Our Family Life

15 Old Fashioned Christmas Traditions to Recapture the Magic

Are you tired of how over-commercialized the holiday season has become? Do you want to go back to a more simple, traditional Christmas? Then keep reading to find some great old fashioned Christmas tips to bring back the magic of a simpler Christmas.   

old fashioned Christmas traditions

Christmas was such a magical and special time when I was growing up. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, my family would check the TV guide to see when the Christmas specials were coming on. We would watch all of them together – Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, The Grinch, and A Charlie Brown Christmas.

On Christmas Eve, we would visit my mom’s parents for dinner and gifts. After spending a few hours with them we would rush home to open the presents under our tree and stuff ourselves with candy and cookies.

Christmas morning, we would get up really early, see what Santa brought, then have breakfast. After breakfast, we would all get dressed in a new outfit that we received the night before, and then we would spend the rest of the day with my dad’s parents and family. Sometimes we would go back to my mom’s parents that afternoon to see what they got for Christmas.

I miss those wonderful memories. We kids were always so excited to open our presents and see what Santa brought. It was almost impossible to go to sleep!

Christmas was so much simpler back then. We didn’t have all the fancy tech stuff and the internet to tell us what the hottest new toy was. We had to wait for the Sears catalog to come out or for the toy commercials to come on.

There is nothing more meaningful to me than spending an old fashioned Christmas with my family. I don’t need fancy things or millions of lights – I just need time together. If you’re missing those simpler times, too, then read through these old fashioned Christmas traditions and start enjoying the holiday season again.

Old Fashioned Christmas Traditions

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1. Cut down a real Christmas tree as a family.

Cut down your own Christmas tree

One of my favorite Christmas memories as an adult with my own family was visiting a local Christmas tree farm and cutting down our own tree. It was freezing cold and snowing, but we had the best time finding and cutting down our own tree. While the owner of the farm and my husband loaded the tree onto our vehicle, the wife opened the barn for me and the kids. We warmed up by the heater drinking hot chocolate. To me, that was the perfect Christmas.

2. Make decorating a special event.

Make decorating a special event
image via Google

Turn on some Christmas music, put out some cookies and hot chocolate, and decorate the entire house together as a family. Don’t forget to decorate the Christmas tree, too! Let the youngest member of the family put the star on the top of the tree.

3. Create your own decorations.

Make your own decorations

Making your own ornaments and decorations is such a fun way to bring back those old fashioned Christmas days. Use items you already have around the house instead of rushing out to buy a bunch of stuff. Gather pine cones and evergreen branches from your own backyard to make a wreath. Pop some popcorn and string together to make garland. Make cinnamon applesauce ornaments. Use fabric scraps to create easy decorations for your tree and home.

Here are some of my handmade old fashioned ornaments:

4. Send out Christmas cards.

Old Fashioned Christmas tip #4 - Send out Christmas Cards
image via Google

Wouldn’t you much rather find a beautiful hand-written card in your mailbox than another bill? Take the time to write little notes in Christmas cards to let others know you are thinking of them during the holidays. Add a personal note about how you and your family are doing, too. Let each member of the family sign the card themselves and add a note if they wish.

Other options are to send old-fashioned Christmas postcards, or make your own cards.

5. Make the same recipes every Christmas.

Bake the same recipes every year

Every year since my kids were little, we have made sugar cookies and decorated them. It’s so much fun to see how little kids decorate their cookies. I don’t even mind the sprinkles-covered floor! We still do this even though my daughter is a teenager. I’ll probably still do it when she’s 40!

Making the same special recipe each year keeps the old fashioned Christmas tradition alive. One of our favorites is cake mix fudge crinkle cookies.

6. Watch an old fashioned Christmas movie.

Watch an old fashioned Christmas movie
image via Google

Make some homemade hot cocoa and grab your favorite blanket and PJs. Then snuggle up for your favorite Christmas movie. Choose the movie that says “Christmas” in your home, save it for one night and make it a special event every year.

One of my favorite Christmas movies is “A Christmas Carol“. And of course, I can’t forget “A Christmas Story“!

7. Drive around to see the lights.

Drive around to see the lights

When I was growing up, my family would pick a night and drive around to look at all the lights. It was so much fun to see how others had decorated their homes.

Make it a special night and drive around neighborhoods to view the Christmas lights and decorations. Don’t forget to play Christmas music on the radio! And wear your coziest PJs, too.

8. Bake cookies for Santa.

Bake cookies for Santa

Every year we bake cookies for Santa. He always gets the biggest cookies. (Poor Santa!) We put them on a plate and set out his favorite mug filled with milk.

9. Go to a Christmas parade.

Go to a parade

With the exception of a few years, I have seen our town’s Christmas parade every year since I was a little girl. This year it has been canceled because of Covid, but we can watch past parades on TV. Going to the Christmas parade and grabbing candy that was thrown from the floats was always so much fun! If you’re able to visit your town’s parade, then go and enjoy it!

10. Sing Christmas carols.

sing old fashioned Christmas carols
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Singing Christmas carols is such an old and cozy holiday tradition. To make your Christmas an old fashioned Christmas this year, stand by the lit Christmas tree and sing Christmas carols.

11. Decorate gingerbread houses.

make gingerbread houses

Make a gingerbread house from scratch or buy one already made from the store. Grab a bunch of old fashioned Christmas candies and a tub of icing and let the kids decorate the house however they wish.

12. Hang mistletoe.

hand mistletoe
image via Google

Kissing under the mistletoe is a really old tradition that dates all the way back to the 1700s. I can remember walking through the woods with my family when I was a child to shoot mistletoe out of the tree.

Hang your own mistletoe over the doorway and smooch away. (Just make sure it’s consensual and you’re not smooching the UPS guys!)

13. Hang candy canes on the Christmas tree.

hang candy canes on the tree
image via Google

When I was little, my Granny hung candy canes on her Christmas tree. My cousin and I would always eat them and by Christmas morning there would be no more candy canes on the tree.

Hanging candy canes from the tree is an old fashioned Christmas tradition that started in the 1800s. Back then it was common to hang sweets and baked goods from the tree.

14. Make paper snowflakes.

make paper snowflakes
image via Pinterest

When I was in elementary school, we would make paper snowflakes every year to decorate our classroom. Then we would get to bring them home before we went on Christmas break and hang them up in our homes. I looked forward to making paper snowflakes every year!

Grab some printer paper and scissors and cut out different shapes to make your own paper snowflakes. Then hang them up all over your house and in your windows.

15. Watch Christmas specials.

watch old fashioned Christmas specials
image via Google

Find out when your favorite Christmas specials are coming on TV and don’t miss them. If you don’t have a way to watch the old shows, buy the DVDs and watch them every year. This is my favorite thing to do before Christmas!

What old fashioned Christmas tradition would you add to this list? What does your family’s Christmas tradition look like?

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15 Old Fashioned Christmas Traditions

Thank you for sharing!