For me, Christmas is the icing on the cake at the end of each calendar year, especially now that I live in cold weather. Nothing gets me through the winter misery better than the lights, treats, trims on the tree, carols, cards…you name it. (In fact, you can read more about my obsession over at Scary Mommy!).
I’m all about a Christmas tradition that has personal meaning, won’t break my back, and will be enjoyed by all. Now that I have kids, I want to make sure that it’s enjoyable and will be memorable though I won’t mention the meltdown I had the other day when trying to implement one tradition that I started this year.
This list is meant to provide ideas for traditions that you might want to try out and is definitely not meant to add pressure! Pick and choose, adjust, do whatever you’d like!
1. Christmas Crafting tradition
As you might guess, I love me a good Christmas craft–from crafting with the kids to crafting some decor. Here are a few favorites!
Christmas paper village
This accordion paper village is one that you can put into your craft machine or cut by hand. It’s a simple and sweet way to add in some festivities to a mantle. Bonus: turn it into an event! Invite some friends over for holiday crafting!
2. Christmas crafts for kids
Now that I have kids I’m realizing the magic that comes with the holiday. There are, of course, an endless amount of things you can do with kids that can feel festive but these are some of our favorites.
Paper snowflakes are such a classic winter tradition. We took it up a notch with these templates. But, of course, feel free to do your own! Bonus: Get some family over to make them together!
Paper angel ornaments
These paper angels can be used as ornaments or as decor. We made them in color block colors but they are also beautiful in all white!
Christmas friendship bracelets
These Christmas friendship bracelets might be a little more complicated for little hands, but they’re great for older kids and teenagers. They’d be a great gift too!
3. Advent Calendars
As you know, I love a good Christmas advent calendar. I think it’s one of the best ways to amplify the excitement of the season.
In Denmark they have the tradition of lighting a candle on each of the four Sundays leading to Christmas. Typically, the four candles are arranged in a wreath of sorts (like this). We got a small table wreath from Trader Joe’s this year and I had already bought a gold metal stand with four candles so we are finally doing it in our own home!
Other advents mark the countdown to Christmas starting with that first Sunday or on December 1st. Here are some of my favorites!
Christmas book Advent
I had seen this Christmas book advent calendar for awhile and decided to try it out this year. We picked out some new and some we already had and the boys love unwrapping the selected book each day. I’d say this is one we’ll continue with!
Printable service advent
This is a printable advent calendar from our shop filled with prompts to engage in one act of service.
We have a ton more advent options in this post if you’d like to explore more!
As I was preparing this list of Christmas traditions, I was trying to think of some really unusual traditions that would knock your socks off, but then I went back to basics–the stuff we probably already do but maybe don’t consider it something special. As I thought more about it, traditions are oftentimes in those small moments! Gift wrapping is one of those small ones. We probably all wrap gifts, but do we consider a tradition? Let’s count it! Especially if we make a point of making a special moment. Maybe we find some unique wrapping paper, or ribbon, or method.
Cardboard Gingerbread House Gift Box
This is one of my favorite projects from the past–a cardboard gingerbread house gift box! A simple brown paper box and a white paint pen. So easy!
Turn Wrapping paper into a gift bag
You can turn any wrapping paper into a gift bag or another fun shape (like a shirt!). Here’s how!
Woven Ribbon wrapping
Here’s another fun wrapping idea–Take some beautiful ribbon and weave it to make beautiful patterns. Here’s the how to.
Christmas conjures up pretty specific smells, doesn’t it! Can’t you smell them now?! Cinnamon, wassail, cloves, nutmeg, trees…
Christmas orange pomanders
The tradition of making Christmas oranges and cloves is one of my favorites. Plus, I love that beautiful pop of orange. Here’s how to make them!
Setting a pretty Christmas table
To me, this is another tradition that fits under the “I’m going to do it anyway” type of tradition that you don’t think too much about it. But the beauty in this tradition comes in the thoughtful details and the great company that make the memories. Here are some things to add to your table setting!
A common tradition in the UK and Australia, these Christmas poppers are a nice pop of fun! We have some printable versions here!
Christmas Song Bingo
This printable Christmas Song Bingo has become a popular game in our shop! Here’s everything you need to know about it including the playlist!
Swans a Swimming centerpiece
My brain reels about this one. Oh, to find the time to make an amazing centerpiece like this Seven Swans a Swimming again! If you are up for the challenge, here’s the how to!
Christmas napkin folding ideas
OR, the simpler version of the gorgeous swan above is a napkin fold at each plate. Here are lots of napkin folding ideas for your Christmas table!
