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30 simple family Christmas traditions that will create magical memories this season!
SIMPLE CHRISTMAS TRADITION IDEAS
Christmas time can be so exhausting! However, you don’t need expensive or complicated family Christmas traditions to create a meaningful and memorable season.
A few years ago, we decided to simplify our Christmas in lots of ways. We simplify our Christmas season by
- giving less gifts (and focus on Memory-Maker Gifts)
- focusing on Christ with Christ-Centered Christmas traditions
- have our shopping done early
- keeping our decorations to a minimum
All of these principles in more are taught in this “Simplify Your Christmas” online, self-paced workshop.
Don’t get me wrong. We are far from perfect and some years are more simple than others. It’s easy to get caught up in the fun Christmas activities that only happen during December. Why can’t we have 60 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas?
But we’ve learned that when we slow down and take the time to enjoy the calmer, simpler moments the season brings, we are ALL happier. And isn’t that what Christmas is about?
Last Christmas, I learned this lesson again. On December 23, my husband and my Alma Mater was playing a basketball game. Go Cougars! He really wanted to take our entire family to the game and invites cousins to go along, too.
Immediately, I was like, “Yeah right! We aren’t spending the night before Christmas Eve at a BYU basketball game. That is so NOT FESTIVE! And we still have so many Christmas festivities to do.”
Well after I let myself cool down a bit, I realized that Christmas is not about WHAT we do per se, but the memories we are creating. So I gave in (with only a slight grudge) and we spent the night at the basketball game.
And you know what? The entire night was actually really fun! Everyone was happy. (How could our children not be happy with all cheering on our team and eating giant cougar tail donuts?)
We listened to Christmas music for an hour in the car, had a really great chat together, and got to make some fun memories with our extended family.
THE MORAL OF THE STORY
So why do I tell you this? I learned that YES! Christmas activities are fun and meaningful, but let’s not forget the WHY behind what we are doing. If everyone is unhappy doing a really fun, festive Christmas outing, is it that important?
Of course, this will look different for every person and every family. And it may take some time to figure out how to find a good balance.
TIPS FOR MAKING EVERYONE HAPPY
- Before December starts, sit down with everyone in your family and prioritize the most important activities and events for everyone.
- Let everyone choose one or more must-do Christmas activities/traditions.
- Mark them on your calendar.
FUN CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS
With that disclaimer out of the way, here’s the best Christmas Tradition Ideas to embrace this season:
1. DECORATE THE CHRISTMAS TREE TOGETHER
Whether you have a real or artificial Christmas tree, decorating the tree with your family can be such a fun way to kick off the Christmas season. Turn on your favorite Christmas tunes, pull out the ornaments and have a ball.
2. READ CHRISTMAS STORIES UNDER THE TREE EACH NIGHT IN DECEMBER.
There is no shortage of great Christmas books so cuddle up the tree each night in December and read a story together. In fact, a Christmas Book Advent Calendar where you wrap up all your Christmas books and open one to read each night.
3. MAKE A FAMILY HOLIDAY BUCKET LIST
Before the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season starts, sit down as a family and let everyone choose 1 or 2 activities/traditions that are most important to them. Pen those into your calendar. Any extra time you have for more traditions will just be icing on the cake!
4. WATCH CHRISTMAS MOVIES TOGETHER
Print off this Family-Friendly Christmas Movie List and see how many you can watch together throughout the season. Cuddling up on a cold night together is a great way to spend time together.
5. HAVE AN INDOOR PICNIC BY THE CHRISTMAS TREE
Who says picnics are only for summer? Grab a blanket and have an indoor picnic by the Christmas tree!
6. CELEBRATE ADVENT SUNDAYS
This family Christmas tradition is one that will help you slow down and enjoy being together. Get all the details of Advent Sundays here.
7. GIVE THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS TO SOMEONE IN NEED
The holidays are a great time to spread some holiday cheer. This sweet & simple 12 Days of Christmas has all the daily poem tags and gift ideas prepared for you, so you can put this together in no time. All the gifts can be found at the grocery or dollar store.
8. CUT DOWN YOUR OWN CHRISTMAS TREE
Look up your local tree cutting farms and make an event out of choosing the tree.
9. DECORATE GINGERBREAD HOUSES
Decorating gingerbread or graham cracker houses is a favorite Christmas tradition. Pull out a variety of crackers and candies to decorate your own Christmas village.
10. HAND OUT CANDY CANES TO VISITORS
Make everyone who stops by during the Christmas season (and especially children) feel extra welcome by handing out candy canes to visitors. Real all about the candy cane symbolism here.
