holiday

23 Fun Family Christmas Traditions

Last Updated: Nov 6, 2018

Everyone knows Christmas is a time meant to be spent with family and to celebrate with plenty of family traditions. From Christmas Eve present openings to leaving cookies out for Stana, there’s plenty of fun family Christmas traditions out there. But if your family has grown or even if you’re looking for a little change this holiday season, you may be looking to start new traditions. If that sounds like you, make sure to check out our favorite family Christmas traditions below.

Jump to:

Fun Christmas Traditions To Start With Your Family

Every family that celebrates Christmas has their own unique set of family Christmas traditions. Whether that’s gifting Christmas Eve pajamas, throwing a Christmas party, or organizing a special Christmas family photo. So if you’re looking for new family Christmas traditions, there’s plenty of possibilities. To help, we’ve picked out some of our favorite ideas for you in the following categories.

Christmas Activities For Families

In the holiday season leading up to Christmas, you can often feel rushed as you try and get everything done. Between Christmas shopping, your everyday responsibilities, and all the holiday parties, there’s not much time leftover. However, making time for your family to celebrate family Christmas traditions together is exactly what makes the holidays so special.

a family ice skates for their family Christmas Traditions

1. Go Ice Skating

Ice skating makes for a perfect holiday activity, as there are often special ice rinks that pop up locally just for the cold months. Take the family, rent some skates, and make sure to take plenty of photos of all the fun (and falls) you’ll have.

2. Make Christmas Cards

Share your Christmas spirit with all your loved ones by making Christmas cards. Involve the rest of the family in the process and make it a fun family tradition for the years to come. If you’re looking for ideas of what to write in your Christmas card, check out our resource on Christmas card sayings.

3. Go Christmas Tree Hunting

Turn your annual task of picking out a Christmas tree into a fun family Christmas tradition. Bring hot cider (and mulled wine for the adults), and tailgate in the parking lot of the tree farm with friends and family for an extra fun twist. Not only does this activity produce tons of fun family photos, but your tree will seem extra special sitting in your house.

A family celebrates their Christmas Family traditions by looking for a Christmas tree

4. Visit a Local Christmas Parade

Does your hometown host an annual Christmas parade? If so, make plans with the family to bring lawn chairs and fun Christmas hats to watch the parade in. If your hometown doesn’t host a Christmas parade, look for one in neighboring towns and make a Christmas tradition and day trip out of it.

5. Make a Gingerbread House

Gingerbread houses are a classic Christmas activity and decoration combo. If you decide to make the gingerbread from scratch, consider baking the cookie ahead of time to give it time to harden for building. Use the kids’ favorite candies and build your house in any design you want. Be sure to reference our guide on how to make a gingerbread house.

6. Host a Christmas Party

If you have the time, consider starting an annual Christmas party. Invite all your friends and family and pick a different theme each year. Christmas parties are a great way to reconnect with loved ones, and they’re plenty of fun. Check out our holiday party invitations and our resource on Christmas party activities for additional ideas for this family Christmas tradition.

Christmas Eve Family Traditions: Christmas Eve Gift

Once Christmas Eve arrives, you’ll likely be spending extra time with your family. For that reason, it’s a perfect time to introduce new family Christmas traditions to your schedule. Check out some of our favorite Christmas Eve family traditions below.

1. Open a Christmas Eve Gift

Many families kick off the gift giving one day early by allowing their children to open one present on Christmas Eve. Most often this is a set of matching pajamas for the family to wear to sleep and then open presents while wearing in the morning. Other popular Christmas Eve gifts include special teddy bears or personalized story books to be enjoyed the night before Christmas.

2. Bake Cookies for Santa

Baking cookies for Santa remains one of the tastiest Christmas traditions. From snickerdoodles to the classic chocolate chip cookie, there’s plenty to leave out for Santa Claus for a new Christmas tradition. Check out our ideas for christmas cookie decoration, and don’t forget to leave out a few carrots for the reindeer.

A family puts out Christmas cookies and milk for Santa for their Family Christmas Traditions

3. Watch a Christmas Movie and Drink Hot Chocolate

Does your family have a favorite Christmas movie you like to watch every year? If so, consider making it one of your family Christmas traditions by scheduling time for it on Christmas Eve. Snuggle up in your pajamas, make a hot chocolate bar, and pop some popcorn for a relaxing Christmas Eve.

4. Host an Annual Christmas Eve Game Night

If your family is on the competitive side, consider turning Christmas Eve into a festive annual game night. Fill the night with plenty of fun Christmas party games, snacks, and Christmas music. The kids will look forward to this family Christmas tradition for many years to come.

