25 fun Christmas traditions to start with your loved ones

There’s something to be said for doing the same things each and every Christmas.

Perhaps you always look forward to downing a plate full of your mom’s famous sugar cookies or you find joy in hanging the same ol' wreath on your front door year after year. But if your holiday needs a little shaking up, then look no further than these unique Christmas traditions shared by popular bloggers.

We've rounded up 25 fun Christmas activities for the whole family — one for each day in December leading up to Santa's arrival. Ease into the season by watching Christmas movies, crafting homemade decorations or taking a stroll around the block to check out Christmas lights. Then as the most wonderful day of the year gets closer, pull out all the stops with themed games, gift exchanges and (friendly) competitions.

With a few of these activities up your sleeve (or, say, in your Santa hat), you're bound to have the most memorable Christmas yet. That's a priceless Christmas gift, don't ya think?

Whip up a Christmas Eve breakfast

Brittany Watson Jepsen’s, founder of The House That Lars Built, love for all things Christmas started young.

“One year, my mom held a Christmas Eve breakfast and I still think about it to this day and have been wanting to do it with my kids. Everyone came in their Christmas PJs, we had a pancake breakfast with blueberries inside, made gingerbread houses and colored a Christmas coloring page," she tells TODAY.com.

Gift Christmas pajamas on Thanksgiving

Jessica Burgess, owner of the lifestyle brand and blog Fantabulosity, is a big believer in gifting new Christmas PJs to kick off the season. “Each year, we love to get a new pair of pajamas for our kiddos for them to unwrap on Thanksgiving night," she says. Go the extra mile and pick up matching holiday jammies for the whole family.

Put on an annual puppet show

nativity puppets for christmas (Jane Merritt for The House That Lars Built )
nativity puppets for christmas (Jane Merritt for The House That Lars Built )

Watson Jepsen loves to craft nativity sets, and one of her DIYs can also serve as a yearly tradition to do with your family. This one, in particular, is an opportunity to teach your kids about the birth of Jesus, all while putting on a show.

Get the tutorial at The House That Lars Built.

Paint sugar cookies

Decorating cookies is a Christmas classic — but this is a simple way to spice up a tried-and-true tradition. “You can mix egg yolks and food dye together to make edible ‘paint.’ Then, whip up some sugar cookie dough, use fun cookie cutters to make shapes like snowmen or Santas and have the kids ‘paint’ on the cookies," Kara Harms, CEO of Whimsy Soul, says.

Visit a Christmas tree farm

Harms grew up in a rural Wisconsin town where everyone would trek out to Christmas tree farms. But after moving to California, she realized that most people go to parking lot pop-ups to grab a tree and call it a day. Instead, for some holiday magic, she suggests starting a tradition of going to a tree farm with your family.

“Spend an hour wandering around the grounds finding the perfect tree,” she says. “But if you’re really set on your fake tree, at the very least, visit a local tree farm to pick up fresh garland and locally-made wreaths for your decorations."

A bonus: "These places usually sell hot chocolate and other goodies, so it’ll be a fun place to make some memories.”

Make a new advent calendar every year

While an advent calendar is a tradition in lots of families, Watson Jepsen likes to craft her own instead. Make a new one each year, using one of Watson Jepsen's tutorial or picking up a DIY kit from a store.

Related: Christmas advent calendars to shop ASAP

Put an orange in the toe of each stocking

“If you're looking for a historical tradition, start the ritual of putting an oversized orange in the toe of your Christmas stockings,” Harms says. “This tradition dates back hundreds of years and stems from the generosity of Saint Nicholas." As a kid, Harms looked forward to seeing how big the orange was before devouring it in front of the fireplace.

Make “baking kits” for friends and neighbors

Burgess loves creating “baking kit” gift baskets to spread some kindness around to friends and neighbors over the holidays, “so they can make treats for Christmas easily,” she says. Throw in cookie cutters, homemade mixes, sprinkles and “adorable potholders.”

Plan a Christmas movie night

Burgess knows how to make a Christmas movie marathon a tradition to look forward to. “So many of us adore watching Christmas movies during the holiday season, but when it’s an evening filled with all kinds of movie-themed goodies like theater candy, popcorn and our favorite drinks, it adds a whole new level of Christmas joy to the evening," she says. Ditch the couch and "set up a pallet of pillows and cozy blankets on the floor" instead.

Buy an ornament that sums up the year

school bus ornament on tree (Whimsy Soul)
school bus ornament on tree (Whimsy Soul)

Harms picks up a new ornament each year. It's a tradition her mother started when she was born, and now she shares it with her husband.

“The rules are simple,” she says. “Come Christmastime, you must find an ornament that encapsulates something important or fun that you did over that year. When I broke my arm in kindergarten, I got a little bear ornament that was wearing a cast. When I was 15 and got my first real job at a local pizza joint, I got a pizza-shaped ornament. These days, my yearly ornaments usually revolve around travel."

Not only is it a fun activity to hunt down a new ornament, but Harms adds that it turns decorating into "a walk down memory lane.”