Christmas Magic for the kids
As you might imagine, Christmas traditions really exploded once I started having kids. It’s the MOST fun! And hectic and stressful…ha! Here are some ways that we are attempting to create it.
Mini Christmas tree
Paul has talked about having a Christmas tree in Jasper’s room for awhile and we finally did it! Plus, we decked it out. We even let him pick out his tree–so fun! More on this soon! We added in stockings, the book advent, and switched out pillows and artwork.
Christmas tree ornaments
While we’ve featured Christmas tree ornaments here and there over the years, this is the first year that I’ve really embraced my collection or lack thereof. I need to change that! I love the idea of collecting ornaments from places we go and making sure I treasure the ones given to me too.
Heirloom Christmas ornaments
Our most popular ornament by far has been our heirloom Christmas ornaments. The tutorial is here!
In Denmark they are pretty unstressed about using real candles on real Christmas trees but living in a desert, I’m not so confident. These paper candles are the way to go! And fun for kids!
I have a thing for wreaths! If nothing else, I will have a wreath on my door! Here are some favorite Christmas wreaths!
Paper Poinsettia wreath
We made these paper poinsettias out of paper! Here’s how!
A traditional Dresden wreath is PRICEY! So we made ours out of paper! Here’s how to make a Dresden wreath.
Christmas paper star
I wanted to do a nod to the traditional Swedish paper star and I love how it turned out! Here’s how to make the traditional Swedish paper star.
Another simple yet impactful idea is our bottlebrush tree done in crepe paper done in rainbow colors of course!
I LOVE sending out Christmas cards! Every single year! Even when we didn’t have kids and no one really wants to see just a couple! Ha! I typically send out a team card and a family card. Last year we went with these ones, and this year we used these ones!
This is another one of those traditions that I find obligatory and maybe not special enough to actually write down in a list, but it’s a big deal, takes a lot of time, and is so magical! We need to pat ourselves on the back for it all!
I loved these DIY stockings that I made for when there were just three of us. I need to do one more for Felix and then we’re cooking! Here’s how to make a Christmas stocking in fun patterns and colors!
Bringing in your heritage
A great way to add meaning to your holidays is to dig into your heritage. I love making it personal! Bring in the background!
For me, this is digging into my Scandinavian roots. We made these Swedish inspired paper ornaments and I still put them on the tree every year!
My Scandinavian Christmas
In the early days of blogging, I did this My Scandinavian Christmas series where I had some friends in Denmark and Sweden contribute a project that meant something to them. There are some amazing projects in this series! Check them out here.
Santa Lucia is a big Swedish holiday that I love paying homage to. We made this printable crown a few years ago and I think it’s so so pretty. Here’s more about Santa Lucia and the Santa Lucia crown!
Gift giving is fun, but handmade gift giving is the ultimate. It can be much more sentimental and meaningful. I’m sure we don’t all have time to make handmade gifts for everyone, but a gift here and there is such a beautiful time well spent.
Paper Christmas Cactus
Corrie Beth Hogg made these Christmas cactus out of paper! It’s so so beautiful! We have templates and instructions here.
I love this holly made from crepe paper. It’s a beautiful gift topper or decoration for a handmade gift.
Holiday Office Party
Office parties are a fun tradition, even if the office is super small. We typically like to go to dinner or have an activity, but it’s so fun to decorate the office. Here are some ideas!
Office paper holiday decorations
This is one of my favorite ideas! Use one ream of printer paper to make all sorts of decorations! Here’s the tutorial!
Whenever we’d come home for Christmas, my sister and I would take my parents staircase as a challenge for dressing up. It was such a fun tradition!
Holly and berry garland
Our favorite year was this holly and berry garland. You can find the tutorial here.
Now that I have kids, I LOVE having some nativity sets that are more kid-friendly. I think it helps involve them in the story of Christmas. Here are some ideas to help them.
Our heirloom nativity set is a modern day classic. I will forever love my set! Here’s how to make it!
Nativity Paper dolls
For Christmas Eve, I’m going to print these nativity paper dolls off and set them out for the kids. We’re planning on recreating the nativity so this will give little hands something to play with!
Nativity clothespin dolls
Alternatively, if you’re looking for a painted set that’s a more more simple than the full set, these nativity clothespin dolls are just the ticket. Such a sweet tradition.
But my favorite nativity for kids are our puppets. I bring these to church with me when I teach the kids to sing Christmas songs and my kids love playing them too. If only they hadn’t lost my baby Jesus…Ha! I plan on keeping up this Christmas tradition until they won’t let me anymore!
Ok! This is QUITE the list! But I’d love to hear yours as well! Leave me a comment!