10 Brilliant Family Christmas Traditions

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. I’m one of those people who starts playing Christmas music November 1st! I feel like the season goes by too quickly and it brings me joy when dealing with the cooler weather and darker days.

Now that we have three kids we’ve started to think more about family Christmas traditions!

I didn’t realize how many traditions we had growing up until I got married and learned about the different ways my husband celebrated Christmas.

It’s been so much fun creating our own family traditions together. As the kids get older they look forward to these special things we do as a family.

But don’t worry! If you don’t have any traditions, it’s NEVER too late to start. You can also mix it up if something isn’t working. Reflect and revise! And don’t put too much pressure on yourself to have a prefect Christmas. Create memories together even in the imperfect.

Here are 10 fun family Christmas traditions we use in our house.

Plus a BONUS! At the bottom of this post I share some of YOUR favorite traditions that you shared with me on Instagram. I hope these inspire you and bring some cheer to your holiday season.

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10 BRILLIANT family traditions to start this Christmas. Wonderful ways to connect with your family during the holidays. I love number 8!

#1 Sing Christmas Carols

One of my favorite things to do around the holidays is sing Christmas carols. We were married in December and at the end of our reception we gave everyone candles to hold. The guests sent us off singing to the tune of Joy to the World.

It was amazing. So every Christmas Eve we light some candles and sing our favorite songs together as family. If you aren’t into REAL candles with little kids, I get it. Here are some fun battery operated candles to try.

Looking to start new family Christmas traditions this year? Here is a list of 10 fun Christmas activities to add more cheer to your holiday season. Get your kid's involved and create memories to last a lifetime with your family.

#2 Create a Hot Chocolate Bar

My kids will LOVE this tradition. We usually drink hot chocolate after a day playing in the snow, but I am definitely considering jazzing it up and creating a hot chocolate bar either on Christmas Eve or for the afternoon of Christmas Day.

We love using this dairy free hot chocolate recipe in our house. For the hot chocolate bar we may add fun toppings like marshmallows, whipped cream, peppermint and chocolate drizzle!

BABY’S FIRST CHRISTMAS? We have a fun list of activities to celebrate this too!

#3 Christmas Pajamas!

My roommate in grad school told me her family gifted each other Christmas pajamas every Christmas Eve. I immediately fell in love with the idea and as soon as we got married we made this a new Gaines family tradition.

Now that we have kids it’s even more fun! Some years I can’t wait and gift the pajamas on December 1st. Other years I’ve waited until Christmas Eve.

Either way, it’s such a fun and sweet way to get into the spirit of Christmas. The last few years we’ve worn Hanna Andersson’s family pajamas. In my opinion, they have the best quality and their organic cotton is so cozy! We’ve also gone with Burt’s Bees Baby family pajamas.

#4 Plan a Themed Christmas Day

This can be as simple as watching your favorite Christmas movie in your cozy holiday pajamas or as complicated as planning a trip somewhere. Last year we visited Hershey Park’s Christmas Candylane.

It’s so fun seeing all the lights and going on rides at the park. It definitely put us in the holiday spirit.

It’s nice having a day in December decided to family time and doing a fun activity together. It doesn’t need to be trip! You can create a beautiful new tradition doing something at home.

It's the most wonderful time of the year! Here are 10 adorable ways to celebrate the holidays with small kids. Christmas family fun!

#5 Drive Around Looking for Christmas Lights

When my husband and I were first dating he took me on a date to look at Christmas lights. He said he often did this with his family growing up. We turned on some Christmas music and drove around trying to find the BEST house.

Last year our daughter always wanted to find “MORE LIGHTS” when we were driving in the car. It was so fun for each of us to pick our favorite house and vote on people’s holiday decorations. This such a simple yet fun and affordable family date idea.

#6 Read Your Favorite Christmas Books Together

We love reading books with our kids and each year I try to find 1 or 2 fun holiday themed books. When our son was young he was obsessed with the Little Blue Truck so I couldn’t wait to give him the Little Blue Truck’s Christmas book one year. What’s your favorite Christmas book? Share with us in the comments below.

Reading Christmas books together is a simple yet fun family Christmas tradition. We purchase a few new books to read together, but it doesn’t have to be a new book. It can be an old family favorite or even a holiday book you find at the library.

#7 Read the Christmas Story in the Bible

Every Christmas Eve we read the nativity story found in Luke chapter 2. Sure candy canes, gingerbread houses and Christmas trees are amazing, but we also want our children to understand why we celebrate this holiday, the birth of our Savior!

It's never too late to start a family tradition for the holidays! Check out these fun traditions to get into the Christmas spirit with your family this year.

#8 DIY A Tree Ornament Together

My sister surprised us at our wedding and asked guests to bring a Christmas tree ornament. It was such a personal and special gift idea! Each year when we hang the ornaments on our tree we are reminded of all our family and friends.

We’ve also taken up crafting tree ornaments with our kids. On both of their first Christmas’ we made salt dough ornaments with their handprints. Our daughter also loved making these Sesame Inspired Christmas Balls and she already asked to do it again this year!

#9 Do an Act of Kindness

Growing up my parents taught us to give to others in need. At my dad’s work they had a Christmas tree with tags and on the tag it listed gift ideas for a child in need. I remember doing this every year and going to the toy store to pick out the perfect gift for another boy or girl.

I definitely want to do this with our children as we believe it’s so important to teach kindness and generosity to our kids.

#10 Make Gingerbread Houses

Last, but certainly not least we make gingerbread houses! Growing up we always did this on Thanksgiving Day and kept them as decorations until Christmas. We loved picking out the candy and make unique designs on our houses.

Our kids now look forward to this tradition each year.


#1 Open a present on Christmas Eve! With jammies and a Christmas movie.

#2 Play the Saran Wrap ball game (see details on how to play here)!

#3 Shepherds meal on Christmas Eve! We turn off all the lights except the tree and candles – Ashley from thelittlesandme.com

#4 Making Christmas cookies at my in laws (baking and decorating sugar cookies) – Amy from thegildedwife.com

#5 My mother in law gets a birthday cake and we sing Happy Birthday to Jesus!

#6 Vacation at a resort. It’s the best and we love our time together! 

So what about you? How do you celebrate Christmas? What are you favorite family Christmas traditions? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below! 

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  1. The Elf!!! Such a funny movie, my kids love it! We have a tradition of hiding the Elf on the shelf. They get so excited to see what the elf has done overnight.We also all get new Christmas jammies. You do alot of great ones. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Oh these are super fun traditions! Those PJs!! We are going to start some traditions this year now that my daughter is two. We still have to decide what though. Thank you!

  3. So glad I came across this site on pintrest! Love the traditions AND the values you place into your kids with Christ being the center. I plan to try a few with my 2 1/2 year old. Happy holidays to you all!

  4. What a great tradition. I wish I had done this when the kids were little. I wonder if hubby and my now college-aged boys would do this?

  5. We read the book The Giving Tree and then decorate a tree outside of edible treats for the animals to eat on Christmas Eve.

  6. I wish I could get my husband to do the family Christmas pj thing! Your pictures are adorable! I have been getting the kids new Christmas pjs every year. I can’t wait to see them in them, so they get their pjs at the beginning of December!

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