New and old Christmas tradition ideas

Friends having fun decorating two gingerbread houses.

Christmas. That word alone brings to mind a ton of happy, cozy feelings and memories, doesn’t it? It’s the traditions associated with the holiday that give us these good vibes: the cookies, the tree, the gift-giving, the togetherness. You undoubtedly have traditions from your childhood that you still look forward to every year.

Your life right now is probably full of some big and exciting milestones — buying a house, becoming an aunt, getting engaged or married, or having your own children. So that means it’s time to start your very own Christmas traditions that help you celebrate these huge events and give you another reason to spend time with your favorite people!

Traditions to do with friends

The holiday season is all about spending time with those you love — and that includes the family you choose. Now that you and your friends are getting older and moving away from each other or even starting your own families, you especially want to make sure you make time for each other during this busy season. It’s really, really fun to take a childhood tradition and make it into a new tradition that you do with your friends!

The only thing in the world that’s almost as great as good friends is good food. Put the two together and BOOM. Choose a weekend before Christmas and host a dinner where everybody brings their favorite holiday dish. If you don’t want to go all out and do a big dinner, how about an evening of Christmas movies, cocoa in a nice ceramic mug, and cookie baking?

Girls talking and laughing and drinking from christmas coffee mugs

Another fun idea is a “favorite things” gift exchange, where each friend shows up with a small gift that they swear by and think their friends would love (e.g., lipstick, a travel mug, a necklace). If you have a relatively small group, you could consider bringing one identical gift for each friend, but if it’s a larger group, a white elephant gift exchange keeps the tradition affordable. Be sure to go around the circle and explain why the gift you brought is one of your favorite things!  

Traditions that will make you their favorite aunt

Being an aunt is THE BEST, and how meaningful would it be to start a Christmas tradition with your nieces or nephews? You could take them on an outdoor adventure to make an incredible snowman or go ice-skating. If you’d rather stay cozy, you could use your crafty side and make cookies, ornaments, or gingerbread houses.

 

Favorite aunt decorating a gingerbread house with a lot of colorful ornaments.

A creative (and mess-free!) idea is to have your niece or nephew pick a Christmas book that you read or act out together. Maybe put on a mini-play for the rest of the family! You could also host Christmas-carol karaoke, and to make it extra-fun, maybe the winner is the one who sings the most off-tune.

Traditions to do with your siblings when they’re all grown up

When you were kids, it was easy to create memories and traditions as a family, but things have changed now that you’re all grown up. You probably can’t wake each other up at 4:30 in the morning to run to the tree and see what Santa left, but there are definitely traditions you can still enjoy together.

Maybe go to a tree farm and pick out your own trees — together. You could stop for hot chocolate somewhere afterward and reminisce about your childhood and share a favorite memory from years and years ago. Even though you probably want your own trees, your mom would most likely still love to have you all get together and decorate hers; put on A Christmas Story and hang those ornaments!

If you’d like to start a silly tradition, you could choose a photo from your childhood and recreate it as adults. Post it to Facebook and Instagram and watch the internet light up like a Christmas tree.

A Christmas Story shared as a ornament in the Christmas tree.

Traditions as newlyweds

As you begin to start your own family, what are some traditions that you can bring from both of your childhoods? Did your mom make cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning? Did his dad put enough lights on the house to rival the moon? Take these memories — these happy, priceless traditions — and make them your own! Maybe instead of cinnamon rolls, you make quiche, and instead of hanging a billion lights, he makes an amazing snowman. Switch it up, keep it the same; whatever you do, this nod to your own childhood traditions will bring you joy every single year.

Christmas ornaments on a table

How about a new tradition that starts with your first Christmas ornament? Every year after, you can either pick out an ornament for each other, or choose one together that symbolizes that year’s biggest event (e.g., a dog ornament if you got a dog). You’ll be flooded with sweet memories every year when it’s time to decorate the tree. 

Christmas tree ornament

Traditions in a new home

If this is your first Christmas in your own home you’re probably really looking forward to decorating for the holidays. You get to buy your own tree! It doesn’t have to look anything like the tree you had growing up — go all white and glittery if you want to!

New Home Ornament on Gift

You may not have a huge collection of Christmas ornaments and holiday décor yet. A nice way of bringing a little bit of nostalgia and warmth into your home is to ask all of your loved ones to gift you one of their ornaments or decorations — nothing new, but something they put out every year that they don’t mind passing along to you. Fill in the gaps with things you buy or find elsewhere. Now your holiday décor is the perfect blend of old and new, past and present. How fun would it be to haul those hand-me-downs out every year and remember who gave you each one?

If you know somebody who’s in a new home this Christmas, consider helping them beef up their own tree by giving them an ornament that’s meaningful to you. They’ll think of you and remember your kindness every year!  

Traditions for baby’s first Christmas

You’re growing your family (yay!), and it’s time to start making your very own memories. What about capturing your baby’s handprint in an ornament you hang every year? Each Christmas, your child will place their hand on that tiny impression, and you’ll all be amazed that it was ever that small.

Babys First Christmas Ornament/handprint ornament

You’re probably excited to start doing some of your childhood traditions with your own children, and it really is going to be amazing. Don’t hesitate to put your own spin on them, though. Maybe when you were a kid, you all gathered around in new jammies to watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, but maybe you and your own kids watch The Grinch every year instead. The tradition is still there, but now it’s yours.   

Traditions to do with your pet

Let’s not forget your furriest loved ones! Pets are an important part of the family, so why not include them in the traditions? You could get Fido an ugly Christmas sweater or reindeer antlers that he wears while the rest of the family decorates cookies or hangs ornaments. Maybe let him ride shotgun while you drive around the neighborhood checking out Christmas lights. Snap an annual photo of him with the tree, and definitely remember to wrap him a little dog toy so he doesn’t feel left out on Christmas morning! 

Cristmas gifts for pets.

Traditions that don’t cost money

It’s no secret that Christmas can get expensive, so it’s important to not lose sight of what the holiday season is really about: love. Spend as much time as you can with your loved ones, and tell them how much you love them. A fun and unexpected way to do this with an advent calendar is to write small notes for each day, telling the recipient one thing you love about him or her, and place them in the pockets instead of candy. Nothing could be sweeter (Or more priceless!).

String popcorn while you watch Christmas movies, sing carols, write letters to Santa, spend a night camped-out under your Christmas tree, or drive around until you find the most amazingly or hideously-decorated house. With a little thought, you’ll find there are lots of ways you can create fun traditions where the only thing you spend — is time with each other.

The main focus of any tradition is just being together. When you think back to your childhood Christmases, it’s guaranteed that your first thought isn’t of what gifts you received; it’s of what you did and who you were with. So enjoy all the new memories you’re about to make with the people you love. Merry Christmas!

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