33 Magical Family Christmas Traditions Your Kids Will Remember Forever

Are you looking for family Christmas traditions to start with your kids? These are the most magical activities your kids are sure to remember forever….

Are you looking for family Christmas traditions to start with your kids? These are the most magical activities your kids are sure to remember forever.

family christmas traditions

While Christmas can be a wonderful time of year, it can also cause stress for many people. As parents, there can be so much pressure on us when it comes to getting our kids all the right gifts because we want their Christmas to be perfect.

Let me tell you though, when our kids are grown they aren’t going to remember which toys they got for Christmas when they were seven. Instead, they are going to remember those magical moments we spent singing Christmas songs while decorating Christmas cookies.  

As a mom of three, I am giving you the best family Christmas traditions my family and I swear by.

You are going to learn all about Christmas activities from a Christmas game night to a gingerbread house competition and more!

After learning about these family Christmas traditions you are going to find memorable Christmas activities your family is sure to love.

This post is all about magical family Christmas traditions.

Family Christmas Traditions

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1. Christmas Bucket List

christmas traditions

The holiday season can be a busy time of year and it is so easy to get caught up in the craziness and miss out on the important things, such as spending time with your family.

To keep yourself focused on the important things this year start a Christmas bucket list and make some lasting memories as a family.

If you are looking for some great family Christmas activities or a free printable holiday bucket list check out my Ultimate Family Christmas Bucket List Post!

christmas traditions tree

{RELATED POST: The Ultimate Family Christmas Bucket List – 26 Holiday Activities To Do As A Family}

2. Decorate Together

Put on some holiday music and get in the holiday spirit by hanging some festive decorations together as a family. Let your kids decide where to put some of the decorations or let them hang up the ornaments on the tree. They will love getting to help and you’ll love the memories made together. 

3. Christmas Cookies

family christmas traditions ideas

Making Christmas cookies is one of our favorite family Christmas traditions. Not only are they fun to make but delicious to eat! Get some Christmas cookie cutters like this and make some holiday shaped cookies.

Christmas Cookie Cutters

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You’ll first need to find a cutout sugar cookie recipe. Then, gather the ingredients and make the cookie dough with your kids. Let them help with the adding and mixing of ingredients and teach them any tips and tricks you may have.

When the dough is ready, roll some out onto the table and let everyone cut out shapes using the holiday cookie cutters. After you have filled a cookie sheet, then bake them in the oven.

Lastly, decorate the cookies using different colored frosting and sprinkles. Do make sure that the cookies have completely cooled before frosting them. 

4. Christmas Cards

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Send out some love to your family and friends this year with Christmas cards. It is always so nice getting cards in the mail over the holidays and knowing someone is thinking of you!

First, come up with a list of all the people you would like to send a card to. That way you know how many cards to print or make.

Then, get some holiday cards printed or sit down together as a family and make some handmade ones. If you want to get some printed, we’ve used Shutterfly in the past and have always been satisfied. Do make sure though that you order them early in the season. The closer to the holiday, the longer the shipping time can be and you want to make sure you have enough time to mail them to everyone.

You could also pick up some blank Christmas cards like these and write a personalized message in them or get out your stationary and create your own.

My favorite holiday cards to receive are the ones that have a life update. To do this, sit down as a family and then have everyone come up with some things that happened this past year that they would like to share with family and friends (job updates, kid’s accomplishments etc). Then, type up a message with these life updates and include it with the cards you send.

Christmas Greeting Cards

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5. Holiday Parade

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Holiday parades are so much fun to take the family to and get into the holiday spirit. Check your local area and see when and where the closest holiday parade is and mark the calendars. Your kids will love hearing the Christmas music and seeing all the festive holiday floats.

6. Christmas Countdown

Are your kids constantly asking how many more days until Christmas? If so, a Christmas countdown is a fun way for them to see the days get closer and closer. If you would like you can download and print my Christmas countdown printable below and your kids can cross off the days to Christmas.

Another great countdown option is making a paper chain countdown using construction paper!

family christmas traditions instead of gifts


7. Christmas Music

Put on some holiday music and sing some Christmas classics together. It is sure to put you all in a festive mood!

8. Advent Calendar 

Another fun way to countdown the days until Christmas is with an advent calendar. There are SO many different advent calendars you can find to do with your kids. If you are on the hunt for some advent calendar ideas this year you check out some of these fun ones below. 

