It’s Christmas time! Here are 50 glorious Christmas traditions to get your Holidays off to a great start (for kids from 1 to 92).
- “O Holy Night” by Celtic Woman
- “Believe” – by Josh Groban
- “The Christmas Song” sung by Nat King Cole.
- “All I Want For Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey
- “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” by Andy Williams
- So This is Christmas by Celine Dion
- Do You Hear What I Hear? by Carrie Underwood
- Carol of the Bells by Pentatonix
- Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Frank Sinatra
- Let It Snow by Dean Martin
As Buddy from the 2003 movie “Elf” explains, the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.
2. Go to the tree farm to pick the perfect tree.
3. Pile into the car at night and drive around looking at all of the Holiday lights and decorations.
4. Since 1989, every resident on the 700 block of Baltimore’s 34th street has put up Christmas lights. This is known as “The Miracle on 34th Street.” Follow suit: get your neighbors together and start a tradition of being the most Christmassy street in your city.
5. Look for a Coca Cola Christmas truck. Then, watch these Coca Cola holiday commercials on YouTube:
6. Have some hot cocoa, Elf Judy style: “Not too hot. Extra chocolate. Shaken, not stirred.” (Elf Judy is one of Santa’s elves in the movie “The Santa Clause”. It took her 1200 years to perfect her hot cocoa recipe.)
8. Put a Santa Sack under the Christmas tree and have each of your kids place any toys that they no longer play with–but that are still in good condition–in the sack. On Christmas Eve, Santa Claus takes the old toys and replaces them with new ones. The old toys are then donated.
10. Help your kids write a letter to Santa (here are some templates you can use).
11. Write a letter from Santa addressed to each of your kids letting them know they’ve been added to the top of the “nice list”. You can also highlight any special accomplishments they’ve had that year in the letter, so that they know how proud Santa is of them.
12. Start a tradition of having Santa bring each of your kids three gifts, one for each of the wise men. Have the gifts be something to read, something to wear, and something they really want.
13. Make photocopies of your children’s letters to Santa each year and keep them. They can read them years from now and remember back to when what they wanted most in the world was an Elmo doll.
14. Watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. Charlie Brown complains to Lucy about the overwhelming materialism that he sees everywhere during the Christmas season, and how the holiday has become completely commercial. Lucy tells him that he can get into the holiday spirit by directing the school Christmas pageant. Charlie Brown accepts.
The pageant turns out to be a frustrating struggle. Charlie Brown attempts to restore the proper spirit with a forlorn little fir Christmas tree, but he just seems to make thing worse. Luckily, Linus explains what the real meaning of Christmas is and the joy of the season is restored. Here’s what Linus said:
16. Get a special mug you use for the entire month of December. Make sure it has a Christmas theme, such as Rudolph, Frosty the Snowman, a Christmas tree, and so on. Here’s mine:
18. Get matching Christmas pajamas for everyone in the family to wear on Christmas Eve (some people wrap the pj’s and everyone unwraps them on Christmas Eve). You can also get the book “The Pajama Elves“, which explains that on Christmas Eve kids are given special pajamas made by elves which magically make them sleepy so that Santa can deliver toys without getting caught.
19. Get an advent calendar to help you countdown to Christmas. Day by day, starting on December 1st, the windows are opened until December 25th. Another alternative is to make a list of 24 Christmas activities and complete one each day starting on the first of December; that can be your countdown to Christmas.
Also, you can get an advent candle: a candle marked with the days of December from the first of the month until Christmas Eve. Each day in December the candle is burnt down a little more, to the mark for the day, to show the passing of the days leading up to Christmas. Typically the candle is burned during family dinner each day.
20. Find an ornament for each family member that commemorates a special memory for that year. It can be an ornament of a baby bottle for the birth of a child, a ballet slipper for a first dance class, and so on.
21. Another idea is to put a new ornament in your child’s stocking each year, and have them hang their ornament from the tree. You can even make a special box for them to keep their ornaments in. Then, when they turn 18 and leave home, they can take their box of ornaments with them for their own tree.
22. Watch your favorite Holiday movies. You can even host a Holiday-movie marathon. Here are some of my favorite Christmas movies:
- “It’s a Wonderful Life”
- “How The Grinch Stole Christmas”
- “A Christmas Story”
- “The Santa Clause”
- “Miracle on 34th Street”
23. Read Christmas themed books, in particular, “The Night Before Christmas” by Clement C. Moore, or “The Polar Express” by Chris Van Allsburg.
24. Make a list of all the people who have touched you in a positive way during the year and send them Christmas cards.
25. Make a string of popcorn and cranberries for some old-fashioned decorations for your tree.
26. Make sure your house smells like Christmas. Here’s one way to do it:
Place 4 to 6 cups of water in a pot on the stove. Add orange peels (from 1 or 2 oranges), 3 to 4 cinnamon sticks, 1 tablespoon of whole cloves and 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract. If you want to get fancy you can add cranberries and some ginger. Bring the contents to a boil and then reduce the heat so it is left to simmer.
Better yet, make oranges with cloves.
27. Remember the less fortunate this Christmas. Does your local mall have an “Angels Tree” with the names of children you can get Christmas gifts for? Another idea is to put together a shoebox filled with gifts for a needy child.
