30 Terrific Christmas Traditions for Your Family Observance

Traditions are significant. They keep us together and identify us as belonging.

Tradition is the practice of handing down stories, beliefs, and customs
from one generation to another
in order to establish and reinforce a strong sense of identity.

While traditions are certainly not limited to Christmas, the season is a wonderful time to pause and consider the traditions your family observes. And if you find your family lacking in practices that establish and reinforce a strong sense of identity, perhaps you will find one or two to institute this year from the list below.

30 Christmas Tradition Ideas

  1. Work together to present a gift to Jesus. Prior to the start of Advent, talk to your grandchild and together choose a favorite charity. During the weeks of Advent save money toward your gift. Present your gift to the chosen recipient at Christmas. Another option is to allow your grandchild to choose a gift from a charity’s online catalog. 
  2. Choose a day and time (with the help of mom) and call your grandchild once each week of Advent. Together talk about the names of Jesus.
  3. Create your own grandparent/grandchild version of Advent Random Acts of Kindness. Carry out your acts of kindness throughout the season. If you don’t live in the same town, talk regularly by phone, email, or video chat to share your experiences. (If you need ideas for your Advent Random Acts of Kindness list, some ideas can be found in this booklet.)
  4. Make an Advent chain or calendar and mail it to your grandchild.
  5. Make Christmas decorations and send them to your grandchild. If your grandchild is older, mail him the materials to make his own.
  6. Hang stockings in your own home for each-and-every one of your grandchildren.
  7. Choose a favorite Christmas movie or animated special (maybe one you have fond memories of from your childhood) and view it annually with your grandchildren.  Make it a big deal.  Pop popcorn, make hot chocolate, serve a special snack chosen just for this occasion.
  8. Mail red and green construction paper to your grandchildren. Have them trace their handprint on one sheet and cut it out. For young grandchildren, ask for a parent’s help in tracing and cutting. Ask them to send the handprints back to you. When all have arrived, make a handprint Christmas wreath decoration for your home.
  9. Bake cookies. Fill your kitchen with laughter, rolling pins, cookie cutters, and flour everywhere. Or if you have an aversion to messes, refrigerated cookie dough and cake mix cookie recipes are a great neater option!!!
  10. Send Christmas cookies baked by Grandma (or Grandpa) to grandchildren who live miles away.
  11. Mail a box of cookie baking ingredients to your grandchild and let them make their own cookies.
  12. Make a gingerbread house. Work together as a family to build a unique and beautiful creation of gingerbread OR hold a friendly family competition.  Winner is awarded the prized annual “trophy.”
  13.  Buy a gingerbread house kit and mail it to your grandchild.
  14. Gather the supplies for making a construction paper snowman: three white circles of various sizes, eyes, nose, mouth, buttons, scarf, and hat. Put the supplies in a zip lock bag and mail them to your grandchild. He can then build his own snowman. Have someone take pictures of the “constructed” snowman and send them back to you.
  15. Read Twas the Night before Christmas by Clement C. Moore to all the children of every age right before bedtime on Christmas Eve.
  16. Create a Christmas music video.
  17. Host a family gathering on Christmas Eve, complete with comfort food and games.
  18. Make up new words to old Christmas songs.
  19. Share in your grandchild’s Christmas morning joy via video chat.
  20. Purchase six pairs of fun socks. Fill each sock with small gifts. Send the treat-filled socks to your grandchild’s parents prior to Christmas Day. Ask them to give your grandchild one sock per day beginning on Christmas Day. A fun way to connect with your grandchild and observe the Twelve Days of Christmas while blessing him or her with some unexpected treats and new socks.
  21. Attend Christmas Eve service as a family.
  22. Read the Luke 2 account of Jesus’ birth to everyone first thing on Christmas morning. Or put a twist on the reading by assigning parts and acting it out as someone reads.
  23. Take an informal family photo each year.
  24. Collect Christmas memories. Place a “Christmas” journal and writing instrument out each year. Ask your children and grandchildren to pick it up and write about one favorite Christmas memory – past or present. It won’t be long until you’ve collected many special memories!
  25. Prepare a Christmas Eve box for each of your adult children’s families. Place a variety of items in a large box to be opened by the family on Christmas Eve. Items might include new pajamas, slippers, a new movie, a new family board game, books, or snacks.  You might even include a coupon for a family event such as a living room camp-out or a drive to look at Christmas lights or to view a live Nativity.
  26. Go caroling.
  27. Have some PJ fun. Purchase identical pajamas for each family member.  Open them and wear them on Christmas Eve.  Or ramp up the silliness by wearing them out to breakfast or brunch on Christmas morning!!!
  28. Spread your table with a solid color tablecloth. Each year when the members of your family gather around your table, have them sign the tablecloth. Then embroider the signatures.
  29. Build generational bonds. While the family is gathered, hold a ridiculous competition – candy cane Olympics, minute to win it games, etc. – where all family members participate. The winning family takes home the trophy for the year.
  30. Model hospitality. You don’t have to look long or hard to find people who are alone at Christmas (widows/widowers, international students, college students and others who cannot travel home). Look around and invite others into your home for Christmas dinner.

Is there a tradition from the list above that you would like to institute with your family this coming Christmas?

I would love to hear from you.  Please share a family tradition or two.  Let’s help each other build meaningful Christmas traditions for our families.