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Simple Christmas Traditions Your Family Will Love

Looking for the best Christmas traditions for making memories with your family that you will cherish for years to come? If you value minimalism and hygge, these holiday activities to do with your kids and family will bring you happiness and joy without overloading your calendar or your bank account. Start these amazing holiday traditions this year.


My personality is such that I normally focus on productivity, personal development, and success. Whether it’s Monday morning or Saturday night, my passion for personal growth and helping high achieving millennials overcome perfectionism and procrastination to pursue a life without limits keeps me hustling non stop.

So this article is definitely outside of my normal comfort zone, but is brought on by the Christmas spirit. The snow on the ground, the lights around the town, and this giant Poinsetta from Costco has inspired me to slow down and think about the simple Christmas traditions we’ve developed as a family that fill us with joy over the course of the holidays.

As an overachiever with productivity and efficiency top of mind, slowing down can be a challenge for me. I’m sure you feel this too…

But I know that these little ordinary moments are the ones that I will look back on later in life, and so I make sure to set aside my to do list and make time for the things that really matter.

Related post: How To Simplify Your To Do List To The Essentials

If you’re looking to make this Christmas season memorable, without having to commit all of your time and energy to complicated festivities, here are the minimalist Christmas traditions that fill our cups and our hearts.

I hope they inspire you to curate your own set of traditions that fill your holiday season with joy.

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Minimalist Christmas Traditions To Start This Year

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Christmas Tree Hunting

We get a real Christmas tree from a farm every single year.

The first weekend that meets our very strict criteria of it being December and there being snow on the ground, you will find us hitting the road for our Christmas tree hunt. We bundle up in snowsuits and drive to the next town, singing Christmas carols the whole way there. We spend an hour circling the entire lot to make sure we evaluate every single available tree, only to come back to the first one that we saw and bring it home. We stop for apple cider and cookies on the way, and spend the evening decorating the tree while a Christmas movie plays in the background.

This is one of my absolute favorite Christmas traditions. If I had to pick only one activity to commit to this year, it would be this.

Find a local Christmas tree farm and set aside a day in your calendar for finding an imperfect tree for your home.

Do you prefer a real tree or a fake tree?

Elf On The Shelf

Yes, I know this is a hot topic and you either love it or you hate it… but we love it.

We don’t follow all the Elf on the Shelf ‘rules.’ instead we’ve adapted this tradition to work for us. The kids know the Elf isn’t magic (I tried to tell them he was but my 4 year old was way too logical to fall for it). He isn’t even the real Elf doll, just a random Elf stuffed toy from Winners. I set him up doing funny things all over the house, and the kiddos wake up in the morning, laugh at my antics, and put him back on the shelf.

I love planning the funny little prank the night before, and it only takes me a minute or two to set him up.

That minute is worth it when the kids explode in a fit of laughter because the Elf is swinging from the toilet paper.

Do you do Elf on the shelf, or have you been avoiding it?

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Christmas Parade

We go to the local Christmas parade every single year. It is our kick off to the holiday season. The lights, the festive floats, the music, the community… it is wonderful.

The kids write a letter to Santa that morning and we pack camping chairs, blankets, and hot cocoa. We get all bundled up and watch the floats come down.

It is a wonderful way to spend time outdoors in the winter with the neighbors. The kids have an absolute blast watching the cadets, and the bands, and the hockey players, and the dancers, along with the Paw Patrols, and The Grinch, and the Gingerbread men prancing down the street.

Do you attend your local Christmas parade?

Delivering Cookies To The Neighbors

We love to bake as a family! We rarely make cookies throughout the year, but in the month of December we fill an afternoon with Christmas cookie decorating.

The kids go crazy with frosting and sprinkles and because we have way too many to eat, we bring a plateful to each of our neighbors (while they are still warm!)

We talk about kindness with the kiddos and use it as an opportunity to teach them about how good it feels to give.

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Christmas Eve Boxes

On Christmas Eve, we like to spend the evening together cozied up at home, enjoying the precious quiet moments before the explosion of excitement.

For this, we’ve created a Christmas Eve box for each member of our family. The purpose behind the box is to bring us together as a family that evening.

The types of things that can usually be found in the Christmas Eve box are:

  • new Christmas pajamas
  • home knit socks or cozy slippers
  • a mug
  • a hot beverage (a new tea, some hot chocolate mix, etc.)
  • a book
  • a board game

We open our boxes on Christmas Eve and spend the night reading together, playing board games, and chatting over tea. It’s a wonderful way to instill calm and togetherness on Christmas Eve.

