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11 Christmas Traditions to Start

11 Christmas Traditions to Start

I’ve written a lot about my love for the Christmas season and traditions, as well as my excitement over the fact that Liam is really starting to “get” Christmas. Nevertheless, this year I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by all of the Christmas traditions I was so eager to begin. Perhaps it’s the abnormally short time between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year that’s causing more holiday stress or the pressure I put on myself to create perfect Christmas memories and traditions for Liam, but it’s starting to feel like it’s a little too much. In addition to all the normal Christmas stuff like shopping, wrapping, decorating and attending holiday parties, I also want to start some new family traditions.

11 Family Christmas Traditions to Start

  1. New Christmas Traditions with Children Bring back the Elf on the Shelf: I think we might have bought this before Liam was born. We’ve read the book and he finally seems to get it this year. Like Organized Mom, I think Elf on the Shelf could be a really fun tradition for our family.
  2.  Start an Advent Calendar: We had one last year that broke and I have yet to replace it. I feel a consistent pang of guilt when I see other parent’s awesome advent instagram pictures. I need to get on that. (Crafty Mom posted a cute homemade Advent calendar a few years back.)
  3.  Visit Santa: Liam has never sat on Santa’s lap before. Despite the fact that it seems like an almost universal toddler catastrophe, I really want to try this year.
  4.  Cut Down a Tree at a Tree Farm: This one is all my husband’s. I’m all for getting a tree from the school around the corner but he grew up in Vermont and has great memories of going to cut the tree down each year. My in-laws told me that despite what he may remember, the experience of picking a tree was almost always a disaster with each kid wanting a different one, but I’m giving him this one.
  5. Festival of Trees: This is our town’s holiday celebration, complete with a visit from Santa on a fire truck. We’ve gone each year and given Liam’s general enthusiasm for lights, Santa and trucks, I’m thinking it’s going to be a big hit.
  6. Polar Express Train Ride: A few places around us do “Polar Express” type rides on local train lines and given Liam’s obsession with trains, this seems perfect. Of course, I’m the slacker mom who didn’t reserve tickets in September so now I’m not sure we’ll be able to do it.
  7. Help a Child in Need: Every year we buy holiday presents for a child in need and this year I’m hoping we’re able to match with a little boy around Liam’s age so we can pick out presents together.
  8. Make Christmas Cookies: Every year we make a huge batch and decorate them for Santa. I’m hoping to get Liam in on it this year.
  9. Create some kind of Christmas Eve tradition: I’m thinking maybe new PJs and a new Christmas book to read as a family?
  10. Send out Christmas Cards: I FINALLY did get a picture and order our family Christmas cards. Now I just need to finalize our list and print labels.
  11. Create a fun way to display Christmas cards: As we’re receiving more kid/picture Christmas cards (and as Liam started enjoying looking at them) I was hoping to come up with a cute way to display them all in our house. Still working on that one.

I’m starting to realize this list may be too long and some things may need to get cut. It just feels like this is Liam’s first real Christmas (in that he is actually starting to participate) and I want to do it up right. But, maybe the Christmas season would be more fun and magical for everyone if I stopped trying to do so much and instead focused on a few traditions that were OUR family traditions and did them in a big way. Maybe Elf on the Shelf isn’t our thing, but an AWESOME advent calendar is.

What about your families? What traditions have you kept? Any you’ve ditched for the sake of your sanity?



  1. MediaMom December 4, 2013 at 10:20 am

    I was in your shoes when my daughter was Liam’s age. Add to everything the fact that I didn’t celebrate Christmas growing up, and I loved having an excuse and opportunity to take part in some of these holiday activities for myself too. But here’s what I’ve learned so far. First, as much as you feel this is the first year your son really gets Christmas, you will feel that way again next year and the year after and the year after that. That’s one of the best things about the holidays and little kids. You have a long time before that excitement and wonder fades. Also, I’d say do the things you want to this year rather than feeling you have to make certain things happen every year. Not everything has to be an annual tradition, and some things you never thought would become recurring activities just will. We’ve done the Polar Express, Tree Festivals, Elf on the Shelf, and visits to Santa, but not every year. We have done holiday cards, Toys for Tots, Christmas PJs and cookies for Santa every year since our daughter was born. And last year we did the “adopt a child” thing through the post office’s program. It was awesome, and I hope to do it every year from now on. But the point is, I don’t think I could have planned in advance what would be an annual tradition and what wouldn’t. I also wouldn’t be surprised if there are some traditions that will become holiday “must-dos” that we haven’t even discovered yet.
    Relax, enjoy and don’t push too hard. And do me a favor and remind me to do the same!

