Our Top Christmas Traditions For The Whole Family

Let’s talk Christmas traditions!

My Christmas shopping has started and this is the time I start planning and preparing for our favourite time of year.

I’m the biggest Christmas geek. I love the decorations, the lights, the songs, everything. I thought as I became older I might become more cynical about the whole thing but luckily for me my husband enjoys the festive season as much as I do. Plus seeing it all through our children’s eyes makes it all the more magical.

When my husband and I first got married and had our eldest son, we set about making our Christmas traditions. We each had our own ideas but now we had become a family, it was time to merge them and make some new ones.

Our eldest son is now 8 and we have picked up quite a few traditions along the way.

Christmas Decorations

Our oldest Christmas tradition is always having the decorations up on or by December 1st. I want our decorations to already be up as soon as the advent calendars come out!

Christmas Tree and Decorations

Alternative advent traditions

While we do have the shop bought chocolate advent calendars, we also do our own advent traditions. The first is to put a food item or drink into a box each day. We then take the box on Christmas Eve and donate the contents to the food bank. We found it not only helps out those who are struggling this time of year, but also teaches the kids that Christmas is about giving not just receiving.

Our second advent tradition is giving the kids a book to unwrap every day from the 1st of December right up to Christmas day. The three of them take it in turns to unwrap the book and we read it together as a family.

Christmas Traditions - A Book A Day For Advent

Giving back

Our local radio station does an annual toy and gift appeal for children who may otherwise not receive anything so the kids help to pick and wrap a gift each to donate. The boys hear the stories of those in need while we’re doing the morning school drop off, and they are always so keen to get involved.

The Elf

We have an elf that comes to visit! We don’t do the traditional Elf On The Shelf because I find it a little creepy! (Sorry, I know that won’t be a popular opinion!) Our elf is similar in that it arrives on December 1st and reports back to Santa how good (or not!) the children have been. We don’t make him do mischievous things as some parents do, he just magically pops up in random places!

Christmas Eve Boxes

The Elf leaves on the day before Christmas and gifts each child a Christmas Eve box and a magic key for Santa.

Inside each box we put the following:

A Christmas story
Chocolate coins
Hot chocolate
Christmas mug
Pyjamas and slippers
Christmas crafts

We used to include reindeer food (basically oats, glitter and metallic foil stars) to sprinkle in the grass outside but since the RSPCA advised against it, we no longer do it. Apparently it’s dangerous for birds and other animals so really not worth the risk.

Breakfast With Santa

Since my daughter was born we started a new tradition of having breakfast with Santa. He would join in the merriment at our local carvery, who would put on breakfast with party hats, crackers and Christmas music.

After everyone has eaten, each child gets to sit with Santa and tell him what they want for Christmas.

The first year we did this, Anna was terrified of Santa! Last year she found him hilarious so it was much more successful!

It was one of our favourite events because it always felt so festive and it was lovely to be around other families enjoying themselves. Unfortunately our local carvery has changed hands so we won’t be able to do the event there this year. We have seen similar places that offer breakfast with Santa so hopefully our tradition will be able to continue.

Christmas Traditions - Breakfast With Santa

Our time

After the children are tucked up in bed waiting for Santa to arrive, my husband and I exchange gifts. Christmas day is predominantly about the kids, and while we may have presents to open from other people on the day itself, we choose to have “our time” on Christmas Eve. We put on Christmas music and take it in turns to open a present.

It’s one of my favourite parts of Christmas. It’s like the calm before the chaotic storm of the following day!

So there are our top Christmas traditions. We’re always looking for new ideas so please let us know your own favourite festivities!


  1. Girl I LOVE Christmas just as much! I’ve been thinking about Christmas since last month! The songs are gonna start playing and I’m sooo excited! I love your traditions!! (May have to steal a couple like the donation box lol). Love this! Hope your Christmas traditions are amazing this year!

  2. Ahh we love Christmas too! We don’t have as many traditions as you but we do the book advent which I LOVE and Christmas eve boxes too. We are also making it a tradition to go to Lapland UK, love it! xx

  3. That’s a lovely idea about the books. I sound like my grandad, but I think children get far too many electronic toys to play with or dvds to watch at christmas usually.

  4. I love Christmas too and have also started shopping. I must confess I haven’t bought much yet which is worrying as I like to get it all out of the way asap. Wow you must unwrap a lot of books 😉

  5. It is never too early for Christmas and I love that more people share my opinion. As me and my brother don’t have kids ourselves we are still the babies of the family (despite being 26 and 27) but there are still traditions we always do. On Christmas eve we always have dinner at my nan’s and we always have PJ’s to open on Xmas eve. My tree is always up on 1st December (sometimes I even wait up until Midnight so it’s up for as long as possible) x

  6. I love that you have special traditions that are unique to your family. Those are the things that the kids will remember and pass onto their own families! I gotta get myself some lights and a tree asap!

