Inside: 23 of the most magical Christmas traditions you need to start in 2020 to connect the family for years to come.
Traditions create a sense of security, contentment, and belonging.
Christmas traditions bring families together (especially during tough times) and also helps families and friends reconnect.
These magical Christmas traditions are definitely worth keeping (or starting), as they can bring SO much happiness to your lives.
Traditions are an examination of what we hold dear.
Did you ever have a grandma who would send you a well-thought-out greeting card for every occasion? And although you might not think much of it at the time, years later it’s one of your most cherished memories?
Christmas traditions work the same way.
Here’s the thing:
Years down the road, kids won’t remember what was under the tree, but what they’ll remember are the special traditions that made each and every year so special.
Christmas is coming, so let’s take a look at 23 of my favorite little Christmas traditions.
Table of Contents
- 23 Christmas Traditions You Need in 2020
- 1. Make a Christmas Playlist
- 2. Decorate the House (A No-brainer Christmas Tradition)
- 3. Pick out a New Ornament Each Year (or make one)
- 4. Use an Advent Calendar
- 5. Decorate a Gingerbread House
- 6. Bake and Decorate Christmas Cookies
- 7. Send Handwritten Cards or Letters (A+ Christmas Tradition for Kids)
- 8. Watch these Christmas Movies
- 9. Make a Family Night Calendar for December
- 10. Join the Naughty Elf on the Shelf Bandwagon
- 11. Get In Touch With Santa (Write Santa a Letter)
- 12. Participate in an Annual Toy Drive or Sponsor a Family
- 13. Go Ice Skating Outdoors (Unique Christmas Tradition)
- 14. Attend a Local Christmas Market or Craft Fair.
- 15. Make an Adult-only Christmas Tradition (Parent Favourited Christmas Tradition)
- 16. Drive by Christmas Lights
- 17. Hide the Christmas Pickle
- 18. Wear Matching Christmas Jammies
- 19. Wear an Ugly Christmas Sweater
- 20. Plan a Special Christmas Eve Tradition
- 21. Dress Up (Or Dress Down)
- 22. Tell Stories
- 23. Do a Gratitude Exercise
- Final Thoughts on Christmas Traditions
23 Christmas Traditions You Need in 2020
1. Make a Christmas Playlist
Anyone who knows me well, knows I’m obsessed with music.
It’s the heartbeat of my life.
So naturally, this is the first Christmas Tradition on the list.
But it’s not just first because I love music, it’s first because you are going to appreciate this festive music playing in the background for many of the traditions that follow.
I love using Spotify. You can choose a premade Christmas list (and there are many), or choose songs and make your own list.
Why not turn this into a fun game?
Take turns picking your favorite Christmas classics to add to the list. This in and of itself, is a fantastic and fun way to connect.
2. Decorate the House (A No-brainer Christmas Tradition)
Que up your Christmas playlist and dust off the Christmas decorations.
The holiday spirit isn’t just eggnog. Scientists actually say that Christmas decorations can make you happier.
The more decorations, the merrier, right?
So, heat up the hot chocolate, press play on the Christmas playlist, and start decorating.
If you are the crafty type, make your own decorations.
There are many gorgeous DIY Christmas decorations around the web, and you can check out a ton of them here.
Picking out a tree
And of course, when decorating, you might need a tree.
Have you considered that the excursion to pick out the tree could become a Christmas tradition?
In my area, we have a magical place called Drysdales, they serve hot chocolate and provide wagon rides to the tree forest.
Nothing says Christmas like sawing down a tree in -30 degree weather!
3. Pick out a New Ornament Each Year (or make one)
Speaking of Christmas decorations, have you put up the tree yet?
I’m obsessed with the idea of picking out a new Christmas tree ornament each year.
Years later, as a family, you can look back on all the different ornaments chosen.
Choose an ornament that is special to you and your family. (It doesn’t even have to be Christmas related).
Have you experienced anything special during the year? Perhaps purchase a trinket from a vacation or a special place you visited that you could hang on the tree.
If your family isn’t traveling (and most of us aren’t), this doesn’t mean you can’t make this family Christmas tradition special. You could pick out an ornament from a local shop.
Think of something that means something special to your family this year. Did you get a puppy? Perhaps find a dog ornament, or did your child learn to ride a bike, pick out a bike trinket.
Years later, this will be a VERY cool reminder of some incredible family memories.
Or, my favorite of all, make the ornament.
I love the handprint idea, but there are so many DIY ornament ideas floating around out there.
4. Use an Advent Calendar
December 25th is arguably one of the most magical days of the year.
And that’s why it’s so much fun to count down.
This builds anticipation, plus it provides a surprise for your child each day.
(And you didn’t hear it here, but you can maybe even use it to bribe your child to eat their breakfast and brush their teeth).
Advent calendars don’t have to be candy-filled. There are so many unique ideas.
