I absolutely love Christmas.
Growing up, my parents, especially my mom, made the holidays an extra special and magical time for my siblings and me. After I became a mom, I carried on some of the traditions that were passed down to me, and I also created some new ones for my own family.
Hope you enjoy doing some of these – my absolute favorite Christmas traditions – with your loved ones!
1. Decorating the tree & home~
Whether you put up one tree or many, or whether your tree is themed, simple, or filled with homemade ornaments, a tree should be a unique display of a family’s personal tastes, Christmas fun, and warm memories. Put on some Christmas tunes and decorate to your hearts content!
2. Christmas baking party~
Invite family and/or close friends over and make some yummy treats.
The best part is sharing them with loved ones. If you know of someone who needs encouragement, why not surprise them with some cookies too!
3. Looking at lights in your pajamas~
This is one of my most treasured traditions. I fondly remember, as a child, my dad’s last Christmas and how I looked at Christmas lights in my pj’s sitting right next to him. I’ve done this tradition for a few decades ever since!
Put on some super comfy PJ’s, bring along or buy some hot chocolate, listen to Christmas music, and drive around looking at lights. This can include just your immediate family or you can invite many family members and friends. Afterwards, watch a Christmas movie complete with holiday snacks.
4. Play Christmas song charades~
Get some people together and give everybody three little pieces of paper and have them write down three of their favorite Christmas songs… Then put the pieces of paper in a big bowl and have each person take turns drawing one of the pieces of paper out of the bowl and act out – without any words – the Christmas song they drew out of the bowl. Be prepared to laugh…hard.
5. Christmas home video night~
Every year, record home videos of every Christmas and then watch those special videos on the nights leading up to Christmas. Our family now has 30 videos, so we start 30 nights before Christmas Day, watching one each evening. It’s fun to warmly remember Christmases past, watch the kiddos when they were little, see precious loved ones who now are in Heaven, and see how much everyone has changed.
6. Game night~
Invite family and friends over to play games, drink hot chocolate or eggnog, and eat Christmas snacks. Have each person bring their favorite holiday snack or dessert to share.
7. Snow ice cream~
If it snows during December, make snow ice cream and watch Frosty the Snowman. If it doesn’t snow, have an ice cream sundae bar. Maybe make some snowball cookies, too.
8. Surprise your grandparents & parents~
Visit grandparents and/or parents and surprise them with a Christmas poinsettia, a fruit basket, freshly baked cookies, a gift, or a holiday treat such as Starbucks or a holiday flavored milkshake. It’s a great way to thank them for all they have done (and still do) for you and the investment they made/make in your life!
9. Contribute to charity~
Teach your children the joy of giving (and model compassion) by providing gifts to those in need. Consider writing those in the military and teaching your children about the sacrifices our military makes. Buy some cookies and then stop by the police department or fire stations and bless them with cookies as you tell them thanks. If you know of a widow or widower, do something special for them. Consider doing Angel Tree and choose an angel who shares a family member’s birthday. Give to a favorite organization.
10. Scrapbook Night~
Take lots of holiday photos, get the photos developed, and make a scrapbook. If you have kids, have them create one too. You’ll love seeing their creativity.
Also, get out all of your old Christmas photos and reminisce about Christmases past.
11. Indoor picnic~
Make some traditional holiday food, picnic foods, or snack foods and have an indoor picnic while watching holiday movies or listening to Christmas music.
12. Tea party~
Make some fun holiday scones, tea sandwiches, and petite desserts and invite loved ones over for afternoon tea. You can also decorate Christmas sugar cookies at this event, too.
13. Tepee/Fort Day~
Make a teepee or fort in the middle of your living room with your kiddos, complete with decorations and lights, and then watch a Christmas movie.
14. Finger paint with pudding~
Make some vanilla pudding and color it with red food coloring and another batch with green food coloring and then “paint” on wax paper. Be sure to protect your table, floor, chairs, and clothing. It can be messy but a lot of fun! You can also just do vanilla pudding to avoid potential stains.
15. Make ornaments~
Google “make homemade Christmas ornaments” and get creative!
16. Make homemade Christmas play dough~
Make green, yellow, blue, brown, white, and red play dough and have fun with your kiddos creating Christmas themed creations.
17. Christmas Eve gift~
Start a tradition of opening up one present on Christmas Eve: a great book to read or warm pajamas!
18. Homemade hot chocolate & story~
Make hot chocolate together to drink while reading The Night Before Christmas or the Christmas story in the Bible on Christmas Eve.
19. Treats for Santa~
Leave out cookies and milk for Santa Claus…and don’t forget carrot sticks for Rudolph!
