Inside: Looking for Christmas traditions to start with a baby? Sure, babies can’t write letters to Santa yet, but there are several family Christmas traditions you can start when your little one is still small. Just remember – you don’t need to do them all.
When you have your first little one, you want the holidays to be extra special. Christmas is no exception.
After all, kids make the season even more fun with their sincere wonder and joy over the smallest things.
Have you noticed, though, when you start thinking of Christmas traditions to start with your baby, it can feel like a daunting task?
How do you make baby’s first Christmas fun without overwhelming them?
Can you even start meaningful traditions at such an early age?
Is Christmas bound to be a bummer until your baby is older and knows what’s going on?
The short answer to all these questions: No! You can absolutely establish holiday traditions with even the tiniest tots.
The key is to think simple.
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Christmas Tradition Ideas That Aren’t For You (Yet)
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Most ideas for Christmas traditions include things like:
- Making gingerbread houses and holiday baking
- Elf on the Shelf (see warning at end of post)
- Decorating a Christmas Tree together
- Letters to Santa
..and the like. Obviously, these aren’t going to mean much to your sweet, but relatively oblivious, baby this year.
And trying to invent a baby-friendly version of these activities are probably just going to result in a lot of frustration for you AND baby.
Let’s be honest : as a new mom, you have enough on your plate. You don’t need to cram extra activities into your sleep-deprived schedule.
You just want a nice Christmas to look back on, and to fondly remember how you spent that first big holiday together, right?
So instead, let’s talk about Christmas traditions you can do with your new little family member. Let’s keep this list practical and actually memorable, in a good way.
If this is what you’re hoping to find, this list is definitely written with you in mind.
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18 Christmas Traditions to Start with Baby This Year
There’s no need to wait to start establishing family Christmas traditions.
Include your baby with these fun ideas!
1. Christmas Time Capsule
Start a time capsule tradition – one that you add to each Christmas season. For baby’s first Christmas, you could include handprints, a photo, and a letter to your baby.
Your “capsule” could be a plastic storage container with a lid, a shoebox or an accordion file folder (use a different slot for each year).
When they’re all grown up (but we won’t talk about that), give it to them to enjoy browsing with their own family.
2. Baby-Friendly Nativity Set
Save those Willow Tree nativity sets for later on. They’ll just get broken, and you’ll be sad.
I highly recommend the Fisher Price Nativity Set for little ones. We have this set that we’ve passed down to all four kids now and they still love it.
As they get older, you can move on to more decorative/asthetic nativity scenes that the kids can help you put up every year.
(If you love love love your nativity set, put it up high on a mantle or bookshelf out of reach of baby and toddler hands.)
My kids now loooove fighting over who gets to arrange all the pieces first.
3. Christmas Photo Cards
This was an easy easy way for us to make time for family photos: schedule them in time for Christmas, starting with baby’s first one.
Relatives love getting pictures in the mail and photo cards make great keepsakes! Most people love a good Christmas card.
You could also opt to take your own photos at home with some white Christmas lights in a dimly lit room.
4. Christmas Caroling
Babies love music, and this is an easy tradition to involve them in.
A friend of mine takes her little ones to the local nursing homes and they sing Christmas carols to the residents every year. They have a captive audience and the babies get just as excited as the residents!
5. Christmas Light Displays
Kids of all ages find Christmas lights fascinating (don’t we all?). One of our favorites is a drive-through light display at a drive-through zoo.
Any lights will do though – even the brightly decorated storefronts downtown will impress your babe.
6. Christmas Music
“Hey Alexa, bring on the Christmas music!”
An easy tradition for moms with babies is to simply crank up the holiday tunes around the house.
Bonus: Christmas music just seems to make everyone happy.
7. Christmas Movies
Sure, it might not capture their attention for long, but it’s never too early to introduce animated favorites like A Charlie Brown Christmas or Frosty the Snowman.
8. Christmas Parades
If your town hosts a Christmas parade, it’s a perfect Christmas tradition to start with your baby this year.
The floats, music and festivities are something our family looks forward to each year – and it’s a great way to get into the holiday spirit.
9. Christmas Shopping
One of the awesome things about having a baby is…they can do all the shopping with you! They won’t remember what you bought, and won’t tell your family members, either.
My two babies who were more social always enjoyed the department stores and our little local shops during Christmas time.
I liked to pick quiet, off-days to make it easier with littles.
10. Christmas Books
Reading is one of the best things you can do with your baby. They love to simply hear your voice.
And you can take a trip down memory lane as you read them classics like The Night Before Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
If you’re religious, this is also a great time to begin reading about the very first Christmas in Luke Chapter 2 of the Bible.
11. Christmas Countdown (Advent) Calendar
My older girls loved our felt “countdown calendar” we had when they were very small. Its pockets held 31 candy canes, one for each day of December.
For babies, you could fill snack bags with baby-friendly snacks or tuck little gifts like teething toys inside a wall hanging like THIS one.
12. Christmas Stockings
Find a cute stocking for Baby’s first Christmas and let them “open” their stocking goodies first thing on Christmas morning.
If your baby is mobile, be sure to hang it out of reach this year!
13. Christmas Ornament
You can purchase a new ornament for your child each Christmas, or make one together. This baby footprint tree ornament is a really sweet idea.
Ornaments can be passed down for generations, making them extra special.
(Except those crumbly gingerbread ornaments. Word to the wise: they just don’t make the best family heirlooms!)
14. Christmas Village Tour
Christmas “villages” are becoming more popular in many areas (similar to family-owned pumpkin patches).
They often have activities for kids, pictures with Santa, and feeding live reindeer.
15. Christmas Tree Farm
Make an annual tradition of visiting a local tree farm and choosing the just-right Christmas tree for your home.
Pack your little one in his baby carrier and enjoy the outdoors together.
16. Christmas Eve Box
Start this tradition by filling a box with matching Pjs, snacks and activities you can do together as a family on Christmas Eve night.
Of course, if you add bright tissue paper it might just be the most impressive gift of all!
(Don’t forget to get a photo!)
17. Christmas Party
Invite your mom friends for a family-friendly Christmas party.
Nothing better than a play date with other littles during the holiday season. And, a reason to wear those cute Christmas outfits a few more times.
18. Christmas Video
If you live away from family, make a fun Christmas video to send to your loved ones.
You could also make a copy to add to your Christmas time capsule (see #1) and update it each year as your baby and family grows!
Making Christmas Traditions Your Own
However you decide to incorporate Christmas traditions with your baby, keep in mind your baby’s temperament and your own family’s values.
You don’t have to do it all, and you don’t have to do it just like everyone else.
Also keep in mind that just because you started a tradition, it doesn’t mean you need to keep that tradition. That’s the upside of trying different Christmas traditions when your kids are babies: you can “try it on for size” and ditch it if it’s not for you.
The great thing about raising kids and establishing traditions is that you get to decide what works, and what really matters to you.
So use some creativity, and feel free to go all out this Christmas.
Or not – guilt-free.
Find joy in creating memories that reflect the meaning of this holiday season, and the beauty of sharing it with your little one.
P.S. I’ve heard Elf on the Shelf is suuuuper time-consuming and energy-draining. Maybe steer clear of the one! Unless you really really love it and are a super human energizer bunny type parent – then go for it.
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Brandi is a mom of four who can usually be found in the kitchen, the garden, or under a pile of laundry somewhere. She writes about faith, family and homemaking at Chicken Scratch Diaries. You can catch her most recent posts on Pinterest.