As the festive period approaches, and the stir of the Christmas magic begins, you may be looking for some ideas for magical Christmas traditions to start with your family. Some things you can look forward to doing every single year, that make them even more magical as your family grows and develops, and you add in more and more members to the magic.
Here are some ideas for magical, Christmas traditions for the run up to Christmas.
Whether you celebrate the time of advent because of religion, or you’re some who LOVES the run up to Christmas, advent calendars are a wonderful tradition to have with your children.
There are so many varieties you can use today, that you aren’t just limited to mini chocolate filled doors. Now you can get all types of fillings and designs. But it’s really about anything other than fillings for me. I love the excitement of the children checking how many days it is to the big day, and it getting more and more exciting!
You can really make this even more special by trying to create your own WITH your children if you have the time, or you can look around for some of the more creative advent calendars like this Wooden Star advent calendar, or this cheaper, personalised paper bag advent idea.
Beeswax Candle Dipping
We LOVE making our own beeswax candles. It is a lovely, slow activity that teaches patience, as well as letting the children create something they can see in use throughout the festive season. Perhaps you’ll even allow them to make them for the Christmas dinner table?
As long as children are old enough to understand hot and cold, and the dangers of hot substances, they can take part in this lovely, family activity (with help and supervision).
Gingerbread Baking & Decorating
Whether you opt for an all out gingerbread house baked and built from scratch, or ready made gingerbread men, the process of making or decorating gingerbread is one that is full of nostalgia here in our household. I get so excited to pull out the gingerbread recipes every December, and get our bake on.
My children love nothing more than to have a whole array of cake decs laid out in front of them, so this activity is a winner for ALL ages. My little ones decorate to the best of their ability, whereas my 12 year old often goes above and beyond anything I would think to do. It’s wonderful to watch them all get creative and excited about what they can make.
I really recommend the BakedIn Gingerbread House kit! It’s SO good.
Wood Slice Decoration Making
An activity we love to do on the run up to Christmas, and one that is great to pull out year after year, are these Wood Slice Decorations. All you need are some paint or paint pens and some wood slices.
The reason I love this for every year, is so you can look back and see what each child created at the various stages of their lives. You can watch their artistic abilities develop, while having some amazing tree decorations made too!
And don’t limit this to just the children, get yourself involved too! It’s a fun activity for all!
Letters from Santa
If your children are believers, why not try your hand at sending them personalised letters from the big guy himself! You can either create your own on a computer, or with some handwriting trickery, or you can use a fantastic, personalised letters from Santa company, like Lapland Mailroom.
Your children will be amazed that Santa knows all about what they’ve been doing in the year. Bonus points if he mentions reading any letters the children may have already written and posted to him!
Mince Pie Baking
‘Christmas was a week away,
I went out to tea,
it was granny’s baking day,
and she made me mince pies,
one, two, three…’
In the United Kingdom, it’s a right of passage to bake mince pies with your grandparents in the run up to Christmas. It’s certainly high up in our magical Christmas traditions, that’s for sure! Quite often, I’ll make my own mincemeat after we do our annual apple pick in September/October, so when we come to late November/December it means it’s time to turn that mincemeat into some delicious and buttery, mince pies.
I’ll let you in on a secret… Pre made shortcrust & shop bought mincemeat will bring you the same nostalgia with around 25% less stress if you don’t enjoy baking so much! But whether you make every thing from scratch, or you buy pre-made ingredients, the magic and nostalgia of the smell of a mince pie baking whilst Christmas music fills the house is just unbeatable, in my opinion.
A Magical Christmas Movie Night
A movie night full of festive magic is always a winner with our family. Find yourself a great, Christmas movie list, and then have a family vote on which ones you want to fit into your magical night.
I love to put together bowls of festive snacks and maybe a hot chocolate bar if we are really going all out! Get a pile of duvets and cushions and have the most magical evening.
Go for an Evening, Christmas Lights Walk
Once you’ve gotten to a certain point in December, the majority of people have up their Christmas decorations for all to see. This is the perfect excuse to head out on a family walk around the neighbourhood, to spot as many Christmas lights as you can!
You could make it more fun by using a Scavenger Hunt sheet (we are working on making one!), taking out flasks of steaming, hot chocolate and snacks.
Make sure to wrap up warm!
