Christmas traditions are the special ways we celebrate the holidays year after year. You can make your own tradition with your family by carving out time every December to enjoy your special time together.

From decorating sugar cookies, to caroling, to trimming the tree, much of the magic of Christmas comes from our family traditions.

We’ve rounded up different ideas from around the web so you can start your own Christmas traditions with your family this year.

1. Advent Traditions

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The anticipation is part of what makes Christmas so delightful, and there are lots of exciting ways to count down to Christmas Eve. Whether you buy something or create it yourself, you can make a special advent tradition for your family.

  • Buy an advent calendar from the grocery store with little chocolates to enjoy every day in December leading up to Christmas.
  • DIY it with little wrapped gifts in a basket to be opened every morning.
  • Make an activity tree. Spray paint a branch white or silver, then decorate it with paper stars. On each star, write down an activity or act of kindness to do every day leading up to Christmas.
  • Count down just the 12 days of Christmas with something special to open or do each day.
  • Instead of opening a gift yourselves, make someone else’s life magical with 12 days of giving. Plot with your family about how to surprise an elderly neighbor, the mail carrier, teachers, coaches, and others. You can shovel snow, bake cookies, and buy inexpensive gifts like a tin of cocoa or a seasonal mug.

2. Kitchen Traditions

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Don’t limit your Christmas traditions to just a turkey and stuffing. Spending an afternoon baking Christmas goodies can be a wonderful tradition for young and old.

  • Bake sugar cookies in seasonal shapes. Think candy canes, Christmas trees, and snowflakes. Lay out frostings, sprinkles, and other fun toppings so everyone can decorate.
  • Get a gingerbread house kit from the grocery store for the whole family to decorate.
  • Bake seasonal loaves of quick breads and pies. They make wonderful gifts, too.

3. Outdoor Traditions

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Christmas traditions don’t have to cost much money. The idea is to spend time together, and you can do that in any number of ways:

  • If the weather permits, take the family on a sleigh ride or go sledding.
  • Visit a tree farm for the perfect Christmas tree, or get a permit to hike into the woods for cutting.
  • Go ice skating with the whole family. Don’t forget the hot cocoa!
  • Tuck the kids into the car and drive around at night to enjoy Christmas lights on houses in your neighborhood.
  • Organize an annual snowball fight or “Snow Bowl,” a football game in the snow. You may have to wait on Mother Nature to cooperate, but it’s a tradition to which everyone will look forward!

4. Family Time Traditions

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To keep the focus on spending time as a family, try these traditions for quality time together.

  • Trim the tree. Make it a tradition by decorating the tree around the same time every year, or doing it in the same way. Maybe you trim the tree on the first Saturday in December, or you play the same Christmas playlist.
  • Take an annual Christmas picture. Make sure to take the picture against the same backdrop — the fireplace or Christmas tree, for example — and set up the camera at the same height. Make it special. Maybe everyone wears their Christmas pajamas or reindeer ears. You can tuck the image into a keepsake ornament every year too.
  • Watch a Christmas movie together.

5. Craft Traditions

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Making crafts as a Christmas tradition is a great way to preserve memories of Christmases past. They can be thoughtful gifts for grandparents and other family members, too.

  • Make an ornament. You can buy premade frames for photos, or do it yourself. A painted handprint on a festive glass ball is a fun, easy, and inexpensive way to make a lasting memory.
  • Build a garland for your tree or mantle. With a bit of hot glue, you can create a nature-themed garland with acorns, pinecones, and dried berries. Popcorn is an old standby too — just make enough for everyone to enjoy as they string.

6. Christmas Eve Traditions

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Begin something special on the night before Christmas to build even more anticipation for the wonderful day to come.

  • Read a special Christmas story before bed.
  • Dress everyone in Christmas pajamas, and then enjoy mugs of hot cocoa with just the tree lights on.
  • Set out cookies, milk, and carrots for Santa and his reindeer.
  • Whip up a batch of reindeer food to sprinkle outside. Just mix dry oatmeal with a bit of glitter and let the kids scatter it on the lawn.
  • Open a special gift, like a book that you’ll read as a family or pajamas to wear on Christmas morning.

The Takeaway

The real key to creating lasting traditions is simply being in the moment with your loved ones, and appreciating that time. Remember what makes them special, and make arrangements so you can enjoy them this year and every year. If your traditions are dependent on weather, be flexible. And try to remember that waiting for snow can be part of the fun!