Christmas traditions you can start today

Despite 2020's challenges and a holiday season unlike any other, it's still possible to enchant your family with memories of a magical, joyful Christmas with these lovely traditions.

Christmas traditions for families with small children

Give them a Christmas Eve box

Make up a special box of goodies just for Christmas Eve. Pop in Christmas pajamas, a Christmas movie if you still do DVDs, festive cookies, a special bauble for the tree, and a Christmas book for the family to read together on Christmas Eve.


(Virtually) Attend a Christmas Eve service

Christmas Eve candlelight services are a wonderful way to remind your children of the true reason for this special day if your family is Christian. And though our favorite service is at midnight on Christmas Eve, this year we’ll be tuning in for a virtual service with our local church.


Christmas pajamas for everyone

Christmas traditions for families with small children Matching pajamas

Whether you bring them out on Christmas Eve or from December 1st, festive pajamas are a special treat of the season. Little ones will love putting on their holiday-themed pajamas, especially if the whole family matches. Do this over the years, and you’ll end up with a collection of gorgeous, sometimes hilarious, family pics to look back on.


Introduce them to the Elf on the Shelf

Truth be told, like many parents, we almost regret the day that we introduced our Elf, Harry, to our kids! The month of December is a scramble to place him somewhere new every night, as inevitably one of us will remember just as we’re drifting off to sleep. Yet the kids adore him,and that’s why we do it. So if you think you have the tenacity to be an “elf parent” until Christmas Eve, then definitely go ahead and indulge in the tradition!


Have a Christmas cookie- or craft-ernoon

Christmas traditions for families with small children Crafting Christmas cards

Set aside a day of Christmas crafting or decorating cookies. For a crafting afternoon, set out a platter of cookies and mugs of hot chocolate, and get the kids to make Christmas cards or decorations for the tree. We’ve put together a fantastic Pinterest board, Kids’ Christmas Crafts, that’s packed with ideas and activities for all ages and abilities if you need some inspiration.

If you decide on a cookie decorating afternoon, set out cookie cutters, sprinkles and food coloring, along with some pre-made dough – we love Martha Stewart’s basic sugar-cookie dough and cinnamon sugar dough.


Make up a Christmas playlist

Select your favorite holiday songs and carols, get the whole family’s input on theirs, and create a playlist that’s your December soundtrack.


Decorate gingerbread houses

Christmas traditions for families with small children Gingerbread house decorating party

Whether you choose to bake them yourself or buy kits, decorating gingerbread houses is popular no matter your child’s age. Set out an array of candy and encourage them to be creative and colorful, enjoying a Christmas tradition that’s an oldie, but a goodie.


Surprise them with a Christmas lights tour

On any December night, and with no warning, invite your children on a drive around your neighborhood to see homes decorated with Christmas lights. Even better if you do it just as they’ve changed into their pajamas and are getting ready for bed. Bundle them up in the backseat with their blankets, teddies and some hot chocolate for a magical night they’ll love.


Choose your tree together

Christmas traditions for families with small children Choosing a Christmas tree

If you’ve left your decorating till later in the month, get the family together to visit your local Christmas tree farm and choose the perfect tree. Remember to take your masks and maintain social distancing.


Have a Christmas movie night

One of our family’s most treasured Christmas traditions is settling in to watch Polar Express. We light the fire and candles, turn down the lights, and watch this classic movie together. So why not choose an age-appropriate Christmas movie, set up a hot chocolate bar (you can even use your slow cooker for this), give everyone some popcorn, and have an evening on the sofa?


Hide a few Christmas gifts

Rather than setting all the gifts out at once, choose a few last gifts to hide around the house for the kids to find on Christmas day.


Help them remember the reason for the season

Christmas traditions for families with small children Charity Volunteer Gifts for less fortunate

Though Christmas can easily become a nightmare of consumerism, 2020 has been an intensely difficult year for all of us, and there are many families out there struggling to make ends meet. If you’re fortunate enough to have the resources to help others, look out for community toy drives or feeding schemes, or to respond to charitable donation requests that would make it an unexpectedly merry Christmas for someone else.


Make Christmas Eve dinner a fun one

The next day is going to be jam-packed with cooking and eating, so why not lower your Christmas Eve dinner stress by setting up a fondue? Whether you go for cheese, broth, oil or just a dessert fondue, it’s a fun way to let everyone pretty much take care of their own meal! Check out our fondue how-to here.


Visit our popular Christmas-themed Pinterest boards for more inspiration for the season!