Your mom used to be responsible for all the traditions in the home. Now you grew up, started a family of your own and it’s your turn to create and keep the family Christmas traditions running. To make it easier on you, I’ve put together 17 family Christmas traditions you can start with your kids this Holiday season.It seems like such a huge responsibility, doesn’t it? Coming up with things that will forever dictate our kids’ childhood memories.
But the truth is, coming up with traditions your family will love is not as hard as it may seem. I asked a few friends in person and others on Instagram what they were doing in their own families and they all surprised me big time.
View this post on Instagram
One of the most common Christmas traditions back in Brazil is having a secret Santa where the whole family participates. ?⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ It’s actually a super intentional tradition because it’s not just about the presents. We each go around saying words of affirmation about the person we’re about to gift until others can guess who it is. And this simple act brings our family closer.❣️⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ With our kids, we read Christmas books, we just built a Gingerbread house (it was actually a @hersheys chocolate cookie house, which we all ate more than built ???♀️) and will do the kindness Elves, amongst others, which I will soon share.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Now, I’m working on a blog post about family Christmas traditions and I was wondering if you could help me out sharing your favorite Christmas traditions in the comments! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I’m sure other families would love to hear about what you do for Christmas as a family too. ?
They shared so many intentional traditions that now I’m just excited to see the sparkle in the eyes of my kids once we start them.
Yes, it does require some planning, but nothing that a few hours won’t do. And the best thing in the world is to see the whole family coming together and celebrating the true meaning of Christmas in a way that brings us closer.
This post contains affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure here.
Let’s take a look at 17 Family Christmas Traditions to Start with Your Kids
#1. Sending Christmas Cards
These don’t need to be fancy, but they’re full of meaning and love, especially when you can get the kids involved.
Whether it is in helping you come up with words, drawing, or just sticking the address labels on the envelopes. Sending Christmas cards shows the kids how much we care about family and friends and how much a simple message of “Merry Christmas” can mean so much to others.
We love Shutterfly for that!
As a reader of Family Life Blog, you get 50 free 4×6 prints when you sign up with them to order your Christmas cards (valid for 30 only after sign up.) Just click the image below:
#2. Putting Up Christmas Decorations
One of the most special things we did as a family for Christmas was putting up the decorations together. I still remember my mom and I sorting through the red bows and shiny ornaments to decorate our tree.
It made me feel special and we bonded over it! I will never forget these memories.
Research also shows that putting up Christmas decorations a little earlier makes people happier. I’m all for it. In our home, we decorated the whole house as a family on Thanksgiving day with Christmas songs playing on the radio.
The songs have been playing every day since and it just makes all of us more joyful.
#3. Baking Christmas Cookies
Preparing, baking, decorating, and eating! No part of baking Christmas cookies sounds boring to me. And if you need some inspiration, here are 150 of the best Christmas cookies recipes to get you and your family inspired.
#4. Building a Gingerbread or Chocolate Cookie House
I know… Usually, people build Gingerbread houses, but we found this Chocolate Cookie House Kit at Target and it surely made an impression.
We built the house together and the boys couldn’t really focus on the whole operation, because they were way too concentrated on eating candy and chocolate! ?
But guess what? We had the MOST fun.
#5. Read Christmas Books
This is a Christmas Tradition that you can start as early as you wish. Our family starts reading Christmas books as early as November.
We just love the expectation and the atmosphere of joy that doing such a simple thing brings to our home.
#6. Grab Hot Chocolate + Drive Around the Neighborhood to See Christmas Lights
This tradition was shared by one of the readers in the Instagram post mentioned above. I loved the idea so much that I included in this list! I can’t wait to start it this year with my family.
The boys love seeing the Christmas lights, and… What’s not to love about hot chocolate? I think it makes the perfect combination.
Some people get the whole family together to sing Christmas Carols. Some others sing from door to door. And some sing in smaller groups.
Music has a way of touching people. It’s also one of the ways we can worship God in thanksgiving for the birth of Jesus, who came for us.
#8. Christmas Movies
We already watched the Grinch in the movie theaters and Mickey Mouse’s “Once Upon a Christmas” and “Twice Upon a Christmas” at home.
