Five young friends giving each other Christmas gifts

There isn't anything quite like Christmas. The food, the tree, the songs and the music are all so special in their own way. The moments you create with your family and friends during the month of December are ones that will last a lifetime.

Traditions are an important part of the Christmas holiday. Whether it’s pajamas under the tree on Christmas Eve or a trip to see twinkling lights, here are some dazzling new family Christmas traditions for you and the kids to make memories with this year, and every year after that.

Read the Christmas story.

Have you shared with your children the reasons for the season, Jesus Christ? Set a time to read the Bible or act out the Christmas story together. This might be at an extended family party, at home on Christmas Eve, or even early Christmas morning before you start opening gifts. Complete this tradition early, and it will help set them in the mood for the rest of the month.

Go see Christmas lights.

Even the smallest areas of the country typically have a local Christmas lights display that you and your family can drive through. Get hot chocolate and your favorite holiday snack and pack all the kids in the car. Blast your favorite Christmas CD and jam out while looking at the dazzling lights. If you don’t want to pay to have to drive through lights, or there aren’t any close around you, then the tradition can still be done by simply driving through your own neighborhood. Many families find one of their favorite Christmas traditions to be decorating

Open one present on Christmas Eve.

Treat your little ones to an extra gift at Christmas and make them up a special present especially for the 24th of December. Consider having it filled with Christmas themed gifts. The idea is that something Christmas related will get them even more excited for Christmas Day. You could get them an extra ornament for the tree, some festive pajamas to wear on Christmas morning, or the latest Christmas film.

Volunteer as a family.

Plan and execute a family service project every year. This could be visiting a nursing home, going caroling to people who live alone, gathering coats to distribute to homeless, serving a meal at a shelter, shopping for Toys for Tots, or something unique to your family. This can turn into a meaningful tradition the whole family plans for in advance every year. It also teaches children to be appreciative of all the gifts they will soon get, that others might never have the opportunity to have.

Have a gingerbread house making contest.

What better way to get out your children's artistic side than by having a gingerbread house making contest. There are kits that you buy that come with all the supplies you could need, or you can pick up individual pieces yourself. This is a great way to get your older kids engaged, while still offering the young ones an opportunity to participate (even if they need extra help gluing on that last gumdrop). If you want to make it a little simpler, you can use graham crackers too.

Give a key to Santa.

Don't have a chimney in your home and have some concerned little children? The solution to this problem is a Santa key. Go out and find a big, old key and tie a note one it that says "Santa's Magic Key". On Christams eve, after you leave out the milk and cookies of course, take your children outside and hide the special key under the door mat or in the mailbox. That way, your children will feel happy knowing Santa has a way to come drop them off presents.

Watch Christmas movies.

There are always some really special and unique Christmas classics on television during the month of December. Each week, pick one special night where the whole family gets together to watch a special movie or TV show based on the holiday. Make sure to write down which ones you watch so that you can see them again the next year. As children grow older as well, you can stray from some of the animated options and find more adult-features.

Cook a special dinner on Christmas or Christmas Eve.

If you know you’ll be busy all day and trying to cook a big dinner on Christmas Day, considering doing a simple yet fun finger food dinner on Christmas Eve. Each child can pick their favorite finger food to add to the menu (and be in charge of making if they’re old enough to do so). Then on Christmas, pick something unique for your family. Maybe that means throwing a second Thanksgiving inspired dinner, or going out to order Chinese food. Whatever it is, by doing the same meals each year you will start a fun tradition your kids will look forward to.

Sleep under the tree.

The kids can do this as a solo mission or the adults can join in too. Either way, sleeping under the tree is a great way to make another night of Christmas fun. Leave the lights on, watch a Christmas movie and make a real occasion of this simple treat. This tradition obviously doesn’t work on Christmas Eve, because Santa needs the space to do his work, but let them choose any night they like beforehand – it makes the build up even more exciting.

The spirit of Christmas is kept alive through the wonderful traditions each family has. They are special and individual to your family, so don’t feel you should ever change them to keep up with another family. Tweak these so they fit your family’s unique needs and leave room to add more and grow.

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