14 Fun Family Traditions to Start Today

Holiday traditions: Create a holiday playlist
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Looking for new Christmas traditions for your family? Start the season off merry and bright with one of these festive, fun ideas.
Aimee Herring
Aimee Herring

Count down to Christmas

Build suspense for Santa’s arrival with a countdown calendar. Feeling crafty? Follow this step-by-step tutorial that uses paper cups, a bulletin board, and tasty treats to create an Advent calendar. Or, transform a magnetic board into a countdown calendar with tiny tins, magnets, and glue. If you’re not so DIY, a store-bought calendar will still equal big-time fun for cuties who can’t wait until Christmas!

Write letters to Santa

If you haven't already, adopt an Elf on the Shelf—who can get letters to Santa at lightening speed! The coolest part of this fun family tradition: you get to shrink your letters to elf-size (seriously!), then keep them as holiday keepsakes to hang on tree.

FatCamera/Getty Images
FatCamera/Getty Images

Visit a tree farm

Start your family's holiday festivities off right by bundling up and heading to a local Christmas tree farm to search for the perfect tree. Chances are, you'll get to enjoy more than finding the perfect fir: Many tree farms offer hayrides, sleigh rides, and other family-friendly activities (Santa may even show up!). Hot cocoa so not optional!

KidStock/Getty Images
KidStock/Getty Images

Trim the tree together

Your Christmas tree is your home's focal point for several weeks, so deck it out in style. Step one to achieving an Instagram-worthy tree: Fluff those branches, then hang lights (make sure to perform a Clark Griswaldesque bulb check first) starting at the base and working your way up, before stringing garlands. Be sure to supervise the unpacking of ornaments and hooks to avoid breakage or injury to little hands. Then, take turns hanging fave ornaments on the tree. A boost from mom or dad to reach high branches is sure to induce giggles and a photo-worthy moment. Just remind eager tree-trimming tots to be careful with the delicate ornaments and family heirlooms.

Estersinhache fotografía/Getty Images
Estersinhache fotografía/Getty Images

Start an ornament collection

Capture memories in the form of special ornaments that grow your collection each year. Commemorate your baby’s first Christmas, a child’s special interest, frame school photos to hang on the tree, or even personalize ornaments with names and dates. Another idea: DIY one together with your kids as a fun craft project. You can give one each year when you trim the tree, or attach them to wrapped gifts as a special decorative touch.

Anthony Masterson Photography
Anthony Masterson Photography

Make a tree garland

The finishing touch on the tree can be as simple as construction paper rings kids can easily make, or a more ornate garland created with pinecones and silk poinsettias hot-glued to twine. Another festive garland to try: paper snowflake cutouts strung along pretty ribbon. Of course, nothing is out of the question when it comes to putting your own stamp on the holiday, so get creative and have fun!

Set up a Christmas Eve hot cocoa bar

Break out the hot cocoa and Christmas cookies—but step up your presentation a notch: Instead of just serving everyone a mug of cocoa, set up a hot-cocoa station complete with mini marshmallows, whipped cream, colored sprinkles, candy canes, and more.

Tack Siong Ong/Shutterstock
Tack Siong Ong/Shutterstock

Go holiday "light-seeing"

Whether your house is aglow in holiday lights or you prefer to let others do the outdoor decorating, pick a night where you all pack in the car and drive around to see the dazzling displays in your neighboorhood. Pack hot cocoa or apple cider in insulated sippy cups and set off!

adriaticfoto/shutterstock
adriaticfoto/shutterstock

Bake cookies with the kids

Invite family and friends over for a BYOCC (bring your own cookie cutters) holiday baking party. Kids love pressing out the shapes and decorating (and over-decorating) the finished cookies. Make it easy by starting with pre-made dough, or picking a versatile dough recipe that serves as a foundation for a variety of different holiday treats. Either way, just make sure you're fully-stocked on icing and sprinkles!

Grekov/Shutterstock
Grekov/Shutterstock

Wear matching holiday PJs

Admit it: Matching holiday PJs are just fun—and not just for your kids, either. Start a Christmas Eve tradition where you all open up one special gift that you can use right away—coordinating pajamas—and start the holiday off in sweet matchy-matchy style.

Hoxton/Tom Merton/Getty Images
Hoxton/Tom Merton/Getty Images

Pose for a picture

Whether you’re all about matching family PJs or prefer a more formal look in your holiday finest, be sure to take a beat, and capture your holiday with a special photo sesh. Try taking the pictures at the same location each year, and watch everyone grow. Sniff. You can kill two calling birds with one stone and use these photos for your holiday card, and even preserve these memories with a digital scrapbook incorporating a holiday theme.

Getty Images
Getty Images

Incorporate a new cultural tradition

Broaden your family's cultural awareness and spice up a typical holiday celebration with traditions from around the world. Look to your own roots for inspiration, or explore a culture that has always fascinated you. It can be as simple as teaching the kiddos how to say "happy holidays" in another language, or as elaborate as fixing a traditional holiday food from across the globe. One idea: Celebrate Nochebuena. Another idea: invite friends over for a multicultural holiday soiree!

JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images
JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images

Give back

Make others' lives merry and bright during the Christmas season. Some fun ideas for giving back: Wrap gifts to help kids who need it have a happier holiday season. Volunteer at your local homeless shelter or senior living community. Or, send supplies and greeting cards to soldiers stationed abroad, and away from their families, for the holidays.

KidStock/Getty Images
KidStock/Getty Images

Create a holiday playlist

Whether you're trimming the tree, preparing for a party, or just in the car or getting dinner ready, help your family get their groove on with a customized holiday playlist. Ask everyone to add their favorites, from classics like 'Jingle Bell Rock' to Mariah Carey's 'All I Want for Christmas is You.'  Add different artists' interpretations of familiar songs, and challenge each family member to discover a festive new find.

For more fun ways to make the holiday extra-magical for your family, click here.

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