Creating meaningful family Christmas Traditions makes the holiday season a magical time of year. It’s the traditional things we do with our families that hold the greatest meaning and create the most vivid memories. Start a new meaningful Christmas tradition with this list of fun family Christmas traditions!
I’m a sucker for a good family tradition, and Christmas is the perfect time of year to add meaningful activities to make the holiday season even more magical. You may have heard of a few of these ideas, but I’m hoping you find something new to add to your family Christmas traditions.
What are Christmas Traditions?
A Christmas tradition is a routine or ritual that is done every year on or before Christmas Day.
What is a Family Christmas Tradition?
A family Christmas tradition is a Christmas tradition that is repeated by the family on a yearly basis in order to celebrate Christmas and create meaning.
Two classic examples are hanging stockings by the fire, and the tradition of holiday gift-giving, or giving a gift to friends and relatives on Christmas Day.
Meaningful Christmas Traditions for a Magical Holiday
Look through this list of 27 meaningful and fun family Christmas traditions to find new and classic Christmas traditions to bond with your family and make your holiday more meaningful.
Remember, meaningful Christmas traditions are done every year, so please don’t look at this as a must-do list. Our family does not do everything on this list of Christmas traditions, and your family shouldn’t need to either.
The last thing you need is more holiday stress because of a silly family Christmas tradition that you find impossible to complete. If it isn’t fun, it isn’t worth it.
Related: Rustic Alphabet Wood Slice Ornaments
30 Fun Family Family Christmas Traditions
If you have a fun family Christmas tradition that you would like to share, add it to the comments below!
1. Bake, Decorate, and Give Christmas Cookies
2. Write a Letter to Santa
Here’s a fun family Christmas tradition for kids. Have your child write a letter to Santa and have one sent back with US Postal Service help.
Follow the directions found HERE.
3. Make Homemade Christmas Cards with Children
Homemade Christmas card making is a classic family tradition. Friends and family love receiving handmade cards from the kids.
Try any of the homemade Christmas card ideas below.
Homemade Christmas Card Ideas
- Watercolor Tree Cards
- Christmas Wreath Fingerprint Art Cards
- Fingerprint Christmas Tree Cards
- Christmas Carolers Handprint Art Cards
- Fingerprint Snowman Christmas Cards
- Christmas Handprint, Footprint, and Fingerprint Art Card Ideas
Related: Homemade gifts kids can make
4. Countdown to Christmas
Counting down to Christmas is another common Christmas tradition in many families. Traditionally a Christmas countdown is started on the first of December and is completed on Christmas day.
There are so many more fun ways to countdown to Christmas available today. Try any of the fun Christmas countdown ideas below!
Make or purchase an Advent Calendar to Countdown to Christmas
Advent is observed in many homes and churches as a time to prepare for the celebration of the nativity and coming (or return) of Jesus at Christmas.
Gorgeous advent calendars for purchase can be found HERE.
Countdown to Christmas with a Book Advent Calendar
Another fun family Christmas tradition is to have a book advent Christmas countdown. Read a Christmas book each night through Christmas Eve. Some parents like to wrap each book and have the kids pick one to open each night.
You can read a Christmas book each night for any number of nights leading up to Christmas–it really doesn’t matter. Finding 24 Christmas books at the library during the holidays can be tough–even 3 will do!
We like to make sure we read “The Night Before Christmas” on Christmas Eve. It’s magical. 24 of our favorite Christmas books that you can use for an advent calendar are listed below.
- Pick a Pine Tree
- The Chrismas Miracle of Johnathan Toomey
- Red and Lulu
- The Christmas Wish
- Reindeer Christmas
- The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree
- The Polar Express
- Mr. Willoby’s Christmas Tree
- The Crippled Lamb
- Humphrey’s First Christmas
- The Story of Holly and Ivy
- Mortimer’s Christmas Manger
- The Christmas Owl
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas
- The Wish Tree
- A Wish to Be a Christmas Tree
- The Little Reindeer
- Room for a Little One
- The Carpenters Gift
- A Charlie Brown Christmas
- The Shortest Day – We like to read this on the night of the Winter Solstice
- Who is Coming to Our House
- Christmas Farm
- The Night Before Christmas
5. Celebrate the Saint Nicolas Day Tradition
Saint Nicholas is known as the patron saint of children. Where this tradition is still prominent, it is celebrated as the primary gift-giving day instead of Christmas.
The most famous story about St. Nicholas tells how the custom of hanging up stockings to put presents in and how the legend of Santa Clause first started! Learn more about Saint Nicolas and this fun family Christmas tradition HERE!
