Skip to Content

10 Simple Christmas Traditions


Every year when the holidays rolled around, I used to get a little bummed about our family's lack of annual Christmas traditions.

Because we moved so frequently, we were continually reinventing the wheel when it came to celebrating the holidays: different people, different places, different decorations, different spaces.

Even during the years when we stayed in one place, sometimes our schedule or budget prohibited us from doing things we enjoyed in years past.

I couldn't help but feel like I was missing out when I saw others' annual Christmas parties, annual shopping outings, annual trips to see The Nutcracker, holiday teas, cookie swaps, and annual Christmas Eve dinners.

But when those feelings struck, I stopped to think about some of the holiday traditions I remember most from my own childhood.

Most of my fondest memories of Christmas were super simple.

They were things like sharing a room with my brother on Christmas Eve and listening for the reindeer's hooves on the roof. My Grandma's raisin cookies and my Grams' sand tarts. The Lifesavers candy book in my stocking every year. The glow of the plastic candle in my bedroom window...

10 simple Christmas traditions you can do anywhere, anytime, with any budget.

When I reflect on these memories, I realize how simple traditions can be. Traditions don't need to be spectacular to be memorable.

Yes, it would be fantastic to have an annual family tradition of ice skating at Rockefeller Center, followed by hot cocoa in Times Square and a visit to FAO Schwartz. But the only thing required to create tradition in your family is to do something over and over again, year after year.

It's the sameness and repetition that creates an unforgettable tradition, and there are lots of traditions you can start today and carry on throughout the years, regardless of where you live, how much free time you have, or how much money you have to spend.

10 Simple Christmas Traditions:

  1. Vote on your family's favorite Christmas cookie recipe and make it every single year.
  2. Choose a night to drive around and admire the best Christmas lights in your neighborhood, or visit a neighborhood that's known for its beautiful light displays.
  3. Read "T'was the Night Before Christmas" or another Christmas book as a family together every year on Christmas Eve.
  4. Make or choose an annual ornament for your tree that represents something you did or enjoyed as a family that year. Include the date so you can look back at all the ornaments from years past.
  5. Start a collection of themed decorations (ie: Santas, deer, or gingerbread men) so that you have something fun to hunt for when you're out and about during the holidays.
  6. Watch the same holiday movie together as a family every year, complete with popcorn and hot cocoa.
  7. Play a fun board game or gift exchange game on a night before Christmas (this is a fun idea I found online).
  8. Pack up cookies or other treats and deliver them to neighbors.
  9. Make scent memories by burning the same holiday candle year after year, or making stovetop potpourri throughout the season.
  10. Decide on a special appetizer or other dish that you only make on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day; or create a special Christmas breakfast that you make every year.

If you're looking for more ideas, just spend some time thinking about the things you remember and loved most about the holidays when you were a kid. Chances are, the memories that stuck weren't necessarily the most elaborate or expensive events. 

It's the tradition of doing something over and over again that ties you together as a family and creates the memories you'll look back on and cherish (or at least laugh about).

I'd love to hear about your favorite holiday traditions, and maybe pick up some new ideas. Please share in the comments!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Laura @ Little Bits of Granola

Friday 4th of December 2015

I love the board game idea. My husband and I decided this year that we are going to start a tradition of giving the kids a joint gift of a board/card game on Christmas Eve. Since they'll get to open it Christmas Eve, we can play it together that night. We love playing games together, and this will help us add more age appropriate games to our collection. I mean Candy Land is only fun for so long... ;)


Friday 4th of December 2015

Yep, my husband and I were just talking about how Candy Land might need to disappear from our lives soon. :) Playing games gets a lot more fun when the kids are old enough to strategize, although it gets embarrassing when they start legitimately beating us!


Wednesday 2nd of December 2015

It is definitely the simple but meaningful things that make the holidays special. I love your list!

Allison Jones

Wednesday 2nd of December 2015

I love riding around and looking at Christmas lights and decorations. It's something that I definitely miss when we're abroad. Having a holiday scent is a great idea! It could be a candle like you suggested or a scent you boil on the stove (I've heard some people to a cinnamon/nutmeg/orange concoction and that is smells heavenly).

LiveLifeWell, Allison Jones


Wednesday 2nd of December 2015

I love holiday traditions. Watching movies as a family is very fun!!!

maria thompson

Tuesday 1st of December 2015

I think your cheese straw spitting is hilarious and the best tradition that I have ever heard of!! Love that you continued to do it as you got older-That really made me laugh!


Wednesday 2nd of December 2015

We're definitely a little weird! :) We might have to pass the tradition along to our kids one of these days.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.