Pokemon Advent Calendar

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Harry Potter Advent Calendar

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Book Advent Calendar

If your kids are young I HIGHLY recommend doing a Christmas book advent calendar. 

family christmas traditions essay

A few years ago I started doing a Christmas book countdown where I wrapped up 25 Christmas stories and let them open one each night leading up to Christmas. They had such a blast unwrapping a new book and reading a new story each night. 

Books can be so expensive so I actually started gathering books during the summer. I found a ton of Christmas books at garage sales and book sales that were in superb condition and I spent a fraction of what I would have spent had I bought them brand new. 

The following year I really wanted to do a book advent calendar again but I had a newborn so I never got around to getting Christmas books and wrapping them. Instead, I found a Disney Storybook Advent Calendar on Amazon which was awesome! Inside of this calendar (which is almost 2ft tall) was 25 wrapped Christmas stories as you can see in the photo below.

family christmas traditions examples

The individual books are pretty small but the stories are actually kind of long. If your kids have difficulty sitting for longer stories you probably want to find a different advent calendar. However, if your kids are old enough to sit for longer stories this is the perfect way to snuggle up and spend some quality time reading a book together. 

Disney Storybook Advent Calendar

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9. Holiday Family Photo

The holiday season is a great time to take a family picture. Get dressed up or wear some comfy holiday pajamas. Kids grow way too fast and a picture can be a great way to document and reflect on how much they have changed over the years. 

If you would like to use my free family photo printable you can download and print it below. This printable is also great for your holiday family gatherings. While everyone is together, make sure to get a family picture. Then, get a 4×6 print of the picture and place it on the printable. You can either put this printable in a page protector and binder or laminate it.

Use this every year and create an awesome family keepsake!

family christmas traditions with toddlers


10. Christmas Movie Night

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Grab some pillows and blankets and snuggle up in the living room for a family Christmas movie night. If you have matching Christmas pajamas this is the perfect opportunity to wear them!

For even more fun, print some movie tickets and make some movie night snacks such as popcorn and hot chocolate. 

If you are looking for some family-friendly Christmas movies here is a list of some of our favorites:

{RELATED POST: 7 Insanely Fun Family Movie Night Ideas Your Kids Will Love}

11. Christmas Movie Bucket List

Christmas movie nights are a great way to bond with your kids over the holidays. If you and your family enjoy watching Christmas movies then try making a Christmas movie bucket list.

Get out a piece of paper and let everyone contribute Christmas movies they want to see this year. Write down all the movies your family wants. Hang this Christmas movie bucket list up on the refrigerator and make an effort to watch them all. 

12. Gingerbread House Contest

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Do you and your kids enjoy decorating gingerbread houses? A gingerbread house competition is one of the family Christmas traditions that is perfect for all ages.

You can either use graham crackers, icing and various candies or pick up some gingerbread house kits like these

Then, gather around the table, put on some Christmas music and let everyone decorate their own gingerbread house or split up into teams (parents vs. kids is always fun).

After everyone is done go around the table and show off your masterpiece. Your family could even pick a few categories to judge the houses by such as, most creative, most delicious-looking, tallest house, best theme etc. 

Gingerbread House Kit

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13. Light Display

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Some people go ALL out for Christmas and hanging beautiful Christmas lights. I am not one of those people, but I sure appreciate those who are because I love Christmas lights. Make it a Christmas tradition to drive around town looking at the different Christmas house light displays as a family.

Some towns even have holiday light displays you can visit and either walk through or drive through! I highly suggest checking your area to see if you have one because these are a stunning thing to see. 

14. Ornament Collection

family traditions

My parents started this family Christmas tradition with my sister and I when we were younger and I now do it with my three kids. Each year I get them a new ornament that somehow reflects their past year. It could be a character from their favorite show, a sport they started, or musical instrument they played.

Then, each year when we put the tree up they get to hang all of their ornaments. It is cool to look at the ornaments and remember various stages of their life. The best part about this tradition is that when they get older and move out they will have ornaments to hang on their own Christmas tree. 

You could also do a family ornament that represents something your family did that last year. Did you buy a new home? Move to a new state? Take a trip? Get an ornament that represents this life event so your family can look back on these memories each year!

15. Letters to Santa

christmas traditions for kids

There is just something magical about writing a letter to Santa as a child, so add it to your family Christmas traditions. Get out some paper and writing utensils and let your kiddos write a letter to Santa.

