25 Amazing Holiday Tradition Ideas for Your Familyby Elizabeth MacDonald
HO! HO! HO! The cheer is contagious. Everyone is happy and kind this time of year. Don't let the season fly by without making lasting memories with those you love the most. It's never too early or too late to start family traditions.
Our family is basically a chaotic cluster of craziness, especially when holidays are concerned, but I have realized that we have some amazing traditions bouncing around with all five of the children. I've decided to just embrace it all, pour some wine, and celebrate the family traditions we have!
Family Holiday Traditions
Countdown with Holiday Movies: Even if it is just ABC Network’s holiday nightly movie, pick a different movie to watch each night starting a week before Christmas.
Choose a Christmas Angel Tree Child/Adult: There are Angel Trees located in stores everywhere. Read off a few and let your little ones decide who to help this year. Last year we donated a gift card to a grandmother with no family near her. The year before, we bought a few items for a family of 3 little kids. This really instills the art of giving. It’s always fun to give to friends, but giving to strangers – let alone someone you will never even meet, is a whole new level of giving.
Read Holiday Books for Bedtime: Don’t overthink this one. We are reading a Fairy Magic Chapter Book about Santa’s sleigh vanishing. This definitely counts as a holiday book!
Each Child Picks One Gift for Everyone: Yes this increases the budget, but it also teaches your children about giving. This is a great way to have one on one time with each of your children. Don’t forget to include a baby if you have one!
Holiday Music Dance Party: This one may involve a glass of wine to really let loose (for you, not the kids). Show your kids you know how to have fun! Teach them to dance like no one is watching. Boogie until you are out of breath. Sing at the top of your lungs.
Cut Down a Tree: Find the nearest tree farm and make a road trip out of it. Even stay overnight in a little cabin if there’s one nearby. This may be the perfect night to open the holiday pajamas!
Decorate the Tree Together: Set aside your OCD Type A personality, as hard as it may be. At least, give the kids a section they can decorate… or if you are as horrible as I am, buy them their own tree. No joke, I purchase a $20 small tree and let them go to town on it!
Clean Out the Toy Room and Make a Big Donation: Every year, we do just this. I line toys up and let kids choose what stays and what goes. Then they come with me to make the donation. We typically drop off at a local church nursery.
Holiday Science: As a homeschooling family, I feel the need to include this! There are so many ways to include learning into the season. (holiday science)
Holiday Pajamas: You can wear them all month long, or open them on Christmas Eve.
Let Everyone Pick One Gift for Themselves: I know this sounds absurd, but how great to be able to shop for yourself for a treat? Imagine how fun that is as a kid! All of the giving makes you feel so wonderful, but it also makes you realize something you may have forgotten on your own wish list. Set a budget and let everyone purchase something.
Make a New Ornament: Each child makes something for the tree – or one family ornament. The salt dough ornaments work great. The ones we made last year still look great. (salt dough ornaments)
Build a Gingerbread House: Do not actually eat the house, but definitely build it. You can go Martha Stewart and make it all from scratch – OR – you can buy the kit from Trader Joe’s and whip out the hot glue gun for good measure. (gingerbread ideas)
Drive Around and Look at Lights: There has to be a neighborhood nearby worth driving through. Pack some hot chocolate and load everyone up. Blast the Christmas carols and go visit all the places that make your decorations look like chump change. As my daughter says, “They go ALL OUT Mama! I really think we should try that.”
Take the Same Picture in the Same Position Each Year: Cheesy? Yes. It’s supposed to be. Sit on the stairs and set up the tier on your phone/camera – and say “MISTLETOE!” Start this tradition and continue it year after year (even if you move). You’ll love the pictures as the kids grow older. Who knows? Maybe your grandchildren will be in the pictures one day!
Have a Game Night: There are games for kids of all ages. Even a simple “Go Fish” round or two will do.
Add Homemade Cards in with Your Photo Cards: We started this tradition last year. My oldest was 9 and finally had an interest in writing. I pulled out the construction paper, markers, stickers, etc and let the kids go wild. We made a list of their friends and any family who should get a card. The end results were priceless. I think all of their little friends loved getting their own mail too!
Holiday Themed Breakfast: Snowman pancakes are pretty simple. Pour your circles close enough to touch. Add powdered sugar to top them! Kids may want blueberries or other items to decorate their snowmen. Make some bacon to use as twig arms. (Ok – this is brilliant. I should type late at night while suffering pregnancy insomnia more often! I am SO doing this one this year. Maybe tomorrow… or maybe right now. YUMMMM pancakes.)
Visit Santa: Bring him your wish list!
Leave a Nice Note/Picture in a Neighbor’s Mailbox: Our neighbors are all grandparents. They love watching the kids run around all the time. Brightening their day with a little handmade picture will make everyone smile!
Window Shop with the Kids: This sounds crazy but hear me out. I started this tradition for birthdays this year and we continued it last week for Christmas. I let the kids explore a store of their choice (American Girl for my daughter and the Lego store for my 6-year-old.) The rule was this: No purchases would be made. I cleared the storage on my phone and let them take a picture next to absolutely everything that they wanted. When we got home, they looked through the pictures and decided which items really made the list. Those pictures were then blasted to grandparents! (You’re welcome grandparents!)
Bake Cookies for Santa: This is a no-brainer, but it needs to be included. Baking cookies or something special is something your kids will remember and associate with the season for their entire lives. Even if you are not a great baker, buy a few box mixes and go to town!
Order Pizza and Wrap Presents: My husband and I enjoy this on Christmas Eve. He loves to wait until the very last minute to open (lots of) wine and start the wrapping. We watch movies, drink, eat late-night pizza, and well… typically other fun “things” ensue. (wink wink) Gotta keep with the traditions!
Cook Something Special on Christmas: We smoke some delicious meat and make a few sides with a wonderful dessert. It doesn’t need to be decadent, just special.
Be Thankful and Feel Blessed: Not really a tradition, but something that needs to be remembered. In a time where we are so busy buying and wrapping, we need to step back and just look at what is right in front of us. No matter how you celebrate the season, be merry and fill your days with joy!