On New Traditions

Ideas To Create Christmas/Holiday Traditions for your family

Last year was a weird year for me during the holidays. I was in my first trimester and my dad and stepmom (who has been like a mom to me since I was little) got divorced months before the holidays and now he had a new girlfriend and we didn’t end up going up to my dad’s like we normally did because everything was so weird.

holiday traditions for your family

It felt like all the traditions I had were REALLY gone now — something that had slowly been happening ever since my mom passed in 2006 and then once Will and I got married we did very minimal traditions because it was just the two of us. I have zero traditions now and it’s kind of sad. I have such fond memories of Christmas and all our traditions — big and small — and I’ve felt like something has been missing in the past few Christmases — a lot of which I attribute to not really having any traditions anymore.

Growing up the holidays were always a special time that I looked forward to so it’s bittersweet to think about how different everything is. BUT it’s kind of exciting because this Christmas will be Riley’s first Christmas and it’s like we have this whole blank slate to create all sorts of traditions and memories and I’m really giddy about the prospect of creating new memories/traditions for our little family. Obviously she’s so young that she won’t appreciate some of these traditions yet but I’m excited nonetheless.

I really want to incorporate some of the traditions *I* had growing up but also have some brand new ones that are just ~ours~. And obviously I’m going to leave room for some of these not to be something we enjoy despite what I hope and allow for traditions that just naturally emerge! But I’m a planner and a dreamer of the future so here’s what I’m thinking!


Some of the traditions I loved from my childhood and plan to incorporate to our traditions:


  • Driving through certain neighborhoods to see all the amazing lights (with Christmas music on of course)



  • a full scale tree decoration blasting our favorite Christmas cds (HANSON CHRISTMAS WHAT’S UP)


  • advent calendars: CHOCOLATE EVERY DAY is basically all I remember lol… we got ones like these growing up but oh man we got some cute ones from Trader Joe’s this year for the nieces. I like the idea of these DIY ones and I’m really digging these ones below that are filled with things like little ornaments, a kindness/activity wreath or have slots that you can put little treats and stuff in so you can reuse it each year.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 |


  • getting new Christmas ornaments from my mom every Christmas: we got Riley this one for her first Christmas. I can’t decide if *I* want to pick them out like my mom did every year for us (she always did the yearly Precious Moments ones or the Hallmark ones that had the year on it) or if, when she gets older, let HER pick a new Christmas ornament out to go on the tree! I also feel like I want to start a quirky/fun ornament collection (my desire for this is probably because growing up my mom had this beautiful Victorian themed tree and we were allowed ZERO fun ornaments on it lol). Aren’t these ones from Urban Outfitters fun?


New traditions I’m considering:


  • A Christmas Eve box: our tradition was always to open ONE present on Christmas Eve but I kind of like the idea I saw on Pinterest about creating a small Christmas Eve box (how cute are these personalized ones??) for them to open with a couple small new things to enjoy all together as a family on Christmas Eve. This will probably be when she gets older because she won’t know the difference this year (#iamcheap). What I’d probably put in it? New Christmas socks, maybe Christmas jammies, a Christmas/winter movie, a Christmas book, some little Christmas-y treats.


  • Doing some volunteer/service time together during the holidays: soup kitchen, sponsor a family/child and send presents, food drive, etc. I saw an idea on a mom group that I’m in on Facebook that before Christmas have your child select some of their own items to donate to someone else to make room for new things and I really like that idea.


  • Christmas jammies: We sometimes got new Christmas jammies growing up but I don’t remember it being a tradition. But when I married into Will’s family his grandma always got us all matching pjs for Christmas Eve and I kind of love that! I’m so mad because Target and Hanna Andersson both had amazingly cute matching family pj sets and I waited too long and they were mostly all sold out!! *sob*


  • A new Christmas craft/activity to do every year: I have such fond memories of the year that we made a paper chain for the tree made out of construction paper. That thing is at least 15+ years old and as of a couple years ago my dad and stepmom had STILL put it on the tree! It would be fun to come up with a new thing to do every year together!

Snowman christmas craft


  • Love this idea of having a countdown calendar for the 25 days leading up to Christmas with a new thing to do every day. These games could be a fun thing to add on the calendar! I also LOVE the idea of these 12 day of Christmas themed boxes!! 12 is probably more realistic for me because I know I’m already a hot mess mom who will be scrambling at the last minute.

Awesome activity box via Katherine Marie (her lovely pic, not mine)


  • Make a holiday time experience bucket list and check at least one off each year: there are so many fun things that happen around the holidays in our area — light shows, ice skating, holiday markets, Christmas caroling, seeing a Christmas-y play/concert, Christmas tree lightings, etc. I’m not one to jam pack every weekend full of things (plus depending on the activity things get spend-y) personally so it would be fun to make a big list and tackle a couple each year and do our favorites again if we want.




