The best Christmas traditions begin organically. For example, one Christmas Eve my mom was frustrated because my dad wanted to go to church and she knew she had hours of wrapping still to do. So my dad offered to bring the kids to church so she could wrap in peace. After church, my dad drove us around looking at lights and then stopped at a Chinese restaurant to get take out.
And now, every year we drive around looking at lights on Christmas Eve and get Chinese food. My kids love this tradition just as much as I do.
Christmas Traditions for Your Family
- Christmas Pjs – everyone gets a new set, matching optional. (This would also make a fun Christmas-Eve gift, so everyone wears their new pjs to bed and wakes up with them on Christmas morning.
- Grandma-cookie baking – about a week before Christmas, all the grandchildren go to the grandparents house to make sugar cookies – no other grownups allowed. (This gives parents time to wrap gifts without having to hide in their bedrooms – tell me, we aren’t the only ones who do this!)
- Get takeout on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or Boxing Day (the day after Christmas) – always from the same place or with the same food theme. make a meal together – it c, have a nontraditional and easy Christmas day meal
- Our Story – Document your family doing their Christmas-related-thing, with a Family Photography Session. This could be drinking hot chocolate and playing board games, or caroling around the piano, or decorating the Christmas tree, or going to pick out your Christmas tree … the options are only limited by your imagination!
- Brunch – make it something easy that can be put together on Christmas Eve and popped in the oven to cook while presents are being opened. Suggestions: cinnamon buns, french toast casserole, quiche, muffins
- Christmas ornament – everybody gets a new ornament for Christmas. Then when your kids have their own Christmas trees in the future, they have a stash of ornaments to bring with them.
- Make a meal together – any meal, any time when you’re all together. You can pick a theme and everyone come up with a recipe or make the grocery shopping part of the family excitement and see what you can make with whatever everyone threw in the cart.
- Go see holiday lights – this is a fun activity to do in pjs while drinking hot chocolate from thermoses on December 21st – the darkest day of the year!
- Paper Chain Countdown – staple together rings of construction paper to make a chain. Starting December 1st, remove one ring a day. Bonus: write an easy tradition on each ring and try to do that winter-themed activity that day.
- Hot Chocolate Bar set up a self-serve hot chocolate bar at the beginning of the season. This can include marshmallows, chocolate, peppermint, cinnamon, candy canes, etc.
- Light candles – this is another fun one for December 21st. Eat your evening meal by candlelight.
- Leave secret gifts for neighbors – this adds to the magic. It can be small – the point is to leave your gift anonymously. Try leaving gift wrapping supplies (saving them a last minute frantic trip to the store), homemade cookies, a holiday-themed dvd, a warm drink in a thermos, a homemade card, etc.
- Make your Christmas Day meal nontraditional (and easy!). I know a family that grills ribs (outside – in the snow). Have a pasta bar with multiple sauces. Pizza is another crowd pleaser and relatively easy.
- Have a family sleepover under the Christmas tree on Christmas night.
- Read Christmas-themed picture books. Another twist on this is to wrap up 24 Christmas themed books – ones from your collection and a few new ones thrown in – for children to open every night and have read. Some of our favorite Christmas themed books are “Christmas Farm” by Mary Lyn Ray, “A Wish to be a Christmas Tree” by Colleen Monroe, and “Bear Stays up for Christmas” by Karma Wilson.
- Gingerbread houses are such classic holiday fun. While this can get a little chaotic and not-so-easy, it’s a fun time to be had by all.
- Stockings are one of my favorite traditions. They are fun to fill with practical and small gifts and are the first things our kids open on Christmas morning.
- Go to a Christmas Concert. Whether it’s at the local school or church – there will be many to choose from and often they are free of charge. This is a quick way to get in the holiday spirit and connect with several people in your community as it will be packed.
- A Christmas fire during a lull in the day is a fun way to get everyone outside and reconnected with each other. A bonfire can’t be beat, but a smaller fire, or even sitting around the fire place inside are all options. Bonus – have s’more supplies on hand. Because what’s a fire without s’mores?!?
- Save back presents to be given in the afternoon. No one will expect it, and it will make the usual present-unwrapping-time less overwhelming.
- Go sledding as soon as there’s enough snow, drop everything and just go!
What easy Christmas Traditions would you add to this list?