Related: The best Christmas movies to watch on Hulu

Host a “Best of Awards”

“If you have a large family or always get together for a Christmas party each year, start a ‘Best Of Awards’ tradition,” Harms says. “Hang up pieces of paper noting categories like ‘Best Movie I Watched This Year,’ ‘Best Podcast I Listened To,’ etc. Then, everyone can go up and write down their favorites. At the end of the night, the results are tallied up and shared."

Through this, you'll learn more about the people around you — and perhaps, discover a new thin to watch, read or listen to.

Make paper snowflakes

Is there anything more magical than a flurry of paper snowflakes? Watson Jepsen suggests using a template to create “picture-perfect” snowflakes and thinks making them with kids is especially fun.

Get the tutorial at The House That Lars Built.

Have a 'favorite things' party

Secret Santa and white elephant parties are a given come Christmastime, but have you heard of "favorite things" parties? Burgess is a big fan.

“Each guest brings three favorite items that they’ll give to three other people. You’ll usually leave with some of the best things that you’d never get for yourself or think you’d even need — and now can’t live without," Burgess says.

Create hilarious holiday cards

“Christmas cards where everyone is always wearing the same sweaters and standing in front of the same fireplace each year are boring. Or at least I think so,” Harms says. “A tradition that my husband and I started when we got married was to take ridiculous, goofy family photos each year for our cards. We have fun planning them, and I know our family always gets a chuckle when they open up our cards each December and see what outlandish thing we came up with this season.”

Go hunting for Christmas lights

No matter where you live, there will always be a street or park that goes all out for holiday decorations each year. Harms enjoys hunting down the best lights and decorated houses each December. “When I was younger, my family would pile into a car and drive around neighborhoods that are known for cool lights so we could see them,” she remembers. “Now that I live in San Francisco, I grab some of my Christmas-loving friends to go visit some of the famously decorated houses in the city.”

Make Christmas charcuterie boards

Tailor your charcuterie board to the holiday. “No matter if you’re hosting a party or just looking for snacks during movie night, filling a charcuterie board full of your favorite Christmas cookies, candies and dips is something that we look forward to every year,” Burgess says.

Have an annual coloring competition

Get everyone's creative juices flowing with a coloring competition á la Watson Jepsen. Use pre-made coloring pages or blank sheets of paper, then leave out a bunch of crayons and markers for everyone to use. Watson Jepsen suggests putting the masterpieces on display for all to see.

Throw a gift-wrapping party

If you dread gift-wrapping every year, here’s a way to make it enjoyable. “Have appetizers, sweets and cocktails, and wrap all of your gifts while hanging out with your pals,” Burgess says. “Wrapping gifts is better when it’s made into an event with your friends.”

Related: How to wrap a present like a pro

Have a separate gift exchange for the adults in your family

“Each year, our extended family will get gifts for all of the kiddos, but when it comes to the adults, we love to mix things up and change up how we exchange them. We’ve done everything from the common gift exchange games to making up our own. Our favorite has been using gigantic stockings and filling them with multiple, small, inexpensive gifts from each person," Burgess says.

Hang a pickle in the Christmas tree

Here’s a Christmas tradition that comes all the way from Germany.

“What you do is buy a pickle ornament and an adult hides it somewhere in the Christmas tree. And then the family tries to find it. The first person to find the pickle on the tree will receive an extra present from Santa Claus or have a year of good fortune," Harms says.

Related: The history of the Christmas pickle tradition

Have a scavenger hunt

Find a free scavenger hunt printable from the Internet, then drive around with your kids looking for the items on the list. “Make hot chocolate, turn on the Christmas tunes, wear pajamas and don’t forget the cozy blankets,” Burgess adds.

Play Christmas song bingo

group of girls wrapping christmas gifts (Jane Merritt for The House That Lars Built )
group of girls wrapping christmas gifts (Jane Merritt for The House That Lars Built )

One of Watson Jepsen’s favorite recent holiday traditions is Christmas Song Bingo, which she shares on her blog. Using the printable and an accompanying playlist, you can make an evening of it with your kids or closest pals.

Related: Christmas songs to add to your holiday playlist

Travel to a holiday destination

“My husband and I started the tradition of a Christmas trip each December. We’ll go to places like Leavenworth, Washington, the famous Bavarian Christmas town, to pet reindeer and take sleigh rides. Or perhaps Vancouver to see the famous Capilano Suspension Bridge light up with a million Christmas lights or Sun Valley, Idaho for après ski holiday vibes," Harms says.

Related: Christmas getaways for the ultimate winter escape

Snack on some treats

When Burgess and her family head to the Christmas tree farm, they make one important stop first: to the local bakery. “It’s something we look forward to together as a family, and the donuts in the morning are always a great addition to an already fun-filled day,” she says.

Make gifts for neighbors

When Watson Jepsen moved to Utah, she couldn’t believe the amount of gifts from neighbors they received. “It was crazy!” she says. But now making these gifts is an annual tradition she looks forward to. “I love making them every year now,” she says.

This article was originally published on TODAY.com