Once I had kids of my own, I looked back on all the fun family Christmas traditions my parents had put in place to make Christmas insanely special for us year after year. These 17 are some of my absolute favorite traditions that have given me some of the best memories in this world! I am so excited to share them with my own kids and also to share them with you!
This post is all about fun family Christmas traditions to make this year and years to come some of the best Christmas’ yet!
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Fun Family Christmas Traditions
1. Have a sibling gift exchange
Kids love receiving gifts, and often that is all that kids do at Christmas. But it’s also important that we teach our children to give at Christmas too. A sibling gift exchange is an easy way to do that. Put each of your kids’ names into a hat and have each child pull out one name (make sure they don’t get their own). Each kid is then able to give a gift to one sibling and receive a gift from one sibling.
Depending on the age of your kids and how you handle money in your home, you can choose to give each child a set amount of money to spend or they could use their own money. Each child will enjoy their time shopping with you for their sibling and when Christmas time comes around, they will look forward most to watching the gift they bought get opened.
2. Wrap all the stocking stuffers
One of my favorite parts of Christmas has always been opening stockings. My mom always filled our stockings to the brim and stretched them to their max. But my favorite part about the way my family does stockings is that EVERY SINGLE THING is wrapped. If things aren’t wrapped young kids may just dump out their stockings and move on but with each thing being wrapped you’ll get to extend the fun a little bit longer!
3. Write Christmas letters to each kid
Every Christmas morning in my house as a kid, we would walk out to envelopes on the tree. There was one with each one of our names on it. This was our Christmas letter that my dad wrote to us every single year. He always talked about the things we had accomplished and overcome that year and just how proud of us he was. I still keep those letters in a keepsake box today and I’m excited to continue that tradition in my family too.
4. Give each kid a special ornament each year
As kids grow up, their interests change rapidly. Choosing ornaments that match your child’s interests and accomplishments from that year is a fun way to document their growth over the years. Like this ornament, a puppy, that I got after getting my own dog. When your children reach an age where they have their own family and Christmas tree, the ornament collection they take with them will be filled with fun memories.
5. Search for the Christmas Pickle
The Christmas Pickle is a tradition that many Americans know and love. As the tradition goes, whoever finds the pickle on the tree is allowed to open the first Christmas present. As a kid, my family added an extra twist to this tradition. Whoever found it got to open the first gift and also got 20 dollars. This is a great way to make this tradition a little more interesting to teens too!
6. Give each child a box of books
When I had my first Christmas with my in-laws, I was introduced to their Christmas tradition of a box of books for each kid. I’ve since done the same for my kids! Not only does this tradition encourage reading in an age of technology but it can still be done even when your kids are grown up and coming back home for Christmas.
7. Christmas PJ's and a movie on a Christmas Eve
In our house, we all got to open one gift on Christmas Eve… our Christmas pajamas! Everyone in our family would open their pajamas, quickly slip them on, and then wander downstairs to watch the movie “Elf,” by the fire. This tradition is fun for kids of any age and a nice break from the holiday chaos for the parents too!
8. Christmas Eve candlelight service
While giving gifts at Christmas is extremely fun, it’s not really what Christmas is all about. Going to a candlelight service is a great reminder that Christ was born, lived a perfect life, die for our sins, and allows us to live forever with God. Now that is the best Christmas gift you will ever receive!
9. Have a movie marathon the 12 days of Christmas
Picking just one Christmas movie for Christmas Eve may prove to be difficult with the number of Christmas movies that there are and the number of opinions there are in every family. So, why not have a movie marathon! These 12 Family Friendly Christmas Movies are perfect for little kids, older kids, and even adults! I personally love them all! Don’t forget to grab the checklist too to make sure you watch them all!
10. Send letters to Santa
Sending letters to Santa is an old Christmas tradition that is a great way to get younger kids in the Christmas spirit. If your child is too young to write to Santa, you can also download the free app Speak to Santa on your phone or computer and your child can video call with Santa! This app is available in both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. After downloading, you can set up a child profile to allow Santa’s message to be personalized to your child. This app will also allow your child to track Santa’s sleigh on Christmas Eve and video call him while he is on his sleigh too!
11. A big Christmas morning breakfast
Having a big breakfast on Christmas morning allows the family to slow down and spend some quality time together before the festivities begin. My mom always made breakfast casserole and homemade cinnamon rolls for us to eat inbetween stockings and gifts. Find a fun breakfast spread that you all enjoy eating and start your own breakfast tradition for Christmas morning!
12. Take a picture in front of the tree each year
While older kids get harder and harder to get a picture out of, they will love looking back on a priceless picture from each Christmas growing up. If you want to make things even more fun, choose to replicate the same pose every single year. Years later line the pictures up side by side and you’re guaranteed to enjoy some good laughs!
13. Build an awesome family gingerbread house
Gingerbread houses are another one of those long standing fun family Christmas traditions. But, this year ditch the gingerbread house kits and get creative! We’ve done pools, trees from ice cream cones, steeples, and even shingled the roof with cereal. You name it, our family has probably done it.
Head to the store together, grab your supplies, and then get working! Create one giant house together or form teams and get competitive!
14. One big unmarked gift
Our family always has one BIG box under the tree that’s left without a name. No one is allowed to touch it or know who it’s for until Christmas day. The mystery gift is for someone new every year and it’s a great way to heighten anticipation for Christmas morning! It also is great practice to teach your kids to be happy for whoever the gift is for, even if the big gift isn’t for them that year.
15. Take cookies to go and drive around looking at Christmas decorations as a family
Everyone loves Christmas cookies and everyone loves Christmas lights. So….why not combine the two?! Let each kid choose a couple Christmas cookies to go and then jump in the car for a family drive! Go see all the decorations and lights around your neighborhood or town together and maybe even take a vote on a favorite! As your kids get a little bit older, it’s also fun to take hot chocolate along for the ride or stop somewhere to get a fancy hot chocolate treat 🙂
16. Have each child fill a shoebox for a child their age through Operation Christmas Child
Learning to give to others at Christmas time is a great way to get your kids’ mind off of their own wish list and onto the needs of other people. Operation Christmas Child packs shoe boxes with essentials and toys for kids of all ages all around the world. Your child can choose a child their age and pack a shoe box with items that they would love to get for Christmas too. Your child can also include a photo and/or note to the child who will receive their shoe box to say Merry Christmas. They may even get a thank you note back.
If you don’t have a way to get to the store or you miss the deadline for the physical boxes, you can also create a box online too! Things like Operation Christmas Child and Angel Tree are fun family Christmas traditions that allows you to make a difference for another family!
17. Give the Elf on the Shelf a Chance
Before becoming a mom, I always thought the whole elf on the shelf thing was strange. But I can definitely see the fun in it now, ESPECIALLY after reading these 75 Creative Elf on the Shelf Ideas from Mamas in the Making. I absolutely love the elves zip lining to the Christmas tree!
This post was all about fun family Christmas traditions to help make Christmas a little extra special this year and for years to come! I definitely loved them as a kid and love doing them with my kids, I hope you do too! Merry Christmas from our family to yours!