Holiday traditions can bring a family even closer together. Here are 40 Christmas traditions that will cost you very little or nothing at all, but will help make the holidays special with memories that will last a lifetime.
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40 Christmas Traditions
- Attend a holiday event
- Go on a holiday lights tour
- Show gratitude
Start a specific tradition or rotate through various ways of remembering that you’re grateful for
- Find someone to serve
- Do an advent calendar
- Fill a Manger with the straw by doing good deeds
Starting December 1st, put an empty manger in your home. Each week, write down each family member’s name on strips of paper and put them in a bowl. Have each person draw out a name and do good deeds for that person throughout the week. For each good deed, they can put one piece of straw in the manger. On Christmas Eve, add Baby Jesus to the manger.
- Go Christmas Caroling
- Write a thank you letter to Santa and others who’ve given gifts
- Choose a child to do a secret Santa for and let your kids help
- Do the 12 days of Christmas for someone
- Visit a care center
- Write letters to Santa
- Clean out toy boxes before the holidays and find toys to donate to those less fortunate
- Take time to remember Christmases of the past
- Christmas Eve, read ’Twas the Night Before Christmas or the Christmas story from the Bible
- Take gifts to nearby homeless shelters or other places for people in need.
- Have a Polar Express Party
- On a night leading up to Christmas, have a family slumber party by the Christmas tree
- Make or buy an ornament for each person relating to something significant that happened during the year
For example, a graduation ornament, basketball ornament, or dance ornament.
- Christmas Eve Pajamas
Each child gets to open one present Christmas Eve- pajamas! Everyone can sleep in their new pj’s to building excitement for the morning.
- Pickle ornament
There are various versions of how and where this tradition started (the US or Germany), but a pickle ornament is placed on the tree late Christmas Eve. The first person to spot the pickle Christmas morning gets an extra present! Need a pickle ornament? Check these out!
- Christmas book countdown
Gather 24 Christmas books (they don’t have to be new ones). Put them in a basket, even wrap them for more fun. Each day, choose a book and read it together as a family.
- Make an old fashioned paper chain
- Get a living pine tree to use as a Christmas tree in your house. After the holidays, take it outside and plant it.
- Spiderweb Ornament
Follow the Ukraine tradition of putting a spiderweb on your tree. This is based on a legend of a poor widow who didn’t have decorations for her tree. She wanted it to be beautiful for her children but didn’t have any resources to make it happen. Spiders saw her sorrow and worked all night to spin webs to decorate the tree for her. People now put spiderweb ornaments on the tree to remind them to be grateful for the things they have. You can find spiderweb ornaments here.
- Volunteer at a soup kitchen
- Throw a Grinch party. NO gifts, no singing, watch Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (or not), no holiday food, no tree lights.
- Have a Christmas cookie baking day
- Plan a Christmas movie night
- Gingerbread houses
It doesn’t have to be houses. One year we had a gingerbread fire truck!
Homemade gingerbread is always nice but if you’re pressed for time, you can find a kit here, or even a gingerbread ninja kit here.
- Build a fort where the kids can stay together Christmas Eve night
- Sticky buns for Christmas morning breakfast
I love this tradition because the sticky buns are started Christmas Eve night, then left to rise overnight. In the morning, the only thing to do is bake them and you’ll have a nice, sit-down Christmas breakfast with minimal effort.
- Read the book Santa Mouse, by Michael Brown and Elfrieda De Witt
Santa Mouse is out of print but copies are available here. Read the book before Christmas, then hide a little present in the branches of the tree on Christmas Eve. Don’t forget the yellow ribbon!
- Christmas tablecloth
Each year, bring out the craft paint and markers and let each person draw something on the tablecloth. Add more each year and share the memories from the past.
- Make a holiday memory book
Each year, add another page or two with your favorite Christmas memories from that year. This cute kit could get you started!
- Set a Christmas goal for next year
Write down something you want to do better at and put it in your stocking. Pack it up with decorations for the year, then pull it out a year later to see how you did.
- Go on a Christmas scavenger hunt
- Make a time capsule and seal it up
Plan to open in a certain number of years.
- Write letters to family members telling them how much they mean to you.
- Put up Christmas decorations the day after Thanksgiving.
It could be a different day, but make it a tradition to decorate a certain day. Everyone can look forward to it!
What would you add to these 40 Christmas traditions?
Please share in the comments!