21 Holiday Traditions to Start with Your Family This Year
Make a Christmas Mantel Village
Decorate the mantel (or a side table or shelf) with this modern Christmas village. Get the family involved in the crafting or set aside some me-time to take this on and enjoy how it makes you merry it all season long.
Hang an Advent Calendar
Counting down the days is a simple way to make the whole month of December more fun. Make this DIY advent calendar to use year after year and fill it with fun activities, crafts, experiences, and gifts to fit the preferences and schedules of your family. (Or, pick up a chocolate-filled advent calendar…which is its own sort of fun too!).
Create a Gift Scavenger Hunt
Want to see the kids go even crazier with glee than usual come Christmas? Hide their presents around the house! This is a fun activity to do with small children or friends to celebrate the holidays together. And it’s an easy way to take a white elephant party game to the next level.
Get Matching PJs
Whether old or young, wearing matching jammies (like this festive set from Pajamagram, starting at $19.99) is so much fun, especially around the holidays. Agree on when to wear them together, then snuggle up for a movie or a cozy brunch, and be sure to take a family selfie for posterity—and Instagram!
Give New Ornaments Each Year
Share a new ornament with each kid as a special way to commemorate the year. Or go to a favorite store and choose them together. If you write the year on the back of each one, you’ll be able to reminisce whenever you decorate the Christmas tree in future years!
Maybe you start by setting aside each Saturday morning in December to do something together as a family. Or you take each kid on a special solo date. Pick an experiential gift you might not usually do (like ice skating or caroling) in the days leading up to Christmas and let it add to the holiday joy.
Make Tamales Together
Start an annual tradition of coming together to make a big batch of tamales—and then eat them, alongside your favorite big-batch cocktails and sides. This is a perfect activity to do with a crowd (you know what they say about many hands!) and it will be an event to look forward to year after year.
Related: Host a Tamalada this Christmas.
Attend a Holiday Workshop
Make time for fun in the days leading up to Christmas by signing up for a festive holiday workshop. Whether you want to make a wreath for the front door or gifts for others, this is a great activity to do with the family—or your best girlfriends.
Watch Hallmark Movies
Have a Hallmark Christmas movie night and pick your favorite, or plan to watch one every Friday night leading up to Christmas. (Cozy PJs optional, but recommended!) The channel churns out heartwarming movies all season long, so mark your calendar and make it a new habit to share.
Have a Holiday Game Night
Elf Bingo anyone?! We have all the holiday printables you need to have holiday game nights with the kids. Elf Bingo will help them remember to do good deeds, activity card placemats will keep mealtime drama at bay, and word games will help everyone stay sharp even while on winter break.
Whether go you around the neighborhood or to a local retirement community, taking the family out for some good old-fashioned Christmas caroling is a sure way to feel the warm fuzzies of the holiday season. You may want to print off some sheets of music if you’re a little rusty on the words to your favorite tunes!
Make a Gingerbread House
Use a kit or make the cookie pieces from scratch. Make one big classic house together or let each person assemble and decorate their own—like this confetti cookie version. There are so many ways to do this classic Christmas activity and they’re all right by us!
Host a Cookie Exchange Party
Sample and share Christmas cookies, both classic and new, with an annual cookie exchange party. Make it a neighborhood gathering for nearby families or invite a few families you don’t see regularly. Have the kids help make invites and prep for the party!
Watch It’s a Wonderful Life
It’s a classic for a reason and this year is a perfect time to start a yearly viewing of this holiday movie with the family. Bring on the popcorn and cocoa, build a fire, and cozy up to watch George Bailey find the wonder in his own life again…we bet it will inspire you to do the same.
Paper the Doorway to the Presents
Make like Chip Gaines and try the family ritual that was a staple of his childhood: Cover the doorway to the room with the tree with butcher paper. (You can let the kids color a holiday scene on it first if you’d like!) Then, come Christmas morning, inspire the troops with a coach-worthy speech and let them burst through the paper. So simple, yet so fun!
Start a Gratitude Jar
Help the whole family be thankful all season long with a simple gratitude jar project. Make the jar, then have everyone write out their daily moment of gratitude at dinnertime. Read them together as a family on New Year’s Eve to start the new year on a wonderful note.
Make Food Gifts
For teachers, coaches, neighbors, friends, and anyone who deserves a little something special this year, gather the family to make delectable food gifts, assembly-line style. You’ll make quick work of making a pile of homemade presents and check off a big to-do list task in one fell swoop.
Craft Gift Tags
When’s the last time you crafted as a family? If it’s been a while, now is a great time to get back into it! Put on a favorite holiday playlist and make a stash of these pretty handmade gift tags from no-bake clay. They’re easy enough for little kids, yet satisfying for the grown-ups to make too.