We are sharing over 25 Family Christmas Traditions for Kids! Find a tradition that your family can do over the holidays. UPDATED for 2021!
Updated 9/27/2021 – we have updated our list of Christmas traditions ideas for 2021. Kick off the holiday season by making memories!
Christmas is my favorite time of year. Some find this time of year stressful – not for us. We indulge in the little things, don’t care about the big things and just make this our favorite time of year.
Family Christmas Traditions
I originally wrote this in 2014. It was a different time than with my kids. My 3-year-old is now an 10-year-old. Our other kids are 11, 16 and 18-years-old. As we move through different ages with the kids, our family Christmas traditions slightly change.
Yes, it’s 2021 and some of these Christmas traditions may look different this year. I have seen people get creative – and if this year has done anything – it definitely has made us think out of the box. I’ve included some 2021 tips
Making cookies isn’t so stressful, but getting the kids to smile for a photo is. This year, I decided this post needed an update. We have experienced and added so many new traditions to our family’s holiday season – I wanted to offer you guys Family Christmas Tradition Ideas, GALORE!
If you are thinking that you have zero time and that while Christmas traditions for the family sound good in theory – it ain’t gonna happen… Let me say this. These are just ideas. The most important thing is that you have a stress-free Christmas that is FULL of memories. Release the need for perfection and embrace the moment.
Once we let go of idea of Christmas traditions having to be perfect, we found peace with just enjoying time together and not fussing over the etcetera.
I mentioned we spend a lot of time with our kids during this time – what we do is create these little Christmas traditions that we do year after year.
It’s about time together, embracing the season and creating memories with our kids that will be grown and out of the house before we know it. When I originally wrote this, I still had several years. Now I have a senior in high school! Prayers appreciated.
Christmas Traditions to Start With Your Kids
What started as a list of 20 family Christmas tradition ideas is now over 25 and growing. Each year, as our kids grow – we find more things to do as a family to honor the holiday, as well as embrace the spirit and meaning of Christmas.
If you are looking for family Christmas traditions to start with your child, check these ideas out. Remember, this isn’t a checklist. Find what works best for your family and make those Christmas memories!
Just a heads up and full disclose – some of the links included in this post our affiliate links. These don’t cost you anything, but Digital Mom will receive a small percentage of any purchase you make.
#1 Christmas Cards and Family Photos
Family Christmas cards are a big thing around here. It requires an annual family photos – which I then use the photos for Christmas gifts for our extended family and then the group shot on our Christmas card.
Our kids help put the cards in envelopes and then are allowed to color and put stickers all over the cards. It’s their way of adding a special touch of personalization.
Here’s a secret – while we may be on top of getting Christmas cards, I am terrible at remembering to get postage or getting all the addresses needed. SO, all that said – sometimes our Christmas cards turn into New Year’s cards. And that’s not even as bad as the one year they went out in like May. Hey – I’m down for celebrating Christ year round. 🙂
2021 Christmas Tradition Tip: SEND THE CHRISTMAS CARDS. Yes, I know it’s getting late in the season. NO, you don’t need a professional photograph of your family. Just mail Christmas cards (or New Year cards) to your loved ones – ESPECIALLY those living alone or with little social interaction.
#2 Gingerbread Houses
We typically buy the $5 pre-made gingerbread house and decorate it. One year we bought a fancy gingerbread house to decorate, it came out just as bad as a cheap one.
Christmas 2018, my daughter and I were invited to participate in a Gingerbread decorating event to raise money for our local schools. It turned out a lot better than I feared it would. The best part? This gingerbread house raised $1000 dollars!
Another idea is to do something charitable! Christmas is the giving season, teach your kids to give back.
2021 Christmas Tradition Tip: Keep it simple with a gingerbread house kit!
#3 Santa Claus
The kids maybe old, but I get as many kids as I can in the Santa Clause photos.
Throw back Santa photo from 2013! Izaiah was more amused with the bell that Santa’s helper gave him than looking at the camera.
Try to avoid Creepy Santas – thats unless your kids have a dark sense of humor.
2021 Christmas Tradition Tip: Santa photos can still happened, even socially distant! I have seen several clever ways that 2020 Santa photos are being taken with Santa behind the kids. Another brilliant idea was Santa in a snow globe.
