When you have children, the magic of Christmas is reborn. Celebrating with little ones is guaranteed to get you back into the festive spirit faster than Rudolf takes off on Christmas Eve. We've compiled a list of Christmas tradition ideas that you can make your own, from Christmas craft ideas to Christmas Eve activities you’ll want to repeat every year. It only takes a small effort to make the festive season magical.

Christmas activities for Advent
Stitched advent calendar hung on wall

Build up the excitement of the big day by organising Christmas activities throughout December. The main thing many kids will be looking forward to is opening presents, but it's important to help children understand that there are more important reasons why we choose to celebrate the holiday. The run-up to the big day is the perfect chance to tell them the story of Christmas, to meet close friends that you won't see on the 25th, go to a Pantomime show or even help out in your local community. Head out to see the Christmas lights being turned on in your high street or visit a Santa's grotto in your local garden centre for a touch of community spirit.

At home, start sprucing up with all sorts of traditional decorations like tinsel, fairy lights and candles. Tie a string over the top of your doorways and use it to hang the Christmas cards you've received. Get the children to write a letter to Santa (to give you extra time to seek out their presents online) and explain they have to behave if they want to get presents.

Sweet treats are a big part of the festive season. Get kids involved in the kitchen baking cookies the shape of Christmas trees or snowmen, then let them get creative decorating with icing sugar. Advent calendars are another way to inject sweetness into the build-up to the 25th – or opt for small toys for a healthier version.

Bring the outside in
Decorated Christmas tree with presents

Christmas for kids isn’t complete without finding the perfect tree. The traditional way is to pack the family into the car and head to your local garden centre or Christmas tree farm, if there's one nearby. You'll need to find the right size, shape and type for your home, depending on how much space you have. Don't forget to grab a stand while you're there or the angel at the top could come crashing down.

Different tree species have different types of needle, so be sure to have a good look around. Several are quite sharp, while others drop lots of needles over the course of a month. The Norwegian spruce and Fraser fir have softer needles and will hold onto them for longer, which means less hoovering for you. Or avoid it altogether by opting for an artificial tree that will give the same festive effect with none of the mess.

Take the kids along on a long walk to your nearest forest to seek out branches of holly and ivy. This makes a wonderful decoration to sit above picture frames or on mantle pieces. Bringing the outside in makes the home feel even more Christmassy and is a fun way to get the children tired out before bedtime.

Shop Christmas trees
Christmas Eve activities
Faux fur Christmas stocking product image

Once it gets to the 24th and the children can hardly contain their excitement, keep them occupied with Christmas Eve traditions. Open a few small gifts like new pyjamas that they can wear to bed and keep on in the morning while they open Santa's presents. Sing carols as a family, read a Christmas story together or watch a classic film.

One of the most magical traditions you can adopt is setting out a treat for Santa. A mince pie, glass of brandy and carrots for the reindeer will help your children believe in the spirit of Christmas. Plus, you get to enjoy this little snack when they’ve gone to bed.

Track Santa's route as he flies – there are several apps which offer this service. You could even create a landing strip for the sleigh in the garden with fairy lights. Finally, don't forget to hang up the stockings.

Christmas morning checks
Freshly baked jam tarts

Before the children wake up, make a few easy preparations that will surprise them in the morning. Follow this quick checklist to help you prove that Santa did come to visit:

  • Eat the mince pie or other snacks you left out for Santa.

  • Leave snowy footprints where Santa would have walked by sprinkling flour on the bottom of your wellies and walking around.

  • Pop the presents in the stockings or under the tree.

  • Use leftover wrapping paper to make streamers and paper chains.

  • Turn on the lights on the Christmas tree.