  2. Pingback: Teaching Kids the Importance of Giving During the Holiday SeasonThe Family Room |

  3. Terri December 19, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    All wonderful ideas, and most I have done with my now 7 year old. It’s wonderful to experience the magic of Christmas all over again through the eyes of a child.

    Perhaps you could use another term than ‘adopt’ in reference to buying gifts for a needy child. As an adoptive parent using that term in reference to helping a child in need belittles what true adoption is. Adoption is the act of becoming a family, something that is forever, and permanent. While buying him/her gifts is a wonderful thing, it is far from the years, blood, sweat & tears that are involved in a true adoption.

    • Caty, Blog Editor December 21, 2014 at 3:02 pm

      Hi Terri – Thank you for your comment and yes, you’re right. I went ahead and adjusted the language to better reflect the idea of helping a child in need. We hope you and your family are enjoying the holiday season and celebrating with traditions of your own.

  4. Altson October 9, 2015 at 1:14 am

    I loved some of your ideas and may add some to my existing ones !
    I usually do a night before xmas box for my daughters filled with new pjs, fluffy socks, a xmas dvd or craft we can watch together. Theres always a sachet of hot chocolate and marshmellows and for my eldest a sachet of face masque. The girls love opening these.

    Another one I’m starting this year is wrapping 24 books (mostly ones we already have with a couple of new childrens books and charity shops are great for these!) And putting under the tree. My 3 year old, Poppy can choose one each evening to unwrap so we can read together sat around the tree.


  5. Jennifer October 25, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    I love making the holidays extra special for my kids, as much as I thought for many years that they “might” be more for me than them. It’s when I try to skip one and my kids notice? Then I know that they truly appreciate them.

    As for our traditions that are not listed:

    We attend a candle light service on Christmas Eve. The kids, and the talented adults of the congregation at the church I grew up in sing carols and tell the story of Christmas. We light candles at the end and sing the last carol.

    My brother and sister in law started a tradition of the 25 books of December. They wrap 25 new books and after the kids get into their pjs that night, they choose one book to unwrap and read before bed. <loved this idea.

    I host an annual Christmas party at our house, where I recreate all Pinterest recipes and décor that I pin all year. We have a Chinese auction at the party with gifts no more than $10-15. We invite friends, family and those special people we meet during the year that have no family for holidays.

  6. Rae Bates October 30, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    I have a cute way to display cards. I took an inexpensive evergreen garland and, using black thread, tied small binder clips every 6″. I use cup hooks to secure the garland around a doorway. As cards arrive I use the binder clips to clip the cards to the garland.

    • Kat February 17, 2016 at 11:32 am

      That’s a very creative and unique idea of how to display holiday greeting cards!!! When I was growing up, my mother used to tape all of the holiday greeting cards to the outside of the small decorative banister that led to the upstairs of our house, but only went up about 5 steps!!! It was very simple but so beautiful – especially when the banister, along with the rest of the house, was decorated for Christmas!!!

  7. Katie Flack October 31, 2015 at 4:25 am

    Your list sounds lovely. I’m sure most things you will be able to achieve. The pj’s, books idea is one we do too. I wrap up a new set of pj’s, a Christmas book and some chocolates or sweets and also a tub of reindeer food and we ‘create a bang’ on Christmas eve (in the morning) when it’s still light and then we all rush out to check what’s happened. My little boy thinks the reindeer have dropped off an early gift for him from the sleigh and gets so excited. It’s a lovely way to start Christmas eve off and easy to do! Have a Merry Christmas from Liverpool, England xxx

  8. Jean November 18, 2015 at 5:14 pm

    Make popcorn balls, read ’twas the night before Christmas just before bed with the Christmas tree lights on. Go to a live navitity scene., go caroling with a group,go sledding.

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