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16 Magical Christmas Traditions for the Whole Family

When I think back on the Christmases of my childhood, I don’t remember much about the presents (well, except for that year I got training bras). What I do remember were all our beloved family traditions.

Every year my mom and I would go shopping at the mall on Christmas Eve for fun (crazy, no?). We’d also buy a special new tree ornament to commemorate the year. Christmas lights, visits to Santa and holiday movies also top my list of favorite Christmas memories.

Now that I’m a mother with children of my own, I want to give my kids a Christmas beyond the hottest toys; I want to give them holiday memories that last a lifetime.

If you’re looking for ways to bring more magic into your holiday season, take a look at these 16 Christmas traditions for the whole family!


  • Elf ding dong ditch! 1 of 16
    Elf ding dong ditch!
    If you're in the habit of outfitting your kids in new Christmas pajamas each year, try this fun new spin on your annual tradition. Wrap up the pajamas as a gift and ask your neighbor to ding dong ditch your house, leaving the gift (from Santa's elves) outside your front door. Include a gift message from Santa's elves wishing them a Merry Christmas. Just imagine their surprise!
    Image credit: Shutterstock
  • Wrap up your doorways 2 of 16
    Wrap up your doorways
    Parents, before you turn in for the night on Christmas Eve, wrap the doorways and entrances to your Christmas tree with wrapping paper. Allow your kids to burst through the paper to discover what Santa's left for them!
    Image credit: Shutterstock
  • Celebrate your heritage 3 of 16
    Celebrate your heritage
    Research your family's heritage and make cultural celebration part of your family's Christmas traditions. Be sure to check out these 13 unique holiday traditions from around the world.
    Image credit: Shutterstock
  • Camp out next to the Christmas tree 4 of 16
    Camp out next to the Christmas tree
    Enjoy your Christmas tree while it lasts by camping out next to it, cozy and warm in your sleeping bags.
    Image credit: Shutterstock
  • Get the kids their very own Christmas tree 5 of 16
    Get the kids their very own Christmas tree
    While decorating the family Christmas tree is surely a time-honored tradition, getting the kids their very own tree can be great fun. Allow them to decorate it any way they wish and encourage them to make their very own ornaments. You can even put the tree somewhere special, like their bedroom!
    Image credit: Shutterstock
  • Purchase a new Christmas book 6 of 16
    Purchase a new Christmas book
    Savor the holiday by purchasing one new Christmas book each year. Before long, you'll have a beautiful collection to share for generations.
    Get The Sweet Smell of Christmas (my childhood favorite) from Amazon, $8.99

  • Watch a classic holiday movie 7 of 16
    Watch a classic holiday movie
    Snuggle up and enjoy one of 15 beloved holiday movies as a family!
    Image credit: Shutterstock
  • Look at Christmas lights 8 of 16
    Look at Christmas lights
    Take a stroll through your neighborhood to admire the beautiful Christmas light displays in your area. If you find a particular house that brings you joy, have your kids write a simple thank you letter to the homeowner!
    Image credit: Shutterstock
  • Take a Christmas portrait 9 of 16
    Take a Christmas portrait
    The years pass by so quickly. If your family is anything like mine, getting a family picture taken is one of those things we intend to do but never actually get around to doing. Whether you head off to a portrait studio or simply gather together in the family room, take at least one good picture of the family each year. You'll be glad you did!
    Image credit: Shutterstock
  • Celebrate winter 10 of 16
    Celebrate winter
    Even if you only go once this season, gather up your family and engage in a winter activity. Whether it's ice skating, sledding, taking in a Christmas production, or attending a Christmas craft fair while sipping hot chocolate, enjoy it together!
    Image credit: Shutterstock
  • Attend a religious service 11 of 16
    Attend a religious service
    Whether your family attends church every Sunday or once a year at Christmas, celebrating the reason for the season feels good.
    Image credit: Shutterstock
  • Purchase a new ornament 12 of 16
    Purchase a new ornament
    Turn holiday shopping into family time by carefully selecting one special new ornament each year to add to your Christmas tree.
    Image credit: Shutterstock
  • Make a GIANT Christmas breakfast 13 of 16
    Make a GIANT Christmas breakfast
    Calling all chefs! Roll up your sleeves and get cooking as a family to celebrate this perfect Christmas morning.
    Image credit: Shutterstock
  • Visit Santa 14 of 16
    Visit Santa
    No Christmas would be complete without a visit to the big guy!
    Image credit: Shutterstock
  • Bake something 15 of 16
    Bake something
    Whether you're baking cookies for Santa, pies for Christmas day, or sweet treats to give friends and family, baking is a surefire way to get into the Christmas spirit.
    Image credit: Shutterstock
  • Make a gingerbread house… 16 of 16
    Make a gingerbread house...
    ...or train or sleigh! Whatever you decide to make, make it together as a family.
    Image credit: Shutterstock

Share your Christmas traditions below!

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More on Babble:

18 Pictures of People Having a More Magical Holiday Than You

10 Stages of Believing in Santa

7 Ways That We Remember Christmas Isn’t Just About the Presents

How to Draw 5 of Your Favorite Christmas Images!

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