Holiday Traditions to Start This Year

Decorating the tree and baking cookies are classic pre-Christmas activities, but maybe this is the year to try some additional holiday traditions with your family.

Here are a few simple ideas that are bound to create fond holiday memories. The best part about traditions is you can make them your own by adding a special twist that everyone remembers, year after year!


The countdown is on, and the anticipation is building. You can help your kids answer the exciting question of “How many days until Christmas?” with:

  • A store-bought countdown calendar with a mini chocolate treat behind each fold-out door. Look for a kid-friendly design featuring your child’s favourite animated characters. These get more inventive every year, with other varieties featuring Lego, socks, tea, and more.
  • A homemade paper chain where your child rips off a link each day. This is a great way to practice numbers and counting!
  • A reverse “12 Days of Christmas” that is about giving rather than receiving!  Place a handful of coins in a collection jar every day for 12 days. Then, use the money you’ve collected to make a donation to the Food Bank, a local toy drive, or another charity of your choice.


There’s nothing like twinkling lights to put people in a festive mood.  Click on the links below for dates, times and details.

In Edmonton:

Just outside the city:


Capture the passage of time by taking lots of photos during the holidays. One fun idea to try is repeating the same pose or formation every year, such as a Christmas Eve photo in front of the tree, with everyone in matching pyjamas.

If you’re celebrating Baby’s First Christmas, photograph him or her with a festive stuffed animal, and continue the pattern with the same item next December. The teddy bear won’t change very much over the years, but your child certainly will!

You can also celebrate your child’s growth with an annual craft. Keep their kid-sized handprint forever by creating a salt dough ornament or a paper reindeer decoration using washable paint.


To ease your credit card bill, announce a “frugal gift challenge” for this year’s group exchange. Set a modest spending limit and challenge participants to get creative. Fun, thoughtful gifts can be made at home or purchased from a dollar store or thrift shop.

When buying for kids, if you’re trying to keep the quantity of gifts within reason, consider implementing the “four gift system.” Each child receives four gifts, with this rhyming checklist: “Something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read.” This combination of fun and practical gifts is especially popular in larger families.


First, head outside for your family’s winter activity of choice – sledding, skating, building a snow fort or taking a walk to check out the neighbourhood light displays. Afterwards, warm up with some steaming hot chocolate. Turn on the fireplace if you have one – and if you don’t, go with the next best thing: the fireplace TV channel!

Next, declare a holiday movie night. Grab some snacks, cuddle under a blanket and give yourself over to some on-screen holiday cheer. Whether it’s a time-honoured cartoon like The Grinch or a sappy Hallmark movie, it’ll touch your heart and revive your tired spirit.

Finally, sprinkle in a little friendly competition by playing a board game or inventing your own holiday-themed challenges, such as:

  • Name That Carol – play the first 1-2 seconds of a seasonal song, then hit the pause button and try to guess the name.
  • Holiday Bingo – mark your card with red and green candies, or award a candy cane to the winner.
  • Trivia Time – search online for an age-appropriate holiday quiz or create your own with questions about beloved holiday movies, books and songs.

The best traditions are the ones that are meaningful to your family, so try something new and see how it goes. Hopefully, it will become something you’ll want to repeat every year!