#4 Christmas Lights
In order to have a successful Christmas light evening, we stop at 7-11 for hot chocolate. We crank up the Christmas music, then head to a fancy part of town where people spend more on Christmas lights than we spent on our house.
As for Christmas lights on our home, we do those as well – though not fancy. Our lights are just enough to say – HEY LOOK! WE GOT LIGHTS!
BONUS: Since our oldest son is now a teen, we pay him $20 to put up the Christmas lights and $20 to take down the Christmas lights. Not a bad deal!
2021 Christmas Tradition Tip: Share the Christmas spirit with Christmas lights. Whether you are putting them up or just driving around and admiring them – this is something fun for you and your family to do without have to be around people.
#5 Decorating Christmas Cookies
Another family Christmas tradition to start with your kids is decorating Christmas cookies.
A few tips: buy a few plastic tablecloths, expect a mess, be prepared for less than perfect cookies and buy pre-made dough. While us moms can sometimes have these thoughts on what this Christmas tradition with our kids should be like – let’s get real.
The kids only care about the sprinkles and then eating all the sugar possible. So release the inner type-a and embrace messy Christmas cookies and time well spent with your kids.
#6 Birthday Cake for Jesus
Happy Birthday, Jesus! While it’s so easy to get caught up in the glamour of the Christmas season – we truly do try to keep Christ in Christmas.
Since Jesus is the reason for the season, we make Jesus a birthday cake each Christmas eve and eat it on Christmas day. There have been years where we were low on time, so we’ve bought simple birthday cakes.
Jesus doesn’t care what his cake look like! The few times that we have forgotten this, we have heard about it from the kids. I love that they love this Christmas tradition as much as I do.
#7 Angel Tree
Giving back is such an important thing to us. We want our kids to be grateful for what they have and have an understanding of how fortunate we are. While we may not be rolling in the Benjamins, we are blessed beyond measure.
The Angel Tree is a great way to teach your children both of those important things in life.
2021 Christmas Tradition Idea: This year, more than ever there is a HUGE need in our communities. Across the country, people are suffering. Consider using the Virtual Angel Tree this year to give.
#8 Advent Calendar
Give your child an advent calendar, or make your own to count down the days until Christmas.
Don’t miss our clean Christmas memes!
#9 Christmas Caroling
I can’t carry a note for the life of me, but my kids LOVE to belt out Christmas songs. Head to a senior living center (call ahead of time!) – and bring the kids to sing Christmas carols. The residents will adore this and so will your kids.
2021 Christmas Tradition Tip: Call your local senior center and see how you can help. A number of senior centers are doing outdoor parades – yes, it’s cold but you gotta do what you gotta do. There also maybe a need or something simple your family can do to help make someone’s day (or Christmas season!)
#10 Christmas Family Movie Night
This is a Christmas tradition for kids that can be done thru-out the holiday season. Christmas Family Movie night is always a hit in our house.
We pop popcorn, make hot chocolate and it never fails that Elf and The Christmas Story is played at least 5 times throughout the season. Now that the kids are older, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is on our list of must-watch Christmas movies!
If you have older kids, or want a holiday date night idea – try our Christmas drinking game.
2021 Christmas Tradition Tip: We are in Texas, so while it gets cold (think 50s) – I know we are lucky. Needless to say, a fun thing we are doing this year is setting up the movie projector on a screen outside next to the firepit and watching Christmas movies outside! This will change things up, and yes, there will be popcorn and smores.
If you love those cheesy Christmas movies, then don’t miss our Hallmark Christmas movie memes.
#11 Christmas Eve Church Service (It’s a Candlelight Service!)
Our church does a Christmas eve service. We usually get fancy and celebrate Jesus. Our church is very low-key as far as how to dress on Christmas Eve service. The dressing up fancy part is totally for mom. Jesus doesn’t care what you wear to church (though, I think the church would appreciate if you just wore something.)
While this Christmas tradition for kids isn’t something for everyone – it’s something that this warms this mama’s heart. Even though, I do admit the candles and kids give me anxiety.
2021 Christmas Tradition Tip: Our church will be doing Christmas service online. as well as in person I know many want to be together in a church building, but remember – church is wherever you worship. Don’t limit church to a building, please!
#12 Christmas Eve Books
#13 Nativity Scenes
We found a kid-friendly nativity scene that the kids can play with.
