25 Family Christmas Traditions


For years we have enjoyed Family Christmas traditions. This year I am hoping to add a few more traditions. I would love to learn about all of yours.

last minute christmas gift

It’s our last day (day 12) of  Twelve Days to Get Ready for Christmas. Today my dear friend KariAnne @Thistlewood and I are sharing 25 Family Christmas Traditions. If there was ever a year to think about adding a few fun traditions to your holiday plans, this is the one.

I wanted to pass on a special thank you for joining me these past twelve days. I hope I inspired you to get ready for the holidays.

I am a bit crazy when it comes to traditions. Of the twenty-five on this list, seventeen are ours!

I would love it if you all would add some of your family Christmas traditions in the comments. I would love to read about every single one and I am ready to add some more.

My Favorite Family Christmas Traditions

Sibling Shopping Day

the three boys

I used to take the boys on a special shopping trip in December. The three of them each had a list of everyone they needed to buy gifts for and the four of us went to Target. Andrew and Matt usually finished in about an hour. Michael, on the other hand, spent hours finding the perfect gifts. As much as his brother’s complained, Michael’s gifts were so incredible and well-thought.

Watch a Favorite Holiday Movie Together 

I love having a special family movie that you can watch with your family. When I was growing up, my sisters and I loved watching “White Christmas” every year. I think I know every word of every song and most of the dialogue throughout the entire movie! As hard as I have tried to get my boys to watch the movie “White Christmas”, they haven’t shown any interest. 

Family Cook-a-Long 

I love cooking in the kitchen with her family. A few years ago we started a tradition where we team up and each team cooks a course. We all cook together and it is so much fun. This evening is one of my favorites in the holiday season.

Gift Wrapping Night

Our family has always wrapped gifts on Christmas Eve. I am hoping we can change that plan this year and start a tradition to do it earlier.

Making Gifts


Many of you are aware that I made gifts for my family every Christmas for about thirty years. I would love to ask our boys to make one handmade gift. I  think that’s a good place to start.

Adopt a Charity

When the boys were younger we used to participate in the Adopt a Family program. We sponsored a family and shopped and bought all of their Christmas gifts. I love this program and it’s really a fabulous idea.

Buying the Tree

Buying our Christmas tree has been a huge tradition in our family. We have always bought our tree at the YMCA and the boys always played hide and go seek in the tree lot. Somehow we were never kicked out!

Decorating the Tree

Until the boys moved out, we decorated the tree together every single year. We have so many wonderful handmade and family ornaments and we all love decorating the tree because of the fond memories that are cherished.

Christmas Party 


This year would have been our 33rd Annual Christmas party. Technically we are still having it, but I think there will only be our six family members in attendance. This is my favorite party of the year and it has grown from 40 guests to 250 guests.

Citrus Singers

You may not be familiar with the Citrus Singers, but this college singing group is out of this world talented. We always attend with the same friends and it’s absolutely so much fun!

Reading the Night Before Christmas

When the boys were really young, ages, 1, 2, and 3,  Dave starting reading “Twas the Night Before Christmas” every Christmas Eve. He still reads it every year!

Traditional Dinner (Beef Tenderloin/Pasta)

We always have a traditional Christmas dinner on the 24th, and it’s always enjoyed at the dining room table.


Ice Skating (even in California)

Ice skating is such a fun sport and it feels as if most large towns have an ice skating rink. This has always felt like such a fun thing to do during the holidays.

Open Stockings – youngest to oldest

We open our stockings in order of age, youngest to oldest. This is the time I have to remember that I am the oldest in our family. I am two and a half months older than my husband and somehow this feels more real on Christmas morning. We have done this ever since we got married.

Christmas Morning

Opening Gifts – Oldest to youngest

After the open the stockings, we open our gifts. But this time we open them from oldest to youngest. I love this tradition so much.

Christmas Morning Brunch – family recipes

Today I am celebrating some wonderful personalized gifts. I found twenty gifts, which includes my favorite, entertaining, recipes, pets, and Christmas decor.

I love the fact that every Christmas morning, in three different states, my brothers and sisters and I  are enjoying my Mom’s  Overnight Sausage Casserole. This recipe has been a tradition in our family for as long as I can remember. You can only imagine how hard I cried when my daughter in law, Charlotte, gave me this gift earlier this year. It was so thoughtful!