Salt Dough Ornaments
Another enjoyable, annual Christmas activity that is great for all ages, is Salt Dough Ornament making. Salt dough is so simple to make, and can be used to either sculpt, cut or imprint your own Christmas decorations. Once baked, you can paint and varnish them too!
Not only is buying a bag of popping corn super fun for making your own snacks, it’s also fun for popping into a huge bowl of popcorn to make garlands!
All you need for these are needles, cotton and LOTS of popcorn! You can then use these as decoration for the house or the tree! Great for fine motor development as children get older!
Handmake a Gift
My children LOVE to make cards and gifts for people they love. The thought of something they make being a gift for someone brings them so much joy. And how much more meaningful is it to gift something that took your time and energy to create?
If you’re able, booking a visit to Santa can be a magical experience for children. Whether you stay local, choose to book a bigger event or even travel to Lapland, a visit to Santa can really bring the festive feels!
Visit a Christmas Market
Christmas markets are like walking into the North Pole, and we LOVE them! The smells of festive foods cooking, the Christmas music and the merry giggles of people as they happily sip their mulled wine just work together to make the perfect, festive day out for all the family! A lot of them include funfairs or activity tents for children too!
Book a Panto!
Oh no you didn’t! Oh yes we did!
We like to try and book onto a panto every year if we can! They’re so interactive and funny for kids. I love theatre anyway, but for children they love shows that they are invited to interact with, and that is why pantos are a really great option for all of the family! Just don’t sit too close to the front if you don’t want to be dragged up on stage! Ha!
Read Christmas books at Bedtime
Whenever it comes to story time in your house, make sure you have a stack of Christmas/Winter reads for the children to enjoy. Seasonal book rotations are a great way to not just help children feel festive, but also to help them to connect with the seasons.
You could even leave a new book out as a surprise every morning, or create a daily, book basket!
You can check out our collection of Christmas and Winter book recommendations here.
Have a Christmas music dance session
Have you ever tried blasting some music out loud, letting your hair down and dancing around the house with your kids? Trust me, they love an impromptu dance session. Especially when the grown ups get involved. So why not add a festive spin, and crank up the Christmas tunes for your family dance session?!
Christmas Art YouTube Tutorials
If your kids enjoy being creative, then YouTube art tutorials are a fantastic resource for helping to inspire and teach children as they watch. Art Hub is amazing, and full of Christmas specials, but really if you want to cater to ANY age or ability, there will be the perfect video for you. All it takes is a little search!
Festive Messy Play
You can theme your messy/sensory play for your toddlers or younger children to make Christmas messy play! By adding festive colours or items, you can instantly jazz up your toddler’s play to make it fit in with those festive feelings in the run up to Christmas. It can feel difficult to come up with Christmas activities for toddlers, as they’re so young, but honestly the simplest tweaks can create the best, festive play for them! Here is a great selection of Christmas Activities for Toddlers ideas from Teaching Mama. We will definitely be trying out the fizzing candy cane activity this year!
Christmas List Writing
While I’m aware that children don’t need lots of presents, writing a Christmas list with them can be a really exciting and special activity! They don’t need to think of loads. Our kids often struggle to think of things, but you can keep it simple with the basic four if you need prompts.
- Something I Want.
- Something I Need.
- Something to Wear.
- Something to Read.
Attend and Support Local, Festive Events
If you know there’s a local market, fair or parade, why not try and head out to it? Not only are these smaller events going to be easier to get to as they’re local, you’ll also be supporting your local economy and creators. Festive spirit all round!
Take some food to your local food bank.
One way to give back at Christmas, and teach your children to do the same is to check what your local food bank is short of, and consider donating those items. Christmas is a time of year where lots of people struggle to survive, and it’s really important to teach your children that if we can afford to, then we should be helping to support others. It takes a village.
You can find out what your local food bank is in need of via the Trussell Trust website. It will help you locate your nearest bank, and from there you should be able to find their website and list of needed items.
Here are some magical Christmas tradition ideas to inspire you to start your own with your family. We so look forward to our traditions every year, and I think it’s honestly what makes it such a special time for us. The big day has nothing on the magic of the run up to Christmas.
Do you have any Christmas traditions? Let me know!
You can find our Christmas & Winter Children’s Book List here.