28. Play Christmas games at the family holiday party. For example, you can play Christmas Movie trivia and come up with questions for your favorite holiday movies. Here are some examples:
- In the film “Miracle on 34th Street”, as the film opens, Kris informs a shop owner that he’s mistaken in his arrangement of what in a storefront display? (The answer is reindeer).
- What state does the film “A Christmas Story” take place in? (The answer is Indiana).
- In “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, when catching snow flakes on his tongue, Linus thought the flakes needed something. What? (The answer is sugar).
You can also sing a line from a Christmas song and have all the others try to guess what song it is, or play Christmas Bingo.
29. Once your tree is all decked out, turn off the light and sit on the couch, just admiring the tree.
30. Leave out cookies and milk for Santa Claus. Don’t forget the reindeer: make a wreath of ice with carrot pieces frozen inside, and hang the wreath from a tree. When the ice melts, the reindeer can eat the carrots.
31. Get poinsettias; they’re known as Flores de Noche Buena in Mexico (Spanish for “flowers of the holy night”).
32. Go to a performance of Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” ballet. Many families make an annual pilgrimage to the theatre to see it (or, at least, they watch on it TV).
33. Stick to the Holiday recipes that your family knows and loves. If you’re not sure what to make for Christmas, Gooseberry Patch has several fabulous Holiday recipe books.
34. Have a Christmas toast with home-made eggnog. As radio psychologist Dr. Frasier Crane would say, “The first mistake in eggnog preparation is failing to garnish it properly with a dash of nutmeg.”
35. Hang a wreath on your door to welcome in the Holiday, as well as visitors.
36. Hang up the Christmas Stockings. Make sure each stocking is personalized with the owner’s name. Fill them with simple stocking stuffers. Here are some ideas:
- Do they collect anything?
- Is there a movie they love? As an illustration, here are some great stocking stuffers for Harry Potter fans.
- What are their hobbies?
- How about gag gifts?
- Get Holiday candy.
- Pens and pencils.
- A book they’ve been wanting to read.
- Gift cards.
- Lottery tickets.
- Nuts and fruits.
37. Put together a Christmas Village — a decorative, miniature-scale village often set up during the Christmas season. Add a new house or shop each year.
38. Hang up the Mistletoe.
39. Throw a holiday party for a good cause. You can charge an entrance fee or have a box where people can donate whatever they want.
40. Read the Christmas Story from the Bible at Christmas dinner (Luke 2:1-20). You can take turns and have each person sitting around the dinner table read a small part.
41. On Christmas Day, give the family a fun new board game. Then, play it that afternoon!
42. If you know a family that’s fallen on economic hard times, give them a helping hand this Christmas. This Hub Page explains what to give for Christmas to families that are struggling financially. Here are some ideas:
- Help them stock up on something they use a lot, such as diapers, ink cartridges, and so on.
- Give them gift cards to help them cover spending they need to do (such as gift cards from Target or Home Depot).
- Get their car serviced for them.
43. Make a list of your favorite Christmas quotes and post them up all around the house, or set aside a specific bulletin board for your quotes.
44. Record your favorite Christmas traditions for future generations of your family to follow. Take out your camera, start snapping pictures, and place them in a scrap book. Make sure to add notes.
45. Create a new holiday tradition. One idea is to research what people from other countries do and adopt a foreign holiday tradition!
Before opening gifts on Christmas Day, the Danish join hands with their family members and they form a chain around the Christmas tree. Then, they walk around the tree in a ring, singing Christmas songs. Isn’t that a fantastic tradition? You could consider adopting it.
In addition, I discovered this year that the British have something called Christmas Crackers. A cracker is a small cardboard tube wrapped in decorative paper. Inside there’s a small gift–like a plastic ring, some marbles, or a whistle–, a paper party hat, and a paper with Christmas jokes written on it.
Here’s what to do:
- Two people pull on the cracker, one from each end.
- Then, there’s a popping noise and the cracker tears open to reveal the surprise gifts inside.
- Everyone has to wear their crown and read the joke out loud.
The crackers can be placed next to each plate for Christmas dinner. They can also be placed in stockings, or they can even be used to decorate the Christmas tree. (I’m thinking of getting some Christmas crackers this year.)
46. Leave the kids’ Christmas stockings at the foot of their bed so that they have something to entertain themselves with on Christmas morning before the grown-ups wake up (this should buy you about ten more minutes of sleep).
47. Make Christmas ornaments with your family and hang them up on your tree. Even if you’re not crafty, there are lots of easy things you can make. Here’s a reindeer made from clothespins that anyone can make (and I do mean, anyone).
48. Do something kind for an elderly neighbor, such as taking them Christmas shopping or helping them to hang up their Christmas lights. After all, as Charles Schulz was fond of saying, “Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone.”
49. A couple of years ago, in Springfield, Illinois, someone started a “Pay-It-Forward” chain at a Starbucks drive-through window by paying for the coffee for the car behind them. The chain continued for hours. It started at 7:30 a.m. and continued until 2:30 p.m., with a total of 172 drivers paying for the car behind them. Start the ball rolling on a “Pay-It-Forward” chain to help spread some holiday cheer.
50. On December 24th, track Santa as he leaves the North Pole and delivers presents to children around the world with NORAD. NORAD has placed Santa cams, high-speed digital cameras, at several locations around the world in order to capture images and videos of Santa and his reindeer as they make their journey around the world.