In today’s post, I’m sharing a great list of 20 simple Christmas traditions to start to create a fun, meaningful and memorable holiday season for you and your family.
You’ll find fun ideas of simple ways you can create traditions you can enjoy with the people you love. And create fun memories you can look back on fondly for years to come.
I love having some simple traditions we do each year during the holiday season. I still fondly remember some of the traditions we had when I was growing up. And I want to create those same kinds of memories with my own family.
I think traditions can be such fun ways to make memories together and make the holiday season feel really special for you and your family.
Keep it simple
Traditions are fun, but not when they add stress, require a lot of planning, prep and work or feel exhausting.
I don’t want to do traditions that require a bunch of “stuff”, create clutter or put any financial strain on our family. And I certainly don’t want Christmas traditions that don’t feel enjoyable or fun!
Instead, I want our Christmas traditions to be simple, fun, and meaningful ways we can make memories together as a family during the holidays. I want our traditions to focus on what we can do together and how we can be present with each other.
And I want our traditions to be fun – for everyone, including me! And that means keeping it simple so I don’t need to worry about elaborate planning, preparation or cleanup.
Looking back, the most meaningful memories and traditions are often simple things. Not the big, shiny, fancy moments. But the moments when you were really present and enjoying yourself with the people you love.
Take what works
When it comes to creating traditions and deciding which Christmas traditions to start, take the pressure off yourself and don’t try and do it all.
A good way to exhaust yourself and stress yourself out is by trying to do all the things, make all the memories and create all the traditions.
Pick and choose which Christmas traditions feel meaningful and fun to you. Then let go of the pressure to try and do it all.
If you have the time, energy and attention to devote to a select few traditions, they will feel a lot more meaningful than spreading yourself too thin trying to do it all.
Turn a task into a tradition
Many of the Christmas traditions on this list might even be things you’ll be doing already. The key to turning a task into a tradition is the way you approach it.
Sometimes it’s simply a matter of shifting how you approach a task to turn it into a memory-making “event” that will become a tradition instead.
For example, you might enjoy playing Christmas music during the holidays. A simple thing. But you can make it a tradition by getting your family involved and creating a special family holiday playlist. Then every year you can play your own special playlist of all your favourite Christmas songs. It’s a simple shift, but it will make it feel so much more special for you and your family!
20 Christmas traditions to start
Here are 20 ideas of Christmas traditions to start to create a fun, meaningful and simple holiday season. Take what sounds fun and meaningful, leave what doesn’t.
Remember to keep it simple and realistic for you, your lifestyle, your energy levels, etc. The focus should be on creating enjoyable memories, not worrying about trying to create the perfect holiday traditions.
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1. Create a family Christmas playlist
Like I mentioned above, get your family involved in making a playlist of all your favourite Christmas and holiday songs. As you listen to, enjoy and add to it year after year, it will become your soundtrack to years of Christmas memories!
2. Create a Christmas countdown
A Christmas countdown is not only a fun way to count down the days until the big day. But it can also help you avoid answering the question, “How many more days until Christmas?” endlessly!
There are plenty of fun advent calendar options you can buy. Or you can keep it really simple by making your own. A paper chain made with construction paper and a stapler to count down the days works too!
3. Make a Christmas bucket list
A fun way to involve your family in your Christmas traditions is by making a Christmas bucket list at the start of the holiday season together as a family.
Remember to keep it simple, don’t put pressure on yourself to do all the things. Instead, have each member of your family contribute one or two things to your bucket list. Then plan to do them together as a family.
4. Put together a Christmas movie bucket list
Last year the kids and I created a list of all the Christmas movies we wanted to watch during the holiday season. It was such a fun way to make movie nights feel even more fun during the holidays.
5. Make a simple family ornament each year
It’s so fun to create a yearly ornament together as a family each year. In past years we’ve enjoyed making salt dough thumbprint ornaments. But another idea I’d like to try is filling a bulb ornament with a family picture or special keepsakes from the year.
If you get a real Christmas tree, another fun (and simple!) idea is cutting a ring of the trunk off, drilling a hole for a ribbon and writing the date on it. A collection of tree rings would be fun to hang up each year!
6. Make and decorate cookies
Making and decorating cookies is a classic Christmas tradition. But if you’re not someone who enjoys baking (me!), don’t be afraid to take the stress out of it for yourself.
I use store-bought sugar cookie dough every year so we can easily roll it out, cut out shapes and get decorating. I enjoy this so much more than putting the pressure on myself to make it all from scratch.
We’ve also bought ready-to-go cookie decorating kits before too and they are equally as fun and super easy!
7. Send handwritten cards to people you love
Writing handwritten cards, or having your kids draw cards for the people you love is a fun Christmas tradition to start.
Just remember to keep it simple and take the pressure off yourself. You don’t need to send a handmade card to everyone in your address book. It’s OK if you just send out a few, whatever feels fun and manageable for you.
