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30 New Holiday Tradition Ideas

Sometimes the holidays can get so busy that you simply rush through them with very little enjoyment. Before you know it, Christmas has slipped past and a new year has begun. This year, commit to relishing the beauty of the season and holding onto holiday memories. One of the best ways to do so is by creating fun holiday traditions that will make the season magical for the entire family. Here are 30 new holiday tradition ideas that can make the holidays even brighter this year.

1. Plan a Baking Day

gingerbread man, hearts, starts and tree cookies with white frosting on wood table

Almost everyone remembers the sweet smell of holiday treats during December. Fill your home with delicious seasonal scents and keep your kids busy by planning a holiday baking day. Bake pies, sugar cookies, or any other treat your heart desires. Save some for your family to enjoy and deliver the rest to neighbors and friends.

2. Then host a cookie swap party!

A mainstay of women's magazines in years gone by, the cookie swap party is due a resurgence. The concept is simple: bake a few dozen of your favorite treats, then invite your friends and their cookies over, and trade! Everyone goes home with a fabulous selection, and the traditional holiday gluttony gets off to a great start.

3. Plan a Christmas Tree "Sleep-Over"

red and white yarn ornaments with DIY red and white star and penguin ornaments on tree

When you set up your Christmas tree, plan to spend the night beneath its lit branches. Pull out sleeping bags, pillows, cots and mattresses and lay them around the tree for your "sleep-over".

4. Make Santa Beards With Shaving Cream

Purchase a few cans of shaving cream from the store, and have a contest to see who can make the best Santa beard on their own face. Have cameras ready to catch the hilarious moments that are guaranteed to occur during this silly wintertime activity.

5. Christmas Eve Storytime

Getting them settled in bed just when the excitement is running the highest can be a real challenge. A Christmas Eve tradition of reading a special story might be just the ticket. Set the scene with hot cocoa, light a candle, and snuggle up with a classic like "The Night Before Christmas".

6. Recycle last year's cards into decorations

Cut out scenes and figures from old Holiday cards and string them on a garland for a charming hand-made decoration. It will get longer and more beautiful every year, and it's a sweet way to remember the love each card contained.

7. Organize a "Food Drive" Party

Plan a Christmas food drive party. Send out invitations asking guests to bring at least one canned good item to the party. When the party is over, take the food donations to your local food bank or homeless shelter.

8. Build Gingerbread Houses

red and white yarn ornaments with DIY red and white star and penguin ornaments on tree

Spend an evening making several small gingerbread houses or one large gingerbread house. Have plenty of delicious "home-building" supplies on hand, including miniature candy canes, jelly beans, pretzels, gum drops and sticky home-made icing.

9. Drive Around and Look at Christmas Lights

Christmas tree with nutcracker and traditional red and green ornaments outside a store

Take an evening to drive around town and look at the various Christmas lights. If you have any Christmas light shows in your neighborhood, take the whole family to see them. Fill the car with goodies and drinks that you can munch on while you drive.

10. Set up a "Good Deeds" Jar

Encourage family members to perform at least one act of kindness every day for the entire month of December. Each time they complete a good deed, have them write it down on a strip of paper and place it inside a holiday jar. On Christmas day, take time to pull out each strip of paper and read about the good things your family has done to help others throughout the month.

11. Write Letters to Santa

Help your kids write cute letters to Santa, then attach them with string to helium balloons and let them float away to the North Pole.

12. Bring back the board games

Buying a new board game each year as a family present is a wonderful way of fostering togetherness, and they provide much-needed quality entertainment in the long hours between the opening of the gifts and the eating of the turkey.

13. Have a Christmas Card Craft Day

Set aside one day in early December help address Christmas cards for friends and family. You make your cards even more unique by adding DIY elements like ribbon or stickers. Give your kids markers, stickers, glitter and other supplies that will encourage them to be creative.

14. Go on a "Random Acts of Kindness" Outing

Set aside one day or night in December to go on a random acts of kindness outing. Bring cash, Christmas cards, goodies and hygiene kits along with you and don't return home until you have distributed them all to those in need. Watch for additional service opportunities during your outing, such as helping someone cross a slippery street or shoveling someone's driveway.

15. Toy donation

Playing Santa Claus is one of the most joyful ways of giving back. You and your child can go Christmas shopping for a charity like Toys for Tots. Some organizations accept gently used second-hand toys, so you could also encourage them to choose one of their own toys to donate, which the added bonus of "making room" for expected presents.

16. Have a Holiday Movie Night With Treats

hot cocoa chocolate in red mug with white marshmallows
egg not in small glass with cinnamon stick
beer holiday ale on wood table

Make some delicious holiday goodies like hot chocolate, white chocolate popcorn or wassail, and enjoy them while having a holiday movie-thon with your family.

17. Put on a family talent show

From a nativity play to memorized holiday poems to hilarious Powerpoint presentations, entertaining each other is a family holiday tradition which will foster indelible memories.

18. Make Ornaments for the Christmas Tree

Create new ornaments each year for your Christmas tree using craft items, photographs or last year's Christmas cards.

19. Go Sledding

boy and girl sledding down white mountain on yellow sled

Spend an afternoon sledding and making snow angels. Make this activity even more fun by driving around town in search of the most exhilarating sledding hills.

20. Have a Christmas Book Night by Candlelight

red apple, cinnamon cane, cookies, white and red stripped candle in front of Christmas tree

Buy one new Christmas book each year, open it on Christmas Eve, and read it as a family by the glow of candlelight.

21. Have a special Christmas outing

Have everyone dress up to the nines and make an afternoon or night into a special occasion by going to see a local production of "The Nutcracker" or "A Christmas Carol". This tradition doubles as an ideal photo op! We also have a great resource all about Christmas card photo ideas.

22. Go Caroling

There is something about Christmas music that is powerful enough to brighten anyone's day. Spread a little extra holiday cheer to neighbors, friends or complete strangers by bundling up and going caroling on a cold winter night. Spread joy to those who might need a little cheering up by singing Christmas carols to nursing home residents or hospital patients.

23. Have a Game Night

Spend a night eating pizza, drinking soda and playing games around the table.

24. Make Christmas Gifts for Each Other

Look through craft books or use your imaginations to create Christmas gifts for one another. You can choose to make the gifts in front of each other, or go to separate parts of the room and create surprise gifts to be opened on Christmas day.

25. Go Christmas Shopping

brown burlap wrapped presents with gold yellow ribbon and bow

Plan a Christmas shopping day with the entire family. It's a great way to get quality time together while bringing a little novelty and magic back to a sometimes stressful task.

26. Enjoy a Special Christmas Breakfast

Cook up a special breakfast on Christmas morning. Bacon, pancakes, crepes and fruit can make Christmas morning a highly anticipated event.

27. Sing Carols Around the Piano

If you have a piano, gather around it and sing carols as a family. If you don't have a piano, sing your hearts out without accompaniment.

28. Dance Around the Christmas Tree

Put on your favorite Christmas tunes, turn out the lights, and dance around the room by the light of the Christmas tree.

29. Add an Extra Plate to Your Table

brown burlap wrapped presents with gold yellow ribbon and bow

Add an extra plate to your Christmas dinner table. This will remind your family that there is always room in your home for someone who is in need.

30. Put on a Nativity Play

Help your kids perform a Nativity play on Christmas Eve, complete with costumes and scripts.

These simple Christmas traditions don't take a lot of effort, but they can help you create holiday memories that will be treasured for a lifetime.

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