Game Night

We have played some games over the holidays but this year my youngest son took it to a different level. Michael has assigned each of us to be in charge of two evenings during the holiday. I would love to play Rummikub, Ticket to Ride, Qwirkle, or Wizard0. 

Fun Family Competition 

We have had many team competitions in our family. We played golf inside our home last spring and it was so much fun. You can see the highlight reel here

Making Ornaments for the Tree

When the boys were really young, I use to host the Christmas craft workshop for the school where the kids would all make gifts for their family, teachers, and pets. This is so much fun!

Making/Decorating Cookies for Santa 

We used to do this and I loved it so much!


Writing a Letter to Santa and Reindeer

There are so many fun traditions you can start with your kids. Making cookies for Santa and writing a letter to Santa are perfect opportunities for sure.

Open One gift on Christmas Eve

I never like this idea but I know a lot of people love to open at least one. I would love your input and to share why/ how it works so well.

Look at Christmas Lights

The last tradition I am sharing is one we have enjoyed for many years. Every Christmas Eve we put on our pajamas, pile the dog in the car, and we head out to St. Alban’s street to look at the Christmas lights. I put Christmas carols on the car radio and we have so much fun.

I  hoped you have enjoyed the twenty-five Family Christmas Traditions. Now it’s your turn to share your traditions.

If you missed any of my Twelve Days to Get Ready for Christmas, you can find them here:

Day 1: Nine Ways to Repurpose Last Years Christmas Decor

Day 2: Creative Ideas to Stock Your Pantry for the Holidays

Day 3: Favorite Places to Find Inexpensive Holiday Craft Supplies

Day 4: My Favorite Places to Find Inexpensive Holiday Greenery

Day  5: Handmade Holiday Creative Gift Ideas

Day 6: Holiday Make Ahead Desserts

Day  7: 20 Great Ideas for Personalized Gifts

Day 8: How to Organize Your Gift Wrapping Room

Day 9:  7 Creative Ideas to Set a Table

Day 10: The Best 20 Christmas Gift Ideas Under $25

Day 11: 5 Ways to Display and Repurpose Christmas Cards

Day 12: 25 Family Christmas Traditions

You can also find Karianne’s amazing blog posts here:

Day 1: 9 Simple Ideas To Repurpose Last Year’s Christmas Decor

Day 2: How To Stock Your Pantry For the Holidays

Day 3: The Best Places to Find Inexpensive Craft Supplies

Day 4: Favorite Faux Winter Sems

Day 5:  Handmade Holiday: Creative Gift Idea

Day 6: Stock Your Freezer: Make Ahead Christmas Dessert

Day 7: Clever Ideas for Personalized Gifts

Day 8:How to Organize Your Gift Wrapping Station

Day 9: Seven Creative Ideas for the Christmas Table

Day  10: Walmart Christmas finds Under $25

Day 11: 5 Ways to Repurpose Christmas Cards

Day 12: 25 Things to Do With your Family for Christmas

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  1. Thank you Leslie for all the inspiration you’ve shared. I hope you’re Christmas Season loses none of it’s sparkle even during these difficult times. Best wishes to all of you! BTW I am a year and three months older then my husband. It’s worked for us for 41 years!!😘

  2. Citrus Singers, skating & opening presents & stockings. We have done all the rest from when I was a child & brought it into my own family for the last 43+yrs. All these traditions are so much fun. O ya, and our traditional Xmas Dinner meal is tamales & more tamales for breakfast. Family🎅🏼

  3. That golf tourney was the best ever! A whole lot of creativity. I’ve done treasure / secret spy present hunts. My grandson wanted (at age 7) to be a ninja spy so I hid his gifts all over his house and he had to follow clues written in reverse and find his “handler” (uncle Marc) to help him as needed. He had code words and dead drops and everything I could think of. He had a blast. So did the rest of us watching him.

  4. Thanks for the tips and ideas! I have bookmarked the Citrus Singers and will be adding that to our Christmas grandkids plans!!

  5. Leslie, you and Karianne have outdone yourselves delivering all of your fabulous Christmas inspiration to us over the past 12 days. Thank you! Our family consists of about 30 when we all get together, and we have started playing Left, Right, Center. It is a dice game that you can find at most stores, and is probably available on Amazon. I have even purchased one at Walgreens. We play with three $1 bills, but you can use pennies, or anything you want to. We have played with as few as six people, or as many as 20 (the more that play, the more money (or whatever you are playing with) you win.) Happy Holidays!

