If there is one time of year that is most filled with tradition, it’s the holiday season. And if there is one thing that brings a family closer together, it’s tradition. So we have the perfect chance right now to bring our families close together and create memories that will last forever. I have one son in particular that just thrives on tradition, so we have a lot of Christmas and holiday traditions that he insists on every year. And I am glad. It makes me feel like something that I am doing really matters and is impacting his life (and the lives of my other sons) for good.
So today I am going to share our favorite holiday traditions hoping to inspire you to adopt them or adapt them for your own family or create your own traditions. This is a follow-up on my post 10 Christmas Traditions to Start This Year.
9 Family Christmas Tradition Ideas:
1. Polar Express Party:
We kick off the Christmas season with our Polar Express Party. We typically do it on the evening of Thanksgiving. The kids get in their pajamas, I print out Polar Express Tickets, we turn on the soundtrack and my husband, acting as the conductor calls “All Aboard!” The kids hand him their tickets, which he punches and then he (wearing a conductor’s hat of course) marches them through the house like a train to the music. They then settle in to watch the movie with popcorn, pillows, blankets, and…hot chocolate during the hot chocolate song in the movie. (Occasionally I even break out my tap shoes for that part.)
For us this is a festive way to officially acknowledge the start of the Christmas season. We’ve been doing this for years and my kids love it!
2. Pizza by the Christmas Tree:
I think if you asked my family, all of them would agree that this is our very favorite Christmas tradition. The first Monday of December we have our annual Pizza By the Christmas Tree Party. We order pizza, sit on a blanket on the floor and eat by the light of the Christmas tree. It’s simple, sweet and fairly short and I think that is what we like best about it. We like it so much in fact, that we usually do it several more times before Christmas.
3 . New Ornaments to Celebrate the Year:
During our Pizza by the Christmas Tree party the kids each get a special new ornament that I have selected for them to represent the year we are finishing. I wrap them up and they open them that night. It’s fun to select ornaments that represent what they are into that year and it is fun for them to pull out the ornaments year after year and remember.
The ornament above was for my son who loves turtles and he played soccer for the first time that year. I had that ornament custom made for him. Other ornaments are sometimes characters from favorite shows like this one for my son this year (yes, son. He really likes Frozen!):
One of my sons got a Snoopy Artist one this year because he is in art class, another got a pig wearing a Santa hat because he loves pigs. I have also heard of families letting their kids pick out their own ornaments with the same idea.
4. Christmas Cookie Plate:
This is a tradition that originated in my husband’s family and we still carry on the tradition with them. In the past, my mother in law would bake tons of cookies and put together a cookie plate each day throughout the holiday season with a variety of cookies (and I do mean a variety!) so that everyone could have their favorite!
Now, we all bake up a few cookies and swap. We each make about 5 varieties of cookies-lots of them, and bag them up then give them to each other. This way we can each have a full blown cookie plate (yes, 15 varieties of cookies) without all the baking. It works like a charm! (And probably makes us all gain a few pounds.)
Some of our favorites are chocolate peppermint cremes, Rolo cookies, peanut butter blossoms, scotcharoos, peanut chews, chocolate mint M&M cookies, glazed cinnamon spice cookies, buckeyes and a whole bunch more! I love that everyone gets their favorite cookie.
5. Neighbor Gifts:
I know that many people do this, but this is one of my very favorite parts of Christmas. I love having a chance to knock on my neighbor’s and friend’s doors, hand them a gift and let them know that we think they are great! And I love when I hear that knock on my door and know that someone is bringing me something yummy or fun!
6. Ice Skating:
This is one that my boys love and beg me to do. They love to go ice skating. It started a few years back when we needed something to do on Christmas Eve during the day and came up with the idea of ice skating. Which turned out to be a blast and very uncrowded since most people were out making final preparations. Now we try to go at some point during the season and apparently my kids love it because they have been begging me to take them again this year (and I will).
7. Service Scavenger Hunt:
This is in my top three for favorite traditions. It’s one we started just a few years ago, again when we needed something to do during the day on Christmas Eve. We broke into a few teams and hit the town for a couple of hours to see how much service we could pull off in that time. We did everything from taping quarters on vending machines and leaving dollars in the dollar store to taking doughnuts to the police station and buying needed items for the homeless shelter. Or we love to go through a drive thru and pay for the person behind us. The boys also remember fondly the year that we shoveled neighbors’ walks and the list goes on. There are endless possibilities of things to do. We have done this with other families too to make it a competition between us all. We ended with pizza and a prize for the people who did the most service! A great way to spend Christmas Eve. (Use that tag above to help spread the cheer if you would like!)
8. Tommy Wright Game:
This is a tradition that my Grandpa started in my family when I was a kid. Granny and Gramps would buy a bunch of candy bars at the store and wrap them up. Then Grandpa would read the Tommy Wright story (here are a bunch of versions) aloud and everyone passes the gift left when they hear the word left and right when they hear the word right. At the end of the game you get to open and keep the one you are holding (or trade with your neighbor if it isn’t your favorite). This is one that my kids insist on every Christmas Eve!
9. New Christmas Jammies:
I know that this is another very common family tradition, but it’s another of our favorites. On Christmas Eve everyone gets to open one present and it’s new Christmas jammies. My boys are still young enough that they are typically matching (although eventually that will probably have to end). They look forward to this and I even remember this own tradition from when I was little. Plus, it’s nice to wake up in cute jammies for the big morning!
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I would LOVE to hear some of your family traditions too!