Want something fun to do? HIDE baby Jesus until Christmas day. I mean, Jesus wasn’t birthed until Christmas – so may as well have him show up on Christmas morning.
The first year that we hid baby Jesus, my son Izaiah ran down stairs and was so excited to see that baby Jesus had been born!
#14 Ornament Making
Check out this list of ornaments kids can make! These handmade ornaments make great gifts!
#15 Decorating the Tree
We turn up the Christmas music LOUD and we decorate the tree.
Then when they go to bed, pour a glass of wine and I re-do it.
#16 Kids Christmas Tree
In recent years, I have kind of become that silly person who has multiple Christmas trees. The advantage to this is that the kids get their own Christmas tree. It’s comically not pretty and well, looks exactly like you would expect a kid decorated Christmas tree to look like.
This has morphed into a comical Christmas tradition for kids to decorate. The older kids not urge the chaotic look. You just gotta laugh (as long as they aren’t doing this to mama’s main tree!)
#17 Extreme White Elephant Gift Exchange – Funny Christmas Tradition
My family, including my mom, dad, brother and sister do a wild white elephant gift exchange. This is always hilarious and we always bring things that are totally inappropriate because why not. We have for the most part stop doing gifts between adults, because let’s face it – we don’t need anything. But these crazy white elephant gifts are pretty amazing.
Here is what I gave last year. Yes, it’s a pink bunny jumpsuit, like the one from The Christmas Story (here it is on Amazon.)
She said it looked like an Energizer Bunny costume, so she wore it to the track. I may have also given several little liquor bottles with this.
2021 Christmas Tradition Idea for Kids: We are brainstorming creative ideas on how our family can do White Elephant this year. If anything, we will simply postpone it until a later date. This will give us something to look forward to (always look for the positive!)
#18 Christmas Breakfast Casserole – Christmas Morning Traditions
On Christmas eve, after baking Jesus’ birthday cake, my husband and I make a breakfast casserole that can be stuck in the fridge and cooked in the morning. This does a few things: we know what we are having for breakfast and keeps the kids full until Christmas dinner.
This is a Christmas morning tradition that not only is something my kids look forward to – it makes the whole gift opening experience a lot easier when my husband and I don’t have to worry about what we are having for Christmas breakfast.
Another fast but yummy Christmas breakfast idea is Cinnamon Roll Waffles made in the waffle maker!
#19 Christmas Photos on Christmas Morning
Check out our list of pictures you must take on Christmas day.
#20 Kid Friendly Christmas Decor
Last year we made a wall felt Christmas scene.
This was super kid friendly, the kids loved decorating the felt snow man and felt Christmas tree.
#21 Family Matching Christmas Pajamas
Yes, we do the family Christmas matching pajama bit. Even with 4 kids.
Here is a throw back from 2012. The kids in their family matching Christmas pajamas, back when we had little babies and kids. Somehow, we survived (so if you are in the midst of it all – know there is hope!)
We created an entire collection of matching family Christmas pajamas on Amazon.
This is a royal pain in the butt – so our family matching Christmas pajamas just include the kids. As the kids have grown, we have made exceptions and make the older 2 match and the younger 2 match. Some years, we have totally scored and found Christmas pajamas in every size.
The kids receive these on Christmas eve. That way they have cute matching pajamas for Christmas morning, and they are clean. I love the idea of letting them wear these before Christmas but let’s be real – they would be lost in the laundry pile.
Some years I find Christmas pajamas that match, other years we find family matching pajamas that aren’t necessarily Christmas – but they wear them while opening gifts. We may keep this tradition because than at least they can wear the pjs after the holidays!
Or if you are into Ugly Christmas Sweaters – here are a few you won’t want to miss!
#22 Turn Up the Christmas Music
Create a Spotify playlist, Pandora station or use Alexa to create a playlist of your favorite Christmas music.
As soon as November arrives, Alexa is playing Christmas tunes on all of our Echo speakers! Yes, we have Christmas music memes!
#23 No Peeking – How to Hide the Christmas Gifts
Most of the time, the kids are receiving big Christmas gifts that I want out and not wrapped. The problem, the kids are always peeking.
One year, I had left Power Wheels and of course, the kids were able to look from the downstairs and see the gifts!
Fear not, I found a solution! This is how to hide Christmas gifts.
#24 Local Family Christmas Events
Find local family Christmas events near you. Here in Dallas, there are a plethora of events to take the kids to that celebrate the holidays. Each year, we make it a point to take our kids to some of these.