11. SLEEP BY THE TREE ON CHRISTMAS ADAM (DECEMBER 23)
One of our favorite Christmas traditions is sleeping by the Christmas tree. What comes before Christmas Eve? Christmas Adam! Have a family sleepover on December 23 by the Christmas tree. Watch one of these best family Christmas movies.
12. DO THE 25 DAYS “CHRIST”MAS SCRIPTURE ADVENT CALENDAR
Follow this 25 Days of Christ scripture advent calendar to learn more about Christ each day during December. Burn the advent candle each night as you read about Christ. When the candle is gone, Christmas is here!
13. SEND & DISPLAY CHRISTMAS CARDS
14. CELEBRATE ST. NICHOLAS DAY
Celebrating St. Nicholas Day is not only a fun Christmas tradition, but also has great meaning behind it. Legend has it that St. Nicholas used all of his inheritance to help the poor and needy. He put gold balls in the socks (stockings) of girls who needed a dowry to be married.
The modern day stocking tradition comes from St. Nicholas. Put out your shoes and find little treats and gifts the next morning.
15. READ THE CHRISTMAS STORY
16. DO A WHITE ELEPHANT GIFT EXCHANGE AUCTION
Family parties and parties with friends are popular during the holiday season. Turn an ordinary white elephant gift exchange into everyone’s favorite Christmas party game by doing a White Elephant Gift Auction. Take one of these white elephant gifts that everyone will want to take home!
17. GET A NEW ORNAMENT FOR THE TREE
18. DECORATE WITH NATIVITIES
Besides all the typical Christmas decorations, don’t forget to use nativities to decorate as well. Here’s a list of kid-friendly nativities (read: they won’t break!)
20. GO TO THE MOVIE THEATER ON CHRISTMAS EVE
Going to the movie theater on Christmas Eve is one of those family Christmas traditions everyone can get behind. Instead of running from store to store shopping, have all your shopping done and spend Christmas Eve making memories.
21. MAKE CHRISTMAS ENGLISH TOFFEE
22. GO ICE SKATING OR SLEDDING
For a simple and fun Christmas tradition, go sledding or ice skating together.
23. PLAY CHRISTMAS HAND BELL SONGS FOR THE ELDERLY
Some of the best Christmas traditions are those that are service-oriented. Spread some cheer to the elderly by playing Christmas hand bell songs to them. These Christmas songs are easy enough for beginners!
24. HAVE A CANDLELIGHT CHRISTMAS EVE DINNER
25. DO YOUR OWN “POLAR EXPRESS” RIDE
One of the most fun family Christmas traditions is to drive to see the Christmas lights in pajamas. A real Polar Express train ride is fun and all, but for a cheaper option, have everyone wear their pajamas, pile in your family car, and drive through the neighborhoods to see Christmas lights. Taking some Christmas cookies and hot cocoa to end your Polar Express ride will give everyone sweet dreams of the fun night together.
26. ACT OUT THE NATIVITY
Before Santa comes on Christmas Eve, gather your family and act out the nativity story! Use the verses from Luke 2 in the Bible or use this kid-friendly nativity script with songs!
27. WATCH THIS FREE CHRISTMAS DEVOTIONAL
This free online Christmas devotional is perfect for any Christian– it’s a night of wonderful music and Christmas messages that will get you in the Christmas mood at the beginning of the holiday season.
28. ATTEND A CHRISTMAS WORSHIP SERVICE
Find the nearest church and attend a Christmas worship service. Find the nearest church to you here.
29. WRITE LETTERS TO SANTA
Use these free Santa letter templates to write a letter Jolly Old St. Nicholas. Send it early or write a letter to Santa and burn it on Christmas Eve like our family does.
30. HAY IN A MANGER CHRISTMAS TRADITION
This fun Christmas traditions will actually inspire kids to be extra nice and helpful during December! Every time a kind deed is done, they get to add a piece of stray to Jesus’ manger. The goal is to fill it up before Christmas, so that Jesus has a soft bed to sleep on. Get more details here.
31. HIDE A CHRISTMAS PICKLE (WHAT A FUN CHRISTMAS TRADITION!)
This random but fun Christmas tradition is a favorite among so many families! Grab a famous pickle ornament and hide it in the Christmas tree. The first person to find it on Christmas morning gets an extra present.
So what are the best Christmas traditions? The best Christmas traditions are the ones that create happy feelings with those you love, no matter which you choose to do.