One of the best things about the Christmas season is the memorable things we do year after year. Our Christmas traditions.
Large and expensive or small and free, it doesn’t matter. They are meaningful because they’re shared with those we love.
We count on our Christmas family traditions to bring us together with those who mean the most to us.
When my first son was small, we started the tradition of fixing hot cocoa, bundling up and driving around looking at the Christmas lights and decorations in our city.
I can still see the little redhead in his car seat in the back, pointing in awe while taking an occasional sip of his lukewarm cocoa from his sippy cup.
When our second son arrived, he joined in. His first word was “light”, which came out more like “ight” and he, too, marveled at the “ights” at Christmas.
Truth be told, a couple of decades later, we’re still doing the drive. I make the cocoa or we go to the local coffee shop and get it. Either way, it’s a tradition. We’re just waiting for the next generation to join in.
Because I love Christmas family traditions, I thought I’d offer a few ideas in case you’d like to start some of your own or add some more to your list!
20 Fun and Meaningful Christmas Traditions
#1- Cut your own Christmas tree and then go to a great family restaurant
When I was a kid, we lived not far from hundreds of tree farms. After we’d choose our tree, we’d eat dinner at a restaurant called Negri’s. It’s an old school Italian restaurant which has been in operation since 1943.
What wow’d me as a child was that they serve 1/2 ducks. Plus you also got minestrone, a mixed green salad, antipasto, ravioli, salami and French bread. My Italian genes (20% according to Ancestry) were in heaven!
The warm memory of those incredible meals after choosing the perfect tree is one of my best childhood memories.
#2 – DIY Christmas decorations party
Invite the neighbors and have a DIY decorations party. Even the littlest ones can join in with a little preparation!
Check out this fun felt wall hanging Christmas tree with ornaments and gifts that the children stick on themselves! So adorable! You can get a closer look here.
#3 – Hang lights in each child’s bedroom
Kids love having their own rooms decorated for the season.
Aren’t these star curtain lights fun?! Accent lights add a warm ambience to any room and they’re so much easier than hanging outdoor lights if you just want that festive feeling!
Plus, they are perfect to keep up all year! Check them out here.
#4 – Cuddle up for a Christmas movie night with popcorn (to string or eat!)
Before you could buy movies for home use, we’d have to wait all year to watch our favorite Christmas movies. Hard to believe!
Now they’re just a click away on Amazon Prime Video. Here are my favorites (click to download):
And of course, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.
Be the first to get the new “Illumination Presents: Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch” by PREORDERING!
#5 – Wrap gifts together add one thing you appreciate about the recipient on the tag
We normally wrap a gift and write the simple “To” and “From” tag without much thought. How about adding one thing you appreciate about the recipient?
#6 – Christmas light display drive – with hot chocolate in hand
This is one of my favorite traditions that never expires! My 22 year old still comes with us after doing it for his whole life!
Get your hot chocolate and find the most beautiful displays in your neighborhood.
#7 – Go to the movie theater as a family (the best movies come out this time of year)
Some of the very best family movies are released at the holidays. Gather the clan and enjoy the show!
#8 – Watch a live production of The Nutcracker ballet and have tea after
There’s nothing like a live performance of any play, opera or ballet! The Nutcracker is blessed with an incomparable musical score as well. Take the kids and then go have a spot of tea afterwards!
#9 – Ice skate outdoors in the big city nearest you
It doesn’t really get icy in San Francisco, the largest city near us, but every year they form an ice rink downtown for skating. You can skate in relatively warm weather (in the 50’s) around here!
There’s something about going into the city at the holidays with the big department stores all decked out that makes for a memorable experience! Even if you don’t skate, it’s a worthwhile outing.
#10 – Join the local church for Christmas caroling or have your own sing-along
It’s so much fun surprising your neighbors with Christmas carols wafting down the street. This time of year most folks will answer their doors. I’ve even been invited inside! Lots of fun for the whole family.
The holidays can be stressful along with all the fun!
Check out this post:
#11 – Volunteer at a toy drive distribution or wrapping
When the fire department holds toy drives, they often need help wrapping the gifts. Why not join in? This is an easy activity and it connects us to our community.
#12 – Serve meals at the local homeless shelter
Serving food to those who have less than we do is wonderful to do with the older children in your house. It will teach them service and gratitude.
There is nothing like getting a little more persona with those that we sometimes just pass by on the street corner.
#13 – Read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol is the quintessential, classic Christmas story that everyone should read (besides seeing the movie)!
It gives us the lessons of appreciating what we have, those who love us and teaches us about the blessings of generosity.
This edition of A Christmas Carol is just released and includes holiday recipes from some favorite chefs:
Giada de Laurentiis, Ina Garten, Martha Stewart, and Trisha Yearwood!
#14 – Read the Christmas story together on Christmas eve
Here’s a favorite Usborne Nativity Flap Book to give kids 3+ an introduction to the Nativity, the birth of Christ.
Click Here to see this title.
See many more books in for every age and interest at my bookshop: www.blaircottagebooks.com.
#15 – Go to the grocery store together, choose non-perishable foods and drop them off at your local food bank
Children love to make their own choices and what better than to have them choose food to give to others this year?
Even a three-year-old can choose food for those in need. Buy canned goods, rice, beans and other staples.
#16 – Camp out under the Christmas tree
Since camping is out of the question during the winter months, why not haul out the sleeping bags and camp out under the Christmas tree one night?
The twinkling lights will act like night lights to make it feel safe. If the younger ones get scared, they can always crawl into their cozy beds.
#17- Set up a nativity scene and talk about each piece
Purchase a nativity set with the stable, Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, the animals and shepherds.
Set up the scene and discuss the significance of each piece for a lesson in the true meaning of Christmas. This set I found is one of the loveliest I’ve seen.
It will be treasured for years to come with its 16 detailed figures and stable and even the gold, frankincense and myrrh!
#18 – Take a photo with Santa – with the entire family
Why should the kids get all the fun? As long as you’re all waiting in that long line, you might as well get in the picture.
Besides, it’s one way to be sure you get your yearly family portrait!
#19 – Listen to a live performance of Handel’s Messiah
Anyone who has been to hear Handel’s Messiah will attest to the heavenly experience it is.
A bit long for younger children (under eight), but it is a unique opportunity for older children to hear classical music at its finest with the spirit of Advent theme.
Local choirs usually put on a performance during December.
#20 – Attend a Christmas Eve or other service at a different place of worship than your own
I have clear memories of our midnight mass on Christmas eve at our Catholic church in the neighborhood where I grew up.
It was the only time I ever stayed up that late! Which meant it was a special occasion, for sure.
There was a hush over the congregation as the priest read the gospel story of Jesus’ birth.
We now attend a church that is much different, but occasionally I like to visit somewhere different and be reminded that there are many ways to worship.
Whatever your Christmas traditions, may they bring your family closer together, give them a sense of community and teach them more about their faith.
Please share this post if it’s been helpful to you!
I’d love to hear about your own family traditions in the comments below!