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20 Family Christmas Tradition Ideas To Start With Your Family

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 fun family Christmas traditions for future years, so here are 20 fun ideas to help you find a new family Christmas tradition:

Family decorating their christmas tree


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 fun 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

Christmas eve box ideas for kids and adults

While in some cultures, opening gifts on Christmas Eve is already the tradition (my husband’s whole 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 perfect way to make sure 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.

For a different idea, many families instead do a December 1st box. It’s very similar, but gifted on the first day of the month instead.

This is more our tradition since we celebrate Christmas Eve with our Polish traditions where there are already gifts.

Find loads of gift ideas for every family member.

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.

3. Make A Donation To A Toy Drive

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

Making a donation to a toy drive is a great way to give back this holiday season.

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.

There are all sorts of toy drives happening around Christmas time, so there’s sure to be one near you. You can donate new or gently used toys to children in need.

Not only will this make a difference in a child’s life, but it will also teach your kids the importance of giving back.

This is a great way to declutter toys with a purpose as well, to avoid ending up with too many toys when the gift opening begins.

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.

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 decorations and holiday 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 tradition each year. This is one of our kid’s favourite nights in December!

6. Make A Gingerbread House

Little girl with santa hat looking at gingerbread house

One of the most classic Christmas traditions is making a gingerbread house. It’s a fun activity to do with the kids and it results in a delicious and festive decoration for your home.

You can either make your gingerbread from scratch or use a kit – either way, it’s sure to be a hit!

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 Gift Exchange

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 whole 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.

This is just one of the many fun Christmas gift exchange games you can try.

9. Annual Christmas Photo

Family christmas photo on a bed

Memory keeping is such an important thing for me and this is also the case for many other families. While you may not look back over your photos often, that once in a while trip down memory lane makes it all worth it.

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.

This family photo shoot might be a group photo you take together at home or as part of a themed photo session, or it might be a Santa Claus photo with the kids.

10. Put Up The Tree On 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.

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.

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

13. 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 or these cute reindeer treats would be a perfect treat for Santa Claus!

14. An Advent Calendar

Advent gifts in basket

Another classic Christmas tradition is using an advent calendar. This is a great way to countdown the days until Christmas with your kids.

Above, we talked about advent books as an alternative, but the classic Christmas tradition of an advent calendar is equally fun

There are all sorts of advent calendars available these days, from the traditional chocolate ones to ones filled with small toys or even beauty products.

You can make your own advent calendar and load it up with fun advent fillers for the whole family. Or take a different approach and create an advent activity calendar instead.

15. Send Out Christmas Cards

Sending out Christmas cards is a great way to stay in touch with friends and family over the holidays.

Christmas cards can be expensive, so why not get the kids involved and make your own? You could even include a family photo for an extra special touch.

If you’re not into making your own holiday cards, you can always buy some beautiful and festive ones online or from your local store.

16. Attend A Christmas Concert Or Event

Attending a Christmas concert or show is a great way to get into the holiday spirit. There are all sorts of performances to choose from, from traditional concerts to festive shows and plays.

Many communities have their own Christmas carol night or Christmas markets with yummy foods and handmade gifts to buy.

17. Watch Christmas Movies

One of the best things about Christmas is snuggling up with a blanket, popcorn and watching Christmas movies.

There are so many great Christmas movies to choose from, whether you’re looking for something classic or modern.

Some of our favourites include Elf, Home Alone, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, The Christmas Chronicles and The Polar Express.

Not only are Christmas movies a fun way to get into the holiday spirit, but they’re also a fun activity to do with the kids. You can create your own Christmas movie watch list or just pick one at random.

And for mum and dad, there are often plenty of holiday films with a twist of romance for a romantic date night at home during December.

18. Decorate Christmas Cookies

3 girls decorating christmas cookies

Decorating Christmas cookies is a fun activity to do with the kids. It’s also an exciting way to get them involved in holiday baking!

Kids never say no to baking cookies – especially if it’s a special family recipe!

There are all sorts of festive cookie cutters and icing colours available, so the possibilities are endless. Be sure to have plenty of sprinkles on hand too – they make everything extra festive!

19. Buy Or Make a New Christmas Ornament

Adding a new ornament to your collection is a wonderful way to commemorate the year.

You can buy ornaments online or from your local store. Or, if you’re feeling crafty, you can even make your own!

There are all sorts of DIY ornament tutorials available online, so you’re sure to find one that’s perfect for your family tree.

Making a garland from baubles

Make the occasion extra special by adding some handmade decorations to your Christmas tree and home. Check out these easy DIY decorations:

20. Do A Random Act Of Kindness

Doing a random act of kindness and good deeds together is a great way to spread holiday cheer. It’s also a great way to teach your kids the importance of giving back.

There are all sorts of ways to do a random act of kindness, from paying for someone’s coffee to making Christmas treats for someone who needs some extra cheer or mowing the lawn for an elderly neighbour.

You could even drop in a box of Christmas cookies and other treats to the local emergency services stations for police officers, ambulance drivers, firefighters and hospital workers on Christmas Eve or Christmas day, as a small thank you to those important people who work to keep the community safe over the Christmas period.

Whatever you do, be sure to involve the whole family so you can turn this lovely act of kindness into a special tradition for Christmas!

Conclusion: Christmas Traditions To Start With Family

With so many wonderful family Christmas tradition ideas, you are sure to find one (or many) new traditions to start with your own family this December and hopefully for many years to come. Traditions help to connect a family and give us all a little something extra to look forward to each year. It also gives you plenty to do on Christmas day together.

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

For more Christmas planning inspiration:

Fun family christmas tradition ideas