I don’t know how our holidays will plan out in terms of where we will spend Christmas Eve/Day and how spending time with extended family fits in but I can’t wait to see how it unfolds and I can’t wait to really start these traditions when she gets a bit older.


I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to hear about your family traditions or ones you want to incorporate into your family! And if you DON’T celebrate Christmas I would love to hear any traditions you might have related to what you do celebrate or just any wintertime traditions!! Talk to me about traditions….I get very excited about them/hearing other peoples!


[Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links which means that if you click on a link and purchase something I’ve talked about or recommended, I’ll receive a very small percentage of the sale. Please see my disclosure policy for more info.


P.S. My journey to motherhood and motherhood so far // Books To Read With Baby

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. This is really lovely. I know what you mean about struggling to find Christmas traditions — I’ve never done the same thing twice for Christmas and that can be kinda sad and frustrating sometimes.

    Here’s to creating our own traditions!

  2. We’re definitely doing the Christmas box when Teacup Human is older! She’s one now but still doesn’t have the attention span for movies or more than a few pages of a book. I did buy her special Christmas pajamas though!

    The one I’m bringing over from my childhood is we all had to sit at the top of the stairs while my parents made sure Santa came and everything was in order. It was torture! We were always coming up with ways to try to come down early (i.e. “Oh no! My stuffed animal fell down the stairs! I should get him!”). My siblings and I did love it though – waiting for each other and all coming downstairs at the same time – and I’m sure my parents loved seeing all our reactions at once.

  3. First – HANSON CHRISTMAS! (Also, did you know they have a NEW Christmas album out this year? It’s no Snowed In, but it’s pretty darn good!) Right now, it’s just me and my husband, but we do still adhere to a lot of our families’ traditions. At our house, we put up the tree while watching/listening to White Christmas. Then I make some kind of slow braised ragu to dump over pasta with inordinate amounts of parmesan on top and we watch either Home Alone, Christmas Vacation or Ernest Saves Christmas (a holdover from my childhood that my husband got hooked on the first year we were together!)

    I definitely love going to look at Christmas lights in my town (whatever town I may be living in at the time) and my family always does a Japanese steakhouse the night before we open gifts! There are so many opportunities for new traditions, and I think we’ll incorporate more of our own things once we have babies in the mix!

  4. I started this holiday tradition years ago. I have a holiday tablecloth. Every year, I drag it out and whoever is there to celebrate our holiday they sign it and they draw on it by their name. I bought a white tablecloth and some fabric markers and let them go at it. We’ve had guests over the years sign it and put the year, we’ve had people draw things that have occurred over the year that was important to them ( new house, new job, etc.), we’ve had attempts of popular figures ( Toy Story, Mickey Mouse,Star Wars, etc.). Whatever they want. I love it because we have baby handprints, nostalgia, signatures and drawings of people who have passed away, and you don’t have to be an artist to do it. People love to look at it to see what they’ve done over the years. I have a clear plastic tablecloth to put over it so we can use it for dining. It is about full and time to start a new one. My kids are wondering who gets the full tablecloth- ha.
    I bought all my kids a new ornament every year when they were growing up. When they moved out and started decorating their own trees for Christmas, I bought a plastic tote and gave each of them, their own ornaments. They had their childhood in a box.
    I now make cookies with my granddaughter, even though she just likes eating the icing and the sprinkles now.
    My oldest son does the night before Christmas new pajamas and they buy one new Christmas book each year for my granddaughter. Now that she is five, she can help pick out the book.

  5. I just learned about the Christmas Eve box! I love holiday traditions. My family and I have always done secret santa every year and we exchange those gifts on Christmas Eve. So many great holiday ideas here, thanks!!!

  6. I’m so happy that you’re excited to find your traditions. As we grow up and ‘away’ from our parents things change. I know I didn’t always do my traditions but now that I have my little guy I’m definitely working on reincorporating them back into Christmas time.
    One tradition that we do is participating in a giving tree. (Helping families/ child who need items). One I’d like to try when my little one gets older is matching pjs 🙂

  7. We didn’t have a lot of “traditions” raising our kids but the ONE we did have was Christmas eve gift which was their Christmas pajamas. That way the next morning everyone would be in their new jammies while opening gifts. 🙂

    I hope they pass that one on to their kids someday.

  8. I love, love, love all of these! This is our first christmas with a little one as well and I can’t wait to incorporate traditions like this with him!

