Christmas is a season of traditions, nostalgia, and joy. But sometimes everyone is not a fan of everything. Discovering the traditions that work for your family–in this season and stage of life–is part of the wonder Christmas brings. Settle in, pour some cocoa, and cozy up to Christmas and all the good tidings bound to come.
We’ve collected a short list of sure-to-please holiday traditions everyone in the family will enjoy.
See the Christmas Lights
A drive around town to view all the twinkling lights, from downtown streets to uptown mansions, is a simple Christmas necessity. Take the pilgrimage up a notch with this scavenger hunt. You’ll find elves, snowmen, reindeer, and of course, Santa himself.
For professional lightings (as in, truly, don’t try this at home), check out this list of Austin area holiday displays. In the San Antonio area, here are the best places to see holiday lights.
Count it Down
There are many ways to count down the days ’til Santa comes to town. Whether you celebrate with Advent, light the candles for Hanukkah, or simply enjoy the season’s good tidings, your family can anticipate Christmas Day in many ways.

  • Consider a daily Christmas Bucket List that highlights all the family favorites you don’t want to miss.
  • Create a Jesse Tree as a new way to celebrate Advent and remember the origins of the Nativity.
  • Light a candle each night leading up to Christmas Eve and have a family member share a favorite memory from the year.
  • Unwrap a different Christmas book each night for family reading time.
  • Each day, fill small bags with different treats to enjoy–and an act of kindness to complete.
  • Mark off the days on a calendar or chalkboard. You’re reinforcing counting skills, tallying, and calendar reading!

Embrace the Elves
On the shelf or full of kindness, the Elf on the Shelf has become a tradition in many families. Every day your elf, who’s keeping an eye on things and reporting to the North Pole, causes mischief or niceness. If you have a mix of older and younger kids, consider letting your older ones help plan the activities. Not into elves? Try one of these alternatives.
Give Back
Choosing one day during the season to remember those around us is often a treasured way to celebrate community. Consider serving together at a soup kitchen, caroling at a nursing home, or baking cookies for your neighbors. Buy toys or canned goods and take to donation centers, clean out closets, or write letters to servicemen. There’s no one way to serve, but this is one tradition your family will look forward to repeating every year.
Make it Savory or Sweet
Every family has a favorite meal or dessert for the holidays. Make it extra special at Christmas by planning, shopping, and preparing all together as a family. Whether you make a whole meal inspired by your favorite Food Network star, or you simply cut out the sugar cookies from pre-made dough and go heavy with the sprinkles and icing, you’re creating family memories sure to last.
Remember, it’s fine to blend together the traditions that work for your family and give yourself grace to let some others go. After all, the season is meant to be savored, not stressful.
Here’s to Christmas!