10 Family Christmastime Traditions To Start Now (Slideshow)

If you're new parents or simply want to build upon the Christmas festivities you've already established, trying to get creative with new family traditions can be a bit of a struggle. There's nothing like Christmas from a child's point of view, and you don't want these short years to go to waste. So, that raises the question: How do you make your holiday season extra special and something that your children look forward to all year long?

Be Charitable

During the holiday season, it can become incredibly easy to get wrapped up in our own world. Between Christmas shopping, attending countless parties, and trying to juggle family time with other life commitments, the true meaning of Christmas can get lost. Take some time this year (and every year) to give back. Have your child research and donate to a local charity, go to a nursing home and read with the elderly, or volunteer at a local homeless shelter or food pantry. These small acts of kindness will teach your kids to give more than they take.

Cut Your Own Tree

Artificial Christmas trees are convenient and going to a tree lot can be a memorable event, but there's nothing like cutting down your own evergreen. Find the nearest Christmas tree farm, grab a saw, and go on a hunt for the centerpiece of your holiday living room. Your child will delight in helping to pick out the perfect tree, and watching you cut it down will transform you into a holiday hero.

Count Down to Christmas With an Advent Calendar

Get your family pumped for Christmas by counting down to the big day together. There are dozens of different ways to put a twist on the Advent calendar. Make a paper chain and on each day write a Bible verse, holiday-themed activity, or charitable act to do in anticipation of Christmas. Or, encourage a love of reading with a Advent calendar book and read together every evening. There are also more traditional calendars, such as ones filled with chocolates or small toys that you can open every morning. 

Decorate the House Together

Before you start decorating, have your kids pick out a new ornament every year to allow them to express their personality on the tree. Then, as you decorate the house, set out a buffet of kid-friendly finger foods such as pigs in a blanket, meatballs, and Christmas cookies (of course). Give your kids the freedom to hang ornaments on the tree, arrange the holiday village, and put the stockings up on the fireplace. Don't worry if it's not perfect — you can always tidy up the décor later.

Embrace Elf on the Shelf

Keep your children on their toes this holiday season and have them keep up the good behavior by setting out an Elf on the Shelf. Based on a best-selling picture book, these scout elves are sent by Santa Claus to spy on children throughout the month of December and report back on good (or bad) behavior. Sure, they're a bit creepy, but there are also dozens of ways to get creative with these elves and make them interactive for your kids.

Have a Movie Night

On these cold winter nights, does anything sound more appealing than snuggling up on the couch with the family, lighting a fire in the fireplace, and watching a Christmas movie? Whether you marathon Claymation classics such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and The Year Without a Santa Claus, go old school with It's a Wonderful Life, or decide to watch some wacky sci-fi spin on the holidays, having a movie night with hot cocoa, kettle corn, and plenty of blankets is a perfectly festive (and cheap!) way to celebrate.

Open One Present on Christmas Eve

The anticipation of opening presents on Christmas morning has been keeping kids wide awake on Christmas Eve for centuries. Help curb that overwhelming excitement by selecting one small gift and allowing your kid to open it on Dec. 24. New pajamas for them to wear on Christmas morning, a book to help lull them to sleep, or a new movie to watch are all perfect night-before-Christmas gifts.

Take in the Lights

Few things bring more holiday cheer to a neighborhood than elaborate Christmas lights. Load the family up in the car one evening and drive around the nearest Christmas-crazy town. While in the car, play Christmas music and drink some festive lattes or hot cider. If you want to shake up your Christmas light viewing, make Christmas light bingo cards (filled with things such as inflatable Santas, candy canes, and carolers) and whoever wins gets a Christmas present early!

Track Santa on Christmas Eve

Santa Claus is coming to town eventually on Christmas Eve, but when does he arrive in yours? Tune into the NORAD Santa Tracker to keep up-to-date on the whereabouts of Kris Kringle. As he approaches your city, make sure to tuck the children in and say goodnight. Santa Claus won't come if they aren't nestled all snug in their beds!

Wear Ugly Sweaters Together

There are a lot of cheesy things about the Christmas season, but really embrace that side of the holiday by dressing up in the same ugly Christmas sweater. Whether you wear these to your family Christmas gathering, as you do your holiday shopping, or for your Christmas card photo, dressing alike is sure to get a laugh from everyone around you.