20 Memorable Family Christmas Traditions

Our family is big on creating memories and traditions. This blog was  published this November on the Parent Cue blog. For more great holiday blogs go to theparentcue.org/blog

20 Memorable Family Christmas Traditions

Traditions are important for families because they provide opportunities to keep your family legacy going. From the simple to the silly to the sentimental, traditions can create meaningful memories. Don’t hesitate to try out some new traditions this Christmas season and see what works and what doesn’t for your own family. You just may create a new tradition that will keep going for generations! If you are looking for some ideas in the search for new Christmas traditions, consider the following:

  1. Try an annual extended-family get-together. Sometime around Christmas gather the extended family together at someone’s home or restaurant and hang out with one another.
  2. Watch Christmas movies. Throughout the Christmas season, gather the kids together and enjoy your favorite Christmas movies. Two of my own personal favorites: It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol.
  3. Attend a Christmas Eve service. If your church doesn’t have a Christmas Eve service, you can probably find one going on somewhere in your community. This is a great way to focus your family’s perspective on the true meaning of Christmas!
  4. Start traditions with Christmas Eve/Christmas Day meals. For example, at the Burns’ home, it’s always Chinese food on Christmas Eve.
  5. Letters to Jesus. Before opening your Christmas presents, write thank-you letters to Jesus. Collect them and make them available every Christmas. Keep adding new letters annually. Here’s one rule to make this tradition work well: family members can only read the thank-you letters they have written.
  6. Live out an annual family version of The Twelve Days of Christmas. First identify a friend, relative, or neighbor to receive all the “gifts.” Then create a unique gift for each day of the song (i.e., five golden rings could be five glazed donuts) and place the gifts on the recipient’s front porch.
  7. Bake and decorate homemade Christmas cookies. Allow everyone in the family to participate if they want. Everyone should be able to request their favorite kind of cookie.
  8. Sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus on Christmas Day. After all, it is Jesus’ birthday that we celebrate.
  9. Read the Christmas story from Luke 2. Whether you open your gifts on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning, try having someone from your family read the Christmas story out loud before opening gifts.
  10. Go to the movies on Christmas Day. Gather the troops and head off to the local movie theater. You’ll probably get good seats!
  11. Drive around looking at Christmas lights. Sometime during the Christmas season, load the family up in the car and drive around looking at Christmas lights. This is an activity you might want to combine with attending a Christmas Eve service.
  12. Go Christmas caroling. Take a walk around your immediate neighborhood and stop at homes and sing Christmas carols.
  13. Visit a Nursing Home. There are usually a lot of lonely people living in nursing homes – especially during the Christmas season. Prepare some Christmas cookies and take your family to visit a nursing home—and spread the love of Jesus to sick and elderly people.
  14. Help at a food bank or soup kitchen. Try spending Christmas day helping the needy at a local food bank or soup kitchen. You never know, your kids may never want to spend Christmas day at home again!
  15. Celebrate your family’s ethnic heritage(s). Sometime during the Christmas season, prepare a family meal(s) that celebrates your family’s ethnic heritage. This is a great way to connect with your family roots – especially if you don’t regularly focus on this throughout the year.
  16. Secret Santa. As a family, select one person you know who is lonely, needy, or just needs some extra encouragement. Purchase or create a special gift for this person. Then on Christmas Eve/Christmas morning, get the family up out of bed, bundle up, grab some cookies and hot cocoa, pile into the family car, and drive the gift over to the person’s home. Sneak the gift onto the front porch and include an attached card that reads, “From your Secret Santa.”
  17. Holiday memory journal or scrapbook. Purchase or make a holiday journal or scrapbook. Have everyone in the family contribute by recording memories of the holiday season. Keep adding to the journal/scrapbook annually. This provides a wonderful way to look back over Christmases gone by.
  18. Ice skating on Christmas Eve – day. Many people get off from work early on Christmas Eve. Gather the family and head out to an ice rink or local (frozen!) pond for some time on the ice. It’s a great way to spend some family time and it keeps the kids active and helps them not to over-obsess on the presents under the tree back home.
  19. Attend a local community Christmas event. This tradition can really take hold if the community holds the same event annually.
  20. Try a New Year’s Eve event. Whether it is a neighborhood get-together, a party with friends and family, or a special church event, ringing in the New Year together as a family can create great memories.


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Jim Burns

Jim Burns is the president of HomeWord. He speaks to thousands of people around the world each year. He has close to 2 million resources in print in 20 languages. He primarily writes and speaks on the values of HomeWord, which are: Strong Marriages, Confident Parents, Empowered Kids, and Healthy Leaders. Some of his most popular books are: Confident Parenting, The Purity Code, Creating an Intimate Marriage, Closer, and Doing Life with Your Adult Children. Jim and his wife, Cathy, live in Southern California and have three grown daughters, Christy, Rebecca, and Heidi; three sons-in-law, Steve and Matt, and Andy; and three grandchildren, James, Charlotte and Huxley.

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