Can you hear that? I think it’s Christmas music. I know, I know, it’s only the beginning of November. We need to celebrate Thanksgiving before we start talking about Christmas. Don’t worry, I have plenty of Thanksgiving recipes that will be coming your way very soon. As we’re planning our Christmas this year, though, the idea of family Christmas traditions has been on my mind. Don’t hate me. Traditions mean more to children than we probably realize. Last Easter, my daughter Meghan and I were getting our nails done the Saturday before Easter at a nail salon. She looked at me and said, “We did this last year before Easter, too, didn’t we?”
“Yes,” I replied.
“It’s our TRADITION!” she said with so much delight in her voice it made me choke up.
When I think back to the Christmases of my childhood, they were predictable. We did the same thing every year and I loved it. Predictable is comforting for children.
Every year we went to church on Christmas Eve and then had a big dinner at our house with just our family and my mom’s sister and her family. We opened our family gifts that night (I thought everyone did that!) and Santa gifts came in the morning. Then, we packed up and headed to my parent’s hometown, about an hour drive, where both of my grandmas lived. We had a big brunch at one grandma’s house and spent the afternoon there, and then a big Christmas dinner at the other grandma’s house and spent the night there. It was a lot of food and my Christmas memories are some of my fondest.
Now I’m married with my own family, but there’s no way I could recreate the Christmas of my childhood. My husband’s parents, my parents, and my family live in three different states. I think a lot of people my age in are the same situation.
I’ve realized how important it is for my family to have some family traditions for Christmas of our own. It hasn’t been easy because my husband and I both grew up with our own, different, family Christmas traditions that we loved. It was one of the first lessons I learned about the importance of compromising in marriage.
I’ve learned that it’s okay to cherish the traditions I had growing up, while creating new family traditions for Christmas my kids will cherish just as much. By creating new family traditions that are special for just our family, I’m giving my children a gift they can keep forever.
Are you in the same boat? You know you need to let go of some of your childhood traditions and come up with your own for your family? I brainstormed some ideas and thought I’d share my list with you. Some of these we’ve done several years and I didn’t even realize they could be our new traditions until I made this list! Obviously you don’t need 25 different traditions, but I hope you’ll find something that works for your family here.
25 Ideas for Magical Family Christmas Traditions to Start
1. Go to the same Christmas light show every year.
2. Have a list of random acts of kindness to complete during the Christmas season. (Ideas here.)
3. Visit Santa every year, even as your children “outgrow it.”
How cute will it be to see the pictures of them growing through the years with pictures on Santa’s lap?
3. Bake cookies together and deliver them to neighbors.
Even if you use natural food colors, like we do, your neighbors will appreciate it. 😉
4. Watch your favorite Christmas movies together.
5. Wear matching “Christmas Jammies.”
If you’re like me and don’t want to buy a new pair every year, just buy them really big and wear the same ones for several years. I think I can get one more year out of these. Haha!
6. Have a collection of favorite Christmas books and read at least one per week together during the Christmas season.
7. Let the kids help you create festive appetizers for your Christmas gatherings.
8. Adopt a family in need during the holidays and shop together for their gifts.
9. Bake a special birthday cake for Jesus.
10. Have a hot chocolate bar and invite friends/neighbors over to enjoy it.
11. Let each child pick out a new ornament for the tree that shows something they loved that year.
12. Participate in or attend your town’s Christmas parade.
13. Take your children shopping to buy presents for each other.
14. Make a red and green gratitude chain. Each night leading up to Christmas, each family member writes one thing he is grateful for and adds it to the chain.
15. At least one night during the Christmas season, get into your pajamas and drive around in the dark, admiring the Christmas lights on houses.
16. Have an advent calendar that you use to count down the days until Christmas.
You can use the same one every year (we got this one at Target a few years back) or make a new one each year.
17. Keep a Christmas diary where you write down the memories for each year.
I wish I had one from my childhood Christmases!
18. Help your children pick out some of their gently used toys to give to a charity.
19. Put out a nativity scene together and let your children help you arrange it.
20. Visit a live nativity scene.
21. Let your children be in charge of setting the table for Christmas dinner.
22. Making choosing a Christmas tree a family event.
23. Leave milk and cookies for Santa, along with a little thank you note.
24. Dress up and do something special together.
It could be a Christmas show like the Nutcracker, a holiday brunch, or a candlelit dinner at home. Find something special to do each year where you can dress up during the Christmas season that your children will always remember. At least they will if you have girls who love dressing up like mine does!
25. Have a special Christmas-themed breakfast on Christmas morning, like this Crockpot Cranberry Eggnog Oatmeal or these Gingerbread Waffles.
Do you have any special Christmas traditions with your family? Share them in the comments and I’ll add them to this list!
Would you like to save this list to reference for later? Here’s an image to pin to your Pinterest board! Thank you for sharing. 🙂