20 Absolute BEST Fun, Family Christmas Traditions

Living overseas, our family Christmas traditions have to be portable. Meaning they have to work in whatever country we happen to be in for Christmas. Things like driving around looking at fun Christmas lights might work just fine while we’re in the states but when we’re overseas, nope!

We’ve worked to simplify our Christmas while still having meaningful traditions, particularly for Christmas Eve. Here are a few that work for our nomadic family. The first ten are ones we do anywhere, while the last ten we typically only do if we are in the states.

I hope you find some inspiration from this list!

20 Absolute BEST Fun, Family Christmas Traditions


12 BEST fun family Christmas traditions

#1. Fun Family Christmas Tradition

Fingerfood Dinner


With all the preparations that go into Christmas parties and outreach, this little tradition is pure bliss for me. My kids love choosing one fingerfood each to prepare, like a crackers and cheese tray, quartered sandwiches, chips and dip, brownies, or a fruit tray. They prepare it themselves with help from me as needed. It is fun, tasty… and easy on a busy momma!


 #2. Fun Family Christmas Tradition

Christmas Eve Box


When I was young, one of our family Christmas traditions was that our parents would let us open one present on Christmas Eve. My husband doesn’t like that idea because we don’t have many gifts around the tree~ smile~ so we do the Christmas Eve Box. In this large box we place a variety of things such as snacks, drink mixes, a storybook or movie, new pajamas or slippers, or a coupon for a Christmas Eve camp-out in the living room. But one thing we always put in this box is a new game for the family. This year, the game is Forbidden Island. A few games from year’s past are Ticket to Ride, Blokus, and Puerto Rico.


# 3. Fun Family Christmas Tradition

The Nativity Movie


Watching The Christmas Story in drama form is something the entire family looks forward to. You can’t really have Christmas without this Christmas tradition, right? Snuggling up with mugs of hot cocoa or chai to remember the reason we celebrate is definitely a highlight of Christmas for me.


#4. Fun Family Christmas Tradition

Advent Countdown

Along the same lines as the Christmas story, we sometimes do Advent or a modified version of it. Since daily readings and activities overwhelm our family schedule, I modify this to fit what works each particular year. Some of my favorite advent books and resources are:

Countdown to Christmas: Discover the real reason for Christmas with your children in this 15-day advent Nativity Activity. Unwrap the story of Christmas by adding one piece to your manger scene each day and reading the corresponding Bible verse along with that day’s exciting narration.

Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas Each day, families read the provided Scripture passage, engage with a specially written devotion to help children of all ages understand the Advent theme for the day, and participate in suggested activities to apply the theme.

The Dawning of Indestructible Joy: Daily Readings for Advent These 25 brief devotional readings from John Piper begin on December 1 and carry us to Christmas Day.


#5. Fun Family Christmas Tradition

The Annual Snowflake Cut-Out Competition


Our oldest added this to our list of family Christmas traditions. (It’s sort of what happens when you are locked inside during Winter break and your parents don’t let you on the electronics~ smile~) We all create unique snowflakes then cast our votes for the best one. Winner gets to be served a cup of hot chocolate; everyone else makes their own! Here is the book I use for cutting beautiful snowflake designs: Snowflakes for all Seasons: 72 Fold & Cut Paper Snowflakes


#6. Fun Family Christmas Tradition

The Christmas campout


This one is where everyone piles in the living room for a campout near the Christmas tree. They pile every blanket and pillow in the house to make it nice and comfy. A little rough on mom and dad, but worth it!



#7. Fun Family Christmas Tradition

The Tent Tradition


Combine caroling with flashlights and a tent constructed from blankets and you’ve got… the tent tradition! We all pile into the tent, hold flashlights (preferable to candles with littles!)  and sing all the Christmas carols we know.


#8. Fun Family Christmas Tradition

The Dollar Tree Ten Minute Giving Spree


When we are in the States, we give everyone five dollars. Then we drive to the nearest Dollar Tree and everyone has ten minutes to select one gift for each family member. They have to keep their purchases secret while in the store! Then we return home to wrap the gifts and place under the tree.


#9. Fun Family Christmas Tradition

Gingerbread House


This is another of our family Christmas traditions that we do when in the states. We all work together to build the prettiest, yummiest gingerbread house possible! Hint: We totally cheat and get a Gingerbread kit from the store to build. So much easier!

