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Favorite Family Christmas Traditions

by Erica Loop, studioD

Christmas traditions can help your family to come together, bond and create lasting memories. While every family may have their own Christmas traditions, there are a few that are time-tested favorites. From making movies and other creative pursuits to a beloved Santa suit, family Christmas traditions are ideal ways to keep your gang's favorite festivities alive for generations.

Holiday Movies

Making holiday movies is a favorite family Christmas tradition that creates a lasting memory you can go back to and watch for years to come. Unlike the film-filled days of the past, making movie magic on Christmas is a snap with your video camera or cell phone's video app. These movies may feature decorating the Christmas tree, setting cookies out on Christmas Eve for Santa, caroling, a holiday party or glee-filled faces opening presents on Christmas morning.

Decorating the Tree

According to History.com, between 30 and 35 million Christmas trees are sold every year. Gathering the group together for a Christmas tree decorating activity is a tradition that is popular with many families. Make the tradition more memorable by playing well-loved Christmas carols and choosing keepsake ornaments. Each family member can create a new ornament every year, or you can design one family tree decoration that everyone contributes to. For example, glue a family photo into a craft foam frame, punch a hole at the top and thread a ribbon through as a hanger. Add the year to the back with a permanent marker to note when the special memory was made.

Holiday Home Decor

Dressing up your home for Christmas is a favorite tradition for families who like to show their extended family, friends and neighbors their holiday spirit. Come up with a decor game plan, asking the kids to help you set a scene for the design. Children can draw pictures of the house displaying Christmas lights, statues and other holiday items. Keep these drawings to make lasting memories of this decorative family tradition. Pick one day to do the decorating, assigning jobs to each family member. For example, your teen can string lights around your front porch railing, your grade-schooler can put up wreaths and your younger child can help you to place inflatable Santas and snowmen around the yard. Take a photo of the holiday decor, write the date on the back and make your own Christmas decorating tradition scrapbook or album.


Christmas caroling is a favorite family tradition that dates back to the 19th century. During a caroling session, families -- or community, neighborhood, school or church groups -- come together and move from house to house, singing Christmas themed songs. A family caroling tradition may include classic songs that your child chooses, such as "Frosty the Snowman," "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" or "Jingle Bells." To make the caroling extra memorable, create a family song book every year that features each tune, along with photos of the actual activity.

Christmas Cookies and Treats

The sweet smell of Christmas cookies baking in the oven is a signature of one favorite family holiday tradition. From baking sugar cookie snowflakes to Santa shaped cutouts that you cover with red and white frosting, making Christmas sweets and treats is a popular pre-holiday activity. This may also include baking gingerbread to use while constructing a cookie and candy mini-house. This top tradition provides families with the chance to work together, making an edible piece of holiday decor.

Gift Giving

While your little ones may still believe that Santa brings their gifts down the chimney on Christmas Eve, buying and giving presents to family and friends is a top holiday tradition. According to History.com, 93 percent of Americans exchange gifts on Christmas. Waking up on Christmas morning to find that the under-tree area packed with presents is an expectation that almost everyone who celebrates this holiday expects and looks forward to.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images