How do You Celebrate Saint Nicolas Day?
Children set out their wooden clogs, shoes, or stockings on the eve of December 5th, along with a plate of cookies and milk for St. Nick and a carrot for his donkey (or beautiful white horse). In the morning children wake to find their shoes filled with treats of small gifts, fruit or nuts, and special St. Nicolas candies and cookies.
Ideas to include in your children’s shoes for Saint Nicolas Day are chocolate coins, a small wooden toy, new socks, a tangerine, a walnut, and inexpensive religious items, such as a rosary, saint bracelet, or prayer cards.
Related: Eco-Friendly Stocking Stuffers
6. Visit a Tree Farm
Going to a tree farm to pick a Christmas tree is a fun family Christmas tradition. Consult your local resource guide, or do an internet search to find a Christmas tree farm near you!
7. Trim the Christmas Tree as a Family
Turn on the Christmas music, light a fire, or pop one with Christmas music into the DVD player and enjoy decorating the Christmas tree. A classic Christmas tradition for the whole family!
8. Encourage Acts of Kindness with the Kindness Elves
The kindness elves are a refreshing variation to The Elf on the Shelf. They are magical elves that encourage children to commit acts of kindness or service. To learn more about them click HERE.
More Meaningful Christmas Traditions for a Magical Holiday
9. Gift Everyone with Christmas Coloring and Activity Books
Christmas coloring books are an easy way to help both children and adults relieve stress and practice mindfulness during the holidays. Keep everyone busy and happy throughout the holidays with this awesome collection of Christmas coloring and activity books for adults and children!
10. Enjoy a Local Christmas Amusement or Event
Most people have a traditional thing they like to do in or near their hometown with their family for the holidays. We like to go to the tree lighting in our town square and a light show put on by a local nut processing plant that’s out of this world. Brought me to tears the first time I saw it!
Some take a picture with Santa or go to Santa Land, others ride the Polar Express, some families attend a Christmas show, a few make their way to Disneyland, and some Christmas heroes are crazy enough to do it all!
11. Wear Matching Pajama Sets
Wearing matching PJ’s with the family is a fun family Christmas tradition. Family photos end up looking great! Find your favorite matching pajama set HERE, or, select from the matching Christmas pajama sets for families listed below!
12. Plan an Annual Family Outing
Plan a family outing or event to do every year around the holidays. Some fun family favorites can be found below.
- Get outside for some snow play–think sledding, snowball fights, snow angel and snowman making.
- Hit the bowling alley for some friendly competition.
- Play a game of touch football.
- Head to the ice rink for some ice skating.
- Get out for a walk or a hike rain, snow or shine.
- Meet up for an annual family vacation on Christmas
13. Make a Homemade Ornament
Making a new ornament for the tree each year is a delightful way to spend time connecting with the kids during the holidays. Be sure to pop over to have a look at our collection of gorgeous handmade Christmas ornaments kids can make.
14. Hang Stockings
The tradition of hanging stockings for Santa to fill on Christmas Eve is a spin-off of the original Saint Nicolas Day tradition discussed in Christmas Tradition #5 above.
Hanging stockings on the mantle or wherever else you can find has become such a common tradition we forget it’s a tradition.
Our family is lucky enough to have a grandma that sews all of our family stockings, but there are LOTS of lovely readymade options available. Don’t forget to have a look at this fun collection of stocking stuffer ideas for the whole family!
15. Start a Gift Giving Tradition
Giving a gift at Christmas is one of the most common Christmas traditions. In larger families with members living great distances having a Christmas gift exchange or implementing a gift rule can make holiday gift giving a lot less stressful.
Gift-giving traditions also make it a lot easier on family members with a smaller Christmas budget to participate in holiday gift giving. Pop over to have a look at this fun collection of 8 Christmas gift exchange ideas and gift-giving traditions and give one a try this year.
16. Give and Recieve Santa Sacks
Give each person in the house a Santa Sack sometime before Christmas. Have them fill it with items they’d like to give to give to those in need and place it under the tree on Christmas Eve. On Christmas morning have the sacks filled with gifts for each person. Store your Santa Sacks in the Christmas box to use again next year!
17. Hang Mistletoe
Hang a piece of mistletoe in a high traffic area and kiss, hug or high five anyone you meet underneath it.
18. Watch a Holiday Movie with the Family
What’s your favorite Christmas movie? If you don’t see it below share it in the comments!
19. Give Handmade Gifts
More Meaningful Family Christmas Tradition Ideas
20. Make a Gingerbread house
A gingerbread house does not need to be made out of gingerbread, you don’t even have to use candy to decorate them. You can make gingerbread houses with graham crackers, or cardboard and craft supplies.
