Traditions are such an important part of the Christmas season. We tend to have a huge sense of nostalgia surrounding this time of year, and our family Christmas traditions are a big part of that. There are lots of things I do with my family every year in the run-up to Christmas, and over the years some of them have really stuck and become our must-do traditions.
Traditions shouldn’t be too much work though. As much as I love Christmas, I’m not a fan of the annual stress that it can bring, which is why I’m always looking for ways to have a more relaxing Christmas. Traditions are no different – they’re no fun if they cause more stress than joy!
Simple Christmas Traditions for Families
The easiest way to keep Christmas traditions fun for your family is to keep them simple, don’t have too many, and be happy to let traditions come and go as your family grows. Don’t hang on to them for years after your children have outgrown them, and don’t be afraid to replace old ones with new.
I’ve listed some of our favourite Christmas traditions below, and have separated them into the activities we do throughout December and during Advent, and those we do on Christmas Eve.
Easy Family Traditions for December and Advent
Here are some of the simple family Christmas traditions for December that we’ve picked up over the years.
We’ve had a variety of advent calendars over the years, including chocolate ones, traditional paper ones, and the refillable kind with wooden drawers or fabric pouches that you fill with sweets or gifts. They’re such a simple, lovely tradition. You really don’t need to overthink it: the kids will be equally pleased with a shop-bought chocolate one as they would with one you’ve spent hours filling.
Christmas Book a Day
We’ve accumulated loads of Christmas-themed children’s books over the years, many of them from secondhand shops, and they live packed away all year with the Christmas decorations. I tend to keep them in a box and bring out one every evening during December to read as a family. I know some people do this and wrap them individually to turn them into a book advent calendar, but I find the box works fine.
Elf on The Shelf
I resisted the elf for years because it sounded like such a lot of hard work. But when my eldest came home from school one day and asked sadly why other children had an elf that came to their house and what’s wrong with our house that no elves want to come to it…well I caved. But my mantra is not to get involved in any elf activities that are too laborious to set out, or that will take too long to clear up. There are dozens of easy elf activities that take almost no time and props, and so the elf is here to stay.
Make a Christmas Ornament
We do this every year without fail but we’ve made lots of different types of ornaments over the years. I like to put the kids’ names and the year it was made on them, which makes it so much fun getting them out of the boxes every year.
Go Shopping and Choose an Ornament
The other easy thing we do is I always take the kids shopping at the local garden centre in November or early December before we get the Christmas tree up, and let them each choose a new decoration for the tree. There is always much deliberation!
Let the kids put the angel on top of tree
We’ve always place the angel atop the tree last, and we’ve always lifted the kids up and let them put her on. This isn’t easy as they get older but we’ll keep doing it as long as they want to! (I might regret that when I’m trying to lift a 12 year old).
I love the long thin taper advent candles that are marked with all 24 days of December, that you’re supposed to burn every night until Christmas. I typically miss days and have to catch up later, but my Christmas mantelpiece isn’t complete without one.
Start a Christmas Collection
I have a little Christmas tradition all of my own where I buy a certain decoration each year to add my little collection. For me it’s these wool felted mice in various Christmas outfits. I love growing my little collection each year.
This one is a must for us, and we’ve tried lots of different Santa destinations over the years. (We’ve made it through the terrified-babies-screaming-at-Santa stage now so it’s all good.)
Donate Toys (via your Elf!)
We could all do with getting rid of some excess stuff before Santa brings along some more! I make this one of our Elf on the Shelf activities. One day in December our elf will bring bags or boxes for the kids to put some toys in that they no longer play with and we take them to the charity drop-off. It’s a pre-Christmas clear out and a good deed all in one – win!
Chocolate Fondue Night
I’ve done a North Pole Breakfast in the past and it took me hours of preparation. The kids enjoyed it but I’m not sure they LOVED it enough for me to want to spend hours doing it another time. So instead, a really easy but Christmas tradition for a December weekend is to have a chocolate fondue night. Cut up a load of different fruit plus marshmallows, crackers, popcorn, and anything that can be speared on a fork and dipped into melted chocolate, and bingo! You’ve got a really fun activity that kids genuinely LOVE and all for very little prep. They’ll definitely ask to do it again next year.
Family Traditions for Christmas Eve
We also have some traditions that we always do on Christmas Eve – these are some of the favourites.
An EASY Christmas Eve Box
A Christmas Eve box doesn’t have to take a lot of time or effort. Ours always includes some Christmas pyjamas, sweets, sticker/puzzle books and a Christmas craft kit or similar. Basically things to keep the kids busy while you get on with all the other things you need to do on Christmas Eve!
Set Up a Nativity
We like to set up a nativity scene on Christmas Eve. Ours is a simple cardboard affair that came with a book many years ago, but there are some beautiful wooden ones available. You could even challenge the kids to create, or act out, their own nativity scene.
Have a Christmas Eve Floor Picnic
Take the pressure off Christmas Eve cooking and let the kids have a floor picnic in front of their favourite movie. Our is usually very simple and consists of pizza, sausage rolls and other party food. They think it’s a major treat and it leaves me free to do last minute Christmas tasks – or open up a bottle of Christmas champagne and relax.
Read The Night Before Christmas
The ultimate (and possible simplest) of all Christmas traditions is to have a pre-bedtime reading of The Night Before Christmas. We all look forward to this and it appeals to all generations.
Leave a Snack Out for Santa Claus
My U.S. friends tell me that in America, Santa has milk and cookies when he comes down the chimney. Here in the UK he snacks on mince pies and something alcoholic! It’s often sherry or brandy, but in our house he’s partial to a Christmas Eve amaretto.
Sprinkle Some Reindeer Dust
The last thing we do before the children go to bed is to sprinkle reindeer dust on the front lawn. If you’re doing this, remember not to put any glitter in your mix as that’s bad for wildlife. We usually use a mixture of oats and birdseed as I hear that’s what reindeer love best.
I hope this post has given you some ideas for Christmas traditions that are easy to embrace for your family.