I love Christmastime…absolutely love it! And I love sharing my fun Christmas traditions for families, because Christmas is a particularly wonderful season to celebrate and spend time with my little ones.
Jennifer and I are excited to share 20 super fun, super cute Christmas traditions from each of our families. And we would love if you comment below and share some of your favorite family Christmas traditions.
Christy’s 10 Favorite Christmas Traditions
1. New Christmas Jammies and Holiday Movie
Every year, I make it a special point to get the kids new Christmas jammies – and let them open them on December 1st. A way to kick off the holiday season…and enjoy them all month long. Our family also gets one new Christmas movie each year…and we make it a point to have a family movie night, complete with snacks and snuggles.
2. Decorating as a Family
I love, love, love decorating for Christmas, and it typically take splice the day after Thanksgiving. I think because for a lot of my decorations and ornaments, it’s like opening a time capsule. We make decorating the tree a family affair. We talk about the ornaments, stories about where they came from, and family heirlooms. Each kid gets to hang their “own” ornaments from year’s past. They get such a kick out of the baby ones!
I look forward to this each year, especially now that my kiddos are a little bit older and really understand the history and stories we tell. My favorite ornament of all time is still a little pink angel my grandma gave me when I was a little girl. It’s priceless.
3. Hot Cocoa by the Fire
Yes, it has been unseasonably hot this year. Yes, I know we live in sunny California. But, we still love this family tradition. We build a fire in our fireplace (even though we’re already roasting), let the kids put on their Christmas jammies, we make homemade hot cocoa with marshmallows, and we turn on Christmas songs (all while pretending it’s “snowing” outside).
Then, we sit by the fire as a family, drinking our hot chocolate, humming along to the songs, and talking about Christmas. It’s so fun, and we try to do this at least a few times during the month of December.
4. Letters to Santa
We do the traditional letters to Santa…but with a little twist. In addition to asking for that one special gift, first I ask each child to list three things they have done to serve others this past year (I try to emphasize “the reason for the season” every chance I get!). As soon as they are old enough to write, each child writes their own letter. They also draw a picture for Santa. It’s so cute to see what they come up with!
Every year, in some capacity, we either participate in an Adopt-a-Family or child’s angel ornament, as a family. And the kids get involved! We shop, read about their wish lists, and pick things out. We talk about the importance of giving, how giving is more important that receiving, and how wonderful we hope this family will feel when opening their new gifts. It’s a great way for the kids to participate in giving, and thinking about more than what they want on their list.
6. Baking Christmas Cookies for our Neighbors
We bake up a storm for our neighbors! The kids and I shop for the ingredients together, mix/stir/bake together (or at least as long as I have their attention), and then have a frosting and decorating party. And, shhhhhh…sometimes to cut down on the hours of baking, I cheat and get pre-made sugar cookie cutouts, and we go straight to the frosting and decorating (the best part!).
We wrap up the cookies, put them in cute Christmas tupperware, top them with a bow, and deliver them (with Christmas cards!) to our neighbors. So fun!
7. Homemade Cards and Art as Gifts
My 7-year-old is really into arts and crafts. So each year she makes Christmas gifts for friends and families. I help her arrange her markers, glitter glue, stickers, paint, sparkle confetti, etc., and she goes to town. Cards, cut-outs, 3-D art…you name it, she’ll try it.
It’s such a sweet sight to see, and I know how much her homemade cards and creations mean to her recipients. It’s a great way to emphasize giving from the heart. Love it.
8. Sibling Love – Picking Out Gifts
Speaking of gifts, I let each of my kids pick out a gift for the other one. On their own. I give them a budget – most of the time it’s $5 or $10 – and I take them shopping separately, so they can each pick out what they think their sibling would love the most. They love this. I reserve judgment…as long as they are within their “budget,” they can pick what they want. We’ve gotten some pretty cute/funny/bizarre gifts over the years, but here’s the thing. They each love getting to pick something on their own. And the receiving kid is absolutely delighted. Oh, and I let them “wrap” it on their own.
9. Elf on the Shelf
If you read my Elf on the Shelf blog last week, you know that I am pro-elf – lol! We love our Elf on the Shelf traditions, and look forward to our family elf, Jingles, returning each year! The kids are in love with this little elf, and the Christmas season would not be the same in our house without Jingles!
10. Homemade Cookies for Santa, Carrots for Reindeer
Yep, Santa gets homemade cookies on a platter and fresh milk, his reindeer get carrots (of course!) and a water dish, and we set out a thank you note for him. When the kiddos wake up, only cookie crumbs, milk drops and half eaten carrots are left, and the thank you note is gone – magic!
Jen’s 10 Favorite Christmas Traditions
1. Advent Calendar
Growing up, we always had an advent calendar counting down the days, and I loved being able to see the countdown. Our family has one of these felt Advent Calendars, where my girls get to pick out the little figure from the date and move it to the scene, until it is finally complete on 12/24!
2. Gingerbread Houses
My in-laws started this tradition with my girls, and they absolutely adore it. Early December they will come to visit for a Gingerbread House day. I love seeing my pictures of them with their houses year after year.
3. Special Ornament
Each year my girls get to pick one new special ornament and I keep a list by year. Then when they move out and get their own tree one day, I plan to give them their box of ornaments throughout the years. My mom did this for me, and I still treasure my ornaments to this day.
4. The Nutcracker
This is a new tradition for us – we all went to see The Nutcracker this past weekend and it was such a special experience. I vowed to take my girls every year!
5. Macy’s Believe Santa Mail
Every year I take my girlies to mail their letters to Santa at a Macy’s Santa Mail as part of their Believe campaign, for which Macy’s donate’s $1 for every letter to the Make-a-Wish Foundation, up to $1,000,000.
6. Display All Our Christmas Cards
I have Scotch mounting squares and mount all of our holiday photo cards from friends and family in our great room on the wall to enjoy the whole month through.
7. Display Santa Photos from Each Year
I frame a photo of my girls walking out together on Christmas morning and their annual photo with Santa in inexpensive white frames and display them during the month of December.
8. Family Wish Ornaments
Years ago, I bought these Wishing Ornaments, where there is one for each member of the family and all of us write a wish to put in the ornament for the upcoming year. Each year when we decorate the tree it’s so cute to read last year’s wish (and see if it came true!) Looks like Red Envelope doesn’t sell them anymore, but you could make your own using those cute clear ornaments you can open. Might be fun to have each family member decorate their own.
9. Collect an Ornament on Trips
For each place we visit on vacation, we pick out an ornament as a souvenir if available, and it is so fun to remember our fun travels when we decorate the tree.
10. Ice Skating on Christmas Eve
In SoCal, we don’t have a lot of “wintery” opportunities, but one thing we do have are pop up holiday ice skating rinks. Each year when we visit my in-laws in San Diego, we go to the Hotel Del Coronado and go Skating by the Sea. The most amazing setting to be ice skating on the beach!