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30+ Family Christmas Traditions That Are Totally Mom-Approved

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Inside: Get inspired by this list of fun and clever family Christmas traditions! Filled with lots of ideas for at-home, service, month-long traditions, and more!

My parents handed us a nicely wrapped box as we sat around the tree with bellies full of yummy treats and eye lids drooping due to the hour.

”We get to open a present on Christmas Eve?!” I thought.

We got to open a gift every year on Christmas Eve when I was growing up and every year it was a new set of pajamas.

I love the tradition so much I’ve continued it with my own children.

I’ve been thinking about the fun traditions our family loves and decided to combine them with some other great ideas from my mom community.

This list of family Christmas traditions is full of really special and unique activities that will make your holiday season merry and bright!

Family Christmas Outings

I love to cozy up at home, but it’s also nice to get out and about during the holidays.

Here are some great seasonal outings you can turn into fun family traditions.

You can also check with your city website or Facebook page to see what activities are available in your area (most of those are usually FREE!)

Christmas Tree and Lights Ideas

Kids always enjoy Christmas lights!

You can go to a Christmas light parade, to a town Christmas tree lighting, or just ride around in the car to see the neighborhood lights.

To make it even more fun, you can get donuts and hot chocolate for the car ride.

While you’re at it, you could take a trip to a tree farm to pick out a tree.

Or, if you’re feeling really adventurous, you could plan to find and cut down your own tree!

Festive Pictures

Little boy takes a Santa picture as a family Christmas tradition.

Family poses for family pictures in their winter outfits.

Pictures with Santa are another fun Christmas tradition that gets you out of the house.

But, if your kids aren’t into Santa, you can use this time of year to do family portraits.

Choose a festive part of town and take advantage of any mini-session discounts from your favorite photographer!

RELATED: Wondering What To Wear For Family Pictures?

Last-Minute Shopping Fun

Displays of gifts for family Christmas traditions.

These next two ideas are great for a quick trip to the dollar store or drugstore.

Give each family member a small spending limit and have fun picking out stocking stuffers for each other. Just be sure to keep your eyes on your own gifts!

You can also take your kids to the dollar store to pick out gifts for their extended family or friends. This is an inexpensive and fun way to give kids the freedom to choose their own gifts.

RELATED: 60+ Dollar Store Finds You’d Be Crazy To Buy Anywhere Else!

Entertainment Ideas

While mom finishes wrapping presents, dad can take the kids bowling or swimming (depending on where you live). This way the kids will definitely not get any sneak peeks!

And, last but not least, everyone loves a great movie.

There are always a couple of great family movies that come out around Christmas.

You can make it a tradition to go see a fun movie on Christmas day after all the presents and food have been devoured or during Christmas break when all of the kids are home from school.

Fun At-Home Christmas Traditions

Whether you’re having lots of company or it’s just going to be you and the kids, it’s so nice to have some planned activities you can do without leaving home.

One mom suggested sprinkling “reindeer food” on the front lawn. (Here’s a recipe and free printable).

You can work together on a large pieced puzzle or take a family photo with your tree.

Some suggested making homemade crock-pot hot cocoa or introducing Christmas brunch.

Christmas Movie Classics

Boy watches Christmas classics on the TV.

Lots of moms also included watching holiday movies as one of their favorite traditions.

The most popular movies were: A White Christmas, A Christmas Story, Home Alone, It’s a Wonderful Life, and the Grinch.

My personal favorite is Elf!

Here’s a super fun twist to try: Make themed dinners and treats according to whatever movie you choose.

For example, a great theme idea for the movie Home Alone is pizza and ice cream! And don’t forget the Pepsi 😉

Christmas Crafts & Baking

Plate of the best Christmas desserts

On my husband’s side, we have a tradition of decorating gingerbread houses and reciting the Christmas Carol.

Decorating gingerbread houses is a great activity to involve kids of all ages! You can also decorate cookies, make cookies for Santa, or even homemade hard candy.

Decorating a gingerbread house is a fun family Christmas tradition.

One mama shared a super sweet story about how her mom made homemade hard candy to sell each year.

The profits all went toward getting their dad’s Christmas gifts. How cute is that!

If you’re interested in old fashioned Christmas ideas, this would be a great activity to try.

Mom and daughter decorate a Christmas tree as part of their family tradition.

