Looking to start some fun family Christmas traditions this year?
Part of the excitement around Christmas is the build-up to the big day and family traditions that you repeat every year are a big part of that.
A family tradition can be something totally simple, like a terrible Christmas jumper that dad puts on every single year to make everyone laugh.
If you’re wondering what are some fun Christmas traditions, honestly it does not have to be something hugely complicated.
Everyone has their own combination of family traditions and its just a case of finding ones that work for you.
What is a family Christmas tradition?
Every single family is different and traditions may be totally unique to you or something that is very traditional in your country.
The British royal family opens all of their gifts on Christmas Eve and has a traditional Boxing Day shoot where all the adults go hunting.
They also try to only buy the adults joke gifts, while its the kids who get really spoiled.
Christmas family traditions often pop up when you least expect. Something just suddenly becomes a tradition that you repeat every single year even when the kids are long grown up.
If you’re looking for Christmas family tradition inspiration, you have come to the right place.
All of these family traditions are suitable for all ages. With the crafty traditions even toddlers can get involved, and babies will love to watch the fun unfolding.
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33 fun family Christmas traditions to start this year
Stir the Christmas pudding for luck
This was a tradition in our family when I was growing up! My mum would make the Christmas puddings – one for us and some extra for relatives and friends – and we would get to stir the mixture before it was baked.
When you give it a stir you make a wish. This is traditionally done five weeks before Christmas on November 22 according to Good Housekeeping.
Choose a Christmas tree
Going out to pick the Christmas tree was one of my favourite things to do as a child. It meant Christmas was well and truly here.
If you live near a Christmas tree farm then make a day of going out there and walking through the trees before picking the perfect one.
Decorate the tree on December 1
Once you have your tree back at home, the fun can begin.
Growing up in our family we actually would decorate two trees. One was in the living room and was the biggest tree featuring the best decorations. This one was more colour co-ordinated.
The other was smaller (and a fake tree) and was put up in the hallway. We, the kids, would help to decorate both but got to go nuts on the hallway one with loads of colourful decorations and throw Christmas lametta all over it.
It’s also fun to hang up Christmas chocolates on the tree. You could challenge your kids to hide the chocolate on the tree in the best place (the inside branches are great hiding spots for the chocolate).
Have a special ornament that tops the tree
It’s nice to have one ornament that goes to the top of the tree every year.
It might be one that was given to you by a loved one or something that means a lot to you. Whether it’s a star or an angel or something else, lift your kids up to place it on the top. You may have to do it more than once so everyone gets a turn, or alternate the years.
Make a countdown to Christmas paper chain
I love this crafty idea, because it’s fun but also helps teach toddlers and pre-schoolers about numbers and counting.
At the end of November make a paper chain with links for every day from December 1 to December 25.
Your kids can decorate the chain links however they want – maybe use Christmas stickers or just draw with pens.
Then the idea is your kids remove a link every day. As the chain gets shorter, they get closer and closer to the big day!
The Multi Tasking Mom has a great free download for this activity.
Watching Christmas movies
There’s no better way to get into the Christmas spirit than watch festive movies!
You could have a couple of big movie nights during December where you choose two or three festive favourites to watch.
Or you could challenge yourselves to watch one movie every night until December 24.
I have an entire blog post on the best Christmas movies suitable for toddlers so you can find something appropriate if you have a young family.
Put together a Christmas Eve box
Christmas Eve boxes have emerged as a fairly recent tradition but they’ve become really popular as they add a bit more fun to Christmas and they’re easy to put together.
A Christmas Eve box should not be expensive to put together. A good way to choose what to put in there is to think of some things that will keep your kids entertained on Christmas Eve – when they will be desperate for it to be Christmas Day.
Some ideas for your Christmas Eve box include:
- Christmas colouring book
- Christmas film on DVD
- Christmas PJs
- A small Christmas toy
- Hot chocolate kit
- Christmas biscuit making kit
Make a new Christmas ornament
I make a brand new Christmas tree ornament with my kids every year.
I try to make sure we always record the year on there so we remember where each came from.
In the children’s first years I actually bought the decorations online from companies that personalised them with a photo or with all of our names.
Now I try to make the ornaments with them from scratch. You can try make them with salt dough, which is great as you can capture their hand and/or footprints in these to remember how tiny they were, then your kids can paint them.
