By Joanna Harrison


7 Family-Friendly Holiday Traditions

1. Save a Piece from the Bottom of Your Christmas Tree

This is a super fun tradition for newlyweds or families with young kids. Start this year and watch the collection grow for decades.When you purchase your Christmas tree you can ask them to cut off a little sliver from the bottom to take home – You can save them until you’ve built up a big enough collection to do a project, or do something creative with them each year. Don’t forget to put the date on each one! 

Here are a few ideas:

Wood Ornaments – Decorate and drill a small hole with a ribbon to hang

Coasters – Directions here

Wall Décor – If you’ve got an artist in the family, do a small painting each year

Mount for Family Photos – cut a family photo into a circle and use decoupage glue to seal it on the piece of wood. (These could be ornaments too!)

2. Traveling Gnome

This tradition is awesome for bigger families who are spread out over the country, and only get to visit with each other a few times a year during the holidays.

How it works: every Christmas (or any holiday) someone gets assigned the “traveling gnome” to keep with them for the year, or until the next family get together. They take it with them on any fun trips or to special events, like weddings, birthday parties, any travel, etc. and document it with photos. Example: photobooth at a wedding, seeing the Grand Canyon, or photobombing your prom pictures.

At the next holiday you share the photos, add them to a big family album, and pass it on to the next family member!

Tip: You don’t have to use a gnome. Anything fun or silly that is somewhat easy to transport.

3. Recreate a Photo Every Year

This is a trend in the last few years that we absolutely love. You may already have a funny or sentimental photo from the past that you can re-create, or you might just think of something new! You could get a set of matching holiday pajamas, sit in the same spots on the front porch, make a pyramid in front of the Christmas tree… whatever your imagination comes up with. After years of taking the same photo it will be really cool to see how everyone has grown and changed over time.

4. Holiday Pillowcases

The holidays are the most magical time of year for kids, and this annual tradition is a great way to really “kickoff” the season. The kids will love getting to switch them over from their regular pillowcase to their special holiday pillowcase. Pick a special time – maybe after decorating the tree, before Thanksgiving dinner, or December 1st when you start you advent calendar. For a little extra holiday tradition, pick out a new holiday kids book every year, and make a cozy book night out of it. 

You can make them at home with some fun holiday fabric that you all pick out together.

Or you can buy them online. You can even get them customized with names.

5. Christmas Morning “Find the Pickle”

This is a great tradition for families with several kids, especially those who have a fun competitive side! “Find the pickle” comes from an old tradition where the parents hide a pickle ornament on the tree on Christmas Eve, and the first one to find that ornament in the morning wins. You can really adapt this tradition to be about finding anything – another ornament, Elf on the Shelf, a decorated plastic egg… anything that you can hide is fair game!

The first one to find it gets an extra gift, or a special piece of candy. Or maybe just bragging rights.

6. Give Back

The holiday season is really tough for parents who want to provide gifts for their kids while struggling to make ends meet, the homeless, the elderly without family, etc. It’s also the season of giving and being grateful for what you have. There is no better time than Christmas to teach your kids about giving back and sharing with those that are less fortunate.

Here are a few ideas for how you can give back.

“Adopt a family” through the Doing Good Together organization. The kids will love getting to pick out gifts for other children (you learn their age and gender when you are assigned the family).

Bake cookies together as a family and deliver them to a local retirement community or Boys and Girls club.

Pick out some toys to donate to Toys for Tots

7.  Christmas Eve Hot Chocolate Bar

Seriously, who doesn’t love hot chocolate? Parents: don’t worry, you can toss a little Bailey’s in there, we won’t tell.

The kids will love being able to pick out a variety of different ingredients – Different cocoa mixes (chocolate, vanilla, peppermint), marshmallows (large, small, colored), candy canes, chocolate chips, cinnamon sticks, powdered peanut butter, caramel, whipped cream… The world is your canvas!

Shopping and setting everything up might even be more fun than drinking the hot cocoa! Well, let’s not go that far.

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