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 on 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 perfect 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.

This post contains affiliate links.

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 as they sang us off with Joy to the World. The singing and candlelight made the moment even more special. So, every Christmas Eve, we light candles and sing our favorite songs together as a family. The kids love lighting the candles.

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

We usually drink hot chocolate after a day playing in the snow, but I recommend jazzing it up and creating a hot chocolate bar on Christmas Eve or for the afternoon of Christmas Day. For the hot chocolate bar, we add fun toppings like marshmallows, whipped cream, peppermint, and chocolate drizzle! Get your kids involved in the process, they’ll love picking out the toppings and setting everything up.

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, and I immediately fell in love with the idea. 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 wait until Christmas Eve. Do what works for your family.

#4 Plan a Themed Christmas Day

Christmas-themed days can be as simple as watching your favorite Christmas movie in your cozy holiday pajamas or as complicated as planning a trip somewhere. Either way, the goal is to have dedicated family time during a busy month. Family activities don’t have to be expensive, just try to enjoy one another!

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 first dated, 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 Christmas music and drove around to find the BEST house. Now, as a family, we take a drive after dinner and vote for our favorite decorations. The best part of this tradition? It’s free entertainment.

#6 Read Your Favorite Christmas Books Together

We love reading books with our kids, and each year, I try to find 1 or 2 new holiday-themed books to read. Reading Christmas books together is a simple yet fun family activity. We’ll either purchase a few new books to read together, read an old family favorite, or find a new favorite book 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 incredible, but we also want our children to understand why we celebrate this holiday, the birth of our Savior! Reading the story of Jesus’ arrival on Earth is a great way to bring everyone’s attention back to the true reason we celebrate each December. 

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 unique gift idea! We are reminded of all our family and friends when we hang the ornaments on our tree each year. To add to our collection, our kids craft a DIY ornament each year. They may not appreciate it right now, but I know they will love it when they get older and have handmade ornaments to share with their kids! 

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. On the label, it listed gift ideas for a child in need. I remember going to the toy store each tear to pick out the perfect gift for another boy or girl. We’ve continued this tradition because we believe teaching kindness and generosity to our children is so important.

#10 Make Gingerbread Houses

Last but certainly not least, every year, we make gingerbread houses! Growing up, we always did this on Thanksgiving Day and kept them as decorations until Christmas. Now we do it when we have the time! Our kids love picking out the candy and crafting a unique design each year. As a recovering perfectionist, I’ve also learned to stand back and let them decorate. Gingerbread houses don’t have to be perfect to be lovely!

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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