{5+5 Friday) 10 Great Christmas Traditions to Start

Growing up, I can’t recall too many Christmas traditions… unless you count my dad making us throw the trash away from each gift before we opened another a tradition.  (I don’t, I call it being a party pooper, and so do my siblings, Dad!)  Don’t get me wrong, we made a ton of memories and had a blast (minus the garbage ritual), but there weren’t too many things we did the same every year.  The one I do remember is that every Christmas eve, my sisters and I would squeeze into one bed (the three of us) and my two brothers would squeeze into a bed.  We would laugh into the wee hours of the morning, and when we woke after an hour or two of sleep, our mom Santa had always left our stockings at the end of our bed.  She He would make sure to put one significant gift in the stocking so that it eased our curiosity back into a a few more hours of sleep.

Until we bought our house last year, we were always travelling to see our families at Christmas, and we didn’t get to set those traditions for our own family.  Now that we have “planted roots”, I want to set up some fun activities for our kids to do.  Last year, we started Elf on the Shelf, which my kids just went nuts over.  They love it, and have already started asking when Alfie is coming back.

I gathered a list of 10 really fun Christmas traditions that I found all over the web to show you today, in case you are like me and wanting to start some new traditions with your little families.  Here they are…

1. Operation Christmas Child

If you have never heard of OCC, you need to get involved.  Every year, our church fills about 500 of these shoeboxes to send to children in third world countries and parts of the world who are not as fortunate as we are. This year, my daughters class also filled shoeboxes as a class project. They are filled with goodies and toys, and are usually the only Christmas gift these children receive.  It truly is the perfect example of what Christmas is supposed to be all about – giving and sharing and helping others experience joy.  What better tradition to start?

2. Write a Soldier

If you belong to a military family like I do, you know how hard it is to be apart from your family at Christmas.  My husband was in Afghanistan during Christmas of 2009, and he said the Christmas cards that rolled in from complete strangers were a total morale boost.  They may be soldiers who are supposed to be tough, but being tough when you are alone for Christmas is hard, even for soldiers.  So give them a boost, would ya?  They will truly, truly appreciate it.

3. Write a Family Newsletter / Yearly Wrap Up

Even if you don’t mail them out, family newsletters are a great way to come together and remember all the great things that have happened during the past year.  How cool would it be to write one every year, and save them all in a book to look through?  Imagine creating a book full of newsletters every year for your children and giving it to them to continue with their own families?  Super cool!  And it doesn’t have to be fancy and graphic like the one above… you can find free newsletter templates all over the web.

4. Hope Notes

Ashley of Under the Sycamore has a fun tradition for her family – before they pack up their stockings for the year, they each write one “I hope…” note for each member of the family and place it inside the stocking.  This note is something that they hope will happen by the next Christmas.  For instance, my I hope for Stella would be “I hope you are potty trained”.  Then, when they unpack the stockings the following year, they get to read the things that everyone hoped for last year.  I can see this being really fun!

5. Make Ornaments for Grandparents

Grandparents have to be the most sentimental of anyone… does anyone else’s parents get all mushy hearted when your daughter or son picks out something special just for them?  The trouble is how to keep all of those special mementos and keepsakes.  A great keepsake that has a purpose would be a handmade ornament, made especially for them by their grandchildren.  I know my grandparents would go gaga over that!  (If you need ideas, click on the link in the title – last week, I shared 10 fabulous ideas for ornaments that kids can make!)

6. Santa’s Special Key

This is one of those traditions that will require very little work, but adds to the magic of Christmas.  Leave a special key on your doorknob so that Santa can get into your house if you don’t have a chimney.  Michelle over at The Piccadilly Post even wrote a great poem that she has shared with you to use.  Super cute!

7. Christmas Story Advent

Wrap up 25 Christmas books and place them under the tree.  Each night, have your children pick out the story that matches the day, and read it as the bedtime story.  I love that this advent calendar gives the gift of quality time AND reading, rather than more stuff and chocolate (which they get more than their share of on Christmas).  Placing the emphasis on togetherness is something I really look for when considering traditions.

8. Christmas Eve Package


Leave a package on your doorstep every Christmas Eve filled with goodies you can use that evening – pyjamas for the whole family, a new Christmas book, and a copy of a Christmas movie (or popcorn to go along with an old favourite that you already own).  What a great way to spend a snuggly evening together as a family!

9. Elf on the Shelf

Unless you have been living under a rock, you likely already know about Elf on the Shelf.  We bought an elf package last year, and you would not believe the fun that my girls had with it.  They wanted to write Alfie (our elf) notes, and the best thing about getting up in the morning was discovering what kind of funny business Alfie had gotten into last night while they slept, and where he was hiding today.  You don’t have to buy the official Elf on the Shelf, but pick up an elf from any dollar or department store and your kids will have a ball – trust me on this one!  (Do a pinterest search on Elf on the Shelf, you will get some amazing and hilarious ideas on where to hide your elf!)

10. The First Gift of Christmas

I saved this one for last because it really did emphasize the true meaning of Christmas and it really touched my heart.  Delia Creates shared this tradition that her family does every year – in the morning, before the kids are even allowed to touch the tree, they sit in a quiet place as a family, and each give a gift to God for the year.  For instance, my gift could be “I will complete my daily devotionals all the time, not when I’m not too tired”.  (Eek… guilty.)  Then, the whole family places their gifts in the envelope for the year, and places it in the box for next year.  They also get to read the gifts that they gave God in the previous years, pray together as a family, and sing a hymn.  Isn’t this an amazing idea?  Even if you aren’t religious, you could adapt this to be a gift to your family or loved ones.

What about you?  Are you looking for new traditions?  Do you think you’ll adopt any of these?  And do you have any other fun ones that you would like to share?

About Sarah

Sarah Desjardins is a mother of two girls, a wife, an elementary school teacher, and a self proclaimed glitter addict. Becoming Martha is a place for anyone who wants to make their domestic life more beautiful and creative. Sarah started Becoming Martha as a place to find bliss between the diapers and the dishes, and invites you to do the same.


  1. These are all great! Thanks for the ideas! :)

  2. Love these (except the Elf on the Shelf because he creeps me out!). Thank you for sharing.

    Christy from Creating a Beautiful Life

  3. Love these ideas, especially the hope notes. New follower
    Lisa .. Life is great in a 31 by 8

  4. Thanks for the great ideas! I love the family newsletter in graphic form. How cool would that be framed in an entry way or gallery wall?!!

    Deena at

  5. Thank you for the inspiration!

  6. So inspiring friend!! Love this post!
    Barbara at Chase the Star

  7. Great ideas. Apparently until last week I was living under a rock, because I asked another blogger what elf on the shelf was all about. I really like the first two suggestions!

  8. Thanks for those ideas.I really love all of them except for the elf because in the Philippines,elves are considered as evil ones (maligno).Being a Filipina,its a tradition among us to wake up at twelve midnight of Dec.24 and eat together as a family(Noche Buena).We are the one who prepare all of the food(sometimes foods are ordered from restaurants and friends)then we pray together,kiss each other and say “I love you”.Before Christmas eve comes,children have their Christmas carols,its like trick or treating but the difference is,they sing Christmas songs and instead of candies,we give them coins and sometime let them eat inside…We also give gifts to each other during Christmas eve and gifts are usually wrapped.

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