How to Create Christmas Family Traditions

Every family has their own traditions, of course. Many are based in religion, some in culture, and some just randomly evolve. Old or new, traditions can also be shared through friends and communities.

Passing traditions on to children is especially rewarding. In fact, it is often the kids who remind the adults that “we have to do…” whatever it is.Here are ideas how wonderful memories can be made at Christmas and holiday time.

Family Traditions for the Whole Christmas Season

  • Using an Advent calendar to count down the days until Christmas is a fun tradition, especially for children. Many Advent calendars are large cards with many “windows.” Every day in December, leading up to Christmas day, a window is opened to reveal an image, line of a story, a little gift, or a chocolate treat in each window.
  • Making homemade gifts shows thoughtfulness.
  • Taking a family photo each year is a great tradition.
  • Sending Christmas cards is a fading art which should be preserved.
  • Watching a boat parade or going to another community event: One small town has a tree decorating festival each year and neighbors gather for cider and hot chocolate while viewing theme-decorated trees.
  • Picking out a tree as a family can be great fun.
  • Sledding and snowman building is big time kid fun.
  • Putting a train around the Christmas tree (and playing!) makes fond memories.
  • Making homemade ornaments is special.
  • Getting new matching winter pajamas for the whole family is funny and bonds the family.

Doing Good For Others: Christmas Service Projects Bring Families Closer

Some things a family can do together to help others including:

  • Donating time, food, or money to the local food bank is touching.
  • Sewing and stuffing “stocking” bags for children that may be getting only one gift from a gift tree (ask at the local YWCA, etc. to find those in need) can be very rewarding.
  • Taking a new toy to a local toy drive drop-off location is easy and caring.
  • “Adopting” someone in need from a gift tree at a local store, shelter, or police station (etc.) is also special.
  • Going Christmas caroling in the neighborhood or at a homeless shelter or senior center or home teaches children to think of others.
  • Putting together a lovely gift basket for a family in need of a little help is sweet – Be a “Secret Santa!”

Traditions Involving Holiday Food

  • Baking holiday sugar cookies with icing – yummy!
  • Making Rice Krispies Treats is fast, easy, and still fancy.
  • Making homemade food gifts for family and friends shows family caring.
  • Stringing popcorn and dried berries for the birds and other wildlife teaches kids about nature.
  • Have friends, family and/or neighbors over for an open house party.

Christmas Eve Traditions

  • Singing Christmas carols is fun.
  • “Snooping” the presents under the tree is hilarious. No shaking the gifts!
  • Reading The Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve is a wonderful tradition.
  • Leaving cookies and milk out for Santa is a must.
  • Leaving carrots out for the reindeer is a nice touch, too.
  • Laying the stockings out for Santa to fill is considerate.

Specific Family Traditions of Real Families

Several families, when asked about their special holiday traditions, responded with these interesting answers:

  • One family lets the kids open one small gift each on Christmas Eve.
  • Several families open gifts on Christmas Eve, and many others insist on waiting until Christmas day.
  • One aunt buys all the ladies and girls in the family one fancy new pair of panties each Christmas! The girls look forward to this rare treat.
  • One family stays up until midnight and opens their gifts beginning at the first minute of Christmas. Then they go to sleep and wake up later to look at and play with their gifts during the day.

According to, “Traditions are beneficial in several ways. First, they give children and even teens a sense of security. They know that in an uncertain world, some things stay the same. Traditions also foster closeness in the immediate and extended family. Lasting memories are formed, and hopefully our children will continue the customs in their own homes and make more of their own.

Especially during the holidays, these words hold true. Christmas is such a special time of year. Children and even adults look forward to family and community traditions.

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