You can also get bauble kits which your children can paint and decorate however they want.
Either arrange to see Santa somewhere local or have a relative dress up as Santa so your kids can tell him exactly what they would like to receive.
If there are no Santa’s grottos available near you, look for places that let you get up close with reindeer and tell your kids to wish the reindeer luck for their busy night delivering presents on Christmas Eve.
Have a Christmas family photo
Gather your family together next to the tree every year to take a family photograph.
Keep your family Christmas pictures all together in one album so you can look back on the older pictures every year.
Because December typically has worse natural light, try to take your photo in the daytime with the curtains open to let as much in as possible.
There are some more great tips for taking good Christmas photos here.
Have a candy cane hunt
Hide some candy canes around your home and garden the challenge the kids to find them all.
If your kids love Easter egg hunts then they will definitely love this!
Write a letter to Santa
Sit down together and write your kids’ letters to Santa at the start of the month.
You can download Santa letter templates or just write it on whatever paper you have. Encourage your kids to decorate the letters and add stickers if they want to.
Then you can make a big deal out of going down the postbox to send the letters off.
In the UK Royal Mail offers a free reply from Santa service – just make sure you add a stamp. The deadline for this is December 6.
Donate to your local food bank
Look for a local food bank near you and donate some items to it.
Get your kids involved in this process and speak to them about how others may not be as fortunate as them this year.
It’s an important lesson for young children to learn about how giving at Christmas is more important than what they get.
Many supermarkets will have a food bank collection box that makes donating really easy. Alternatively search for your local charity online and find ways to get food to them.
Most will box up parcels for needy families for the Christmas period.
Make a gingerbread house
This activity has always looked really daunting to me but I’m going to give it a go with the kids this year.
There’s a great recipe over on the BBC food website. This is one for slightly older children of five and upwards, as it requires a little bit of a gentle, steady hand to construct and decorate.
Buy a gift for a child in need
Many local areas have their own children’s toy drive to ensure that every child has a gift under the tree at Christmas.
If you don’t have one locally that you can physically buy a gift for, then look for charities online.
Many, such as local family support charities or paediatric hospital wards, have an Amazon wishlist so you can purchase something via that without even having to leave your home.
Again, as with the local food bank, get your kids involved in picking out what they would like to buy and explain to them who they are helping.
These Christmas traditions are my favourites for families with young children
Elf on the Shelf
We started Elf on the Shelf last year and the kids absolutely loved it. I thought I would be stuck for ideas, but even when I only remembered to move the Elf last-minute I found something fun to do with him.
The Elf on the Shelf is a small toy Elf who arrives on December 1. You move him every night after the kids go to sleep and they discover him the next morning.
Sometimes Elf might be hanging out on the tree, or he might have raided the cupboards in the night.
I have tons of easy Elf on the Shelf ideas on this post.
Make a handprint tree stand cover
Why not make your own tree skirt that you can personalise every year? I love this one with handprints.
This creates a lovely family reminder that can be passed down through generations!
Every year get everyone to put their handprints on the blanket and note down the year and everyone’s name.
There’s some more inspiration and guide to doing this on this post. You could try buying a plain Christmas tree skirt and using fabric paint to make the handprints, or make your own Christmas tree skirt.
There’s a good Christmas tree skirt tutorial here.
Christmas book advent
If you love reading with your kids then this is a wonderful tradition.
Instead of an advent calendar of sweets or presents, try a book advent.
Every day your kids open a brand new book. Try to make them winter or Christmas themed, but it really doesn’t matter.
Some wonderful books to include are:
Explore the Christmas lights
Take a drive around your neighbourhood after dark to check out the Christmas light displays.
Many people near us go to town on their Christmas lights and it’s so much fun to see them at night.
We used to drive into London as a family to take a look at the Christmas lights there. You could try visiting your nearest town to see their display.
Hang up your Christmas stockings
Either make some stockings for your kids or get some personalised ones and make a big deal out of hanging them up near the tree every year.
You may also like to put the stockings at the end of your children’s beds.
This way you could fill them after they go to sleep on Christmas Eve, and you could let them open these items once they wake up.
This hopefully gives you a bit more time in bed on Christmas morning before they come racing into your room.
Make your own Christmas cards
Create something really special for loved ones by making Christmas cards.