8. Take cards and treats to a senior’s center
And speaking of handwritten/drawn cards, a great way to spread some Christmas joy is by dropping off a special card and/or plate of treats at a local senior’s center.
I’ve seen how much it can brighten the day of a senior to share a cute kid-made card and a plate of goodies with them. It’s even better if your kids can deliver it themselves!
9. Decorate the house and/or Christmas tree together
This tradition took me a little while to figure out. I used to be focused on decorating the house in a certain way (i.e. aiming for perfection!) and would get stressed out when the kids tried to help.
Over the years I’m learning to embrace and love when the kids help me decorate. The clumps of ornaments all on the bottom half of the tree make me smile. And I know one day I’ll really miss the days of the kids helping me decorate.
And as my kids get a little bit older, I’m realizing they can actually be a lot of real help too! Many hands make light work, meaning we can decorate (and pack it all back up again) together, without it feeling like a lot of work for me!
10. Write letters to Santa
Here in Canada, if you write and mail a letter to Santa, he’ll write you back! Just make sure you get your letter sent in time!
It’s a fun tradition the kids love and always feels so magical for them. I always make sure to make a copy of their letters before we send them so I can add them to their memory boxes!
There are also apps you can download to get a video or text message back from Santa. Portable North Pole is a fun one.
11. Fill a shoebox
The kids and I fill a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child every year. And it’s a great way to foster empathy for children around the world who aren’t as fortunate as our kids.
Or you can choose to support a local organization in your area working to share the magic of Christmas with those who need it.
12. Decorate a gingerbread house together
Decorating a gingerbread house is another classic, fun family Christmas tradition to start during the holidays.
Again, don’t be afraid to keep it simple. There’s nothing wrong with using a store-bought gingerbread house kit if that makes it feel more manageable and fun for you!
13. Take a Christmas lights tour in your pjs
A super simple Christmas tradition to start that takes almost no preparation is going on a Christmas light tour in your town or city.
We make it feel a little more special by wearing our pyjamas and bringing hot chocolate and Christmas cookies with us!
The kids look forward to it every year and it’s always fun finding the most decorated house!
14. Sleepover by the Christmas tree
Another fun Christmas tradition is having a sleepover by the Christmas tree. We set up sleeping bags for the kids and let them sleep by the tree one night before Christmas.
Again, it’s super simple, but they look forward to it every year.
15. Have a Christmas movie night
In addition to having a Christmas movie bucket list, it’s also fun to have one movie that will be “your movie” that you watch every year together.
Make the night feel extra fun by getting in cozy pyjamas, having hot chocolate, popcorn, Christmas cookies or another special treat you all enjoy.
16. Have a traditional family board game
Having a favourite board game you play every Christmas season is another fun (and simple) Christmas tradition to start.
I still love looking back on our family Rummoli tournaments we had growing up. Everyone played and sometimes the games got super intense! I love that we have a game that always feels like Christmas to me.
17. Christmas Eve gift box
Every Christmas Eve Santa drops off a gift with Christmas pyjamas and a Christmas book on the doorstep for my kids. As a bonus, the pyjamas are always super cute for Christmas morning photos!
It’s so fun to see their excitement when the gift arrives. And maybe even more fun for the adults to figure out a way to get the gift on the doorstep and the doorbell rung without getting caught!
18. Sprinkle reindeer dust on Christmas Eve
Every Christmas Eve we make reindeer dust to sprinkle on the lawn and help Santa’s reindeer find us.
It’s super simple to make (we combine oats, sprinkles, sugar and glitter in a bag and shake!). But it’s such a fun tradition for the kids.
19. Do a fun activity every Christmas Eve
Making a point to do a fun activity together every year on Christmas Eve is a fun way to make memories year after year. Maybe you always go sledding or skating in the afternoon every Christmas Eve. Or maybe you have a movie night, watch the same movie each year or play a fun board game.
Not only is it a great time to connect together as a family. But it’s also a fun way to mark the day and create a fun, annual tradition.
20. Have a fun meal every Christmas Eve
You’re going to eat anyway on Christmas Eve, so why not pick a meal to be your traditional Christmas Eve dinner?
Maybe choose a meal you all love and will look forward to. Or keep it simple and do appetizers for supper on Christmas Eve.
It’s a fun way to make the ordinary feel special and create a Christmas tradition while you’re at it!
Simple Christmas traditions to start
I hope this list will give you some fun ideas for Christmas traditions to start with your own family.
Remember to keep it simple and do what feels fun, comfortable and meaningful for you and your family.
Your traditions may shift and change as your family grows, shifts and changes. But taking the time to create a few meaningful traditions during the holidays for you and your family is a wonderful way to create memories you can fondly look back on for years to come!
What’s your favourite Christmas tradition? Leave a comment and let us know. You might inspire a wonderful and meaningful Christmas tradition for another family to start!