Christmas Morning Cinnamon Rolls

We feast on cinnamon rolls every Christmas morning while we open our presents. This is usually a 3-4 hour adventure because we don’t ask our kids to tear through the packages in a hurried rush. If they open one toy and want to spend 45 minutes playing with it before opening the next toy, that is what we do.

I find it helps slow down the morning so that all of the build up and excitement isn’t over in a single hour.

However, we also get hangry. So our breakfast on Christmas morning essentially consists of cinnamon rolls fresh out of the oven (I usually prep them the day before). That ties us over until brunch time, and everyone absolutely looks forward to it.

What does your typical Christmas breakfast look like?

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Christmas Dinner

We gather with family for Christmas Dinner, which works for us because it’s never at our house.

I am not a fan of hosting, or cooking, or cleaning, so if I had to put on the Christmas dinner spectacle it would bring me nothing but stress and I wouldn’t do it.

However, we are fortunate to have family close by that love to host, and so we join them for dinner. It is great to spend time together and laugh about the memories that were made that day.

We’ll have a big turkey, with mashed potatoes and gravy, and carrots, and we’ll play board games and watch movies and have a night of fun.

Do you prefer a quiet Christmas night to yourself or do you gather with family and friends?

Boxing Day Hike

After the business of Christmas Day, we are craving simplicity and quiet. Boxing Day is the perfect time to bundle up and get outside for a hike in the morning.

It is a good opportunity to reflect on the joys that Christmas brought this year. It also gets the kids out of the house, away from their presents, so that they can reconnect with nature and fill their cups with adventure. It usually takes some convincing because they don’t want to do anything but play with their new toys, however it is always worth it in the end.

Spending time outside is one of our favorite activities to do together. It can be hard to make time for it during the holiday season, and hard to convince yourself to get out in the cold but by making it a Christmas tradition, we all look forward to the togetherness it brings.

We pack some hot chocolate and cinnamon rolls from the day before and have a little picnic while we’re out and about.

I wouldn’t give up this tradition for the world.

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New Year’s Day Party

Do you know what I hate more than anything in the world? Kicking off a New Year feeling absolutely exhausted and/or hungover.

I love a new week, a new month, a new season… and a New Year most of all! The potential it holds fills me to the brim with excitement. And then year after year I squash it by being up for absolutely nothing on January 1st. So much for ‘exercising every day’ as per my resolution (PS, don’t ever set New Year’s Resolutions!)

A new tradition we are starting this year is going to be on time on New Year’s Eve (which is 9pm for us) and having a celebration when we wake up at 5am in the morning on New Year’s Day. We haven’t tried it yet so I can’t comment on how it has gone, but I will update this post when we do.

I’m really excited about this for a number of reasons:

  • The kids can fully engage in the celebration because it’s not 6 hours past their bedtime. They won’t be cranky at all.
  • Same goes for me! I won’t be exhausted and can have a good time without trying to not fall asleep.
  • I’m going to be feeling my absolute best because I’ve slept (which is so important to me) and exercised and am ready to have the best day ever.
  • The New Year will hold great memories that do not consist of puking and napping and telling my kids to be quiet because I have a headache.

What do you think, would you ever swap the time of your New Year’s celebration?

The holidays are an amazing time to reconnect with yourself, with family, and with life. It is a time that most of us look forward to all year, with great anticipation. However, it’s also easy to get buried under to do lists, expectations, and people pleasing.

If I’ve learned anything over the course of my personal growth journey, it’s that you need to do what’s right for you, and avoid falling into the trap of comparing your life to others’ and trying to keep everyone around you happy.

So I dare you to do Christmas a little differently this year.

Ask yourself what traditions you love and make time for them. Ask yourself what traditions make you cranky, restless, or stressed out and do less of them, or none at all!

I have a whole list of traditions we gave up doing because they weren’t bringing us joy in this post, where I also talk about how to slow down Christmas so that you can make the most of it.

And the last bit of advice I would give you, the person who’s looking for traditions to start this year, is that most traditions happen naturally.

When we try to force traditions that sound good or look good on Pinterest, we usually end up disappointed.

So maybe all you need is to look at the things you currently do every holiday season a little differently. Maybe you’re already doing things year after year that bring you joy and you’re just not calling them ‘traditions.’

Traditions don’t have to be fancy or complicated, they just have to bring you joy.

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What are your favorite holiday traditions? Let me know in the comments below!

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