30 Unforgettable Family Christmas Traditions New and Old

30 unforgettable Christmas Traditions

Here are 30 Unforgettable Family Christmas Traditions to Start Now.

This year I am planning on trying out some new Christmas traditions.  Making memories can boil down to all your fun family traditions.  I remember growing up making Christmas cookies, our own ornaments, and sending cards every December leading up to Christmas. 

The definition of tradition is; something that is handed down.

Handing down meaningful memories from all the fun we have at Christmas time is exactly what I want for my children.  Hopefully, someday they will make Christmas memories with their children too!

This list is a combination of traditions I remember from my own childhood and some new ideas I intend to try out.  Here are 30 Christmas traditions that are family favorites plus some new memory-making ideas.

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30 Unforgettable Family Christmas Traditions New and Old


1 – Have an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party

This is a fun Christmas tradition from when I was young.  My family always had ugly Christmas sweater parties!  All you need is an old funky Christmas theme sweater and some friends.

Of course, food and drinks will add to the party.  The best Christmas sweaters can be found at your local thrift store.

We always kicked this up a notch by having a neighborhood party that traveled from home to home.

We would start at one home with drinks and appetizers, then we would head to the next house for the main dish, ending at the final house for dessert.  This was a fun take on the usual Christmas sweater party.


2 – Decorate Early! After Thanksgiving

As soon as Thanksgiving is over I am decorating for Christmas.  It is fun to have the holiday cheer in our home for a whole month.

There is so much that goes into decorating so I like to enjoy it for a while.

On that same note of decorating early, I am also one of those people that puts all the decor away early, usually the day after Christmas.


3 – Silly Christmas Card E-mail 

Instead of sending Christmas cards in the mail, I am going to be sending a Christmas card e-mail. 

It is very expensive to send Christmas cards plus it is not very environmentally friendly.  With a really great Christmas picture and note, an e-mail can be just as thoughtful.

Another great idea is to send a movie message to a family that lives far away.


4 – Give the gift of an Experience

Christmas traditions do not need to be expensive or full of packages and clutter.  Giving the gift of an experience can be just as exciting. 

Ten Christmas Experience Gift Ideas

  • A fun night out to dinner or dancing
  • Tickets to an amusement park
  • Spa Day
  • Making Cookies for someone
  • Subscription to a streaming service
  • Babysit for someone with kids
  • Certificate to get your home cleaned professionally
  • Massage
  • Money for kids’ future
  • A day out with the loved one; picnic, hike, or anything fun.

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5 – Find local Holiday Themed Things to do

In your local city newsletter or website, there is usually a whole list of fun holiday-themed activities.  We have a local snow day that my children love.

Since we live in a place where it does not snow, they bring the snow to us.  This is a super fun tradition that we plan to do every year.


6 – Make salt dough ornaments

Salt dough ornaments are really easy to make and fun for all ages.  I have a recipe I love in case you want to make them.

The best part is my three-year-old can even help with the painting and mixing.  This is a really fun Christmas tradition every year!


7 – Make Traditional Christmas Cookies

Christmas cookies are the best!  We always made Spritz Cookies as a family during the holidays and whenever I have one I am reminded of Christmas time.

winter food


8 – Christmas Movie Night

Holiday-themed movies are the best, but even if you don’t like Christmas movies you can still have a fun movie night.  Pop your popcorn and set up a yummy tray of snacks for your movie.

I like to get a lot of blankets and pillows and make it a really cozy space for our movie nights.

Ten Funny Christmas Tradition Movies

  1. The Grinch
  2. Home Alone
  3. A Bad Mom’s Christmas
  4. Ernest Saves Christmas
  5. Fred Claus
  6. The Family Stone
  7. Four Christmases
  8. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
  9. Bad Santa
  10. Bridget Jones Diary


9 – Make a Paper Chain Countdown to Christmas

Cut strips of paper and link them together.  Make sure you have the correct amount of links to get to Christmas day.


How to make a Christmas paper chain:

  • Step 1 Cut red and green paper into equal strips (long rectangles).  The size will depend on how you want your chain to look.
  • Step 2 Loop the first piece of paper into a circle and secure it with tape or glue.  Make your next loop go through the first one and secure again.
  • Step 3 Repeat the looping and securing of the paper through to the last to create a linked chain.

Each morning when you wake up rip off a new link for the day.


10 – Christmas Theme Music Playlist

Make a music playlist with all of your favorite Christmas Music.  Music really sets the mood and brings holiday cheer to a room.

I like to use Spotify because not only can you choose the songs you want, but they also have already made albums.


11 – Christmas Craft Night

There are so many Christmas crafts out there.  Pick a few and make a craft night part of your Christmas traditions.

I start by figuring out what crafts we will make and then get all the supplies we need.  If you are having several people over you might want to set up different stations to make each craft.

Here is a list of 30 Christmas Crafts to choose from.

snowflake craft


12 – White Elephant Gift Exchange 

We have played the white elephant game at many family Christmas parties.  This is a great way to have fun without spending a lot of money.

Sometimes the gifts can have a set price limit or they have to be secondhand.  Read the full rules of the game here, but essentially everyone brings a gift, and then you can steal the gift from other people.

This is a really fun game for teenagers and adults, it doesn’t really work for little kids.

minimalist gifts


13 – Go Caroling Around your Neighborhood

I am not sure if many people go caroling, but when I was younger I remember going door to door and singing Christmas songs.

The funny thing is you don’t really need a good voice if the group is large enough.