#10. Fun Family Christmas Tradition

Hot Chocolate, Chai Cocoa, or Apple Cider


Each year I find a yummy recipe I can put in the crock pot (very important ~ wink) and everyone helps themselves all evening. Here are some of my favorite crock pot drink recipes:

Chai Cocoa (a new one I’ll be trying this year)

Pumpkin Spice Latte

Apple Cider


#11. Fun Family Christmas Tradition

Family Christmas Games


If you’ve been around here long, you know that I love making the most of table time as a family. Christmas Eve is a great time to spend time around the table, trying new family Christmas games, or diving in to some old favorites! This year I’m thinking the games are going to be Christmas bingo, Forbidden Island, and possibly some Minute to Win It games done Christmas style.

#12. Fun Family Christmas Tradition

The Gift Catalog


Christmas isn’t Christmas without sacrificial giving. One of the family Christmas traditions we love is to let the kids select gifts like goats and blankets and gospel tracts from the World Vision and Compassion gift catalogs.


#13. Fun Family Christmas Tradition



If at all possible, we like to do our celebrating with friends. More and more people are “displaced” during the holidays, ourselves included. No one should be alone on Christmas unless they want to be for simplicity; so we look for other displaced persons to invite into our traditions. This also gives us the opportunity to learn about Christmas traditions around the world. This is the most fun of all!


#14. Fun Family Christmas Tradition

Make Yummy Gifts to Give

Another activity we love is to make cookies or other snacks and create gift bags to give to friends. Our kids love this and join in making the snacks and decorating the bags or cards. We especially love doing this when we are overseas and stuff the bags with other goodies like oranges, candy canes, and gospel tracts. It’s a lovely way to show our children the importance and beauty of giving to others.


#15. Fun Family Christmas Tradition

Christmas Lights

I don’t think you ever get too old for driving around looking at Christmas lights. I remember doing this with my parents growing up and those memories are special. Make some tea or hot chocolate for your thermos, grab some snacks, and drive around town listening to Christmas music.


#16. Fun Family Christmas Tradition


This is implied in everything above, but we should remember it’s a tradition for our families! We can make it special with certain music we listen to every year or maybe a movie or sharing Christmas memories as we hang ornaments. And, of course, snacks!


#17. Fun Family Christmas Tradition

Advent Ornaments

I know we’ve already mentioned Advent, but our Advent ornaments are really special and a great activity for the family. Each ornament has a different name of Jesus and we talk about one each day leading up to Christmas.


#18. Fun Family Christmas Tradition

Make Christmas Cards

Christmas cards aren’t so common any more but wouldn’t grandma love a handwritten card? Or anyone for that matter! It’s easy to buy blank cards and draw pictures and write notes to your friends and family.  These cards can go with any of the gifts you make or mail them alone for a special surprise!


#19. Fun Family Christmas Tradition

Christmas PJ’s

This tradition is common but I admit isn’t one we indulge in… because holiday PJ’s are normally long and none of us enjoy long pajamas! However, it’s always fun to get new, festive shirt, sweater, or just some fuzzy socks! Here are some fun, festive socks to start with. Pick a favorite item and make it a tradition!


 #20. Fun Family Christmas Tradition

Christmas Eve Candlelight Service

Christmas is all about Jesus! If your church has a special Christmas Eve service, I encourage you to attend. It can be such a special time for your family.


Have a very Merry Christmas friends! What are your favorite family Christmas traditions? 


Oh, one last tip! Don’t forget to grab MY FAVORITE DEVOTIONAL to slip in stockings~ it’s a great way to start the New Year~ smile~

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Additional Resources:

Make these names of Jesus Advent Ornaments with your family and create a new Christmas tradition!
Try this Christmas Story Family Scavenger Hunt for Christ-centered family fun!
Enjoy these New Year’s Eve Traditions for Families for a fun way to ring in the new year!



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  1. These sound so much like things we did when our kids were small, Arabah! Living overseas requires a bit more creativity. But it also forces us keep things much simpler–and that’s not always a bad thing, is it? I’m thinking your Asian floors must be lots warmer than our Italian floors. We would have frozen camping out on these ceramic floors in chilly Italian houses! But the kids would have loved the fun. Such great ideas you have here! Have fun doing them all!!

  2. Love your traditions! I have an apple cider recipe you might want to try. One gallon of apple cider, 1 jar caramel ice cream topping, and a couple of cinnamon sticks. Put it all in the crock pot and cook on high for 4 hours. When ready to enjoy, place in mugs, and add a dollop of whipped cream and a teaspoonful of caramel topping. ENJOY! It is deeee-vine!

  3. Love these ideas! We started a family slumber party in the living room last year on the night before Christmas Eve. Our girls loved it, and we did, too :) I like the hot chocolate in a crock pot idea. Thanks for these!

