12 Days of Blogmas: Family Traditions

It is the first Monday of the first week of December, and that sounds like the PERFECT day to kick off the TWELVE Days of Blogmas this year on Refining Cotten! Twelve days filled with gift guides, family recipes, holiday activities, decorating ideas, and all of the holiday spirit you can stand! I hope you’re excited because I am 150% pumped to load your Christmassin’ wagon. 

Because I’m a planner and a list-maker, there is no better place to start than a whole list of family traditions and activities for the season! One of my favorite parts of Christmas is the array of  family traditions! I find it heartwarming to listen to everyone’s current rituals as well as the little snapshot memories they have of Christmases in their childhood.

At this stage in our lives, Andrew and I are deciding which traditions we want to put in place for our family. I know many of you are in the same boat with young children, but I also hope this list could be helpful to you new grandparents out there, single young adults, and everyone in between. You don’t have to have young children underfoot to implement new traditions during the holidays!

I’m going to give you a bunch of options – some we partake in and others I am brainstorming. This list by no means exhaustive, so I would love for this post to be an interactive one. Please comment down below if there is something your family enjoys!

  • Host a family dinner and game night!
  • Bake sugar cookies (Recipe here) You can leave them for Santa, or eat them all yourself!
  • Create a Jesse Tree
  • Read Max Lucado’s Cosmic Christmas – a beautiful fantasy about the Christmas story from a heavenly perspective. We love this book, and it can be read in one sitting! Ages 7+, probably, just for attention span.
  •  Host a potluck Dirty Santa party with friends.
  • Partake in Christmas Communion or Christmas Candlelight services at your local place of worship.
  •  Choose a Christmas tree! So many options for this one… Anything from Lowe’s or a drive to the North Carolina mountains!
  • Donate to a charity of your choice. 
  • Make a gingerbread house.
  • Ride around nearby neighborhoods or Christmas villages in holiday pajamas (yes, even Dad!) and find all the nearby lights. Bonus points if you bring hot chocolate along! I have a close friend who does this, and it always looks like such a good time.
  • Open one present on Christmas Eve. As a child, my brother and I opened our gifts from each other. 
  • Volunteer a night of service at the local mission or soup kitchen. If you are local to Nashville, check out the opportunities at Second Harvest Food Bank.
  • Read Luke 2 out loud.
  • Choose a special, unique recipe to use every Christmas Eve or Christmas morning.
  • Take a poinsettia and Christmas card to a home-bound neighbor or friend.
  • Go Christmas caroling! If you don’t want to go in your neighborhood, hospitals and assisted living facilities are GREAT places to do this.
  • Choose an advent calendar devotional to use for the season. 
  • Run (or walk) the local 5K Christmas race. 
  • Christmas movie night! Polar Express, Love Actually, The Grinch, Elf, Miracle on 34th Street, Charlie Brown Christmas, Home Alone, Christmas Vacation, Die Hard, The Muppet Christmas Carol, It’s a Wonderful Life, Mickey’s Christmas Carol… these are some of the first that come to mind! If you choose The Grinch, whip up some Grinch Popcorn! Recipe here
photo by Two Sisters
  • Choose a meaningful ornament for the Christmas tree.
  • Santa Sack – Help your children choose several toys each they no longer play with, and then donate these items to a local charity. Around the holidays, there are many organizations who host “Christmas stores” where parents who are struggling to pay full price for gifts can come “shop” for gently used items.
  • Make salt dough ornaments with little hands and feet imprints.
I imprinted the key of our first home to make an ornament.
  • Give a new board game to the “family” on Christmas morning for everyone to play together that afternoon. 
  • Track Santa with NORAD
  • Cheer on your local Christmas parade! Wearing reindeer antler headbands is encouraged but not required 🙂
  • Go to the local DIY pottery and paint a special gift for yourself (a festive holiday coffee mug?) or for a loved one. Remember that these items may take up to 10 days to be ready for pickup, so don’t wait until the last minute.
  • Celebrate St. Nicholas Day on December 6th by filling your family’s shoes with coins, candy, and small gifts. 
  • Create a New Year’s “Prediction Jar” to be opened NEXT Christmas. Write down predictions for the upcoming year – goals, dreams, funny, etc. – and store away for next year to see how far you’ve come!
  • Go to the movie theater Christmas afternoon!
  • Write a letter to a loved one (to be opened during the holiday season or in the future).
  • Make spiced orange pomander balls with cloves to get that Christmas smell throughout your whole house. Recipe here.
photo by Simple Bites

What else do you or does your family participate in this time of year? I’d love to hear what is special to you. By commenting below, we are building an array of options and memory-making moments! 

2 thoughts on “12 Days of Blogmas: Family Traditions

  1. Larry Yarborough says:

    Neeley and Cotten Family,

    You are simply AMAZING! (Loved your “Advent Hymn” – with signing – yesterday. Deeply meaningful and very beautiful.) Your blog is terrific. Merry Christmas to your family.


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