Family Christmas Traditions That Bring Joy Year After Year

Are you looking for fun family traditions to start with your family? Here’s a list of family Christmas traditions to help you create priceless memories year after year.

family christmas traditions
photo by Melissa Ann Photography

Christmas is by far my favorite holiday! I love shopping for other people and seeing the smiles on their faces when they open their gifts on Christmas morning. The memories that are created during the Christmas season are truly priceless. Like any other family, our family has things that we do every year for Christmas. Over the years we’ve found that we tend to do a few things over and over because we just love them so much. Even though the month seems to be one of the shortest of the year, we still manage to fit in some time to do all our favorite family Christmas traditions.

Family Christmas Traditions You Have to Try

This is a running list of all of the traditions we’ve adopted over the years. Some original to our family (at least I think they are) and some we’ve seen done in movies or online or things we’ve adopted from friends and family. I know you’re probably thinking that December is just too hectic of a month to remember any sort of tradition but I promise that year after year your family will want to stick to doing something they know. These traditions will be passed on for generations, hopefully. Either way, I definitely think that you should consider starting some of your very own family Christmas traditions. They make the memories sweeter, trust me.

1. Taking pictures with Santa

Tatiana loves taking pictures with Santa! Her first time taking pictures with him was back in 2013 and she was a little scared. The year she took this picture she couldn’t get enough of him and took pictures with him twice. These photos are perfect for those beloved Christmas cards that you mail out every year. COVID is definitely putting a wrench in things this year and making it a little harder to take pictures with Santa but you can get creative. A great way to still get those pictures with Santa without putting your kids at risk is have a loved one dress up. Make sure they’ve been quarantining or social distancing at all times possible, of course, but I think this will definitely do the trick. A little home visit from Santa won’t be the same as visiting mall Santa but it will still be as special as ever, especially for the younger kids.

4 Christmas Traditions Our Family Loves | Bianca Dottin

2. Making ornaments

This is probably my favorite Christmas tradition of them all. I love making these ornaments because not only is it a fun craft for the family, but it is a great keepsake as well. Christmas crafts are always a huge hit with the kids. There are tons of DIY ornament tutorials out there. Some are simpler than others but you’re for sure going to find one that you love out there.

4 Christmas Traditions Our Family Loves | Bianca Dottin

3. Elf on the Shelf

Who doesn’t playing a little game of Elf on the Shelf? We love hiding Sparkles and letting Tatiana find her. She’s always so excited to find Sparkles. We started the Elf on The Shelf tradition when Tatiana was just a baby. She was given her elf as a Christmas present for her first Christmas. The year after we started hiding Sparkles all over so she could watch over T. We’ve been going with the tradition ever since.

elf on the shelf
elf on the shelf

4. Open one gift on Christmas Eve

Every night on Christmas Eve, everyone is allowed to open one gift. When she was smaller the gift was always pjs so I never got excited, but it took a while for T to catch on to the tradition. Now that she’s older the gift is usually a game that we can play together, a book we can read, something like that.

5. Decorate our house

Decorating our house together sets off the whole season for us. It brings the Christmas joy into our home and really just makes us feel like Christmas is happening any day. We usually decorate on Thanksgiving after dinner because it’s such a great way to spend the evening together after having a nice dinner together.

6. Writing letters to Santa

Do your kids believe in Santa still? There’s something so nostalgic about Santa and writing him letters. Every year T has been writing him letters letting him know what she hopes she’ll get for Christmas. We save the letters and one day plan on giving them to her so she can look back on the memories.

letters to santa

7. Matching family pajamas

Every year. I’m just going to be 100% honest. I didn’t even know this was a thing until I started dating my husband in high school. Our first Christmas together, my mother-in-law bought me matching family pajamas with the family and the tradition carried over into our family. We love this tradition so much and there’s not a year that goes by that Tatiana isn’t looking forward matching pajamas.

8. Nutcracker picture frames

I love decorating our home with nutcrackers. Every year I try to find a new nutcracker with a photo holder so that I can display a picture of my family from that year with our decorations. Some years are harder than others when it comes to buying them. I’ve been most successful finding them at Christmas Tree Shops.

picture frame nutcrackers

9. Baking Christmas treats

Baking is a love of mine and it’s something that I love doing with my daughter. She’s picked up a love for it too especially during Christmas time. Baking things like Christmas cookies and cakes are fun activities that we can do together.

10. Christmas Eve activity boxes

Our first year making Christmas Eve activity boxes was a big hit. Each box was created special for each of my kids. I filled the boxes with fun activities that the kids could do on their own for Christmas Eve. Paintable nutcrackers, coloring books, hot chocolate bombs, and snacks were just some of the things in the boxes. It’s such a fun way to count down those final hours until Christmas.

christmas eve box

11. Pick an angel from the angel tree

Christmas is the perfect time of year to give back. Picking an angel from a tree to buy gifts for is something that my family loves to do. It’s so fulfilling to be able to show our kids what it means to give back.

12. Watch Christmas movies

What’s your favorite Christmas movie? It’s Home Alone for me. I could watch it all season long. We have a running list of our favorite Christmas movies that we absolutely have to watch every year.

13. Go for a Christmas lights drive

This is one of my favorites. It’s a free activity that you can do together. After spending so much money on decorations and gifts, your pockets will really want the break. Find out which neighborhoods in your area have the best lights display and go for a drive. The neighborhoods with the best lights are usually on the news around Christmas time so you know where to go.

14. Make a hot chocolate charcuterie board

I know what you’re thinking. Just try making a hot chocolate charcuterie board and thank me later.

hot chocolate charcuterie board
reading christmas books

15. Read our favorite books

Every year we add a book or two to our family Christmas collection. I love that there are always new fun diverse stories being released so I look for stories that I think my kids will really enjoy reading together.

16. Festive breakfast with our favorite foods

Breakfast and dinner are the highlight of Christmas day for us. We honestly don’t even eat lunch on that day and just snack in between. I always make a big breakfast. Cinnamon rolls are a must have for us. Everyone loves scrambled eggs and bacon so that’s on the menu too. Making a breakfast spread filled with a few of the foods your family loves makes things extra special for everyone. Breakfast will keep everyone fueled to open presents and play throughout the day so that they’re out of your hair while you’re prepping for dinner.

17. Buy a Christmas ornament to remember the year

This is another tradition that we adopted from my husband’s family. Every year each member of our family gets a new ornament of something they loved from that year. It could be a movie character, a place they visited or a symbol for something. We also buy a family ornament to add to our tree. Our family ornament is usually from a place we visited or a picture frame with the year’s Christmas photo in it.

18. Use a Christmas advent calendar

Advent calendars are fun for everyone. We have a Santa that we use to countdown the days until Christmas. There a tons of great DIY advent calendars out there that you can re-create.

What are some of your family’s favorite Christmas traditions?

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