditions that I enjoyed growing up with my parents and siblings, and some are traditions that I just think sound like a lot of fun!
I hope that these family tradition ideas help you to make lasting memories with your family this holiday season.
Family Christmas Traditions To Enjoy With Your Kids
- Sleep In A Tent By The Christmas Tree On Christmas Eve – As a kid this was one of my favorite and most memorable traditions! Every year on the night before our scheduled gift opening day as an immediate family we would sleep in our sleeping bags around the Christmas tree with the model train running around it. When we were small enough we arranged our sleeping bags inside of a small tent set up in the living room but as we aged (and grew!) it became just a sleepover with sleeping bags on the living room floor.
- Cut Down A Christmas Tree – Skip using a fake Christmas tree or buying a pre-cut tree from a lot at a store and go cut down your own tree! This is not always possible if you’re located in a highly urban area, but in many suburban areas you can find a tree farm to go cut down your own tree from. Growing up we always went out to breakfast and visited a tree farm on the Friday after Thanksgiving. It became a tradition that my siblings and I looked forward to every year. Now, with my own children and my husband (when health has allowed it) we have also visited tree farms to cut down our own Christmas tree. The kids have loved it and I have treasured the memories of doing it with them.
- Make Homemade Christmas Ornaments – This is a tradition that I still want to start with my kids! Making Christmas ornaments is a great way to accumulate decorations for your own Christmas tree or to have meaningful gifts to give to family members, babysitters, or friends. You can make Christmas ornaments from any craft supplies you have laying around the house. Some ideas include painted popsicle stick or salt dough ornaments. You can find the easy recipe to create salt dough ornaments here.
- Decorate A Christmas Tree – Involving the kids in the decoration of your Christmas tree is another great way to make lasting Christmas memories with them! In our household my husband puts the lights on the tree, I add string beads around it, and then we give the ornaments to our young kids one at a time to place on the tree themselves. Most of the ornaments end up on the bottom half of the tree, but they love it! If you have older kids you can also involve them in creating a popcorn chain for the tree with the instructions here.
- Work Through An Advent Calendar – Growing up we went through the same advent calendar every year. It had a window to open each day in December that contained part of the Biblical Christmas story. We looked forward every night to opening the new window for that day and reading through the story from beginning to that point until we reached the full story on Christmas day. For my kids, I created a paper chain advent calendar activity that includes the Christmas story word for word from the Bible. It contains a new chain link with a portion of the story to add or subtract each day. You can find my free paper chain advent calendar printable and instructions here.
- Make Christmas Cookies – Making Christmas cookies is a fun way to create memories with kids of any age and to bless your family, friends, or neighbors! There are no rules about which cookies to make as a family for Christmas. Some popular ones include chocolate kiss cookies, sand tarts, and iced sugar cookies. My kids love making iced sugar cookies primarily because they love throwing sprinkles on all of the cookies once they’re iced! If you’re not big into baking you can also just melt chocolate mints or melting chips onto bite sized pretzels. (My sister makes these almost every year and they are amazingly delicious and addicting!)
- Attend A Christmas or Christmas Eve Church Service – You can make wonderful family memories and keep the reason for the season forefront by attending a Christmas Eve or Christmas day church service with your family. Many local churches offer services that you can enjoy with your kids. I love singing Christmas carols with our girls and listening to the Biblical Christmas story every year at our local church.
- Go To A Christmas Lights Display Or Show – Another fun way to make memories with your family during the Christmas season is to attend a Christmas lights show or visit a Christmas lights display. If you’re not a fan of cold winter weather some shows are even drive-through so you don’t have to leave the comfortable heat in your vehicle! We attended a walk-through light show with friends in the past and our girls loved taking in all of the different displays. (Us adults enjoyed the free hot chocolate too!)
- Watch Christmas Movies – One way that my husband and I enjoy the Christmas season is by watching Christmas movies together. We have one specific movie that we make sure to watch at least once every year. We turn on the Christmas lights on our tree and in our house and curl up for the movie. It’s a tradition I look forward to every year. More recently we also began to show our girls some of the iconic children’s Christmas movies. If you want a really easy and low-key tradition to unwind with during the holiday season, then watch a Christmas show as a family!
- Decorate The House For Christmas Or Hang Christmas Lights – Another tradition that we had growing up and I keep now is to decorate the house for Christmas! We have strings of lights that we hang on the tree and over a few doorways/archways inside our home. We also hang stockings on the stair rail and I have several holiday candles that I get out every year. One of these years I hope to hang lights on our porch outside, but it hasn’t happened yet!
- Go Christmas Shopping Together – If you have gifts to purchase for extended family members, friends, or anyone else outside of your immediate family circle then shopping together as a family can be a fun way to create Christmas memories! You can also shop for a charity program like Operation Christmas Child with your kids to help them learn to give and have compassion for the less fortunate. It’s a great way to build memories with your kids and bless others during the holiday season.
- Wrap Gifts – If your kids are anything like mine, then simply wrapping gifts is a fun holiday activity that they look forward to! When I’m wrapping gifts for anyone outside of our immediate household I often invite our young girls to help me. They love to pick out bows to place on gifts and select which wrapping paper or gift tag I use.
- Create Gingerbread Houses – This is a tradition that I did on occasion growing up and hope to start with our girls in the coming years! You can buy kits to create gingerbread houses or pick out all of the supplies yourself. All you need is some icing, graham crackers, and an assortment of candy to create fun (and yummy!) gingerbread houses together. You can even make it an annual competition to see who can create the best house. Put it to a social media vote!
- Make A Homemade Christmas Morning Breakfast – This is a tradition that my family had every year growing up. We gathered Christmas morning as an extended family for a massive breakfast feast followed by a gift exchange. All of us kids looked forward to waking up to the breakfast smorgasbord to kick off our Christmas celebration! As an adult I don’t do it quite so elaborately for my family, but even making hot eggs and having a fresh danish or breakfast pastry on hand makes the morning feel special and cozy before we go about the events of the day. Make a homemade breakfast as big or as small as you want to bring a special layer of tradition to your Christmas morning.
- Fill Stockings To Open On Christmas Eve – This is another Christmas tradition that we had growing up. The night before we opened our gifts as an immediate family all of us kids opened small gifts inside our stockings. The gifts were very inexpensive but we counted down to it as the kick-off of our Christmas celebration as a family and we would look in eager anticipation at our full stockings hanging on the wall for days ahead of time.
Every family dynamic is different and what fits my family might not fit yours. However, I hope that these family traditions gave you some ideas of how to make lasting memories with your family this season. I know that I look back fondly on many memories created by these traditions when I was a kid and as an adult I hold onto many treasured experiences that I’ve been able to have with my kids and husband as we’ve built our holiday traditions.
Above all, my goal with family traditions is not to add more stress to my Christmas season or to detract from the real meaning of the season – the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, born to save the world from sin. My goal with family traditions is to enjoy the celebration of this glorious event together in ways that make it a celebration that we look forward to every year and look back on fondly.
Do you have any favorite Christmas traditions? Comment below to share!