I have always loved Christmas. When I was a child, my mom would go above and beyond to make Christmas magical for my brother and me. Because of this, the Christmas season holds some of the best memories of my childhood. I’m so thankful to have a mother who was able and willing to do that.
A large part of what made Christmas so magical for me was the traditions that my family had. As Christmas approached, I would excitedly wait for the events we got to attend and the activities we would share. I knew they were coming because we did them year after year. That consistency is part of what made Christmas so exciting for me.
Now that I have a family of my own, I am determined to make Christmas just as magical as my mother did. I’m looking forward to carrying on the traditions that my mother started as well as starting some of my own. I can’t wait to create beautiful memories with my daughter that she will remember for the rest of her life. Hopefully, these traditions will mean as much to her as they did to me. That way, she can pass them down to her children one day too.
If you are looking for Christmas traditions to start with your family, then you have come to the right place. Today, I am going to share with you some of my favorite childhood traditions as well as new ones I want to start with my daughter. I hope they bring you plenty of inspiration. If your family has any traditions that you love, then please leave them in the comments below. I would love to create a large list for readers to choose from. Here are my traditions.
Decorate the tree as a family
Did you know that not all families decorate the tree together? I was absolutely shocked when I found this out. My parents always set aside a day to decorate the tree with my brother and I each year. They would split the ornaments up between us and let us hang our own. Then, every year we would switch back and forth and my dad would lift one of us up to put the angel on top of tree. This Christmas my daughter is one. So, she got to help us put ornaments on the tree for the first time. I can’t even begin to describe how much she loved doing this. I can’t wait to continue this tradition with her as she grows.
Cocoa on Christmas Morning
What’s the first thing kids do when they wake up on Christmas morning? They run straight to the tree of course! However, we weren’t allowed to do that growing up. My mom didn’t want the focus of Christmas morning to be opening gifts. She wanted it to be on family. So, before we could open gifts we would all gather in the living room for a cup of hot cocoa. She even had special Santa mugs that we used every year. Now, these Santa mugs have been passed down to me to use with my family. This was one of my favorite traditions growing up. So, I can’t wait to incorporate this with my daughter when she gets a bit older. This year we are doing a fun spin on this tradition because she isn’t quite old enough yet. We will be enjoying a yummy breakfast in bed with our daughter before opening gifts.
Visit a live nativity scene
Christmas is such a magical time with Santa, elves, gifts, lights, decorations and so much more. It’s easy to get lost in the magic and forget about the true meaning of the holiday. That’s why I want to include a nativity scene in my family traditions. My parents took us to a live nativity scene every year when I was a child. My parents were so patient as we walked through and would stop to answer any questions we had. I loved that nativity scene. Luckily, my husband and I moved back to my hometown. So, this year we will get to take our daughter to that same live nativity scene. We couldn’t be more excited. If you don’t have a live nativity scene near you, then I recommend setting up a nativity scene at home. This still provides you an excellent opportunity to tell your children the true story of Christmas. We plan on doing both.
Go to a Christmas Eve church service
Like I’ve mentioned before, it’s important to me to find traditions that will remind my children of the true meaning of Christmas. That’s why I want to attend a Christmas Eve service with my family every year. This is something that my parents always did with us when we were younger. Even as an adult we would still gather together and go to church on Christmas Eve as a family. There’s something so beautiful about Christmas Eve services and I wouldn’t miss it for the world.
Drive around to look at Christmas lights
If you are fortunate enough to live in an area where people decorate their homes, then you can’t miss out on this tradition. There’s nothing more magical than driving through the different neighborhoods to see all of the beautiful lights. Some people really go all out on their decorations which is amazing to see! So, make yourself a cup of hot chocolate, load the kids up in the car, and head out on this adventure. I know we will! If you live in a bigger city, then be sure to check for any local light shows. Some of these are truly amazing and worth searching for.
Find a way to give back
Christmas isn’t all about getting. In fact, it really isn’t about getting at all. Although, the media sure does like to make it seem like it is. Instead, it’s important to focus on giving. This Christmas I want to challenge you to start a family tradition that focuses on giving back. Here are a few ideas to help you get started. Option 1: Have your child go through their toys and select which ones they want to donate to a local children’s shelter. Not only is this a good way to give back, but it also helps make room for the toys they are about to receive. Option 2: Have your kids help you pack boxes for Operation Christmas Child. Option 3: Select a child from your local Angel Tree and take your kids out to shop for them.
Open a gift on Christmas Eve
I love the tradition of families opening one gift on Christmas Eve. It’s something my parents always did with us. So, I’m looking forward to continuing that tradition with my daughter. I love the idea of turning this gift into a fun Christmas Eve box. That way it becomes less of a present and more of an experience. Here are a few things I plan to include in my daughter’s Christmas Eve box.
- Christmas pajamas that match the rest of the families
- A Christmas movie to watch as a family
- A yummy snack to enjoy during the movie
- A Christmas book to read before bed
Make cookies for Santa
One of the most popular Christmas traditions is setting out cookies for Santa. Children love to help out in the kitchen. So, this is the perfect opportunity to let them do so. Don’t be afraid to let your children help mix up the dough or cut out the cookies. My daughter is only one, but she had a blast helping me mix everything up when we did our trial run. Sometimes a little mess makes for the best memories! Not only is this tradition fun for children, but parents also enjoy it. After all, who wouldn’t want a plate full of cookies right before bed. By the way, reindeer get hungry too. So, don’t forget to leave a few carrots out for them to enjoy!
Elf on the Shelf
I’m sure you’ve all heard of Elf on the Shelf by now. After all, it is all the rage on social media. Here’s how Elf on the Shelf works. Santa sends one of his special Scout Evles to families around the world. This elf monitors the children in the family and reports back to Santa each night to tell him who’s been naughty and nice. Each morning the elf returns in a new spot waiting for the children to spot him. Yes, you read that right. I said every morning in a new spot. That’s the catch with elf on the shelf. You can’t forget to move him! Trust me, your children will notice.
The Elf on the Shelf brings so much magic to families during Christmas. My parents gifted my daughter an elf for her first Christmas. We’re waiting to bring her out until next Christmas when my daughter will be two. I can’t wait to start this tradition with her! Let’s just hope I can remember to move the elf every night before I go to bed.
Make a gingerbread house
I couldn’t make a list of Christmas traditions without throwing in at least one craft. This is a tradition that I started with my husband when we celebrated our first Christmas. We’ve had a blast doing it every year since. This year, I’m excited to get to bring our daughter in on the tradition. Although, I’m not quite sure how much of her candy will actually end up on the house. I’m sure most of it will be in her belly. So, take a tip from me and buy extra if you plan on doing this with children.