I love these ones:
5. Decorate a Gingerbread House
On November 10th, (Yes two days before writing this post), my son and I decorated our Christmas gingerbread house.
I know, I know, it’s crazy early. But when we saw the pre-baked gingerbread house kit (complete with icing and candies), we couldn’t resist partaking in this fun craft.
(I love this pre-baked Super Mario gingerbread kit)
If you love baking, go for it and make it from scratch. Otherwise, save yourself the hair pulling and grab a kit.
6. Bake and Decorate Christmas Cookies
Each year we decorate shortbread cookies with icing and sprinkles.
The sweet smell of cookies baking instantly reminds me of Christmas (well, I suppose that’s because I only bake once a year).
This fun Christmas tradition is a tradition that keeps on giving. You can give cookies to others and enjoy them yourself.
7. Send Handwritten Cards or Letters (A+ Christmas Tradition for Kids)
This is one of my favorite traditions because in this digital era, isn’t it so lovely to receive an actual handwritten letter or card?
You can easily connect with your friends and family from near and far.
I would even suggest you gather the family, (why not include some fun Christmas sweaters?) to make an extra special Christmas card with a photo inside (or as the cover).
8. Watch these Christmas Movies
Take a weekend to watch some of the most magical Christmas movies of all time. Or, better yet, why not watch one each weekend during the month of December.
There is never too much of a good thing!
A few of my favorites:
- National Lampoons Christmas Vacation (for older kids)
- It’s a Wonderful Life
- A Christmas Carole
- Frosty the Snowman
- Home Alone
- Dr. Seuss – The Grinch
- The Polar Express
Since I love turning simple things into fun games that connect the entire family, have each member of your family pick their favorite movie and then take turns (during the month of December) watching each other’s picks.
And while we are on the topic of fun movie nights, why not make one of them a Xmas slumber party in the living room?
Young kids will go bananas for this idea.
9. Make a Family Night Calendar for December
Family nights are excellent ways to connect with kids.
If you aren’t into watching movies every weekend, check out this epic list of family night ideas.
You can add a Christmas twist to almost any of these ideas.
I promise you, these are the moments your kids will remember years from now. Not the new PlayStation under the tree, but rather laughing, playing, and connecting at Christmas. (With your festive music playing in the background of course).
When engaging in a family night activity, set out a box, and all electronic devices go in the box until the activity is over. Take the time to tune into what matters most.
10. Join the Naughty Elf on the Shelf Bandwagon
This is a relatively new tradition, but a tradition my family is loving.
The Elf brings a little something naughty to Christmas, and for my mischievous young son, it’s the perfect addition to the month of December.
This year I’m obsessed with Christmas Elf Kit from Crafty Holiday Helper.
It includes all the accessories you need to have the most magical Elf season yet! I’m talking all the scenes, arrival and departure letters and SO MUCH more!
You need this gift of a stress-free Christmas Elf season.
Christmas is magic, and let’s remind our kids of that.
11. Get In Touch With Santa (Write Santa a Letter)
We can’t forget that gift-giving is a BIG part of Christmas for kids.
Writing a letter to Santa is a must-do tradition for young kids.
It’s also a nice reminder for kids that they want to stay on the “nice” list.
And this is a spectacular idea:
If you live in Canada, you can send your letters to Santa and he will write you back!
North Pole HOH OHO
You must have your letters in by December 10, 2020.
12. Participate in an Annual Toy Drive or Sponsor a Family
We know that kids love receiving gifts at Christmas, but it’s also important to remind these tiny greedy humans that Christmas is more about helping others.
Donating toys to kids in need or sponsoring a family (and having your child help you shop for this family) is a beautiful way to help others and teach your children valuable lessons on kindness.
13. Go Ice Skating Outdoors (Unique Christmas Tradition)
Last year we went to an outdoor skating rink.
I think I enjoyed this activity more than the kids. (and I’m no Tonya Harding).
There is something just oh-so fairy-tale-like about skating outdoors. It certainly teleports you back to your own younger years.
Put on your wooly socks, mitts, toques, (knee pads?!), and lace-up for a true winter fun-filled day.
Check out our epic guide of 75+ stocking stuffers for kids of all ages.
14. Attend a Local Christmas Market or Craft Fair.
This might be more for you, mom, or dad, but who doesn’t love browsing around a magical holiday craft shop?
Throw on your best winter scarf (or mask), don’t forget the hot chocolate, and stroll through a Christmas craft show, market or fair.
(You might even find the perfect ornament for your yearly tree tradition).
15. Make an Adult-only Christmas Tradition (Parent Favourited Christmas Tradition)
I don’t care when you do it, but one evening, after the kids are fast asleep, make time for your own grown-up Christmas Tradition.
I’ll tell you mine:
Every year I watch the Christmas movie, “Just Friends.”
This has morphed into a must-do Christmas tradition for me. After all, who doesn’t love Ryan Reynolds? Not to mention. every year I just find it funnier and funnier.