- Gingerbread house kit
- Find gingerbread house cookie cutters HERE
- Step-by-step directions to make a traditional gingerbread house by DIY Enthusiasts and Simply Recipes.
- How to make a gingerbread house with gram crackers by Happiness is Homemade.
- Learn how Inner Child Fun made a toy gingerbread house out of cardboard HERE or a life-sized cardboard gingerbread house HERE
21. Take a Drive to Look at Christmas lights
Spend at least one night looking at all of the beautiful Christmas lights that people put up in your city or town.
22. Family Game Night
Wrap up a new family game and put it under the tree to open and play it with the whole family. I know some families that do this fun family Christmas tradition on Christmas Eve, while others place a note in an advent calendar with a description of the gift to open.
23. Sing Christmas Carols
Grab the Christmas Songbook, some flameless candlesticks and go caroling, sit down by the piano, or turn on the karaoke machine with the Christmas CD, and sing your heart out. Don’t forget to sing a few silly Christmas songs with the kids–try this silly CD or this silly Christmas songbook!
24. Gift Everyone with a New Book on Christmas Eve
In Iceland, it is a tradition to gift everyone with a new book on Christmas Eve, and then spend the night reading. This Christmas tradition is called Jolabokaflod and is translated to mean “Yule book flood.”
Even though this holiday tradition originated in Iceland, it is gaining in popularity across the world. Gift everyone in your family with a new book on Christmas Eve! Learn more about it HERE or HERE.
Jolabokaflod Book Gift Ideas
25. Leave Out Cookies and Reindeer food for Santa and his Reindeer on Christmas Eve
Put out a plate of cookies and a glass of milk for Santa on Christmas Eve. To make reindeer food mix oats with any kind of Christmas sprinkles. Sprinkle it in the front yard with the kids before bed. Sweep it up before they wake for even more fun!
26. Hide the Christmas Pickle
I’ve heard of a few different variations on this odd tradition. This is the tradition my family has adapted and uses.
Hide a pickle ornament in the Christmas tree after the kids are in bed. The first child to find it in the morning gets to open the family gift.
Family gifts can be something simple like a box of Christmas chocolates to share, or something as elaborate as tickets for a family vacation.
The rule at our house is everyone must be present and ready before the finder of the pickle can open the family gift.
27. Create a Christmas Breakfast Tradition
Create a Christmas breakfast tradition in your home.
Some families like to have a freshly baked cinnamon roll with hot chocolate and/or coffee as they open presents, while others open their presents on Christmas Eve, and eat Rudolf pancakes after opening the stockings in the morning.
Choose something that works for your family and make it a tradition.
28. Place a Christmas Cracker Popper Next to Each Christmas Dinner Plate
Christmas Crackers are a Christmas tradition that started in England but is gaining popularity worldwide. They are most often a wrapped and decorated recycled cardboard cylinder or paper tube that resembles a large candy twist.
Learn more about the history of the Christmas Cracker HERE.
29. Take a Family Photo
Take a family photo on or around Christmas with the family every year. Gather the whole family around the Christmas tree, the holiday table, or in the backyard and watch everyone grow and change from year to year.
I never realized the power of a good camera until I became a mother and wanted gorgeous pictures of my baby. Purchasing a good camera was one of the best choices I have ever made for my family. You can find a fantastic deal on the set I use HERE.
30. Practice Gratitude
Gratitude brings abundance. When we are thankful for what we have, we will be given more of what we are grateful for.
Find fun ways to practice gratitude with these gratitude activities and crafts the whole family can enjoy. Make one a family Christmas tradition in your home this year!
Fun Family Christmas Traditions To Start this Year
Use any of these ideas to start a new Christmas tradition with your family this holiday season.
Creating meaningful family Christmas Traditions makes the holiday season a magical time of year. It’s the old-fashioned traditional things we do with our families that hold the greatest meaning and create the most vivid memories.
Don’t forget to pop over to have a look at our family gift guide with DIY and ready-made gift ideas for the whole family!
Learn more about Rhythms of Play HERE!
If You Liked Family Christmas Traditions, You May Also Like
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- How to Create a Winter Nature Table
- The Ultimate Eco-Friendly Gift Guide for Kids
- How to Make Beaded Snowflake Ornaments
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Nell has over 20 years of experience working with children and is the founder of Rhythms of Play. She believes in the wonder of childhood, the power of the imagination, learning through play, and getting outside in all seasons! Learn more…