20. Attend Christmas church services~
Spend time praising God for His amazing gift and miracle of Christmas!
Go caroling in your neighborhood (or to a family member’s home) and pass out treats or a fruit basket to your neighbors or family.
22. Live theater/ballet night~
Get dressed up and go see the Nutcracker ballet, a Broadway musical, or a live performance of A Christmas Carol.
23. Peace by the tree~
Turn out the lights, except for your tree’s Christmas lights, and sit by your tree every night leading up to the New Year and spend time with God while listening to soft Christmas music.
Do Advent with your kiddos. My favorite book to follow is, “Christ in Christmas: a family advent celebration”…very good book!
25. Christmas Date~
Make plans for a special Christmas date with your spouse and/or children (or nieces/nephews/siblings)….go buy a Christmas CD together and play it in the car, go out to lunch (let them choose the place), and then go to every store that interests your spouse and/or child and make a Christmas “wish list”. If you make this an annual tradition, your child/niece/nephew will have a great Christmas CD music collection when they’re an adult.
26. Have a family Christmas card party~
Buy or make Christmas cards, have the whole family sign each card, and send them to family and friends. When addressing the cards, pray for God’s blessings, provision, and favor on each family.
27. The Reason for the season~
Read all about the birth of Christ in the Bible to your children on Christmas Day and sing Happy Birthday to Jesus before opening presents. Tell your kiddos that everything they receive for Christmas is all because God has blessed them with His goodness.
28. Happy Birthday, Jesus~
Have a birthday party for Jesus, complete with a birthday cake.
29. Gifts for Jesus~
Give Jesus a birthday gift of your choice: do something special for another person, set aside time to read your Bible everyday, develop the fruits of the Spirit all year long, etc…think of something truly special and then do it in honor of Jesus as a special birthday gift to Him.
30. Thankful for family and friends~
Treat a family member or friend to a place that has holiday themed treats: lots of restaurants, bakeries, and coffee shops have special treats in December. Tell your loved one all of the ways you are thankful for them.
31. Time for a holiday getaway~
Take a trip to another destination and enjoy all the cool holiday fun. Disney World, Disneyland, Universal Studios, go ice skating at Hotel del Coronado (California), ICE at Gaylord hotels, Great Wolf Lodge, Silver Dollar City, the Biltmore Estate, New Orleans, New York City (best city ever😊), Chicago…the list of great places to go and enjoy holiday fun is endless! Of course, a staycation in your own hometown works, too!
32. Host an impromptu Christmas or New Year’s Eve party~ Have guests bring their favorite holiday snack, dessert, or beverage to share with everybody.
33. Movie night~ Host a Christmas movie night and provide popcorn and drinks.
34. Frozen fun~ Go ice skating, snow tubing, or sledding…or build a snowman or have a snowball fight!
35. Ornaments and memories~ Buy an ornament every week in December, as well as anytime you go on a trip or a vacation. As the years go on, you’ll end up with a great tree of memories.
36. Cookie exchange~ Host a cookie exchange where everyone who attends pre-makes their favorite Christmas cookie or treat, and brings copies of the recipe, and everyone exchanges treats.
37. Christmas karaoke~ Because singing around family and friends is a blasty blast!
38. Sing around the piano~ Find a piano, someone who can play it, and gather ’round for some wonderful Christmas fun!
39. Have a gingerbread house decorating contest with family and friends~ Lookup recipes online and don’t forget the toppings and decorations.
40. Check out local Christmas festivities, parades, events, etc~ There’s so much to do throughout the entire month of December. Lookup fun activities and enjoy them.
41. Photos with Santa~ Visit Santa Claus and get your pic taken with him. Be sure to write a letter to him, too, just for fun! For those who choose to not do the Santa thing, have a great discussion with your kiddos about the historical events of Christmas and the many traditions people enjoy.
42. Fresh tree~ Go to a tree farm and cut down your own Christmas tree. Be sure to know how to properly and safely care for it to extend it’s life.
43. Craft day~ Make a paper Christmas chain and count down the days until Christmas. Look online for craft ideas and have a relaxing, creative, fun night.
44. Family camp out~ Have a family “camp out” or sleepover in the living room. Watch a Christmas movie, enjoy Christmas treats, get a flashlight and make reindeer/animal shadows on the ceiling, do Christmas crafts, and make cookies at midnight.
45. Volunteer and give back~ Look for ways to be a blessing at your church or local charity, ring a bell for Salvation Army, or do another service project with your family. Consider making a donation or doing something special for a foster home or orphanage. Also, go through your closets and donate unused clothing.