Watching Christmas movies with the kids is one more way to keep the magic and the expectation flowing. And, to give them what they love so much, screen time with some popcorn! Yum.
#9. Advent Calendar
Keep a special calendar to count down the days until Christmas. It can be made by you and the kids as a craft or it can be store bought so that the whole family can keep track of the days.
Family Christmas Traditions that focus on Jesus
#10. Bake a Birthday Cake for Jesus
I was talking to Sam’s teacher about Christmas traditions and saying that we were getting started with ours this year.
So, she shared a few she used to do with her kids when they were young. One of them was baking a cake or cupcakes for Jesus and singing Happy Birthday to him.
It’s a wonderful tradition that will help the kids understand and remember what we really celebrate on Christmas.
#11. The Giving Manger
The Giving Manger is a new and interesting tradition that was created not many years ago. It focuses on “filling up” Jesus’ manger with straws that represent the acts of kindness executed by the kids.
Each time the kids make an act of kindness, they add a straw to Jesus’ manger. The straws fill the manger with love and kindness, for when Jesus is born on Christmas Eve.
#12. Read an advent book
A special friend of mine, who knows I was searching for Christmas traditions to start with our kids, gave me this incredible advent book. It’s a book you read in the days leading up to Christmas.
It’s about a bear who’s following the star to go to Bethlehem. On the way, he has many encounters with different people/animals and each time he learns something new. Then, he finally gets to Bethlehem for Jesus’ birthday.
It’s a sweet book that will surely help the kids understand even more the real meaning of Christmas.
#13. Read the story of Jesus’ birth on Christmas Eve
You can either read this from a kids book of straight from the Bible. We do have this super simple book that is perfect for our 2 and 4-year-old children. It’s easy and short enough for them to understand and stay focused.
It explains that we give gifts on Christmas because it’s Jesus’ birthday. It tells the entire story of how baby Jesus was announced to Mary by the angel all the way until he’s born.
It’s super cute and educational. Definitely, the one we will be reading on Christmas Eve.
#14. Put Baby Jesus in the Manger
Whether you’re doing the Giving Manger tradition or not, this is a tradition that you can still do with your family, using an inexpensive nativity set, like this one (Amazon’s #1 best seller):
I believe the more traditions that focus on Jesus, the better! I really want my kids to have these memories that focus on the one true meaning of the holiday.
Interested in reading other posts about Christmas? Here are some:
- 7 Practical Ways to Love Your Neighbor this Christmas
- 5 Easy Ways to Start Saving Money for Christmas Now
- 3 Biblical Principles that Will Help You Manage Your Money This Holiday Season
Family Christmas Traditions that involve Santa
While we want to keep our family’s focus on what really matters, we also find that believing in Santa and that he brings a little something on Christmas is fun. And a part of being a kid.
This varies from family to family. But if you like to include Santa in your Christmas, here are a couple more family Christmas traditions to start with your kids this Holiday Season.
#15. Kindness Elves
Being from Brazil, we don’t have Elf on the Shelf or anything that could be compared to such tradition, but we do love the idea of the Kindness Elves. These are the exact same ones that we got:
We all want to teach our kids kindness and I find that including this tradition is one more opportunity to do so and show them how important kindness is.
My friend, Erin from Notice the Little things, explains how she does the tradition in her home and she even includes Jesus in it! I think that’s awesome!
If you go over at her blog post, she will have two printables you can download for this tradition:
- A sample letter from the Elves explaining how it works;
- A calendar with 25 different acts of kindness for the kids to practice in the days leading up to Christmas.
#16. Write a letter to Santa
To be honest, I didn’t really know that kids really sent letters to Santa, or that you could actually do that until I ran across this post revealing Santa’s “real address”.
I think it’s a fun one for when the kids are still little.
#17. Leave Cookies and a Glass of Milk for Santa
Leave some of the cookies you and your children baked and a glass of milk out on a table so “Santa can eat and drink” when he stops by your home to bring presents!
What Family Christmas Traditions do you and your kids enjoy the most?
I’m not tired of hearing this answer not will I be anytime soon! I’m really enjoying learning all about the different Christmas traditions different families have.
Merry Christmas to you and your family!