20 Family Holiday Tradition Ideas Your Kids will Love

Family Traditions Ideas

The Activity – A New Family Holiday Tradition

Growing up, my family enjoyed our family holiday tradition activities. Thinking back, one memory sticks out that was more a routine than a tradition. But that memory has become a family holiday tradition for me and my siblings as we reminisce about it each year.

Each December, we would drive in our old station wagon to get a Christmas tree. My dad was very frugal and didn’t see the need to have a mini van like everyone else when our old station wagon worked just fine. We would drive to a Christmas tree lot and pick out a fresh tree. Once we had the perfect tree, we would all help tie the tree to the top of the station wagon with rope. Once home, we would help carry the tree to the back of the house and leave it on the deck. My dad would always say the tree needed at least a day to get use to our house.

As an adult I have no idea why my siblings and I believed what he said about the tree, but we totally believed him. In reality, my dad was probably tired after a long day at work and he wanted to wait until the next day to set up the tree inside the house. One of our current family traditions is my siblings and I talking all about the memories of our childhood family holiday traditions. These memories keep me and my siblings laughing for hours every year.

What makes an Activity a Tradition?

Some traditions start as a routine. They are something your family has consistently done and are now cherished family holiday traditions. Other family holiday traditions start because your family is looking to try something new. Some traditions only last one year while others last for years and years. The best thing about family holiday traditions is they are completely up to your individual family.

Earlier this year I wrote a post about an end of summer activity –  50 Family Activity Ideas to Close Out Summer. Today’s post is going to help you wrap up the end of the year by coming up with a new family holiday tradition.

The end of the year can be a stressful time. Take this opportunity to choose a family holiday tradition that will relieve stress and help you focus on what is most important to your family. The goal of this activity isn’t to overwhelm you. The goal is to help you share a family experience and turn that experience into a treasured holiday tradition.

The How – 3 Simple Steps to Start a Family Holiday Tradition

1. Set a Budget Amount and Choose a Tradition Idea

Set a Budget Amount

Determine how much your family will spend on the tradition. There are free and paid ideas for any type of family activity. If you want to spend money on your tradition make sure you set a budget amount before you select the idea.

Choose a Family Holiday Tradition Idea

Free or Low Cost Ideas
  1. Perform an act of service
  2. Drive around to see holiday lights
  3. Watch a favorite family movie or read a favorite family book
  4. Make holiday treats for friends, neighbors, your family or Santa
  5. Write down a few favorite stories that happened during the year in a family journal
  6. Write love letters to everyone in your immediate family
  7. Make fun and simple homemade holiday decorations
  8. Everyone writes out a wish list to Santa
  9. Bundle up and take a family walk
  10. Call extended family
Paid Ideas
  1. Secret Santa a family in need
  2. Have a white elephant gift exchange party
  3. Open one present purchased special for Christmas Eve
  4. Cut down your own Christmas tree from a live tree farm
  5. Pick out a new ornament for each family member (or a family ornament)
  6. Eat at a family meal at a restaurant and leave the staff a larger than normal holiday tip
  7. Attend a local holiday play or holiday event (Nutcracker, Zoo Lights, etc)
  8. Count down with Advent calendars – purchased or homemade
  9. Surprise the family with a trip and leave on Christmas Day
  10. Have a professional photographer take family pictures
Paid Ideas

2. Set the Date and get Excited

It can be difficult to find a day and time when everyone in your immediate family is available. If you are including extended family, it is even more important to set a date well in advance. In October or November, decide on a date to hold your family tradition. This will give you plenty of time to purchase tickets, supplies or make preparations.

If your family does not want to be tied to a specific date, choose one of the activities that will allow you to be spontaneous.

One thing my family is trying this year is the Holiday Activity Jar.

We are writing down all of the spontaneous Family Tradition Activities we want to do this holiday season on slips of paper. The kids will take turns picking out a slip each day and we will do whatever activity is on the jar. I’m already excited thinking about the memories we are going to create.

Holiday Activity Jar

3. Have a Great time and Decide – Do it Again Next Year?

The best part of the family holiday tradition is actually doing the activity. Enjoy every minute together as a family. Sure, some things may not go as planned, but enjoy yourself despite any problems.

After the activity, decide as a family if the activity is going to become a new family holiday tradition. Talk about what went well, what went not so well and what you would do different next time. And remember, a tradition doesn’t mean you always have to do the exact same thing. Your new family holiday tradition could be picking a new activity each year. It is all up to you.

The Support – Make it Memorable

Remember these three thoughts to make your family holiday tradition memorable.

1. It won’t be perfect

Somewhere between all of the beautiful family portraits and seemingly perfect social media posts are the daily struggles all families experience. An Active, Happy, Kid isn’t one who grew up in a perfect family where nothing every went wrong. All families experience struggles and difficulties. It’s almost 100% guaranteed that something will go a little (or a lot) wrong during your family activity. While your activity may not going perfectly as planned, your family holiday tradition can become something your family remembers as a perfect time you spent together.

2. Embrace the struggle

If your kids are fussy, whining and have obviously had enough, cut the activity short. If a teenager is pouting because they would rather be out with their friends, consider letting them invite a friend on the family activity. The point isn’t to make your family fit into the perfect mold, but to bring your family closer together with a family holiday tradition. Adapt as needed and embrace the struggle.

3. Remember to laugh and love

The point of a family tradition is to have fun together as a family, right? Don’t stress about every little detail. Take a moment to fully immerse yourself in the activity. Laugh, cry, love and experience all you can with your family. You won’t regret the time you spend together when you remember to laugh and love.

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