  7. Like you I love all things Christmas and the more fun stuff included the better. I think what I miss the most (now that I’m living in Canada) is watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Last year I made sure to include Christmas Crackers. I want to make sure and include it this year. Thank you for reminding me to bring forth some traditions that were forgotten!

  8. i love these traditons! my husband and i dont have many traditions but one of them is to get a new boardgame, and play it every christmas. so fun!

  9. Oh wow! Christmas in your house sounds magical, how wonderful for the kids! 🙂 I love that you’re teaching them that it’s about giving as well as receiving too! xx

  10. Snap!! We also put our tree and decor up on December 1st!!! Its so magical when bits all complete!! We actually did elf on the shelf last year and even though creepy it was a lot of fun the kids loved it!!

  11. Aww, you do have fun with the children. Christmas is a nice time of year and it’s great to celebrate with the kids and have traditions. The Father Christmas and Lapland service sounds good and fun for the kids. Bless.

  12. Oh my goodness, reading this made me feel SO Christmassy. I love all of your traditions – especially opening a book each day and reading it together as a family. What a lovely idea – I am going to suggest it to my mum as I know she would absolutely love that too. Also, it is such a lovely idea to put an item in the box each day and then take it to food bank. So thoughtful and a great way to teach children to give back at Christmas too. Loved reading this x

  13. I love this post. We have already started watching Christmas movies and are in the spirit early since our youngest baby is due around Christmas. I want to adopt your book a day advent and donation a day advent box. I love these ideas.

  14. Oh you have made me feel all festive! I love that you spend a moment exchanging gifts with your husband at a quiet part of the celebrations. We have a tradition that we all bet 20p on what colour the Queen will wear in her speech!

  15. I love christmas traditions. One i still have is going out for a meal on christmas eve. One other tradition i miss is going to see my aunt in Devon on boxing day. Sadly she passed away a few years back. I’m starting a new tradition this year and that’s having a mini holiday a week or two before christmas. This year i’m going to Lapland for a few days

  16. You have some really nice family Christmas traditions to keep the children joyful all through the month! I like the book unwrapping idea, it’s very educative and encourages children to read!

  17. Aw this is so cute! I love the elf tradition you guys have. I think the only tradition for our family is putting on the christmas carols from the beginning of Dec, getting dinner together on Christmas day and just exchanging gifts and spending time as a family. This list gave me some ideas what I should start with!

  18. Love your Christmas traditions. We also do a book advent calendar. One of my Christmas traditions is to take a festive-themed photo of my girls each year for our Christmas cards – we did a Nativity scene when my youngest was six weeks old and this year the girls dressed up as elves and I did a Santa’s workshop photo. #sharingthebloglove

  19. I love hearing about other people’s Christmas traditions! I do an activity based advent calender, with things like baking gingerbread, making Christmas cards, going to a carol service, etc. We do a Christmas Eve box, which includes new Christmas pyjamas, hot chocolate, a Christmas film, and chocolates. This year we are going on a steam train to meet Father Christmas on Christmas Eve – we were booked last year but my son came down with chicken pox the night before so we had to miss it, so it’s been a long time coming. It’s something I remember from my childhood and I think I’m as excited as my son is! I also love going to the garden centre and picking out one new decoration each for the tree. And putting the tree up of course! We always do ours with Michael Buble playing and drinking Baileys (for me, not the kids!) Thanks so much for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

  20. These are some amazing traditions. This year we’re starting the christmas eve box with pyjamas, dressing gown, book and DVD. Its Peppa Pig themed this year which Ben will love!
    we also do a fake christmas the weekend before with my grandparents so they can see all the kids open gifts as they live all over the country.
    Looking forward to this year as Ben should enjoy it a lot more! #sharingthebloglove

  21. It’s always nice to have some traditions. We don’t have that many, mostly because the OH is miserable and won’t enter into the spirit at all.

  22. What a great selection traditions. I love the one of you exchanging gifs with your partner on Christmas Eve. #sharingthebloglove

  23. The Wyevale Garden Centres do Christmas with Santa if you are still looking for somewhere? We don’t do the Elf either. I have no intention of showing my children naughty behaviour but I might investigate the kindness elf this year as J will be 4.

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