Christmas traditions with your family can be a way to bond together and make special memories or a way to define what you believe in. Whether your family is just beginning with the birth of a child or you desire to make Christmas more meaningful or fun with your family, there are many holiday traditions that may be a good fit.
You may choose a tradition that will simply be something to look forward to each year, something that creates a yearly keepsake, or a tradition that is an act of kindness toward others. The following ideas should help you discover a tradition that is right for your family and help you make meaningful memories for years to come.
1. Read the Christmas story with your children – Older children may be able to understand the story of the birth of Christ with you reading directly from the Bible. For younger children, a colorful, illustrated book such as “The First Christmas” by Carol Heyer is a wonderful alternative.
2. Nativity Advent – Many families tell the story of Christmas by setting up a nativity scene one piece at a time. Each day, the nativity scene becomes a little more filled in until finally, the baby Jesus is laid in the manger on Christmas day.
3. Wise Men Gifts – Some families who wish to avoid so much commercialism in the Christmas season choose to limit their gift giving to three gifts, representing the gifts the wise men brought to baby Jesus on the first Christmas. You can set your own guidelines but some people give three gifts, each with a theme such as something for the body, something for the spirit, and something special to treasure. You can also do a wise men gift exchange, drawing names with another family member and purchasing or making three gifts for that person only.
4. Create a Christmas village – If your family is creative or has a passion for protecting the environment, you can recycle or upcycle everyday household items such as cereal or cracker boxes, paper towel tubes, foam packing materials and so on and turn them into your very own Christmas village. This can be a fun way for children to interact and use their imaginations during the holiday season as a trip to the craft supply store for paint, glitter, stickers or other decorative materials can help everyone pull together to make the village a beautiful team effort.
5. Painting Christmas ornaments – Another fun way for the whole family to celebrate the holidays–and also create some beautiful decorations or gifts–is to paint ornaments together. You can purchase some basic wooden shapes or even some Christmas-themed shapes and small, inexpensive bottles of acrylic paint at a local arts and crafts store such as Michaels or Hobby Lobby. Then, turn your basic shapes into colorful works of art to keep or share. Be sure to date them so you can see how children progress as the years pass by.
6. Bake Christmas cookies – Families who bake together often enjoy lots of laughter and storytelling along the way. Whether you’re simply making cookies for your family to enjoy, baking cookies for Santa, or planning to donate the cookies to a needy family or charity, you’ll surely look forward to this tradition each year.
7. Film a Christmas video – Filming a Christmas video is a wonderful way to create a keepsake that you’ll enjoy for years to come. Your video can be a summary of events that happened throughout the year, an interview with each member of the family, a collection of stories and memories of past Christmases or wishes for the upcoming Christmas, or you can make a silly video with a different theme each year.
8. Make a wish tree – If you’re able to cut a basic Christmas tree shape from green posterboard, you can create a wish tree on the wall. Have each child cut ornaments from various colors of posterboard. Inside each ornament, they can write a wish, a special Christmas memory, or a prayer.
9. Make a photo collage – Whether you want to make a posterboard collage or form your collage into a Christmas-themed shape such as a wreath, the family will enjoy looking through photos from the past year and choosing the images they want to display on your special Christmas collage. This is a great way to relive the fun events of the year and share the joy and laughter all over again.
10. Operation Christmas Child – This project of the Samaritan’s Purse ministry enables everyday people to send a shoebox filled with gifts to needy children around the world. Sending hygiene items, toys and candy to children who would otherwise not receive gifts is a life-changing experience and a great way to help kids develop the spirit of giving from a young age. Samaritan’s Purse also includes a gospel message in the language of the region where each box will be delivered.
11. Christmas cards for soldiers – Adopting a soldier during the holiday season is another way to practice the spirit of giving. Writing out words of thanks, prayers, encouragement and Christmas wishes can mean the world to a soldier who is unable to be with his or her own family at Christmas.
12. Christmas care packages – There are many people in need of care during the holidays and seeking out those people to bless can be as rewarding for you and your family as it is for them. For instance, taking gifts to a senior center where many older citizens are left without any family or holiday cheer can let our seniors know they are not forgotten. You may also choose to deliver Ziploc bags filled with personal care items to a homeless shelter or deliver refreshments to families who are spending their holiday in a Children’s hospital.
13. Christmas Piggy Bank – At the end of the Christmas season, begin tossing loose change into a jar or piggy bank. Have each member of the family vote on which charity they believe should benefit from the collection and then, when Christmas rolls around again, deliver your donation to the charity of your choice.
There are an endless amount of ideas for Christmas traditions you can start with your family. No matter which one you choose, be sure to take photos and video or make journal entries to remember your thoughts and feelings each year. These will provide a treasure of keepsakes to look back on when children are grown and beginning traditions of their own.