A group of millennials were talking about how sad they were that they had no traditions for the Christmas holiday. This was something they longed for and wished their families had been more intentional about creating traditions.

Well, it’s never too late. Anyone can begin to establish Christmas traditions. Traditions bring a continuity to life, a marking of time and memories. Here are a few tried and true traditions to consider:

  1. Take a family photo but make it creative–ugly sweaters, unique settings, something fun that you can all remember with fondness. The photo seals the memory of that year. I have saved our family photo Christmas cards over the years and like to look back on them. Time does seem to fly and those little children dressed in their Christmas outfits are now all grown up.
  2. Make a few of your decorations like a popcorn garland or one out of paper. Put on the Christmas music and decorate the tree as a family. Some families are very creative and make their own ornaments and more elaborate decorations. Even the outing to purchase the tree can become a family tradition, especially if you like to find a farm and cut your own.
  3. Get the kids together and make a gingerbread house. You can make the pieces from scratch (look at You Tube) or buy kits you assemble. Assembling and decorating can be done with your family or other families as well.
  4. Drive around and look at lights. When we lived in Virginia Beach, there was an annual Christmas light show at the beach called, Lights on the Beach. You could purchase hot chocolate at the entrance, listen to a CD they provided of Christmas music and drive on the boardwalk through the display of the 12 days of Christmas. Every year, we did it as a family. It was a bit cheesy as the kids got older, but we love the tradition.
  5. If you live in a cold climate, make it a tradition to shovel snow for an elderly person or couple and leave a Merry Christmas note on their doorway! If you don’t live in snow country, then do an act of kindness for someone, but involve the entire family.
  6. Sledding, making snowmen and ice skating were all part of my Christmas tradition growing up. And if you have a snowmobile, get out and drive through the woods–maybe not to Grandma’s house but certainly through the countryside. Then back to the house for a cup of hot chocolate.
  7. Find an angel tree and shop for gifts as a family. Develop the tradition of giving to the needy during this and other times of the year. My children loved to pick out the gifts for other children.
  8. Do an Advent calendar with the kids. OK, it’s a little late this year, but pick one up on sale for next year. The one we had was felt with pieces for the kids to place in the correct date every day. It was a signal that the season had begun and was used as a countdown to Christmas. Our Advent calendar told the Christmas story. This way, our children learned the Christmas story at a young age and had fun with the order of the pieces. Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus were the last three days. We also had an advent wreath that we lit each Sunday and talked about each Sunday of Advent in terms of spiritual meaning.
  9. Organize a caroling party. Make a pot of chili, practice a few songs before you head out and go to a nursing home or neighborhood. It’s an old tradition that seniors love. And singing is a stress reducer!
  10. Read the Christmas story before you open gifts. Children can act out parts or people can take turns reading portions of the story. Then give thanks for the gift of God’s Son and celebrate the birth of the Savior with a birthday cake. Make it a tradition to go to a Christmas eve service where the story will be read. This reminds every family of the true meaning of Christmas.

There are many more traditions you can establish that your family will remember in years to come and pass on to their children. This is the year to start creating memories!

Family Christmas traditions

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