Creating special Christmas family traditions are a great way to make memories that your children will cherish throughout their life and even pass on to their children.
Traditions can also help create a sense of stability, unity, and belonging, which in these times of change can be reassuring for everyone.
Even if your children are a bit older, it’s never too late to start a tradition. You might find that you already have some traditions that have just sneakily become part of your annual routine while others need to be more formally initiated.
We have collated some fun and meaningful traditions that families tell us they love and that you might like for your family – remembering that the best Christmas traditions are the ones that work for your family.
1. Decorating date
Decorating the tree and the house is the key to getting the Christmas vibe started. Some families put the tree up on a certain date – for many this is 1st December, while others choose the official beginning of advent which is the fourth Sunday before Christmas. Some don’t put the tree up at all during Advent and save it for Christmas Eve, while some do it 12 days before Christmas and others do it on the day that best suits them.
How the tree and house are decorated can become another tradition. While some parents prefer to do it themselves, others like to enlist the help of the family and make it a tradition. Selecting the tree if it’s a real one, turning on the lights, putting on the tree topper, or laying out a nativity scene can all be made a special moment.
2. The tree
For some families, the tree tradition is as simple as getting it out of storage, but others love to stick to the tradition of getting a real tree. Whether you go to your nearest supplier and tie the tree to the roof of the car, walk home with it in a wheelbarrow, or head out and cut your own, the fun comes in the choosing. And the bonus is the real pine scent.
3. Write to Father Christmas
Writing to Santa is a fun annual tradition many families take part in and it’s even more fun when Santa replies. It’s also wonderfully nostalgic to look back on the replies from years gone by so you may want to keep the growing collection.
4. A special ornament
Start your child’s own ornament collection and add to it each year. They will love looking going back over them each year, and when they leave home, they will have special memories to take with them.
5. Christmas music
Music is a strong memory trigger so create a playlist or get out the old CDs. If carols aren’t your thing, there’s a huge range of other Christmassy music available.
6. Advent calendar
Especially for younger children, an advent calendar is a great way to count down to Christmas as they can see exactly how many days there are to go. Check out an amazing range of ideas for advent calendars here.
7. Christmas lights
Christmas in summer in New Zealand means the Christmas lights don’t look their best till quite late at night but being allowed out late to enjoy them is part of the excitement! Check your local events pages for where the best decorated houses are near you.
8. Share the love
Christmas can be a difficult time for many families so sharing some Christmas love is a great idea. There are many charities who will be asking for donations of gifts or money, your local City Mission or equivalent will be looking for donations or helpers, Ronald McDonald House welcome families to come and cook a meal for their guests, your neighbour might be busy preparing for the big day and would love their lawn mowed – the opportunities are almost endless and it’s a fantastic way for children to learn the joy of giving.
9. An annual photo
Whether you go to and visit Santa at a store or location nearby or take a family photo in front of the tree or on Christmas Day, keeping an annual record of your family is a great tradition and the photos will become a hilarious record of hairstyles and clothing preferences! Consider getting some Christmas accessories and making a photo booth at home and really mix it up.
10. Christmas at Church
It’s the busiest time of the year for Christian Churches because after all, it is the reason for the season. If you are planning to go, consider the carol service on Christmas Eve – it’s a great way to fill in the evening, catch up with friends, and get into the Christmas spirit.
11. Just one!
Dilute the temptation of all those exciting-looking gifts under the tree and let the kids open one each before bed on Christmas Eve.