When they are finished, have them put their letter in an envelope and mail it to the North Pole. You can check out the USPS website and see how your child can get a return letter postmarked from the North Pole. 

If you’d like to use one of my free letters to Santa templates check out my Letters To Santa Claus Post

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{RELATED POST: 5 Adorable Free Printable Letters To Santa Claus}

16. Teach Kids About Giving

As parents I think it is so important that we teach our children about giving and helping others. Have a discussion with your kids about family’s in need of food and clothing in your community.

If you are able, let your kids help you in the giving process. Here are some great ways to teach your kids about giving while helping your community. 

  • Donate toys that aren’t played with anymore
  • Start a toy drive
  • Donate books to your local library
  • Donate food to your local food bank 
  • Run or donate to a winter coat drive

17. Christmas Scavenger Hunt

christmas traditions to start with family

Scavenger hunts are a great family activity and fun for kids of all ages. Find a Christmas-themed hunt this holiday season and spend some time as a family trying to find all the items. You can do it together or split into teams and see who can finish first.

We like to do a holiday decorations hunt by going for a walk around the neighborhood and seeing if we can find all the Christmas decorations on the list. It is such a great bonding activity, while also getting to see all the festive decorations our neighbors have put up. 

To download these Christmas scavenger hunts check out my Festive Printable Christmas Scavenger Hunt Post

{RELATED POST: Best Festive Printable Christmas Scavenger Hunt For Kids}

18. Ugly Christmas Sweaters

Go shopping as a family and pick out some ugly Christmas sweaters to wear. Have everyone wear them as you do these Christmas activities such as making Christmas cookies, decorating gingerbread houses, or doing a Christmas scavenger hunt! 

Ugly Christmas Sweater

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19. Read Christmas Books

christmas traditions for families

Reading is so beneficial for kids which is why reading Christmas books is a great family Christmas tradition to start with your kids.

When you pull out your Christmas decorations gather any Christmas books you may have or head to your local library and check out some holiday books to read with your kids! Make sure to bring your kids along and let them choose books to check out. 

If you are looking for some great holiday reads, I’ve listed some of our family’s favorites below. For even more holiday books check out my 49 Best Christmas Books For Kids You Need To Read Aloud This Year Post

Bear Stays Up for Christmas

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Olaf’s Night Before Christmas

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{RELATED POST: 49 Best Christmas Books For Kids You Need To Read Aloud This Year}

20. Break the Thanksgiving Wishbone

After your Thanksgiving dinner, save the wishbone and let it dry out. Then, when your family is all gathered again for Christmas put everyone’s name in a hat. Draw out two names and these are the two who get to break the wishbone. 

Have each person hold an end and pull while making a wish. Whoever ends up with the bigger half is said to have their wish come true. 

21. See Santa

christmas tradition

Seeing Santa or getting a picture with him is such a magical experience for kids. There is usually a Santa at the mall that you could take your kids to and they can get a picture with him. However, it is usually VERY expensive.

Instead, I recommend checking your local area and seeing if there are any events going on that Santa may be at. Some events to look for would be a holiday festival, Santa story time at the library, or Christmas parade. 

Our town even does a Santa run each year where the firetrucks drive Santa through all the different neighborhoods in order for the kids to wave and say hi. Our kids love it and get so excited for the night he comes to our neighborhood. 

22. Video Chat Distant Relatives

This Christmas, make an effort to video chat some distant relatives you won’t get to see over the holidays. Living far from family can be tough but thanks to technology it doesn’t have to be as hard. Video chatting over the holidays is a great way to let your family know you are thinking of them and gives your kids a chance to stay close with relatives they may not get to see as often. 

23. Adopt a Family

If you are able, I highly recommend adopting a family for Christmas. Spend the day together shopping for a family in need. It is not only a great bonding experience for your family, but it is also teaching your kids the importance of lending a hand to others. 

24. Christmas Game Night

family christmas tradition

If you don’t already do a Christmas game night you must add it to your family Christmas traditions this year. Games are a great way to bond with your kids through laughter and friendly competition. 

