Christmas traditions and activities don’t have to be complicated to be magic and memorable. Here are a few ideas of simple family Christmas traditions you can easily establish.
Christmas Book basket
The Christmas book basket is one of the best examples of simple but meaningful traditions. The idea here is to have a basket with 24 Christmas books from which you pick one each day from December 1st to Christmas Eve. It works similarly to an Advent calendar.
There are various ways to adapt this tradition to your family’s preferences and the amount of time and money you want to invest. You can wrap every book (you can use newspaper for less waste) and put a number on each
If you have enough Christmas books, you can use your own and put them away after the festivities so they remain special to this time of the year. Alternatively, you could look for mini Christmas books and use a smaller box that will be easier to carry around. Otherwise, you can get books from the library to get more choice and variety.
Choose a special box or basket that you can place under the tree or wherever it makes sense to you. Crafting and/or decorating the box/basket can also make an enjoyable Christmas activity.
Family Advent Calendar
An Advent calendar is another great way of counting the days until Christmas.
I like the idea of having a family Advent calendar where all family members receive something but also get to surprise someone else.
In this case, the easiest is to have one calendar for the whole family and to place it in a common room. Each day, one of the family members gets to open a small present.
Again, this tradition can be easily adapted to your taste. You can buy a calendar or craft one with little bags, tins, cups, or any other recipients.
Usually, these calendars are filled with sweets or little presents. When my elder son started to grow out of little plastic toys (which I’m not a fan of anyway), I started to create little gift cards.
Here are a few examples of gift cards:
- Watch an episode of their favorite series/cartoon
- Stay up later
- Mom takes up your chores for a day
- Go to the movies
- Invite a friend to a sleepover
- Mom brings you to school (my son has to take the bus)
- Choose what we have for dinner
- Brunch in a restaurant
Other than the gift cards, I like to put in chocolate, sweets, little pens, erasers, stickers, tattoos, etc. What I like about the calendar and the book basket, is that they can be prepared before the holiday and also help younger children wait for Christmas.
Christmas movie night
Spending an afternoon or a night watching Christmas movies together sipping a hot cocoa or a tea and maybe eating some Christmas cookies is
Maybe you have special Christmas movies that you like to re-watch every year. I remember when I was a child, they were showing the same two Christmas movies on TV and I’d watch them every year.
Sleepover under the tree
Have you ever thought of planning a sleepover under the Christmas tree? That’s another fun low-prep activity for the children or even for the whole family.
The evening could start with hot drinks and a few Christmas stories, or a family board game. This can be very exciting for the kids.
Another wonderful activity to do as a family is visiting a Christmas market. This is a more European tradition and we have lots of lovely Christmas markets here in Germany. However, I have read that they are becoming more and more popular in the US too (check out this list of Christmas markets).
The best time to visit them is late afternoon when it’s already dark. This way, you can enjoy the lights and the Christmassy atmosphere.
You can either just walk along the aisles and admire the traditional crafts or try a warm beverage and/or food.
Random Acts of kindness
Another great way to spend time together as a family during the holiday is giving or helping others. Moreover, it’s a perfect opportunity to show our kids the joy of giving and sharing.
This might not sound like a “simple” tradition at first, but there are many small gestures that can make a difference to someone and are easy to make as a family.
I really like the idea that an act of kindness doesn’t need to be complicated or huge to be significant. Plus, it teaches our children (and ourselves) that small acts of kindness can be easily fit into our daily life.
Here are some ideas of random acts of kindness:
- Make someone smile
- Pay for someone’s coffee
- Bake or cook for someone
- Help someone you know (a neighbor, a friend, a relative): clean their house, walk the dog, fix their fence, offer babysitting, etc.
- Children can give away a toy/buy a toy for another child in need
- Spend time with a lonely person
- Visit someone at the hospital
Of course, there are many more ways to spread kindness. Why not start with a family brainstorming session? I’m sure your kids will come up with great ideas!
I hope this list of simple family Christmas traditions will inspire you. Or maybe some of these activities are already established in your family. Feel free to share other simple Christmas activities in the comments.