5. Attend a Christmas Church Service

Christmas is all about community, so make yours a part of your family Christmas traditions. Most churches hold special local services on Christmas Eve, and these make excellent activities for families looking to spend time together.

Candlelight Church Service on Christmas Eve for Family Christmas Traditions

6. Tour the Christmas Lights

Once the sun goes down, consider loading the whole family into a car to go see all the different neighborhood Christmas lights. Bring travel mugs full of hot chocolate and enjoy all the different Christmas displays for an extra special Christmas tradition.

Fun Christmas Morning Traditions

The wait is over and the kids are ready to start unwrapping presents. But by introducing new family Christmas traditions to your Christmas morning, you can keep the excitement and family love going all day long.

1. Take Turns Opening Presents

Taking turns opening presents doesn’t just make the presents last longer. It helps everyone slow down and appreciate each individual gift. It also allows family members to be thanked for the gifts they’re given by other family members. Consider adding this idea to your family Christmas traditions to help teach appreciation and thankfulness.

A girl opens her Christmas Eve present as a family Christmas tradition

2. Include the Pets

For a fun twist on Christmas morning that can help teach the kids to appreciate the art of giving, consider adding a “Pet Christmas” to your morning. Let the children give the pets gifts they’ve either made or helped pick out. They can help the pets unwrap the gifts and share the excitement before it’s their turn to open their own gifts. For pet gift ideas, check out our pet accessories.

3. Open Stockings First

Opening the stocking presents first is a great way to kick off Christmas morning and it makes for a fun family Christmas tradition. And if you want to make the stocking gift opening even more special, fill the stockings by asking each family member to buy or make one gift for each family member. That way all stockings are filled with the same number of gifts and everyone is giving everyone else something.

4. Read Santa’s Letter

If you and the kids leave out cookies or milk for Santa overnight, then he might leave you a special letter to find in the morning. Santa’s letters are notes that usually encourage the children to keep up their good behavior in the New Year, and to thank them for the cookies.

5. Make a Christmas Brunch

Once the gift giving is over, keep the Christmas spirit going with a special Christmas brunch. Whether you make your family’s traditional favorites or a fun holiday treat, a Christmas brunch is the perfect family Christmas tradition for those who want to spend their morning surrounded by loved ones.

A Family celebrates their family Christmas traditions with brunch

Christmas Customs for an Old Fashioned Christmas

Some Christmas traditions have lasted a long time. The following family Christmas traditions may have started hundreds of years ago, and for that reason they make excellent traditions to carry on.

1. Light a Yule Log

The lighting of a yule log symbolized the cleansing of evil from a home. While traditionally the lady of the house is meant to light the spiced log in the fireplace, new renditions of this custom have emerged through the years. Now, the yule log can even be reconstructed as a Christmas cake.

2. Sing Christmas Carols

Christmas carol songs may have changed a lot through the years, but the tradition itself is very similar to when it began. If you’re looking for a new family Christmas tradition full of fun and community, consider taking the kids caroling through the neighborhood.

3. Break Christmas Crackers

Christmas crackers are fun paper toys, traditionally popped at Christmas dinner. The inside is typically filled with a paper crown, small toys, a riddle or joke, and sometimes candy. These customary Christmas toys are a perfect addition for your own family Christmas traditions.

A family celebrates their family Christmas traditions with Christmas crackers

4. Bake Mince Pies

Baking (or eating) mince pies on Christmas is a long standing tradition. Most mince pies are sweet, though they used to traditionally be filled with meats. Add these to your Christmas dinner or just eat them as a treat in the morning.

5. Make Christmas (Plum) Pudding

Similar to mince pies, Christmas pudding is a traditional Christmas dessert. The recipe has changed through the years, and at one point was made mostly of plum, hence the name plum pudding. Now made up of fruit, spice, and nuts, Christmas pudding makes an excellent addition to any Christmas dinner.

6. Kiss Under the Mistletoe

Kissing under the mistletoe is an old tradition which symbolizes love and acceptance. The mistletoe itself has multiple meanings through different cultures, but the tradition of kissing under it came from a British tradition. Now it remains a fun family Christmas traditional decoration for any home.

Additional Resources for Family Christmas Traditions

If you liked this guide on family Christmas traditions, and you’re looking for additional Christmas resources for the family, check out our additional content on how to simplify your holiday season as well as our collection of personalized gifts.