Set aside a night in December and pick out some Christmas-themed games for a night of fun and laughter. Here is a list of some great games you could try:

If you would like to download my free Christmas- themed would you rather game just check out my 66 Insanely Fun Christmas Would You Rather Cards – Free Printable Post

{RELATED POST: 66 Insanely Fun Christmas Would You Rather Cards – Free Printable}

25. Christmas Eve Box

holiday traditions

I started this Christmas tradition a few years back and it was such a hit with my kids so I continue to do it each year. All you do is find a box and put a few Christmas things for the family to open on Christmas Eve. I like to include new matching Christmas pajamas for us to wear that night, new ornaments for each kid to hang on the tree, a Christmas story and a Christmas movie to watch. 

If you are looking for some other great ideas for you Christmas Eve Box check out my post 15 Perfect Christmas Eve Box Ideas The Whole Family Will Enjoy.

{RELATED POST: 15 Perfect Christmas Eve Box Ideas The Whole Family Will Enjoy}

26. Matching Family Pajamas

As I mentioned above, I like to get matching Christmas pajamas for the whole family to wear on Christmas Eve/Christmas morning and put them in our Christmas Eve box. I don’t know how many more years my kids will want to do this tradition (my hope is they never get too old) so I am going to soak it up now while they are young and still love matching one another.

If you are looking for Chrsitmas pajamas you can find some at Target, Kohls, Little Sleepies, and Old Navy. 

Matching Christmas Pajamas

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27. Christmas Cookies and Milk For Santa

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If your kids are young (and even if they’re not) they will love this tradition. Spend some time together on Christmas Eve making some delicious cookies for Santa. You can even get a super cute plate and mug like this to leave the cookies and milk. 

Cookies for Santa Plate

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28. Sleepover in the Living Room on Christmas Eve

I am going to be honest I was not that thrilled the first time my kids asked to sleep in the living room on Christmas Eve because I knew sleep was not going to be had. I probably even groaned a little when saying yes, but I am so glad I did because my kids LOVE it. 

That first year they were determined to stay up and see Santa and when it was 4 hours past their bedtime and they still weren’t asleep I actually thought they might see him. Although having a family slumber party in the living room means less sleep for everyone, it also means more time together and I know it means the world to our kids so it has become a yearly tradition.

I know one day our kids will look back fondly on our Christmas Eve slumber party and that alone makes it worth it to me. 

29. Christmas Morning Breakfast

Christmas traditions to start with your kids

If your kids are like mine then Christmas morning usually starts way before the sun is up (and before anyone should ever be up). Because of this, I like to prep a Christmas morning breakfast the night before so I can just pop it in the oven to bake as our kids open presents. In the past, I have made monkey bread, cinnamon rolls, egg bake, and french toast bake.

Here are some other Christmas morning breakfast ideas you could try with your family:

  • Santa Pancakes
  • Gingerbread Muffins
  • Oatmeal Bake
  • Reindeer Doughnuts
  • Christmas Tree Cinnamon Rolls
  • Quiche
  • Christmas Tree Waffles

30. Write Letters to your Kids

christmas activities

Writing a letter to each of your kids is a cute family Christmas tradition. You could do this a couple different ways. One way would be to write them a letter that they can read on Christmas morning.

Another option would be to write them a letter on Christmas that you will give to them when they get older. You could include all the things you are proud of them for or any accomplishments they had that year. 

You could also create them an email address for when they are older and send them an email. Then, when you decide to give over the password they can read all the emails you’ve sent over the years. 

31. Teach Your Kids a Christmas Recipe

Does your family do a holiday gathering and dinner? If so, let your kids help cook some of the food and teach them one of your holiday recipes!

32. Start a Christmas Recipe Book

Another one of the family Christmas traditions is to start a Christmas recipe book for your kids. To do this, have everyone who helps cook fill out a recipe card with the recipes they bring. Then, put all the recipes in a binder for your kids to have when they get older. This is a great way to pass down recipes in the family and give your kids the recipes to some of their favorite Christmas dishes. 

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33. Special Paper From Santa or Sack

Make the presents from Santa stand out to your kids with a special Santa paper or sack. One way is for Santa to leave presents wrapped in plain brown paper with your child’s name written on them in Sharpie Marker. 

You can then place them under the tree or stick them in a Santa sack like this so they are sure to stand apart from any other gifts that may be under the tree. 

Santa Burlap Sack

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This Post Was All About Family Christmas Traditions

Which of these family Christmas traditions are you most looking forward to starting? 

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Road Trip Scavenger Hunt For Kids Free Printable

13 Memorable Things To Do On New Years Eve With Kids

How To Create An Epic Family Time Capsule Your Future Self Will Thank You For

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