- Buy an ornament every year that represents what your child is doing in life. You can go to a site like Ornaments with Love and see the variety of options available. My parents did this for us, and we are doing it with my kids. Each child has their own box of ornaments. Each year of their life has an ornament with their name, the year and the ornament that represents life (sports, accomplishments, interests, etc.). When they leave home, they’ll have a great collection of ornaments to show their own family some day.
- Collect Christmas books. Each day leading up to Christmas, read a book as a family. A new book is opened on each Christmas Eve to add to the collection.
- Have an interactive nativity. This can be a children’s set. I know Little People has one. This also may include not having Jesus in the manger until he suddenly appears Christmas morning. I have also heard of having the shepherds and wise men start at different points across the room and have them move in closer and closer until Christmas day when everyone has convened on the baby.
- Invite people in that don’t have a place to go on Christmas.
- Instead of gifts, do activities with extended family. Choose to go ice skating or to the movie theatre together. Make it a day of sledding, skiing or snow shoeing. Time spent together is way more valuable than the gifts, and it’s not so bad on the pocket book.
- Do an advent wreath as a family. Once a week, light a candle and read a passage together.
- Rather than tags on the presents, have wrapping paper that represents each of the kids. They can pick out their own or you can pick it out for them.
- Make Christmas cookies and take it to your neighbors while inviting them to your church. We did this with our small group last year, and it was a great time to meet our neighbors. I’m not sure if anyone came to church, but we had a lot of warm smiles and conversations.
- On Christmas Eve, have everyone share a “Jesus sighting” – where they saw God working this past year.
- Teach the true story behind St. Nicholas. Read the story each year.
- Have a Christmas caroling party where you actually go door to door. I did this every year growing up, and it is definitely a favorite memory.
- Adopt a family. Be Santa Claus for another family – bringing gifts food and love. Can’t afford it? Partner up with a number of other families to make it happen for one family.
- Go on Christmas light searches. Try and find neighborhoods in your area that really do it up right, and visit there. Bring along some candy canes to suck along the way.
- We act out the nativity story with my family every Christmas Eve we are with them. We have costumes, the story is read and there are Christmas carols inserted in the script.
- Give your kids Christmas pajamas to open up on Christmas Eve. Our kids wear theirs all year long.
- In our family, stocking stuffers are opened up in Mom and Dad’s bed. I grew up doing it, and that’s how we roll.
- Attach scriptures to ornaments and read them as you are decorating the tree.
- After Christmas is over, trim off the branches and keep the trunk and a couple bigger branches to make a wooden cross that will be displayed at Easter.
- Be willing to celebrate Christmas outside of traditional time frames. Our family is big. If we went to everything, we would be making at least 5 stops Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We used to do this. These stops weren’t right next door either. We would be traveling 30-45 minutes to head to different locations. We have had to be flexible and make changes. We now do every other Christmas Eve with one side of the family. My family has been flexible and now celebrates Christmas together on New Years day.
- Cut down your own tree. We don’t head to the mountains. We head to a tree farm. I love the search for the perfect tree. Always end this event with hot chocolate and popcorn.
- Do a family or friends progressive dinner. We do this with my husband’s side of the family. It gives us a chance to see everyone’s decorations and eat along the way. Every year there is a picture take of people opening their door to invite everyone in.
- Collect a new house for your Christmas village every year. Mark the year on the bottom.
- Have a gingerbread house decorating day with cousins or friends. It can be a collaborative effort or there can be a bit of competition involved.
- Create a slide show of Christmas’ past. Have it running as a screen saver all season long on your TV or computer.
- Visit the same Santa every year and be in the picture with your kids. My parents this, and it is fun to see them change throughout the years too.
Most of us have traditions we grew up with and want to pass on to our families. You may have enough of your own, but I wanted to give you some ideas in case you are looking for things that might make Christmas more meaningful for your family. Here are some we either do, want to do or have heard other people do:
I would love to hear some of your favorite family traditions too. Leave a comment or share on Facebook.
I put a little Animoto video together to show you some of our traditions:
Try our slideshow creator at Animoto.
Thanks for the great list! A slight variation for #11: my family grew up caroling at the old folks home. Many people there do not have visitors during the holidays and especially seeing children made them very excited.