12 Christmas Traditions for Parents to Start With Their Kids

girl in angel outfit

Ah, Christmas: it's the perfect time for parents to start some fun family traditions with kids that they can look forward to year after year. For families with young kids at home, it's worth trying out a few to see what everyone enjoys -- and what can create some cherished memories. Parents craving some rituals beyond the ordinary -- i.e., going out caroling, sitting around watching A Christmas Story -- should look no further than this list of creative ideas.

The holiday rituals we've included here are a mix of brand-new activities we'd never heard before, and old-school ideas that have been forgotten by many. (Let's bring them back!) From feeding reindeer to giving toys back to Santa to share with others, these activities and crafts will keep the excitement rolling all month and create some sweet memories families can honor for generations.

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Whether the family is crafty, musical, adventurous, or just plain festive, there's something here to get them into the Christmas spirit. Because what's more exciting than counting down to Christmas together as a family? We can't think of much!

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We're planning to create some cute ornaments with our kids and making a special snack for Santa's reindeer. Merry Christmas!

New Christmas traditions

  • Celebrate the Feast of St. Nicholas


    Image © Randy Faris/Corbis

    On December 6, kick off the holiday season by celebrating the Feast of St. Nicholas: some call him the "real Santa Claus" while others know him as a Christian saint who goes around to kids' houses that night filling shoes with small gifts and treats. So have your kids leave out their shoes, or hang their stockings early to get a taste of a new tradition.

  • Feed the Reindeer


    Image via Boiling With 5

    So you've left milk and cookies out for Santa ... but what about Prancer, Dancer, Donner, and all the other reindeer working up a sweat dragging Santa's sleigh? Kids will love this yummy recipe for reindeer food and tossing it in the backyard on Christmas Eve (added bonus: your birds will love you for it too).

  • Create an Advent Activity Calendar


    Image via Let's Explore

    Most advent calendars aren't all that exciting (aside from the chocolate candy behind each door). But that will all change if you and your kids create an "advent activity calendar," where kids pull out a different activity card each day, from watching a Christmas movie to creating a hot cocoa bar. You can download a set of activity cards and instructions at Let's Explore.

  • Create a Santa Share Sack


    Image via Satsuma Designs

    The "Santa share sack" is a fun way to teach kids the joy of giving as well as receiving. Just ask them to give up one toy and place it in the sack, so Santa can take it back to the North Pole, refurbish it, and give it to another child who'll be thrilled with their new gift.

  • Snap a Christmas PJs Pic


    Image via Toys in the Dryer

    This creative mom at Toys in the Dryer decided to start a tradition of taking a photo of her kids together dressed in matching Christmas pajamas. The results are too cute as she documented her kids year by year. But honestly any old pose and backdrop would work; the trick is to keep it consistent.

  • Print Tickets for a Christmas Adventure


    To make any outing seem more special, print tickets for your own version of the Polar Express (only you may want to call yours the "Minivan Express" or whatever describes your vehicle). From there, you can turn any adventure -- driving around to check out Christmas lights or visiting Santa at the mall -- into an annual tradition.

  • Make Your Own Ornaments


    Image via Little Bit Funky

    Why buy ornaments when you and the kiddos can create your own? Whether they're simple salt dough stars or these cute hand print snowmen ornaments (for instructions, head to Little Bit Funky), they will keep your kids occupied for hours and give your tree a personalized touch.

  • Create Your Own Version of the Shelf Elf


    Image © Tammy Hanratty/Corbis

    Odds are you've heard of that little imp who moves around the house, spying on your kids to make sure they're being good? Well, there's no need to use the elf; any stuffed animal or doll can be used in a similar manner -- your kids will have a blast finding out where he's hiding each day. You can even do a Christian version of elf on the shelf.

  • Make Homemade Gifts With Your Kids


    Image © Edith Held/Corbis

    Rather than drag your kids to the mall to buy tons of presents for everyone on your list, it can be much more meaningful for your kids to make homemade gifts instead. For instance, make jars of homemade hot cocoa mix, gingerbread men, chocolate-covered pretzels, or hand-decorated Christmas cards. You'll save money and make your kids proud of their creations.

  • Create an Ornament Memory Album


    Image via Rukristin

    If your family's really into their Christmas ornaments where each has a special meaning, it can be fun to snap a photo of each to commemorate in an "ornament memory album" describing who gave them to you and any other personal details to capture that moment. That way, when the ornaments aren't out, you have a handy keepsake on your shelf to bring it all back in an instant without having to unpack stuff from the attic.

  • String Up Christmas Lights in Surprising Places


    Image © Arman Zhenikeyev/Corbis

    Christmas lights are magical, so don't relegate these twinkly strands to your Christmas tree or the bushes outside your home. Make it a tradition with your kids each year to hang them in fun and surprising places, from the bathroom to their bedrooms and beyond!

  • Create a Calendar for the New Year


    Image © Image Source/Corbis

    With the New Year fast approaching, Christmas is the perfect time to create a personal calendar with photos of your family. You can create one digitally at a photo sharing site and then have it mailed to your home just in time to hand out as gifts or for your own use. Or do a DIY version at home. Either way, it's the perfect excuse to comb through your last year's worth of photos to find 12 you love!

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