46. Kindness to the elderly~ Visit a local nursing home and sing Christmas carols and hand out Christmas cards. They love visitors!
47. Play “Dirty Santa”~ Have family and friends buy a gift for $10 or less, get together and take turns having one person open a present…they can choose to open a gift from under the tree or if they like a gift someone else has already opened, they can “steal” it from them (this can happen up to 3 times).
48. Host a White Elephant gift exchange~ Everybody brings a gag gift and exchanges gifts.
49. Christmas Eve Watch Party~ Watch the news on Christmas Eve to “track” Santa Claus.
50. Make Christmas dough ornaments~ If you have children, make handprint ornaments. Be sure to make some for the grandparents, too 🙂
51. Tree Decorations~ Make popcorn garland and hang it on the tree. Candy canes are fun to hang on the tree, too!
52. Music nights~ Attend local Christmas concerts at churches, schools, and in the community.
53. Relax~ Take the time you need to rejuvenate and relax this holiday season. Some seasons, relaxing is better than all of the fun stuff.
54. Watch It’s a Wonderful Life~ Thank God for all the family and friends you have in your life…and also for loved ones who are now living with Him.
55. Thankfulness~ Every day in December, think of a person you are thankful for and something you are grateful for. Each day, call, write, or text the person you are thankful for to tell them why you are grateful for them.
56. Prayer cards~ Every Christmas card you receive, place it in a special basket and pray for the family who sent it. Keep the basket out all year and pray for each family throughout the new year, too!
57. Be a “Secret Santa”~ Secretly leave a gift at a loved one’s house.
58. Flower power~ Send flowers or a Christmas floral arrangement to your parents, grandparents, or someone who has invested in your life.
59. Childcare~ Offer to watch family member’s children so mom and dad can go on a Christmas date and get some holiday shopping done. If you happen to have extra money, pay for their date.
60. Host a special Christmas brunch or holiday dessert party~ Invite family and friends over for a yummy good time!
61. Make paper snowflakes~ Use your creativity to create beautiful snowflakes and hang them in your house.
62. Go out to a Mexican restaurant~ While waiting for dinner, order some tortillas. Fold the tortillas in half 2-3 times then bite them in various places. When you unfold it, you’ll have made a tortilla snowflake.
63. Play “I Spy” with Christmas decorations in your home~ This is fun for everyone – especially little people!
64. Make homemade marshmallows~ Give them out to family and friends along with a box of hot chocolate or a jar of homemade hot chocolate mix.
65. Remember family and friends who have lost a loved one or those who are going through a tough time in life~ Take the time to encourage them, call them, check on them, care about them, and include them. Christmas is especially difficult for new grievers, those who are experiencing loss, illness, or relationship conflict, and those who feel alone.
66. Don’t sweat the small stuff~ Christmas should be a FUN and MEMORABLE time of year – just say no to drama and avoid conflict. As a gift to God, yourself, and others, drop any resentments you have towards family and friends so you can start the New Year fresh with a renewed, healthy, light heart. Give grace where and when you can, but don’t foolishly open you or your family – especially children – up to damaging hurt or harm. Forgiveness doesn’t always require reconciliation in toxic situations…it just requires taking the offender off your hook and placing them in God’s hands.
67. Making memories is much more important than material things~ Do NOT go into debt. Keep things balanced. AVOID conflict over finances as much as possible! Be good to loved ones to the best of your ability, for sure, but stay within wise parameters of your budget. December is – and should be – a ton of fun, but January’s bills show up quickly! My absolute favorite gift to receive from anyone in my family is a heartfelt, handwritten letter. If you are financially challenged this year, consider writing a letter to your loved ones telling them how much they mean to you.
68. Find 3 families to host a Progressive Dinner night~ One house does appetizers, the next does the main course, and the third house does desserts. Ask holiday themed questions as a friendly game or ask people to share their favorite Christmas memory.
69. Take time out to nurture your relationships with God, your spouse & children, your parents, siblings, and the rest of your family~ In years to come, you will either say, “I’m so glad I took the time to do that” or “If only I had ____!” If you already have regrets, be kind to your heart and forgive yourself, realizing had you known better, you would’ve chosen or done better. Today is always a brand new opportunity to draw close to God, choose wisely, love others, and learn all you can to live the best life possible.
70. Cherish & treasure TRUE Gifts~ This Christmas is an absolute GIFT!!! Not only is it the celebration and birthday of Jesus, it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to extravagantly love all of your family and friends.
Enjoy this holiday season to the FULLEST with God and loved ones! Make time for relaxation. Create the best memories possible. And always treasure the true Reason for the season!
Gratitude & Christmas blessings to you,
©2015 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.
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