5 Easy Holiday Traditions to Start with your Family Right Now!

holidays traditions to enjoy as a family

What do you do to get yourself in the mood for the holidays?  I know sometimes it feels like the run up to Christmas just feels like a never-ending list of chores and jobs that need doing.  But having a few holiday traditions to enjoy as a family can go a very long way in perking up everyone’s spirit!

My girls and I enjoy taking in the sights and sounds around town, especially the Santa Parade and the Christmas Tree lighting in Market Square.  We try to take in a few local vendor markets, and just generally spread holiday cheer as best we can!

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Here are a few holiday traditions to enjoy as a family:

Check out the holiday lights

Full disclosure – we talk about doing this every year, but we rarely do.  But it’s a really fun and easy way to spend a winter evening.

As a child and teenager my parents always took us out once a season to check out all the Christmas lights.  Once you’ve done it once or twice you quickly learn the neighbourhoods which put on the best displays!

This is a great after dinner activity – fill your travel mugs with hot chocolate (tea or coffee for the adults, if they’d rather), and just take a drive.  If your own neighbourhood has some really festive houses you could consider just taking a walk as well!

Create fun holiday photos

Because I consider myself a photographer, I love going through our photos from the year and creating a photo card to give out over the holidays.  We usually include the Santa photos, and whatever else I’m drawn to from our year of pictures.

Last year we didn’t do the traditional Santa photos.  Instead we came across Santa at a photo booth type set-up and had some fun candid shots with him.  The girls loved it, and there were very fun pictures from that!

holiday traditions to enjoy as a family
Christmas Card 2017

I’m a fan of hamming it up.  I like sharing photos of us having a lot of fun, wearing crazy hats or making silly faces.  Also real life candid shots are great to share with family and friends.

Related: Easy Ways to Become a Better Photographer

Make decorating the tree a “thing”

My husband is sometimes a grinch about Christmas.  It’s not his thing, and he doesn’t really care for all the hoopla.  And that’s totally his right.  But the girls and I like enjoying the season.

holiday traditions to enjoy as a family
This was in 2013 – they were so small!

The last few years we’ve been setting up and decorating the Christmas tree on a Saturday morning while Dad is still sleeping.  He doesn’t care that he misses it, and we don’t have to have him sitting around like a grump while we turn the living room into total chaos.

We try to find a Christmas show to put on, or listen to to Christmas tunes to help us get in the mood.  (If we decorate in the evening I’ll celebrate with a glass or wine, or maybe rum and eggnog.)  Turning tree decorating into an event makes it so much more fun than approaching it as a chore that needs doing (though I don’t think many people see it that way – husband not included…)

Visit Holiday Markets

This one works best when you have older kids. My girls are just approaching the ages where they will choose gifts for others, without the help of mom and dad. 

Right now we’re taking them shopping separately to choose gifts for each other, but in a year or two we will give them a budget and set them loose to buy for everyone (meaning us – Mom and Dad – and each other.)

This is where a visit to a local holiday market is amazing.  There are often tons of vendors with various wares, and you’re supporting local people who literally live in your community.  You can let the kids loose and say “meet at such-and-such spot in half an hour” and hope they make good choices!

Do some baking

This works with kids of any age. As they get older, though, you can let them do all the hard work, and you just put their finished product in the oven.

Holidays Traditions to enjoy as a Family

My girls are cookie lovers. I try to change it up and find some other holiday recipes to create, but let’s be honest, cookies are an easy fallback. And I always have the basic ingredients on hand!

Giving homemade treats is a great way to celebrate the holidays.  You will have created teacher gifts, a “dish” for a potluck or family get together, and something amazing to gift to your babysitter or school bus driver.

One more thing…

We do Elf on the Shelf.  I realize this tradition is not for everyone, but we enjoy it.  You can check out my posts about Elfie Sparkle, and how she fits into our Christmas traditions:

I actually don’t recommend starting this tradition unless you have a lot of time to move an Elf around after your kids go to bed.  I have discovered, however, that the lovely Elf doesn’t have to be doing something elaborate every day.  Often the mornings are “Where’s Elfie?” mornings, and just finding where she’s sitting for the day is a huge hit – even for my kids who are 7 and 10!

What traditions do you enjoy with your family?  It doesn’t have to be elaborate or time consuming – we like reading holiday stories at bedtime and spending time together wrapping gifts. Sometimes the small things create the best memories.

Enjoy the holiday season!


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    1. I think it’s a mom’s job to “fix” the tree after the kids are done with it! Though I will say this year my girls did a pretty good job. Though they left my living space a mess!

  1. These are great traditions. We do a lot of these. My husband also isn’t huge on Christmas but allows me and the boy to go Christmas crazy because it makes us happy.

    1. That’s great Sarah. We would do more of these things if we could make the time! My husband was very non-Christmas-y before our kids, but he’s warmed up a bit, seeing how much Christmas magic our girls believe in!

  2. We make decorating the tree and seeing the lights a “thing” every year. We also make buying or making presents for friends and family a “thing” as well as buying for those in need a “thing”. Watching holiday movies and going to see Santa are also traditions for us. Making muffins and eating them with hot chocolate on Christmas morning is our favorite tradition. We’re starting the tradition of sending a Christmas letter to family and friends this year.

    1. I love the idea of stuff you “need” to do becoming “things”. It’s an easy way to get into the spirit without adding things to your to-do list. Muffins and hot chocolate sounds like a lovely Christmas morning tradition!

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