In this post, we look at what family traditions are, what Christmas traditions my family has, and end with some extras which I have seen other families enjoying to give you extra inspiration. Please note this post may contain affiliate links. For more information about what this means, please click here.
What are family traditions?
A tradition is something that you know will take place at the same time each year or however long is needed in between. For example, a family BBQ which happens once every three years is still a tradition as everyone involved knows that it will be happening every three years.
The main point is that the same event/activity happens at the expected time so that everyone involved can look forward to it and knows that it will be happening and when.
Having traditions as a family are fantastic as children love to take part and when they are teenagers/adults they will still be excited about these traditions (I know this as my two older children are now 22 and 21!). Holidays and celebrations are great for family traditions and you can decide what is best for you and your family.
December Christmas traditions
My children have all had their own small tree to decorate for themselves. Each year they would choose a decoration and add it to their tree. When they turn 18 they have a tree full of decorations which they have chosen over the years.
Our Christmas tree and decorations have always been put up on the first weekend of December each year.
When we decorate the tree, Darren always puts the star on the top of the tree. We then do a countdown and he switches on the tree lights and we all cheer. I know it sounds cheesy but we started this when our kids were little and it is just what we have always done!
When the kids were smaller we would have what we called a ‘Christmas countdown’ where we would do one Christmas related activity each day from December 1st to Christmas day. I would write the plan out on a poster and stick it to the wall and the girls would all get so excited seeing what we were doing each day.
With my children being older we managed a couple of years of elf on the shelf when Faith was still young enough to believe! We actually had a Christmas fairy who visited us, as this was before it all took off over here so finding a suitable elf was impossible!
If we were out in the car we would always play a game of who could spot the most houses with decorations up. This was a fun way to keep the kids entertained when driving about our town.
We have always been a low-income family so there are certain treats that are always reserved just for Christmas. One that my kids always get excited about, even now, is pop tarts. I only ever buy them when I do the big Christmas food shop.
Two or three days before Christmas, us girls would all have a pamper night to get ourselves ready for Christmas. We would do face packs, paint our nails, and eat snacks while watching a Christmas film.
Each year we would go to a panto or at least the cinema to see a festive movie which was always lots of fun. Alternatively, Sam from North East Family Fun has a great post about holding a Christmas film premiere at home.
We would also always go into our town at least once on a late-night shopping night. We would take in the atmosphere, see the lights, do a bit of shopping and stop off for a hot chocolate.
Every Christmas eve, the kids would have new pyjamas. This then developed into Christmas Eve boxes when they became more popular.
Putting out stockings, milk and a mince pie for Santa and then a carrot and a bowl of water for the reindeer!
Leaving out a magic key in the garden so that Santa could use the key to get into the house as we do not have a chimney!
Sprinkling reindeer food in the garden
On Christmas eve night we would always all sleep in the same room. When the kids were little they would hop into our bed. When they got older we would drag their mattresses into our room. The idea was that the first thing we would all see on Christmas morning would be each other. Even when my oldest was 18 she still wanted to carry on this tradition! Now it is just me, Darren, and Faith who is 12 but we still do it!
The kids have always had new outfits for Christmas day too. It is nice to see them in their new clothes and good for the photos too!
I have always said that the kids can wake us up any time from 4 am onwards on Christmas morning! It is the only day of the year that this is acceptable!
We have always done the stockings first thing and then no tree presents until everyone is fed and dressed! As our family has grown, tree presents are often not opened until after our Christmas dinner which is about 1 pm as we just do not have time.
Here are some more ideas that we have not done ourselves, but I have seen other families enjoy.
All have a premium advent calendar which is packed full of treats.
Burn an advent candle to count down to Christmas.
All wear matching pjamas on Christmas eve.
Go away for a mini-break just before Christmas.
Go ice skating
Have a family party
Help at a soup kitchen or other charitable event.
I hope that this post has given you some inspiration for starting your own Christmas traditions which you can continue for many years to come. Whatever ones you choose to do will be perfect for you and your loved ones and I am sure that you will create many treasured memories.