Here are a few of our favorite Dallas Family Christmas Events:
- Christmas at the Anatole
- 12 Days of Christmas at the Dallas Arboretum
- Christmas Gaylord Texan
- Dallas Galleria
2021 Christmas Tradition Tip: Most of our local family Christmas events this year include staying in the car. Check around in your area to find Christmas activities that you feel comfortable doing. There are numerous light displays around the DFW metroplex, if you are in the Dallas area.
#25 Buying Gifts for Others
Another family Christmas tradition that we do is buying gifts for others. We take part of our Christmas gift budget and give it to the kids. They then buy gifts for each other and other people.
These gifts are typically silly. We don’t give them a ton of money. Each gift is usually under $5. The act of giving is something I want them to understand the value on.
Check out our Gift Guide for Ideas
It really is better to give than receive and if I can teach my kids that… Well, let’s just say we are still working on this practice, but we are getting there!
You spend months prepping for just a few hours on Christmas morning, make it count. EXHALE.
Don’t stress the small stuff. Make memories and find ways to make the morning special.
More Christmas Tradition Ideas
Thanks to everyone who submitted their personal family traditions at Christmas. We are going to include the Christmas tradition ideas here:
Celebrate Little Christmas 2022
Many years ago, for several years – my father-in-law would host a Little Christmas eve. He would have multiple fryers going, making all types of food.
Apparently Little Christmas is actually Feast of the Epiphany which is on Epiphany day. Did you know that Epiphany Day is 12 days after Christmas? Epiphany Day 2022 is January 6.
Rather than fighting in-laws and families to get together on December 25, why not celebrate Little Christmas on January 6. Sure, you might have to leave the Christmas tree up for a little bit longer, but how great would it be to not have to stress leaving the house on Christmas day with screaming children.
Bonus – imagine all of the Christmas gifts you could get on sale after Christmas!
Christmas Tradition to Start With Baby
Here is a great Christmas tradition idea to start with a baby. Buy an annual Christmas ornament for the baby.
Hang the Mistletoe
There is nothing like making your kids say, GROSS! Hand mistletoe in a prominent location in your house. Don’t forget to kiss our spouse or significant other to make the kids squeal. Note: You may want to avoid fresh mistletoe as it is poisonous, especially for dogs! Just stick to the fake mistletoe, please.
Cut Down a Christmas Tree
If you do live Christmas trees, find a Christmas tree farm in your area and cut down your own Christmas tree. This is an experience your kids won’t forget!
Santa Sack for Others
We typically do a BIG clean out of all of the kids toys and book before Christmas in anticipation of the plethora of random toys and gifts from family members.
Next time, include your kids in the clean out process and place a Santa sack out and have your kids place their old toys and books in the bag. This is a great way to educate the kids early on giving and how they too can be Santa.
Create a Christmas Countdown with a Paper Chain
With each chain of paper representing a day, create a Christmas countdown. Each day have a child remove a link of the paper chain, counting down the days until Christmas. This is something that can be done 100 days before Christmas if you are one of those early Christmas people (you are my people.)
Track Santa Claus on Christmas Eve
The night before Christmas, tracking Santa is a fun Christmas family tradition that both young and old can be included in. When I was little, I remember family jingling bells outside of our window and I swore Santa was real.
Christmas Gift Scavenger Hunt
Make your kids work for those presents. One year we created a massive Christmas gift scavenger hunt the kids had to do in order to find their Christmas presents. This was a fun activity that had them guessing all kinds of crazy things in an attempt to find out what their Christmas gifts were.
Creating Family Christmas Traditions
Christmas traditions are a wonderful way to create Christmas memories for years to come. Who knows, these new traditions may just become your child’s family traditions with their kids! Remember to focus on LESS STRESS and more on MAKING MEMORIES.
Here are some things to think about when creating Christmas memories and traditions:
- What Christmas Traditions do you have for your family?
- Are these family traditions or new to your family?
- What Christmas memories do you want your kids to remember when they grow up?
Leave a comment and let us know what family Christmas traditions you do with your kids!
Check out all of the Digital Mom Blog Christmas fun!
25 Christmas Traditions to Start with Your Child was originally posted on 12/24/2014 on Them Kids. Digital Mom Blog has since merged with Them Kids.