family christmas traditions

Great ideas for family traditions for Christmas with the kids…

family at christmas

Christmas is a time when family memories are made. Having traditions together that you do as a family are lovely ways to build connection and special time together and will last for years to come.

Family traditions are one of my favourite things about Christmas and I dearly treasure the memories of family traditions that we had when I was growing up.  Some of them were not even that major, just regular rituals that made us connect and feel good as a family and gives me a warm nostalgic feeling at this time of year.

As such I have wanted to pass some of these traditions onto my own family now for them to have in their memory box! And we have developed some of our own along the way….

Family traditions don’t have to involve spending lots of money, hassle and ‘stuff’ the best family traditions are the simplest ones and involve time together.

It’s often the little things you do to celebrate that your family will look forward to all year long, since the Christmas rituals you start today become the good memories your family has in the future.

Although we do have a couple of days out on our list of family traditions. If you have a young family you might want to start to embed some Christmas traditions into your December, so here are a few ideas to get your started……

1/ Create a Countdown Routine

Sure, you can buy an advent calendar based on your kids’ favourite activities and watch with joy as they get a new goodie each day. But it’s even more fun to make your own. You can get some little bags, boxes or make your own advent calendar and fill with tiny toys, sweets or even notes promising activities together such as a trip to their favourite bakery. Fill 24 bags, boxes or drawers with love notes, candy, small toys or ideas for good deeds they can do that day to spread good cheer. Or, keep special ornaments aside in a box and add a new one to the tree each morning!

home made advent calendar

2. Make the Tree Special

Make or buy a special tree decoration together each year. This means that over the years your tree will be made up of special decorations that mean something and signify different years in your child’s life.

3. Christmas Tree picking….

Go and get your tree together. If you have a real Christmas tree then going to pick it out together can be such a fun outing to do together (just don’t do it like they do in National Lampoons where they drive into the middle of nowhere to cut their own down and then forget the saw!)

christmas trail

4. Decorating the tree…

Make the decorating of the tree a real family occasion where everyone gets involved. Don’t be precious about the style and neatness. If this bothers you then you can always alter it later, but initially let then kids get stuck in and put the decorations where they want to (they might even create a new style which you love!) What’s great about this is that decorations with meanings and memories get special attention from the kids and you can reminisce about where they came from.

kid decorating christmas tree

5. Christmas lights switch on…

Have you own light switch on ceremony – when you’ve decorated the tree or for the exterior lights of your house; gather, do a countdown and cheer when they go on for the first time!

6. Send Cards or Letters

kids writing christmas cards

Your Christmas cards just might be the only postal mail you send all year, so make sure they’re a big to-do!

And as so few people send actual post anymore it’s a good time to do it and put smiles on faces of friends and family who receive them!

You can DIY a card, or get the whole family together for a photo (that actually has everyone in it, smiling, hair brushed and in nice clothes — for once). You can also figure out a fun way to display the cards you receive.

7. Have some Elf fun…

Elf on the shelf is s fun, (if high maintenance!) ritual to do throughout December. For something a bit easier but full of elf magic and activities try the Elf Adventure Treasure hunt….

elf treasure hunt game for kids

There are challenge and activities led by the elves during live online events on a Sunday teatime in December. Kids earn badges as they do the (simple and fun) activities and eventually get a congratulations message from Santa himself awarding them ‘honorary Elf status’! 🎅

🎄Children will get sent a membership pack with badge activity resources sent in the post

🎄 They can join the elves live and online with live activities to play along with as they beam into your home from the North Pole…

🎄 There will also be Elf shout outs…..they can earn Elf badges as they do their challenges and access the digital badge tracker and unlock bonus resource videos…..🤶

Find out more about the treasure hunt here


7. Letters to santa

Writing your letters to santa together is a lovely activity to do together and it is nice to also use it as an opportunity to practise gratitude (say thank you for what you received last year and what you have enjoyed this year) as well as giving Santa an idea of what you would really like to receive for Christmas. Giving your child a free space of what they would like to thank Santa for or encouraging them to write a nice message to him will likely draw a tear or two to your eyes!  It’s amazing what lovely things our children think of to say when prompted with an imaginative activity such as this.

You can also get a reply if you sent it in the UK by December 8th. Use the address here…

address for letters to santa

8. Christmas baking together…

You can make the Christmas pudding, mince-meat or Christmas cake well in advance and all are easy to make 3with kids as they generally involve throwing all the ingredients in together and giving it a big old stir! So not too technical! And kids love it as its messy, smells of Christmas and they can snack on raisins as they go!! Even if you don’t like Christmas pudding or mince pies, I bet you like your home made ones!!!

kids christmas baking

9. Make place settings or your own crackers…

Making table decorations is a fun and creative activity to do together on Christmas Eve and can be a great way to calm excited children who are bouncing around! Making your own crackers is a great way of still doing crackers (which all kids love!) but making a more eco -friendly option, without the plastic tat!

10. Have a carol concert at home…

Few people seem to go caroling nowadays but that doesn’t mean you can’t have your won singalong in your home. Gather every one together, download a playlist, print out some song sheets and have a feel good singing evening!

11. Go on a neighbourhood lights trail….

Get wrapped up in cosy warmers and go on an evening walk to look at all the houses lights.

crazy christmas lights



12. Do a Christmas Eve box…

Traditional these can include comfy pyjama’s, hot chocolate, a Christmas book or a soft toy.  A nice addition is also to have some writing with some nice descriptive sentences about what makes your family.

A nice addition is to include a personalised video message from Santa with their Christmas Eve box.

Find out how to get your child’s personalised video from Santa here 

santa message for kids

13. Christmas Eve presents…

Let everyone open one present on Christmas Eve.  This spreads the fun (and reduces the amount on Christmas day itself which can be epic!) Make it a special moment, pass each one out one at a time and open in turn so everyone can appreciate everyone else’s special gift.

14. Teach children about giving back

A lovely idea is for the children pick out toys they own but don’t play with anymore to give to other children as extra presents when Santa visits them, placing them in a special sack waiting for Santa under the Christmas tree. It teaches them that the best part of Christmas is not receiving gifts, but given them to others, especially those in need.

15. Spread the Christmas day presents…

Lots of people complain that Christmas morning is just a mad moment of everyone ripping open their presents all at once.  A good family tradition to embed is to open stocking presents in the morning and then do tree presents in the afternoon after lunch. This means you can all sit around the tree, the children can hand the presents out and it can be a calmer more controlled experience, with everyone taking time to notice and appreciate the gifts. It’s nice for family members (especially older ones) to see the children’s face a they open their gifts. And this also encourages children to be more thankful for individual presents and practise more gratitude.

16. Play a Game Together Until Late at Night

Engaging your family and friends in a little casual competition will get everyone’s adrenaline pumping, keep the post-holiday doldrums away and may even help make some new memories to treasure for years to come.

 Playing games together can also be a fun bonding activity that keeps you talking and basking in each other’s company more than sitting in front of the TV, so gather the crew and get playing.

And playing games well into Christmas night is a memory the kids will definitely treasure.

family christmas games

17. Show Gratitude

It might be too much to ask overstimulated kids to sit and do hand-written thank-you notes when they’d rather be playing with their new toys (though its a good after Christmas activity to do with them in the days that follow Christmas). But on the day, it’s not too hard to make sure that everyone takes a beat before dinner to be thankful for the good holiday — and year — they’ve had.

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elf treasure trail

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