You can get some beautiful stickers and decorations that make it easy for young kids to create their own cards.
The Best Ideas for Kids has some wonderful Christmas card ideas that kids can make. I love this pasta Christmas tree card.
Homemade hot chocolate
This is one everyone in the family should love, and it’s easy to do.
Mix up some hot chocolate and relax while watching a Christmas movie or reading a book together. There’s a great recipe for hot chocolate on the Good to Know website.
Have an activity advent calendar
I love this idea as it gives you something new to do every day. It’s great if you are a stay-at-home mum with a young child.
There’s a great guide for how to make your own over on Tinkerlab.
Some ideas for your activity advent calendar include:
- Make salt dough ornaments
- Make popcorn
- Do a Christmas-themed craft
- Read a Christmas book
Bake Christmas treats
You don’t have to be a star baker to make some simple treats with the kids.
Use a basic biscuit recipe to make a dough mix and then roll out the dough before cutting into shapes with cutters.
Try using Christmas tree and star ones. Then have your kids decorate the biscuits with red and green sprinkles. There are some fun and easy ideas here.
I have a recipe for biscuits on this post that works great.
Family matching Christmas PJs
I love getting new PJs and Christmas ones are always so fun.
You could just buy the kids some festive-themed PJs or go all out and get the whole family matching PJs.
Christmas PJs are often given to kids on Christmas Eve. But I recommend giving your kids the PJs at the start of December so they can enjoy wearing them as part of the entire build up to Christmas Day.
Play lots of Christmas music
Have a Christmas playlist or use a music streaming service’s Christmas recommendations to have Christmas music on as often as possible.
Play it when you’re decorating the tree, crafting and wrapping the gifts.
Family traditions for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
Make reindeer food
I love this activity as it’s super simple for even young kids to do.
Once you mix up the reindeer food, you then scatter it outside your door so the reindeer have a snack when they visit your home.
Mix up the food using bird seed and oats and the birds should eat it all (be sure to not let your kids see its the birds that have gobbled up all of the reindeer food). There’s advice on the RSPB website on the best mix for reindeer food.
If you like you could leave the reindeer food by the Christmas tree with Santa’s mince pie. If you are not going to scatter it outside, then your kids could add some glitter to the mix to give it a little magic.
Enjoy a Christmas Eve buffet
So much of our Christmas traditions revolve around food of some kind. Which is probably why we all enjoy it so much!
The Christmas Eve meal could be whatever you want. I like it to be a buffet where we have ham and other cold cuts laid out with nice bread and other simple foods. Everyone can load up their plate and keep going back for more.
Track Santa as he leaves the North Pole
If you visit the Norad website you can see Santa leave the North Pole and head off on his rounds to deliver presents.
This is a nice thing to do before sending the kids to bed.
If you struggle with getting them to sleep on Christmas Eve then check out this post with lots of tips for getting kids to go to bed the night before Christmas.
Leave out food for Santa and the reindeer
Before your kids go to bed put together some food and drinks to leave for Santa and the reindeer.
We always used to leave a glass of milk or sherry for Santa plus a couple of mince pies. For Rudolph we would leave a carrot. During the day you could bake the mince pies together as a nice family activity.
Once the kids are asleep, be sure to drain the glass, take a good bite out of the carrot and eat the mince pie. Leave the empty plate and glass so the kids can discover it the next morning.
Sprinkle some Santa footprints on the floor
Use flour or icing sugar to leave snowy footprints on your floor.
You can buy stencils such as these ones.
This video from Dad Lab also has a great method for making your own Santa footprints.
Secret Santa gifts
For the adults in your family it can be nice to simply give each other gifts through a Secret Santa system.
All of the grown-ups names go into a hat and you each pick one. This helps you save a little money on Christmas and it adds a fun touch to Christmas as you won’t know who the gifts are from.
Have a North Pole breakfast
Some people choose to have their North Pole breakfast on Christmas Eve – leaving plenty of room for Christmas dinner the next day.
A North Pole breakfast involves lots of delicious sweet treats, from milk with candy canes dipped in to pancakes covered in marshmallows.
My personal preference for a North Pole breakfast is to decorate the table so that it is really fun and have bacon with pancakes and maple syrup.
So there you have it everyone, some amazing family Christmas traditions you can start this year no matter how old your kids are!
Happy holidays everyone!