Easy! 9 Fun + Low-Key Holiday Traditions to Start This Christmas

Easy! 9 Fun + Low-Key Holiday Traditions to Start This Christmas

Before I had my daughter, I spent several Christmases without a Christmas tree. It’s not that I didn’t have one, but that I just didn’t care to put it up. One year, I even remember eating a turkey hoagie and pumpkin pie snack cake for Thanksgiving. In my car. In a convenience store parking lot. To say that holiday traditions aren’t my strength is an understatement.


Holiday Traditions Are Important

But holiday traditions are important for your family! They help children develop a sense of security and belonging, and teach them their family’s values. Plus, traditions promote healthy relationships between generations.

So when my daughter was born, I found myself trying to create meaningful traditions that required minimal effort. I’m already feeling overwhelmed around the holidays, so I have zero desire to add even more to my to-do list.

Here are some of the fun and low-key holiday traditions our family has started, plus several traditions from you, our readers! A huge thanks to everyone that shared your special traditions with us!


Pre-Christmas Holiday Traditions
  1. Create a signature tree-decorating soundtrack. Growing up, my family always decorated the tree to Bing Crosby’s Christmas album, complete with crackles from the record player. Lynn J.’s family always watches Star Wars while decorating the tree. Make it your own!
  1. Make ornaments meaningful. Every year, each person in Katelyn D.’s family receives an ornament based on a special memory or their favorite part of the past year. You can also purchase ornaments of cities you’ve lived or visited. You wouldn’t have to look hard to find milestone ornaments either (“First Married Christmas!” “Baby’s First Christmas!”). If that’s all too much work, just hang your kids’ homemade ornaments on the tree when they bring them home from school or daycare. If you keep them long enough, like my brother, their siblings can heckle them decades later. 
  1. Let your kids enjoy some dollar store gift shopping. When we were younger, my parents would set my brothers and me free in a dollar store to do our Christmas shopping, with just one dollar for each member of our immediate family. We felt so special doing our own shopping, and always marveled that we could choose anything in the entire store for our family member. It added an extra dose of joy when the time came to open gifts.
  1. Give a gift to someone in need. Most of us already look for opportunities to help those less fortunate during the holidays. Why not involve the entire family? As a child, I always loved packing a shoebox full of gifts for children in need through Operation Christmas Child. It was exciting imagining the child’s reaction to the gifts I chose for them, as well as eye-opening to how families lived around the world. As an adult, I still love this tradition. And thanks to technology, we can now track our boxes to see where they’re delivered!
  1. Make and/or decorate Christmas cookies together. If you enjoy baking (unlike me), why not make it a family affair? My mom made around 18 dozen cookies every Christmas, and my brothers and I would always help to frost them and add sprinkles. We made some pretty ugly cookies, especially when we were younger, so we made those our “family” cookies for snacking around the house, and brought the prettier cookies to family, friends, and parties.


Christmas Eve/Day Holiday Traditions
  1. Create a special gift box to open on Christmas Eve. This one takes a little work, but may include several presents you were planning to give your kids anyway. Jenny A. gives her children a box that includes something related to Jesus’ birth (such as a toy, book, or craft), new pajamas, a treat, and an ornament from Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, a huge Christmas store in Michigan that holds some fun childhood memories for her. My daughter receives new pajamas, a special book, a Christmas movie, and a snack. We read the book first that night, and then watch the movie while sharing the snacks together. Jessika R.’s family members take turns every year choosing a Christmas movie and matching Christmas pajamas for the whole family. On Christmas Eve, the “chooser” reveals what pajamas they’ll be wearing, and what movie they’ll be watching, that evening.
  1. Serve a low-key meal and call it a tradition. My family ate cheese, sausage, and crackers, for dinner every Christmas Eve. My grandparents had boxes of donuts ready for family every Christmas morning. And who says delivery pizza can’t be a tradition? You don’t have to cook, and your family gets to enjoy some of their favorite foods. Everyone wins!
  1. Add a signature meal or snack to your stocking or present opening. You’re opening presents anyway, so why not create a tradition around what you’re snacking on while doing it? Laurel L. shared, “My dad always made a special Christmas bread that we ate while we opened the stuff from our stockings. Sort of cinnamon roll, with raisins and pecans and a sort of yeasty bread that you slice like a cake, smear some butter on the warm bread and enjoy with your OJ or coffee. The living room coffee table would be set fancy and we’d all enjoy this part of the morning. He can’t do it anymore so last year I made it for the first time. I’ll be making it again this year!”
  1. Open gifts on a specific day, or in a specific order. Many families allow everyone to choose one gift to open on Christmas Eve, and then save the rest for Christmas. Sanya M.’s family does the opposite – all gifts but one on Christmas Eve, then the final gift on Christmas morning. He says it gives the kids something to play with after Christmas Eve dinner, but still leaves some excitement for Christmas morning.


Easy! 9 Fun + Low-Key Holiday Traditions to Start This Christmas


Wrap It Up

You can create holiday traditions that your family will love with minimal effort. Try something new, or simply add your “signature touch” to existing activities.

If you enjoy it, and it feels right for your family, you might have just found your new favorite holiday tradition! What traditions does your family practice? Share with us in the comments!



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  1. Another thing I thought was super cool was that on our tree hung the things from the mobile that was above my crib and my sister’s. Also, the bride and groom from my parents wedding cake was always near the top. When I moved out and got married, I made sure that I hung the bride and groom from MY cake on the tree (at the top of course), and I took with me those ornaments that were the crib mobile. Mine happened to be “Hey Diddle Diddle” so there was a little wooden cat with a fiddle, a dog laughing, a cow, a moon, a dish and a spoon. Those hang on my tree still, along with the ornaments that were part of Lily’s crib mobile. The tradition continues!

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