  6. These are awesome traditions! Thank you for sharing yours! Our town has had an ice rink the last two years ago that’s become a tradition for us too. Christmas is such a wonderful time of year!

  7. Love all these traditions! Thank you for sharing. Our family has a few too. We keep a Christmas book where we each write an entry on Christmas. I started it when my daughters were children and we’ve had it over 40 years. We also ask our guests to write in it as well. As the years go by you especially treasure the entries of those no longer with us! We also watch a movie that we created from all of our Christmas’ past, from the time the children were toddlers when we first got a movie camera!

  8. LOVE all your traditions!!
    I started this tradition – when my girls were young…..
    Every July or August we’d make 100 ornaments (some variation of a snowman).
    Then after Thanksgiving all the ornaments are hung a tree just inside the front door. Anyone who knocks on our front door during the month of December gets an ornament. The UPS driver, pizza delivery, neighbors, friends or family – even if you’re at the wrong address. 🙂 My girls loved giving the ornaments away. They are grown-up now – but I still make give-away snowmen every year. XO

  9. Oh Leslie!
    When we lived in So Pas, St Albans was always a must! And we’ve attended Citrus Singer shows for many years, both Christmas and the Spring show. About 6 years ago we started taking the grandkids to the Christmas show. We are really missing it this year!

  10. My family has made the same breakfast casserole that you make for as long as I can remember. What is the source for the casserole dish? Thanks

  11. My mother was adopted by a German family and they celebrated the feast of St Nicholas on December 6th. This is when they would get their stockings. She carried this tradition to my brothers & sisters and now I do it with my girls. It’s the best time to give Christmas puzzles, coloring book, books, anything Christmasy. It stopped us from saying “when is Santa coming” a million times. It was fun having Christmas related gifts leading up to the big day rather than on that day. My girls are in their 20’s and we’ve already planned a lunch together to celebrate on the 6th.

  12. I love these traditions! Christmas is such a magical time of year with so much joy and cheer that my husband and I decided to get married on Christmas Eve – 10 years ago this year! 🎄
    One of our traditions I loved growing up was how my family clipped little candles to our dessert plates. (I think they were actually old fashioned Christmas tree candlesticks). When we had our traditional Christmas (Eve) dinner, we would go around the table and each person would light the candle of the person next to them, while saying something they love about them or sharing a special memory from that year.

    When we got married, my husband and I went around and lit the candles of our family members to honor this tradition and signify our two families joining together. Our caterer actually cried and said it was the most beautiful and symbolic thing he had witnessed and he felt honored to be apart of it. Which, naturally, made me cry! ❤️

    As for Christmas Eve presents, we open one present which is always no surprise – pajamas. We usually watch a Christmas movie in those pajamas shortly after opening them. You could easily incorporate that tradition, since you already get in Christmas pj’s to go see the beautiful lights. There’s nothing like fresh new PJs on the most exciting evening of the year! And even though we always laugh and say “My, my, I wonder what this could be!” I think everyone knowing it’s new PJs makes it even more fun because everyone is in on the secret.

    Oh! And when I was little, my mom created a secret cinnamon roll recipe that is out of this world. We make “Bodacious Buns” each year and the smell of those baking on Christmas morning is divine. The only way to learn the recipe is through marriage, much to the chagrin of all our friends. But worry not, they get plenty when we make them for gift deliveries each year! 😅

  13. Just wanted to share- we have always opened a gift on Christmas Eve. The gift has always been a new pair of pajamas.

  14. Hi Leslie! First of all I love your home and your traditions. Our family has some that will be new to you. One of our traditions is having fried pies every Christmas Eve and that is when we eat them. We have been doing that for 35 years. Another tradition we have is reading the Christmas story from the Bible found in St Luke. That is always a wonderful story enjoyed by everyone. We always open gifts on Christmas Eve and Santa comes on Christmas Day. And we always see Christmas thru the eyes of a child, most always one of ours. That’s what makes our Christmas so special.

  15. Hi. Well I have finally met, so to speak, someone who loves the holidays, butlers pantries , and tables scapes as much as I do. Can’t wait to follow your blog🌺🌺

    1. Oh I am so glad we have virtually met Linda! Yes, I am definitely a fan of holidays, butler pantries and tablescapes and entertaining, decor, recipes and DIY crafts! I am so glad you are following along. I have so many incredible ideas to share! Thank you for reaching out with your kind comment. Have a great week ahead!

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