25 Family Holiday Traditions You Can Start Right Now
25 Family Holiday Traditions You Can Start Right Now
November 18, 2021

25 Family Holiday Traditions You Can Start Right Now

Babylist editors love baby gear and independently curate their favorite products to share with you. If you buy something through links on our site, Babylist may earn a commission.
25 Family Holiday Traditions You Can Start Right Now.
25 Family Holiday Traditions You Can Start Right Now

Do you remember getting to open one present on Christmas Eve, or baking something special on the first night of Hanukkah? Holiday traditions are many people’s most treasured childhood memories. Adding a little one to your family means it’s time to kick off your own holiday traditions—either the ones you remember from your own childhood, brand new traditions you’ve always wanted to try, or a little bit of both.

We talked to friends, family members and our very own Babylist team members about the family holiday traditions they loved the most from their own childhoods or the ones they’ve started since they’ve become parents. Most don’t require much effort, time or planning and can be enjoyed by even the tiniest family members. We hope they’ll inspire you this holiday season!

👶 Make or Gift a New Ornament Every Year

“Every Christmas, my grandma would get all of us kids a special Hallmark ornament, and we’re still going! And it’s something she’s continuing for my son and all of our babies now. I still look forward to my ornament at 30 years old.” -Briana

You can also create a photo ornament with a photo of your child for each year, or buy/make something that represents whatever your little one is into that year—dinosaurs, trucks, mermaids, etc. Handprint ornaments are also really fun.

🕎 Light it Up Together

“For Hanukkah, the whole family gets together and brings their own menorahs. We light the candles/menorahs one by one, starting with the youngest child lighting and moving to oldest. We still do separate lighting on the specific nights, but it’s a fun way to all celebrate together.” -Amanda

💭 Pause to Reflect

“My favorite tradition is what we call our family circle. Before our holiday meal, we all stand in a big circle. One person starts and says something they are proud of themself for, something they accomplished, a new hobby—anything positive. Then you turn to the person next to you and tell them why you are grateful for them, what they mean to you and how they make your life better. Our large family includes everyone from toddlers to grandparents. Everyone takes it seriously and it’s always a really beautiful moment that reminds us of what is important.” -Dawn

🏠 Make a Gingerbread House

The messier the better! It’s also a great activity to get the grandparents and other extended family in on.

🍔 Do Something Unexpected

“I come from a really big family, so when we were younger and needed a large gathering place for Christmas Eve that could handle a ton of kids under the age of 12, we somehow landed on the McDonald’s Playplace. It’s kid-friendly and it meant my mom didn’t have to cook. So even though we’re all fully grown now, that’s where we go every Christmas Eve. I’m convinced it’s the best holiday spot in town.” -Maddie

😴 Get New Pajamas (and Make Them Matching!

Nothing is cuter than matching family holiday PJs.

“Growing up, our family holiday tradition each year was one gift on Christmas Eve: new pajamas. I’ve continued the tradition with my daughter.” -Porscha

🍗 Change Up the Meal

“For Thanksgiving, my family doesn’t make the traditional American turkey. We makes Panes con Pavo, which translates to ‘bread with turkey’. The turkey is cooked in a tomato sauce and then we make sandwiches after we break the turkey down. We use bolillo rolls and load them up with lettuce, curitdo (this is a traditional slaw from El Salvador), sliced tomatoes, watercress, radishes and turkey. Then you take the sandwich and pour the sauce the turkey was cooked in on the sandwich. It’s my favorite meal during the holidays.” -Diana

💁🏽 Give Back

The holiday season is the perfect time to share the love. Volunteer at a food bank in your community, donate to a gift drive or do whatever you can to help others during the holiday season.

“For Christmas, we take our daughter to help us shop to give to Toys for Tots. We hope that it’s a good teaching experience for her to give the toys away she helped picked out.” -Kristina

🌲 Combine Traditions

“I celebrate the Winter Solstice and my husband celebrates Christmas, so we figured out a way to use the same tree for both holidays! Winter Solstice uses an undecorated evergreen, so we get a regular pine to bring inside, let it sit in its undecorated elegance, and then once the solstice has passed, decorate it with Christmas ornaments. We hope to have a house someday that’s really close to nature so we take the tree back outside after New Years to hang fruit and seeds from it for the animals.” -Amylia

📚 Read a Different Holiday Book Each Night

Start building your little one’s library from day one and add a few holiday books to the mix every year. As they get a little older, choose one holiday book to read aloud each night.