Other Christmas movies I absolutely adore:
- The Holiday
- Love Actually
- Office Christmas Party
- Die-hard ?!
Not loving movies?
Then snuggle up by the tree with wine or hot chocolate and talk! Yes, talk, who knew it could be so much fun 🙂
16. Drive by Christmas Lights
Christmas is twinkling and beautiful.
And if you have snow in your area, even better.
Strap the family down and head out for a drive to look for beautifully lit up houses.
Some people go all out, and it’s pretty incredible. (and magical)
I still remember doing this in the old paneled Station Wagon as a child, and it was so exciting. Not to mention the adults enjoy have the kids strapped in for an hour for some much needed downtime.
17. Hide the Christmas Pickle
I’ve never done this, but I’m hooked on this idea and plan to do it this year. (I just need to pick out a Christmas pickle).
This strange tradition entails: On Christmas Eve, hide an ornament (shaped like a pickle) in the tree. In the morning, the first to find it will get a special gift or surprise.
You can find Christmas pickles here.
P.S – I’m also obsessed with Pajamagram’s matching sets (find them here).
There is no other sweater you need than any of the sweaters from You Look Ugly.
20. Plan a Special Christmas Eve Tradition
There are many Christmas Eve traditions, and whatever yours is, enjoy it.
My mom always let us open one gift on Christmas Eve, and it was almost better than Christmas morning entirely.
It was like that first sweet taste of Christmas, and it was so exciting.
I’ve kept this tradition alive in my family.
On Christmas Eve, we watch a family movie or play games, cook a nice leisurely dinner, like lasagna (with appetizers), get in our Christmas Pajamas, and relax.
(Wow, look how many traditions are covered in that once sentence).
Another wonderful idea is to go to a Christmas Eve candlelit service. Doesn’t this sound like exactly what your soul needs right now?
21. Dress Up (Or Dress Down)
Perhaps make Christmas Eve or Christmas day extra special (and different from any ordinary old day) by dressing up.
We don’t have many opportunities to dress up these days (kids, especially) so create your own dress up occasion.
Although it’s lovely to feel cozy and casual, sometimes dressing up can make something feel extra special.
A calm down corner, room, binder, or space is a place for angry, overstimulated, or upset children to calm down. It’s free from blame, shame, and pain. This GIANT calming bundle includes OVER 20 worksheets, posters, and interactive charts which will help you set up an inviting calming space or binder for kids, whether at home or in the classroom.
22. Tell Stories
I’ve said this before, and I’ll repeat it, kids LOVE hearing stories about when you were young.
This makes for a wonderful family Christmas tradition.
Have grandparents tell stories, you tell stories and let your kids tell their own stories too.
After Christmas (maybe on New Years’), you can also discuss your favorite parts of Christmas from this year.
The idea is to talk to each other and share your feelings.
23. Do a Gratitude Exercise
It’s hard for young kids to grasp the concept of gratitude, but it’s such an important concept.
And it’s especially important to tie the entire Christmas season together.
Your child might think hearing about gratitude is more boring than 1st-grade math, so instead of talking on deaf ears about why they should be grateful, why not do a fun gratitude activity together?
We start at Thanksgiving and make gratitude trees (read all about that here). We then use this set of worksheets to cultivate an attitude of gratitude going into the Christmas season.
Did you know instilling gratitude in kids at a young age could help them grow up to be happier people? From the “How Bright Is Your Light?” growth mindset series for kids comes the one-of-a-kind Gratitude Kit for Kids. This MAGICAL set includes 30 pages that will help your kiddo foster an attitude of gratitude TODAY! Get ’em here!
You might also love any of these 15 gratitude activities for kids (with an explanation of how to teach gratitude to kids)
Another tradition I always do at Christmas dinner (well, all holiday dinners) is to go around the table and express one thing we are thankful for.
(At Thanksgiving this year, my son said he was thankful he wasn’t homeless and for his family, oh my heart!)
Final Thoughts on Christmas Traditions
Any (or all) of these Christmas traditions will make your Christmas season shine. Not to mention they will become lovely memories for the entire family.
Traditions that might get passed down to your kids kids, and their kids kids, and their kids, kids kids. You get the point.
Enjoy. And have a safe and happy holiday season.
I’d love to hear your Christmas traditions below.
Tina Williamson is the writer and founder of Mindfulmazing, a peaceful parenting blog that guides busy moms and dads to tune into what matters most, and, ultimately, create a happy life! Tina shares strategies and advice for raising responsible, mindful, and resilient kids.
In 2019, Tina created the popular eBook, “Mighty Mindful Kids,” a mindfulness activity book that helps kids with focus, emotional regulation, awareness, and connection. This helped so many families (including her own) that she created several printable resources for parents, teachers, and therapists.
Stay tuned for Tina’s Amazing Me Growth Mindset Journal for Kids being published in the spring of 2021.