  9. It is never too late to start a tradition! My girls are teenagers and only a few years ago did we start the Christmas Eve box tradition. They always opened a small gift on Christmas Eve. Usual from each other. But we changed it up and did a gift from us with Jammie’s, a new mug, a new movie to watch that night some hot chocolate and snacks. They LOVE it. They are already talking about this years. Can’t stop it now!! 😳☺️

  10. I love the idea of doing volunteer/service activities with your children on Christmas. This reiterates the giving spirit of Christmas, so they don’t lose sight of the real meaning of Christmas. My family and I used to put up a tree every year, but when I got my first serious job, this stopped simply because it took too much time. But we still have a lot of fun together as a family, and for me, no tree has helped me to focus more on Christ and family.

  11. Woah you have so many ideas and a lot of them remind me of the traditions I used to have with my family too. It’s really nice to remember them!

    I think the ideas about doing charity work around the Christmas holidays is lovely and I love the idea of jammies (I normally get a jumper) but then I find I can only wear it around one time a year… Quite frustrating, haha!

    I hope your Christmas is mega whatever you decide to do 🙂

  12. These are such cute Christmas traditions! Really enjoyed this post, thanks!

  13. I totally agree about making new CHristmas traditions and how important they are! I live abroad and I have found that it is so important to make new traditions especially around Christmas to help feel more at home. Thanks for the wonderful ideas and inspiration!

  14. I hate myself a little for this but I’m so jazzed to start the Elf On The Shelf when Teddy is bigger. I’m pretty extra like that.

  15. We collect ornaments as souvenirs throughout the year to commemorate trips, important events, etc. it’s super fun to put up the tree every year because then we remember where all the ornaments come from. It definitely ends up being a kitschy looking tree with a lot of meaning It my favorite thing about the season.

    We also put away our Christmas books with our decorations so they remain special. When we unpack the decorations, we put all the books in a basket near the tree.

    For years and years, my SIL’s brother cooked this gross fish meal for Christmas Eve so my husband and I had a tradition of stopping at McDondalds on the way home and then eating while we drove around looking at lights. They got divorced 3 years ago and the food has totally improved but I kind of miss the McDs, tbh.

  16. I love tradition and have carried on a lot of mine from growing up. It’s interesting, I think I enjoy creating our own traditions even more than perpetuating the ones from childhood. A lot of the ones you listed are the same I remember- fondly <3

  17. I love the idea of Christmas Eve boxes. It’s such a cute idea! Lovely post, Jamie.

  18. I love how you took the lack (or the erosion) of your Christmas traditions and turned it into an opportunity to create your own Christmas traditions for you and your family. Bad things happen, but that doesn’t mean we have to let them destroy us. We can take those hard times, work through them, and make something beautiful happen. That’s what the spirit of Christmas is all about, even more so than tradition – hope and new beginnings! 🙂

  19. I just might have to try the Christmas bucket list. I hope little Riley enjoys all of her presents and fun. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  20. Can I suggest an advent book to add to your collection? ‘The Christmas Mystery’ by Jostein Gaarder is one book I read every advent (same author as Sophie’s World). It’s like an advent calendar – you read a chapter a day and… oh, I’ll have to leave the magic for you to find out. Next year 🙂

  21. WONDERFUL WONDERFUL WONDERFUL. Im a self confessed Christmas nut!! I love your list. I love to extend the session throughout December so on the 1st of December we have santas elves who bring the kids (3) advent calandars then stick around to cause mischief each night. When the kids get up they have to find where the elves are and the elves bring gifts each day. Just small things like a christmas jigsaw or a craft set to do etc.its ALOT of work but my kids look forward to it more than santa now lol.
    We go visit a chriatmas market every year. The lights and smells make it special and while there we purchase a new christmas ornament. I also get a family decoration for the tree with all our names on it. The kids get individual ones each year from santa..my plan is when they grow up and leave home i will box all thier baubles up to start them off on their own tree. My tree wont be bare as ill still have the family ones.
    We bake LOTS we make gifts for our elderly neighbours. Cookies or something. We look at the lights too. We have a christmas eve hamper Lthough the elves bring this as a leaving gift. They get new pjs .tooth brush bubble bath. A craft to do. A new christmas story. Although i always read A night before Christmas. Some hot chocolate a mug. And a bag of magic reindeer food and our santa key.( we dont have a chimney so santa sends us a magic key to get in the door) he takes it with him when he goes.)
    Theres probably so much more but i cant thi k at the mo. Why not start a christmas eve box for you and your husband now. New pj. Fluffy aocks. Nice bottle of wine or something to share. Snacks a new movie? Christmas isnt juat for kids lol..
    I do want to say i be flexible. I am like tou and i have this Perfect christmas in my head and ive got it all planned out and my kids usually find a way to spoil it every year lol. It never goes to my plan but is special. So be flexible and enjoy the spontanious moments too. Xx