While I love my kids, I don’t typically get all warm and fuzzy and “let’s make memories” until it’s Christmastime. But each October, this mom is spreading the Christmas cheer and ready to get her holiday on. I love that Christmas brings out traditions and lots of love in numerous ways. The world just doesn’t seem like such a bad place when there’s a Christmas tree near.
We have started several Christmas traditions over the years, introducing these traditions when the kids were toddlers. If you are looking to start a Christmas tradition with your family, here are 15 ideas that work well with toddlers.
1. Christmas Caroling
I can’t carry a tune for the life of me, but when in a group, I can lip-sync! Our kids’ church group is caroling this year at senior center. I’m excited to hear them sing!
2. Christmas Lights
We make going to look at Christmas lights an adventure. Each kid brings their blanket. We drive thru Starbucks and get hot cocoa and find neighborhoods that go all out on Christmas lights.
3. PJs on Christmas Eve
While I don’t want staged photos on Christmas morning, I do want a few keepers. My way of doing that? Giving Christmas PJs on Christmas Eve. The older kids know what they are opening, but the toddlers are just surprised with a gift.
Another tip: I try to get a photo of all the kids together on Christmas Eve, right after they’ve opened and put on their PJs. Christmas morning group photos don’t seem to work for some reason.
4. Christmas Cards
With the number of Christmas cards we send, it feels like a production line to put together. We crank up the Christmas tunes and get the toddlers involved by letting them color the envelopes.
5. Gingerbread Houses
While it is probably best that mom or dad put the gingerbread house together, let your toddler decorate it! I found small gingerbread houses at Five Below for $3! At that price, I bought one for each kid. We will have a small gingerbread house village this year!
6. Santa Clause
My older kids are 8 and 10 years old and still want to see Santa Claus. While they know who actually buys the gift, the spirit of Santa is still alive in our house, and it’s a tradition we plan to keep.
Tip: Our best Santa experiences have been at private breakfasts with Santa. These usually cost us a bit more, but they’re well worth the experience (and the ones we’ve been to allowed you to bring your own camera — that alone was worth the cost of breakfast!)
7. Books Under the Tree
Tamara from Southern Yankee Mix wrapped Christmas books and allowed the kids to open one each night to wrapping a stack of Christmas books, and opening one each night to read before bed.
8. Baking for Friends and Family
There are a few go-to recipes we make each year. I really try to get the toddlers involved in dumping ingredients, and then, of course, they enjoy cookie decorating.
Becky from Barefeet on the Dashboard created a tradition of playing Merry Christmas Loteria with her tots. Loteria is a Mexican-style bingo game that’s fun for the whole family. Visit Becky’s site and download her free Merry Christmas Loteria printable.
10. Birthday Cake for Jesus
To make sure we don’t get too wrapped up in the Ho Ho Ho, we make (or buy, depending on the year!) a birthday cake for Jesus and celebrate his birthday in the morning. Yep, cake early Christmas morning. 1 day a year, it won’t kill them!
11. Angel Tree
Let each of your toddlers choose an angel from the angel tree and shop for the gift together. You can make this season about many things, but teaching my kids about giving is one of my top priorities. There are many variations and organizations that sponsor similar programs.
12. Advent Calendar
It’s NEVER too late (okay, maybe on the 24th would be too late…) to start an advent calendar, counting the days down until Christmas.
13. Worldly Traditions
Jessica from Sippy Cups and Suitcases is exploring international traditions with her children. This year, they are celebrating Las Posadsas! Read about their experience and learn how you and your toddler can experience this.
14. Christmas Movies
Have a family Christmas movie night! Watch a show the toddlers will love (maybe Charlie Brown or Rudolph). Make peppermint popcorn and hot cocoa, and make a fun time of it.
15. Ornament Giving
Give your children an ornament each year! Then when they leave the house, they have an ornament to take with them. We started letting our kids choose an ornament rather than giving them one. We write the year on the bottom to know when those chose it. Ideally I try to choose ornaments that aren’t easily broken.
Whether you do just a few things or have a list a mile long, enjoy this holiday season and make wonderful memories with your Christmas traditions, as someday these traditions maybe what your kid does with their kids!