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12 Family Christmas Traditions To Start

Our family Christmas traditions are something most of us have as a result of our culture, our religious background or simply because they have been handed down for generations. Some of these traditions are such essential parts of our Christmas celebrations that we could not even imagine Christmas without them!

Once children arrive though, it can be special to create a few new family Christmas traditions for future years, so here are 12 ideas to help you find a new family Christmas tradition:

12 Family Christmas Tradition Ideas - add some new traditions to your christmas season


Our most prominent family Christmas traditions were mostly around the big family get together on Christmas day, with a huge spread of cold meats, salads and desserts, after opening our gifts together.

Over time things have changed to accommodate the changes of the family.

My siblings have their own families now, just as I do. This means we aren’t all together first thing Christmas morning. But we do still do the big Christmas lunch together most years.

Now I also have my husband’s family traditions – a traditional Polish Christmas Eve feast “Wigilia” in honour of his heritage, spent with his family.

We also incorporate a delicious hot glazed ham instead of our usual cold one, as a result of my husband’s own family tradition. It works perfectly with our must-have – mum’s coleslaw, and the Polish salad my husband couldn’t survive Christmas without.


These are some family Christmas tradition ideas you may already do or ones that you can start as new traditions for the coming years:

1. Christmas Eve Gift

While in some cultures, opening gifts on Christmas Eve is already the tradition (my husband’s family do this as part of their Polish traditions), for many this is reserved for Christmas morning.

There are some lovely ideas for Christmas Eve gifts to build excitement or share a special moment with immediate family before the Christmas day rush.

Opening a single gift the night before can be a lovely build-up to the big day, but my favourite is gifting the children with a Christmas Eve box each year.

Inside is a new pair of PJs (a great way to ensure everyone looks nice in the Christmas morning photos), a book to read together or a Christmas DVD to watch on Christmas Eve as a family.

Find loads of gift ideas for every family member.

simplified christmas

2. Advent Books

If you have a child who loves to read, or you want to encourage a passion for reading, advent books are perfect.

Wrap up 24 books individually and each night your child chooses a new book to unwrap and read together.

To cut your costs, these can be a mix of new books and books your child already owns and may not have read for a while. It’s also a great idea to keep an eye out for cheap books through the year at sales.

This is also perfect if you don’t want to give kids chocolates like a typical advent calendar.

Check out The Book Depository for free global shipping!

3. Out With the Old, In With the New

With Christmas each year often comes new toys that need a home and if your kids already have a lot of toys, this could be cringeworthy.

Start a new tradition of having your kids each choose a few of the old toys they no longer play with, for ‘Santa’ to take back with him, in exchange for something new and wonderful.

This is a great chance to move towards a more minimalist approach to toys as well, and to consider more non-toy gifts for them as they get older.

Make sure the toys are in good condition and donate them each year so you are helping someone less fortunate while also reducing some of the kid bedroom clutter willingly.

4. Elf on the Shelf

Free printable elf planner and elf on the shelf return letter

The little Santa’s helper visiting the homes of kids worldwide can be a fun way to get creative with creating the Christmas magic for your kids. Each night the elf travels home to tell Santa if the children have been naughty or nice… providing you don’t forget to move the Elf!

It a great way to ‘encourage’ them into good behaviour during December! You can find plenty of simple elf inspiration for the month. You may even want to grab my free Elf on the Shelf planning bundle to keep you organised.

There are also some really fun ideas for creating your own elf kit with accessories and props to make it easier when the time comes.

5. Christmas Lights

Kids are delighted by Christmas lights. Actually, so are most adults. These days you can often get local listings of the competition entry homes with Christmas lights for you to visit with your family.

Turn your Christmas light night into a new family Christmas tradition each year. This is one of our kid’s favourite nights in December!

6. A Snack for Santa & His Reindeers

This is an oldie but a goodie when it comes to getting kids excited for Santa’s visit on Christmas Eve.

Leave out a glass of milk and some treats and perhaps a carrot for the reindeers. Or as is often Aussie Christmas tradition, a chilled beer instead – most dads are pretty keen to drink it once the kids go to sleep.

A few of these simple rum balls would be a perfect treat for Santa!

7. Shopping Centre Christmas Displays

Here in Australia, the Myer Christmas windows are a big deal, with a yearly launch and special event to coincide with the carefully planned Christmas story. They are a delight to see and for many, this is an annual tradition to see the latest Christmas window each year.

We visited the Brisbane Myer windows a few years back and are due for another visit soon.

Many shopping centres will have their own display windows or events during December to visit as a family.

8. Family Secret Santa

How we save big at Christmas with family secret santa rules

Christmas can be an expensive time of year, so for several years, we have been keeping the costs down for Christmas with a new tradition. We do a family Secret Santa between the adults of the family.

This means fewer gifts to buy and the added fun of the mystery on Christmas day when we get to guess who our Secret Santa was.

9. Annual Christmas Photo

Memory keeping is such an important thing for me, as you would have figured out if you have seen any of my Project Life albums.

An annual Christmas photo is so important for me now that we have kids. We don’t send ours out as Christmas cards, but this is a lovely idea that many families have and one you could easily start.

10. Put Up the Tree 1st December

We have this tradition and it is one I will stick to because putting up a Christmas tree can take ages, so you want to have it up for a month to enjoy it.

We put our tree up on the 1st of December and pack it away on the 1st of January… or somewhere within the week or so that follows when we get the motivation to take it all down.

Make the occasion extra special by adding some handmade decorations to your Christmas tree and home. Check out these easy pom pom baubles and how to make your own large bauble wreath.

DIY Christmas ball wreath

11. Christmas Cricket Match

Growing up in Victoria, it wasn’t always so hot on Christmas day and the family cricket match was something of a Christmas tradition.

Moving to Queensland so many years ago, we ended up spending our afternoons in the pool instead when we could. But this can be a super fun family activity to work off some of that Christmas feast before dessert.

If cricket isn’t for you but you still want a game to play at Christmas time, you might enjoy these fun Christmas game ideas with your family instead!

12. Magic Key

No chimney, no worries. Escape the worry of your children by putting out the magic key for Santa on Christmas Eve. This magic key means Santa can come inside and bring gifts even if there is no chimney to slide down.

A cute family Christmas tradition, but make sure you use a decorative key and not one that will actually allow entry into your house!!

What are your favourite family Christmas traditions? Do you do any of these?