🤪 Get Silly

“We always have a silly string fight (inside the house no less!) at my Grandma’s house on Christmas afternoon after we opened our stockings (silly string was always in there!).” -Anne

✂️ Get Crafty

Get creative! Make paper snowflakes, a DIY advent calendar or cotton ball snowmen. Use green, black and red (the colors of Kwanzaa) to make a special craft. The sky (and your Pinterest board) is the limit!

🐘 Do a White Elephant Gift Exchange

Because you’ve been dying to gift that back scratcher you’ve had your eye on…

🍪 Bake Cookies

“Early in December, we start making cookies—my mom always made thumbprint cookies and pfeffernusse, so I like to mix at least one of those in each year. It reminds me of my childhood and my family, and it’s a fun bonding activity with my daughter. Holiday music is a must while baking. On Christmas Eve, we always make madeleines (we leave them for Santa, mostly because I’m too lazy to do sugar cookies, and “Santa” likes madeleines better anyway!). We basically get our sugar quotient for the year in December.” -Karen

🍩 Bake Something Else…Like Doughnuts!

“We make doughnuts as a family to kick off Hanukkah, and the Nutella is disastrous and delicious.” -Lisa

🧁 Bake Something Else…Like Cinnamon Rolls! (Or just buy them—that’s fine, too)

“We always had chocolate milk and cinnamon rolls for breakfast (like the really sugary kind of chocolate milk you buy pre-made in the grocery store) because my mom was a stickler for healthy food and never let us eat those other times of the year, and somehow we convinced her it was okay on Christmas.” -Rebekah

✉️ Frame Your Holiday Cards

If you send out a holiday card, set one aside each year and either frame it or store it in a special place. You’ll love looking back on your old cards and watching your children grow and change.

✨ Be Intentional

“On New Year’s Day, we head to the beach to catch the sunrise and set intentions as a family.” -Dawn

🏃 Get Active

“We do the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving. It gets the wiggles out of the kids, and it gets me out of having to cook!” -Melissa

🥡 Go Out to Eat

“We don’t celebrate Christmas, so we’ve made it a tradition to go eat Chinese food on that day (since that’s all that’s open usually), but it’s really fun!” -Lisa

👏🏿 Dance!

Dancing is a fun way to celebrate cultural traditions. Let Elmo show your little one (and you!) how to celebrate Kwanzaa through dance.

🎁 Make Your Presents Stand Out

“One tradition that I love that I plan to do with our family is to buy a unique wrapping paper for each child. Each child gets all of their presents for that year wrapped in that unique paper, however the kids have no idea whose paper is whose until Christmas morning. You hide a scrap of their paper in the bottom of their stocking. Then once they open their stockings, they will find out which presents are theirs and they can open them!” -Rebekah

💡 Take in the Lights

Go on a drive (or a walk) around your neighborhood to check out the best holiday light display.

🎉 Celebrate the New Year

“My family doesn’t celebrate Christmas—but New Year’s Eve is HUGE for us. Russian tradition is similar to Christmas but non-religious, so we have a “New Year’s Tree,” we do presents on December 31 and we have a version of Santa which translates to “Grandpa Frost.” It ends up being an awesome mish-mosh for us since the kids don’t really get the difference yet between New Year and Christmas.” -Lyuba

🔥 Make a Yule Log

“A yule log is a fun, easy tradition to start. Some years I do two, one real (an actual wooden log I find that we then decorate with other winter plants, fruits and candles) and one chocolate! Usually done on the day of the solstice (Yule), but some years I’m a day or so off just because I can’t always find the perfect log. Yule logs are super fun to do with toddlers because you ask them to find offerings to stick on the log and they bring in really off-the-wall (but well-meant) things.” -Amylia

This information is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. We do not accept any responsibility for any liability, loss or risk, personal or otherwise, incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, from any information or advice contained here. Babylist may earn compensation from affiliate links in this content. Learn more about how we write Babylist content and the Babylist Health Advisory Board.