(Originally published in November 2020)

December is definitely the most special time of the year, and it happens to also be my favorite time of year. There are so many special memories that are made with family during this time, so many special moments to share, and tons of fun and festive things to do. Over the years, we’ve created traditions within our family, ones that we hold near and dear to our heart and have become something to look forward to each year. With this being said, I am so excited to share today’s post with you all, I’ve compiled a list of over 30+ Family Christmas Traditions To Start This Year. 14 of these are traditions I have started with my own family and continue to do year after year, and 2 of them we just added this past year.

A lot of these are amazing traditions that my followers on Instagram shared with me last year. There are so many fun ideas, and thanks to these, we have adopted a few of these in the recent years and have truly enjoyed them.

I would love to hear if there are any traditions from todays post that you want to start this year. DM me on Instagram HERE to let me know which tradition you hope to adopt this year.




30 Christmas Traditions to Start This year  - Camilla Thurman - Navy Grace | Family Christmas Traditions by popular San Diego lifestyle blog, Navy Grace: image of a woman and her two young children drinking hot cocoa from Christmas mugs in their kitchen.




1// Decorating Sugar Cookies

We have been doing this the last 3 years and it is so fun. This year I plan to make my own cookies from scratch and then having the kids go crazy with the frosting. In years past, I have just bought pre-made cookies and frosting from the stores. It makes it simpler if you aren’t much of a baker.


2// Recreate Old Photos 

If you have been following me for awhile, than you would know that I LOVE to recreate old photos from past years. I especially love doing it at Christmas time. Same spot by the tree, same poses etc. I love being able to look over the past few years and see how much everyone has grown and changed. You can see HERE a perfect example


3// Salt Dough Ornaments

We did this for the first time last year and I have decided it is something I want to continue yearly. We even pressed the kids handprints into the dough to see how much bigger then have grown in a year. Last year we had 3 cookie cutters, and this year we have added 2 more styles. Which I think is a great thing to continue to do. Add a new cookie cutter style each year. For us, we have a pretty bare tree. I like my tree minimal, especially since our tree is massive. These salt dough ornaments and a simple garland is just enough for our tree. You can follow this recipe here for the Salt Dough Ornaments.

2 Cups Flour
1 Cup Salt 
3/4 Cup Water (if too dry, add water. If too wet, add flour) 

Shape Imprint or Cookie cut then use straw to make hole for stringing 

Bake at 250f for 2-3 Hours 
Let cool 


4// 12 Days of Books 

We started this last year. I loved it so much I made it a tradition until we have oodles of books or before Brandon begs me to stop. Starting on either the 13th or 14th of December depending on whether or not you want to end on Christmas Eve or Christmas day. Each evening leave a wrapped book on your doorstep, ring the doorbell, and let your kids be surprised with a new book for the next 12 days. We have been telling Edison it is a little something the elves drop off from Santa! This would even be a fun idea to do for a neighbor, then on the last day go and deliver the last book in person.


5// Drive to see Christmas Lights

One of my very favorite things to do. Brandon and I even did this before having kids. We pick a couple nights of the week and drive or get out and walk neighborhoods filled with amazing christmas lights. If you are local to San Diego here are some of our favorites.
Christmas on Knob Hill in San Marcos
Christmas Card Lane in Rancho Penasquitos
Candy Cane Lane in Poway
Carlsbad Christmas House – 6646 Elegant Tern Place


6// Visit Santa

Can’t go a Christmas season without visiting Santa Claus. This year we are going to try a new place called SkyPark at Santa’s Village in Skyforest, CA. It looks truly magical with so many amazing activities for kids of all ages


7// Decorate Gingerbread Houses

Great to do with kids or even make a group date night out of it and have a competition. A pro tip: hot glue the gingerbread house kit the night before that way it doesn’t fall apart during the fun decorating with little fingers pushing extra hard!


8// New Pajamas 

I love any excuse for new pajamas for both me and the kids. We love having Christmas themed pajamas to enjoy the entire month of December. These would be a great idea to put into the December 1st Box.


9// Decorate Tree with photos throughout current year

We are starting this tradition this year. Just placed a big order through Shutterfly with several of our favorite photos and memories from 2020. I printed them all in black and white. I got this idea from my friend Amber, who does this yearly with her tree. Also, I love the idea because it is so fun for kids to look back at photos from the current year and it’s so much more sentimental. Still waiting on my photos to arrive, so check my IG soon for the final look.


10// Buy Small Tree for Travel Ornaments

We started this tradition three years ago after seeing my friend Angie’s small tree. I used to collect mugs from the cities we traveled too, but my collection had grown too large. Instead we now buy a Christmas ornament from the places we visit and go out as a family (to home depot 🙂 to buy a small 3 ft tree that is designated for all our special “travel ornaments” It is so fun to decorate the tree with the kids and talk to them about this or that trip we had. I will always write the date on the back with the names of the kids who visited that city.


11// Advent Calendars

We have a few of these around the house. The classic chocolate pop out one, but we also have another one that you can move the small felt tree over each new day. I would love to go a little bigger with a small thought or gift each day one year.