Here is a list of the top Christmas Carols in case you want to try this tradition out.


14 – See the Local Christmas lights

Where we live there are a few local streets that go all out when it comes to Christmas decor.  They make their front yards look like Disneyland!

A quick google search for the best Christmas lights in your neighborhood will probably give you some ideas of where to drive.


15 – Open Christmas Theme Pajamas

Every Christmas Eve when I was growing up we always opened a new pair of Christmas-themed pajamas to wear that night.

I loved this when I was growing up and now I do this for my boys.  As the mom, I make sure I wash the pj’s so they are ready to be worn right after they are opened.

Color craft


16 – Christmas Morning Waffles

It is fun to have a Christmas morning breakfast tradition.  If you don’t have one you should!   This is something we always looked forward to on Christmas morning.

We always made waffles, but you can make anything.  Right after the waffles, we would open our stockings!


17 – Read Christmas Theme Books

Reading Christmas theme books really gets my kids into the holiday spirit and helps explain what is going on with Christmas.

We have a few books we own, but the library has a lot to choose from.  I usually pick out a few each week leading up to Christmas.


18 – Make Your Own Stockings

There are a lot of tutorials on how to sew your own Christmas stocking, but another idea is to customize a store-bought stocking.

My mom got us simple red stockings and she glued our initials onto each one to make it custom.  Here is a great personalized option.


19 – Do Elf on a Shelf

Elf on the Shelf is a super fun Christmas-time game.  The elf moves around the house when the kids are sleeping.  Sometimes the elf gets into trouble, but no one is allowed to touch the Christmas elf.

Here are some fun ideas on what to do with your elf on the shelf.

Christmas Shelf


20 – Make your own Christmas Wrapping

There are so many ways to make your own Christmas wrapping.  This will save you money and it is very eco-friendly!

You can make some cloth bags that can be used year after year.  I have an easy tutorial on how to make reusable Christmas bags.

Using the newspaper that you decorate yourself is another great idea for eco wrapping paper.


21 – Donate at Christmas Time

Donating during the holidays is a great way to pay it forward.  This could be as simple as donating time to help someone or donating some of your things you no longer need to the salvation army.

Every store usually has a donation box to add money or buy a toy for the unfortunate. 


22 – Have a Traditional Fancy Dress Christmas Party

When I was little we always dressed up for Christmas parties.  I have noticed lately that most Christmas parties are very casual.

My goal is to bring back the fancy Christmas party!  Where we can all wear our fancy clothes.


23 – Craft a Picture Ornament

Every year we take a family Christmas photo and I try to make an ornament out of these photos.  This craft could be as easy or tricky as you want to make it.

One idea is to cut out your photo and glue it to some card stock paper, add the year, and a string, and you are done.

Here is a more fancy picture ornament idea.


24 – Watch a Tree Lighting

Most cities have a tree-lighting ceremony at the beginning of December.  Google local Christmas tree lighting ceremony and you will find what you are looking for.

At our local tree lighting last year they had a lot of fun activities and they were handing out bags of goodies.  This was a really fun thing for the kids to watch.


25 – Participate in a Toy Drive

Participating in a toy drive helps my kids realize there are children out there that don’t have a lot.  I also like to explain how we should pay it forward and share what we have.

Again GOOGLE is your best friend this time of the year.  I just looked up local toy drive and a huge list of local places popped up.


26 – Homemade Christmas Decor

Homemade Christmas decor, as cheesy as it looks, holds all the memories!  About 6 years ago my mom and I made some sock snowmen out of old socks that were filled with beans.

These little snowmen always remind me of that fun day and bring back a lot of memories.  This is what our Christmas decor should be about, memories!

cookies cozy time


27 – Attend a Local Christmas Craft Fair

I love getting Christmas decor and crafts from local artisans.  Even if you don’t buy anything these craft fairs help me get in the holiday spirit and you can get some really good ideas for your own crafting.

We try to visit a few of these local Christmas craft fairs each season.


28 – Do a Cookie Exchange

Seriously do a cookie exchange!  This was one of the best decisions I made.  

A cookie exchange is when you cook up a ton of one kind of cookie and you essentially meet up with a lot of other people that have their type of cookie.

Then you swap different types of cookies!   I ended up going home with 20 different types of cookies.  

This is a great idea because it is very easy to make a lot of one type of cookie, but it is difficult and time-consuming to make 20 different recipes.   This way you get a lot of different cookies without all the work.

winter holiday cookies


29 – Have a Christmas Pajama Party

Pajama parties are a lot of fun and they aren’t just for kids.  This year I am looking forward to a fun Christmas pajama-themed party.

Make sure you have some Christmas treats and pick out a fun Christmas movie too. 

fire winter mood

30 – Holiday Nails

If you have teenage girls you can go get your nails done together.  Pick a fun holiday theme!

Here is a post with 30 fun Christmas nail themes.


31 – Advent Calendar

My children look forward to opening the advent calendar each day!  I swear they wake up early just for this calendar.

For the last few years, we have loved the LEGO advent calendar.  They get to count down and make the LEGO each morning!

There are a lot of reusable calendars too, but this is definitely one of the best traditions we have started.


30 Unforgettable Family Christmas Traditions to Start Now Conclusion 

It is never too late to start making family Christmas traditions!  We have some traditions that we will never give up and I am excited to try out some new traditions this year.

Sometimes new traditions stick and sometimes they don’t.  Just keep in mind it is all about having fun!


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