There’s a lot of things that come with this time of year, but holiday traditions are the best. They’re something familiar we go to again and again, and pass on to the next generation, so they have great memories, and continue the tradition. While surprises are fun, it’s also nice to know what to look forward to.
Plus, when you’re a kid, it seems like FOREVER to wait until the holiday arrives. It’s also great to have something to enjoy on the nights leading up to the big day!
We have a couple traditions we hold to in our family – adding a new ornament each year to the tree, our ugly sweater Christmas party with our singles ministry (third year running!), and of course fun, food, and gifts on Christmas Day. But now that we have a little guy, it only makes me want to increase our traditions. I want to make our holidays fun and memorable for him.
Whatever your situation – whether you’re growing your family, you’re starting out as a couple, or you’re watching your kids get older – if you’re looking to add some new customs to your season, here’s a list of 30 holiday traditions to start this year!
Note: I’m coming from the perspective of celebrating Christmas, so there are a lot of Christmas-related traditions here. But feel free to adapt as needed!
- Decorate your house together (indoors or outdoors).
- Put together a kid-friendly felt Christmas tree, so the little ones can get in on the decorating action…without shattered ornaments. Win win. I like this one from That’s What Che Said, but there are a lot of tutorials online. The best part? You don’t have to use any adhesive. Felt sticks to felt.
- Start an advent calendar counting down the days until the holiday (or the new year!). We just started this December, with a beautiful display my mom bought us last year. They range from creative to practical to pretty to fun! I also love the lessons that can come out of these awesome Printable Advent Calendar Activity Cards, from Mama.Papa.Bubba.
- Plan gift-giving together. What will you get for family and friends? Will you make items or buy them? It’s fun for us to figure out what each person would like!
- Sort through old clothes, toys, and other items that are unused and donate them.
- Watch a favorite Christmas movie together, and go all out! Make special snacks, and wear your Christmas best (or comfiest).
- Go ice skating together.
- Spend a day (or an hour or two) doing random acts of kindness for people around you.
- Pick out a few gifts for families or friends, wrap them, and then “ding dong ditch” them, leaving a present behind. (Put the present down, knock on the door, then run!)
- Take family pictures. This is the one time of year we actually do! Make it fun with different props, etc. This one is my favorite.
- Shop together for ugly Christmas sweaters. Do it early! It’s a “thing” now, so they’re likely to run out. (I cannot wait to share mine with you!) Or design your own!
- Kara sent me this incredible idea that they used to do every year in their house: The Christmas Trap! I can’t explain it like she does, so head over to her website and check it out 🙂
- Look up Christmas light displays nearby, and take your own tour.
- Bake and decorate holiday cookies or cupcakes!
- Or try a new recipe together each year!
- Make Christmas ornaments! For inspiration, here’s a popsicle snowflake, chic personalized spheres, a beautiful sequin sphere, and delicious hot cocoa ornaments!
- I’ve heard this is a popular tradition: children open one gift on Christmas Eve, which is a new pair of Christmas pajamas, and everyone settles in for a story. It sounds so sweet and fun!
- Another fun popular new tradition is to bring kids on a Polar Express ride.
- Have a holiday brunch for friends. Or this fun North Pole Breakfast from Following in My Shoes!
- Find a way to “adopt” a child for the holidays, through Angel Tree or some other organization. Make their year special with thoughtful gifts!
- Play a game together every year on the holiday, after your big dinner. This is something we do almost every year with our families!
- Have you ever heard of the pickle ornament? Santa hides the ornament on the tree, and the first person who finds it on Christmas Day gets an extra treat from Santa!
- Elf on a shelf is kind of a big deal now. That’s all I’ll say about that. (It kind of creeps me out!) You can always do a similar thing with something different – like a toy dinosaur or nutcracker!
- Build a gingerbread house.
- Make pinecone bird feeders.
- Get hot cocoa, make it just the way you like it, and go star-gazing together.
- See a performance of your favorite holiday show. I like the Nutcracker, and this year we’re going to see It’s a Wonderful Life live, which I can only imagine will be amazing onstage!
- Surprise your family with gloves, hats and other outerwear accessories for the first time it snows, and go out and have a snowball fight! (No snow? DIY one for inside.)
- Dress up and go out to a fancy dinner.
- Visit a nativity, or a candlelit church service.
For more ideas, check out my 50 Things to Do for Christmas post, or my Pinterest “To Celebrate” board.
What traditions do you do with your family every year?