12//December 1st Box

I heard about this tradition from a friend and knew this was something I wanted to start for 2020 and continue. Beginning on December get a box or wrap a gift of all the things you want to do together as a family. Things to include: Christmas movie, popcorn, new ornaments, new pajamas, frosting for decorating cookies, gingerbread house kit, cookie cutter shape, string of lights to represent driving through neighborhoods with Christmas lights, Christmas books, just to name a few. The idea behind the December 1st box is to get everyone in the Christmas spirt and let them know of all the checklist and traditions you hope to accomplish for the entire month.


13// Give an Anonymous Gift

Brandon and I have been doing this for several years. We usually pick a few families that we know from church and will go to target and get popcorn, snacks, and treats and include several gift cards to restaurants, movie theaters, and Visa gift cards. Also, we always drop them off on their doorstep and run that way it is anonymous! We don’t need the credit, we just want to serve others this time of year.


14// Donate Toys 

This will be our first year doing this and I am really looking forward to purging the house and finding loads of toys to donate. I am still unsure where we plan to donate, but I think it is a great lesson for the kids, especially Edison. It may be difficult for him to understand, but hoping with coming years he will understand the importance of helping another family in need.


Family Christmas Traditions by popular San Diego lifestyle blog, Navy Grace: image of a little boy drinking hot cocoa from a Santa mug.



15 // Christmas Eve Box

Similar to the December 1st box. Things to include family board game, new pajamas, hot coco kit, popcorn, and new movie — all things to do to help with the anticipation of Santa coming.


16// Send Out Christmas Cards

Believe it or not, we have never done this! I always say I want to, and even on years I am 100% prepared with family photos, I still forget. One year, one year 🙂


16// Local Tree Lighting 

I have never done this either. Such a fun start to the holiday season.


17// Adopt a Family

Pay for their presents and holiday meal


18// Plant Your Own Christmas Tree for Next Year

If you have the yard to do this, how fun would this be. I love the idea.


19// Wrap each kids gifts in their own paper

Instead of doing the traditional name tags (which you still may want to do to avoid confusion) have each kids presents wrapped in their own paper so they can know exactly who’s is who’s


20// The Christmas Pickle Ornament

This idea from you guys had me laughing. The first person to find the pickle ornament on Christmas Eve gets the first gift of Christmas. Another person suggesting hiding a Santa ornament or small toy.


21// New Pajamas on Christmas Eve

This was probably the most popular Christmas tradition to you did growing up or still continue to do. We also did this growing up. My grandma would gift us all new pajamas and we would open them on Christmas Eve so we all had new pajamas for Christmas day.


22// Sleepover in same room on Christmas Eve

We did this growing up. We would all grab blankets, and sleeping bags and camp out together in our family room up stairs. I loved the memories of telling stories as we drifted to sleep. We would then wake each other up in the morning and have to wait together before we got the green light to come downstairs.


23// Make and Deliver Cookies to Friends and Neighbors

Planning on making sugar cookies together, make extras and deliver to family or friends.


24// Re-Enact The Nativity

I remember doing this growing up on Christmas Eve.


25// Sibling Gift Exchange

Something we still continue to do. Draw names in November or early December. Set a price Limit and go for it. Since my kids are still little, we plan to go to a store, give them a dollar amount and help them pick out a gift for each other to give on Christmas day.


26// Board Games on Christmas Eve

One of my favorite times to play games together as a family.


27// Shepard on the Search

A shepherd that moves around each day until he finds baby Jesus


28// Ornament Souvenir

getting a new ornament from every place your family visited that year. I shared how we do this on #10


29// Secret Santa for a family in need

Buy small gifts and leave them on a families doorstep.


30// Scavenger  hunts to the big present on Christmas morning 

If your family does a big family gift, why not make it a little fun challenge to find the big gift. Hide it and work together with the clues given to find it together as a family.


31//  Focus on The Savior

We designate Christmas Eve for this night to focus on the Savior. We talk about the nativity, have a musical number, and read verses from scriptures to remind the kids about the true meaning of Christmas and the birth of our Savior.


32// Go Ice skating

Find a local indoor or outdoor rink


33// 4 Gifts To Give

Give something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read to your kids to help eliminate the massive amounts of toys given


30 Christmas Traditions to Start This year  - Camilla Thurman - Navy Grace |Family Christmas Traditions by popular San Diego lifestyle blog, Navy Grace: image of a woman and her two young children putting mini marshmallows in their hot cocoa.

Shop Some Hot Coco Mugs Here




30 Christmas Traditions to Start This year  - Camilla Thurman - Navy Grace |Family Christmas Traditions by popular San Diego lifestyle blog, Navy Grace: image of a woman and her two young children drinking hot cocoa from Christmas mugs in their kitchen.


  1. Judy A
    December 8, 2020 / 2:17 pm

    My mother wrapped a new book for us each to open on Christmas Eve. It was supposed to help us calm and get to sleep that night. It was a tradition we continued for our family and my children do it with their kids. We buy an ornament that says something about their year they get to open on the day we decorate the tree. I started a new tradition with grandchildren, making an ornament for them each year that ties on their gift.

  2. Courtney
    November 20, 2021 / 12:15 pm

    These are so gooooood!! I honestly love all of these ideas and most if them are so simple!! I can’t wait to start some of these this season.

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