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Family participating in one of our 12 days of christmas tradition ideas by taking a photo with their family to send in a christmas card

12 Days of Christmas Tradition Ideas for Couples and Families

November 15, 2023
Marriage Enrichment

Embrace the Season by Participating in an Annual Holiday Tradition

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, so they say! Do you think so? How has your family been enjoying the holly, jolly season? One of the most popular ways to get into the holiday spirit (and make the winter a little merrier) is to participate in one of our Christmas tradition ideas.

When you’re newly married and still establishing holiday rhythms, it’s the perfect time to create your own traditions. You and your spouse are a family now. Get creative! Establish new traditions you want to do for years to come. Maybe you bring your spouse into traditions your family did, or you might have brand-new ideas.

While you’re in the throes of marriage and parenting, the holiday hustle and bustle can quickly become overwhelming on top of your everyday responsibilities. Give yourself permission to take the pressure off when it comes to making every moment meaningful and checking off a long list of Christmas traditions. Instead, pick one or two your family will soak up and look back on as a treasured memory. Even if you have older kids or teenagers, it’s not too late to start something new.

Lastly, if you’re empty nesters, and you’re finding this season of change a bit challenging, especially around the holidays, let us encourage you to consider a different perspective—this could be a great time to try something new with your spouse. Your holidays may not look like they’ve always been. Use this opportunity to start a new tradition together and make this time of year special in a different way with one another.

No matter the stage of marriage you’re in, we’ve got 12 days of Christmas traditions below to get you started. Pick a few to do this year, or take the general idea from one and make it into your own. We hope the coming days leading to Christmas are jolly and bright!

1. Decorate for Christmas

This may seem like the most obvious tradition to date, but consider how you tailor it to your family. As part of your annual decorating, you may decide to go to a local Christmas tree farm to cut down a tree. Is there one family member who puts the star on the top of the tree each year? Do you decorate to Christmas classics playing in the background, or do you always put a specific Christmas movie on TV to kick off the event?

Family participating in one of our 12 days of christmas tradition ideas by letting their little girl place the start on top of the christmas tree

2. Attend a Holiday Concert, Show, or Play

Is there one night in December you can get all dressed up to hear a holiday concert, or are there any local theaters or schools putting on an annual Christmas show or play you can go see? It’s time to get a little fancy for a night on the town with your loved ones.

3. Wrap Christmas Presents

Make this “chore” a fun event for the whole family. Your family could wrap all their presents in plain paper, and then let your kids decorate the paper with their own drawings or stickers. Maybe your tradition is to spend an evening wrapping with your spouse with mugs of cocoa in hand and you wrap each family member’s gifts with a specific paper, switching it up from person to person.

4. Look at Christmas Lights

It’s likely everyone has a unique twist on this tradition. Maybe you go to an annual light show in your town. You could do a Christmas light scenic tour and turn it into a game where you drive around nearby neighborhoods looking at the lights and keep a list of your favorites, awarding a first, second, and third place and comparing your rankings at the end of the evening. If it’s not too cold where you live, you could also bundle up in your holiday pajamas and coats, fill thermoses with hot apple cider, and go on a family walk to admire the beautiful decorations.

5. Watch Holiday Movies

How many Christmas movies can you watch in the month of December? That might be the tradition—try to watch a certain number of your favorite films. If you’re looking for a fun twist on this tradition, gather the whole family to create a list of your family’s favorite Christmas movies. Go old school by writing each movie on a small piece of paper. Drop them in a bowl, and each night pull out a movie from the bowl to determine what you’re watching.

6. Create a Christmas Ornament Tradition

This tradition idea is intentionally vague. As you decorate the tree, reflect on each ornament and tell a story about how you got it. Do you make a handmade ornament each year to add to your collection, or do you and your spouse surprise each other by picking out an ornament to start each Christmas season that is a special nod to something that happened during the year?

7. Bake Holiday Cookies

Have a Christmas cookie bake-off where you go head-to-head with other friends or family members to create tasty treats and then try each other’s creations to determine who baked the best dessert. Maybe, you can designate a day to bake desserts and then as a family you deliver the holiday treats to your neighbors.

Family participating in one of our 12 days of christmas tradition ideas by decorating christmas cookies together

8. Give Back to Your Community 

One way to tap into a spirit of generosity during Christmastime is to designate a way your family volunteers during the holidays. If your church has a toy drive, you could go shopping together to pick out gifts or you may choose to sponsor a family in your community this Christmas. You could also volunteer your time at a homeless shelter or senior center.  

9. Mail Christmas Cards 

Snail mail isn’t completely dead, yet! Get in the spirit by mailing Christmas cards to your friends and family members. Whether your family does an annual photo shoot for the card or you handwrite sweet notes and signatures, spread holiday cheer through the postal service. 

10. Go to a Christmas Eve Church Service 

What better way to celebrate the reason for the season than to know that every year your family goes to your church’s Christmas Eve service? Skip the cooking on Christmas Eve and go to dinner with your family before or after church—or skip the big meal at home and snack on yummy, holiday inspired appetizers and finger foods. 

11. Create a Christmas Eve Tradition 

Christmas Eve seems like the perfect time to participate in a family tradition. Most families are together anticipating the long awaited Christmas morning. So what will your family do to make the night before extra special? Will you wear matching pajamas to bed? Will you read the Christmas story while you sit around the tree? Will you bake cookies to leave out for Santa or have each family member open one present as a special Christmas Eve treat? 

12. Decorate Gingerbread Houses 

Whether you’re five, 15, or 50, decorating a gingerbread house is the perfect activity! Channel your creative spirit and decorate a house together to leave out on the kitchen counter for the month of December, or make it a friendly competition with a prize on the line for the best decorated house. 

There are so many ways to make the holiday season a bit sweeter. Take on a new tradition with your family this year, and maybe it’ll stick for years to come, giving you memories you’ll cherish forever. 

Come Visit Us in the New Year

Plan for a quiet weekend away at WinShape Retreat where you can cozy up by the fire or take a nice bike ride with your spouse. Join us for an upcoming Marriage Retreat!

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