Moms also shared family Christmas traditions surrounding the Christmas tree.

You can start by making homemade tree decorations.

I love the idea of making ornaments for each new member of the family. You can use items like their hospital tag or sonogram pictures.

Then, each year, have everyone begin with their first ornament when you decorate your tree. This is one of the Christmas traditions to start with baby and continue as they grow. 

Month-Long Family Christmas Traditions

Little girl holds advent calendar as a family Christmas tradition.

Advent calendars are a fun way to celebrate all month long.

I especially love advent Calendars that have a treat for each day leading up to the 25th. You can make your own calendar or find really cute ones in stores.

You can also gift your Christmas PJ’s on December 1st so you can have them for the whole month.

There are usually some great Black Friday deals for family PJ’s.

One of my FAVORITE month-long tradition for kids is gifting them a new book to read before bed each night.

This will get them excited for Christmas and encourage a love for reading.

Mom sharing the gift of reading with her children

If you’ll be spending a lot of time at home this Christmas season, here are some helpful tips for getting your house party-ready and super clean for your guests: 

What do families do on Christmas Eve?

Christmas Eve Gifts

Lots of families like to open one gift on Christmas Eve.

You can let it be a random gift or a gift that mom and dad picks.

One of our family traditions growing up was to open new pajamas on Christmas Eve so we had something new to sleep in! One mom even suggested ugly Christmas jammies as a fun tradition. 

Another fun idea is “Christmas boxes” for Christmas Eve.

These can be decorative boxes filled with several small, special items or even just a shoebox.

I like the idea of the Christmas box being for Christmas jammies, slippers or socks, and fun treats to eat while watching a Christmas movie.

Christmas Eve Family Sleepover

A family sleepover is a fun and magical tradition to do under the lights of the Christmas tree.

Others suggested a kids sleepover in the living room, in one kid’s bedroom, or even in the basement (so Santa doesn’t wake them).

We always slept in the same room as siblings but never seemed to get much sleep that night…haha!

Other Christmas Eve Activities

Some families actually have Christmas at Midnight. (This is definitely one of the more unique Christmas traditions that was shared but could be really fun to try.)

I also like the idea to turn off all the lights and read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve or hold a family talent show.

Growing up, my dad’s side of the family would always gather for a big Christmas Eve party.

My grandma had red ornaments with all of our names written on them.

We would start with the youngest family member and go one by one making a wish or resolution for the new year as we placed our ornament on the tree.

Christmas Service Ideas

The holiday season is a great time to devote to family service opportunities.

You can make Christmas cards and leave them on doorsteps, make cookies for a senior home, deliver cookies to a firehouse, volunteer at a soup kitchen, or have fun picking out gifts for children in need.

To get involved in Christmas traditions around the world, one mama shared that she likes to participate in the #lighttheworld campaign.

This campaign gives simple and meaningful opportunities to serve as Jesus did during the holidays. 

These are all great ways to get kids excited about serving others and can invite the true spirit of the season.

Religious Family Christmas Traditions

A nativity set is a religious Christmas tradition.

Going to church is obviously a great religious tradition for Christmas. I love hearing and singing all the Christmas hymns.

If you’ve got the chops for it, you could even go caroling with your family or friends.

One mom shared that she makes the Sunday before Christmas all about Christ so the gift-giving and present opening doesn’t overshadow the true meaning of the holiday.

Every year before we opened presents as a family, we’d always read the story of Christ’s birth from Luke 2. It helped us remember what the true meaning of Christmas was before we opened our gifts. 

Some other ways to bring Christ into Christmas are to act out the nativity or have a “Jerusalem” dinner (here’s a really cute Jerusalem dinner set-up).

Acting out the nativity is a fun family Christmas tradition.

Want More?

If you liked this post, be sure to check out 7 Foolproof Non Toy Gifts for Kids for lots of ideas on meaningful Christmas gifts.

Your Turn

What are your Christmas traditions? Let me know what fun ideas you’d add to this list in the comments!

Check out list of 30+ totally mom-approved family Christmas traditions to try this year!


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Ashley Ziegler

Thursday 12th of December 2019

I loved it when my mom would take us kids in the car and we'd drive around town and look at the Christmas lights people put up to decorate their homes and yards. It's so fun!


Friday 13th of December 2019

Ah yes! My parents always had these fun neighborhoods they knew about!