    1. The slumber party is a great idea, isn’t it? I just have to prepare my mind for a sleepless night :) Here’s to lots of laughs and hot cocoa! Have a merry Christmas, friend!

  4. A couple of years ago my brother brought several minute-to-win-it style games to our family Christmas gathering. It was tons of fun! I hope you all enjoy great laughter and fun this year, too.
    Great ideas in #theloft this week! *smile*

    1. Those minute to win it games are the best! Great for kids and adults alike. Thanks for dropping a comment. It’s nice to see your smiling face in the comments :)

  5. Hey, my friend! Thanks for some great ideas! Definitely going to incorporate a few of them into our celebrating this season (like singing carols in a tent – love that!). To make things more… interesting? this year, I have the flu. So we’re sidelined from a lot of our normal traditions. But God is good and celebrating Him is something we never want to take for granted!! So we’ll take any chance to do so and having some new ideas really rocks in my book. I wanted to ask you about the game – Forbidden Island? Can younger kids play? It says ages 10 and up, but wasn’t sure how that translated into real life? :) Love you, AJ! And am very thankful for you and your precious family – now and for always!

    1. My friend, I owe you an apology! I have sat down to email you several times and each time get distracted with something else. I have a draft in my inbox that has been there for, um, a few weeks now. So sorry! I hate to hear you have the flu! Will be praying for you to get better soon. About the Forbidden Island game, my five year old and seven year olds love it. Yes, we had to try it out first :) We split into teams (boys vs. girls) and that makes it easy for everyone in the family to play. It is alot of fun! Sending you love and hugs…and prayers for healing. AJ

  6. LOVE your traditions! I love the addition of a family game into the Christmas Eve box. That would definitely promote family time! I also love the Dollar Tree Giving Spree. I just stopped by Dollar Tree tonight for some presents for my siblings. This year, a big bag full of candy! My parent’s will love me!

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  7. I found you on Pinterest. Starting reading your posts. They were interesting so I kept reading. You seem to have a very loving and meek soul. Prayers for you as you continue to enlighten, and touch people out here who need a sweet Christian word! And great ideas!!!

  8. What about a Christmas Trap?!?!? I bet you have never heard of it so it is unique and my family has been doing it for over 50 years! We love it!!!

    It is a obstacle based booby trap to keep your kids from getting to the tree, but it doesn’t stop them from trying!


  9. Arabah, (beautiful name!) thank you for writing! I just stumbled upon your blog today for the first time and I’m signing up to receive notice of new posts. His light shines through the words you write here and I want to see more of that. I’d love to hear what you’re doing and I’m sure you might have a lot to teach me. God bless you and your family as you reach out to people in Asia and around the world!

  10. I love Ticket to Ride and we own Puerto Rico. If I had to choose, I’d pick Ticket to Ride every time. Actually, my husband asked for Power Grid for Christmas last year, and this year I finally got it for him. What fun traditions. I especially liked the quirky finger foods idea.

  11. I just found your blog through a Pinterest pin. Your ideas with the kiddos at Christmas are wonderful!
    Although my kids are now in their twenty’s, we still have a “star search”. In lieu of stockings, we hide their star shaped, cardboard boxes which are filled with small gifts (like you mentioned) and they search for the “star” on Christmas Eve. It is getting VERY difficult to find a good hiding spot. ;)
    Merry Christmas!

  12. I think a tradition is very important. My kids are grown, but still live at home. I work the night shift, but I work here from home. A long time ago I decided to start a tradition where each person would get what they wanted for Christmas morning breakfast. That quickly evolved into ONE thing we do every Christmas morning, before unwrapping gifts, and we still do this, and boy if my oldest thinks we’re trying to weasel out of it, we hear some very loud complaining. Our traditional Christmas morning breakfast is a big platter of fresh, hot beignets, using the box mix from Cafe du Monde in the French Quarter, New Orleans.

    Of course, we also read the Christmas story in the scripture, and pray before opening gifts, to keep us grounded in the reason for Christmas.

  13. Our favorite family game right now is Spot it! We play a “big group” version that is not in the instructions, but works for all ages and a large number of people. It goes fast, so even when someone is “out” it isn’t for long!

  14. Talking in your e-mail about the “merit-based system” reminds me of something one of my pastors taught me in my 20’s. We had a singles Bible study at the time. He said that the merit-based system was the idea of the Devil. The Devil thought he could do a better job of running the universe than God; and his idea was to only help those who “were deserving.” That’s not how God does things, and so the Devil and all the angels who agreed w/him were kicked out of Heaven down to Earth. Does that sound like anything you’ve been taught?

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