Every family has its own traditions and rituals. Big or small. They all matter. And whether we realise it or not, they all strengthen the family bond, offer comfort and security, teach values, add rhythm, pass on heritage, connect generations, and create lasting memories for the whole family.

Inspiration for creating your own festive family traditions

Seeing the lights with Grandpa

Just as families evolve, so too can their traditions. The Lifecake family is no different. If you’re looking for that something extra, or just want to see how everyone else does it, here are some of our families’ most treasured festive traditions.  They all create great photo opportunities too.

1. Baubles and Bublé

Decorating the tree, once the kids are firmly walking and talking, is usually a favourite family event. Frank Sinatra, Michael Bublé or some other seasonal soundtrack finally becomes relevant again, accompanied by a glass of something on ice for Mum and Dad. Whatever time you attempt this feat be sure to capture some great festive photographs too.


This is a great time for kids to compensate for breaking all the ‘pre-kid’ decorations too. Expect at least one on average per child per year per. Think festive paper-chains, other festive DIY crafts, and even baked decorations. At Lifecake central the kids’ creations make their way into the office too.

DIY crafts and baking not going to happen? Or you just want to create balance between the bold and the beautiful? An alternative favourite is an annual trip to a special shop or festive fair for each child to choose a new decoration.

DIY personalised gingerbread decoration

2. Some light entertainment

Once everyone has put in some effort and done their bit (as above), it’s time to venture out to check the competition!

The ‘Polar Express’
For free entertainment the ‘Polar Express’ gets top creativity marks. Who doesn’t drive around shouting animatedly at their children to ‘look at the lights, look at the LIGHTS!’? Especially effective during any backseat bickering. This ‘tradition’ has a twist however, in that it’s actually a bonafide event for some. Cruising around the local area with some festive tunes blasting away to take in all the best DIY light displays. That’s Christmas Eve sorted.

Epic light displays
From switching on the local village or town lights, to the more epic light installations at special places of interest or world-famous cities. This kills a few hours, gives us a reason to get outside, and earns everyone a hot chocolate.

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3. Better watch out, Elf is about!

Also sometime in early December, some of us have a friendly but naughty Elf arrive somewhere in the house. Tradition has it, these Scout Elves help Santa manage his naughty and nice lists. By day they keep note of a family’s adventures, and by night they report back to the North Pole. Each morning, the Scout Elf returns to its family in a new place, waiting for someone to spot them.

Elf on the Shelf, faking a snow angel

Children seem to love to wake up and race around the house looking for their Scout Elf each morning and discover what antics it’s been up to. There’s argument it can be a source of anxiety for kids, being constantly watched over by a toy elf! But if you’re kids are cool with it, its great fun for parents too. There’s an official Elf on the Shelf website too.

4. A time for giving

Assuming everyone is on the nice list! For most of us this time of year is one for giving and sharing with those around us, not forgetting those less fortunate.

It’s all too easy for younger ones to get wrapped up in the receiving side. As a small remedy, some of us like to try and teach our children the spirit of giving from an early age. Encouraging our kids to give away at least one toy or teddy for those less fortunate. If you’re struggling to convince yours, it will surely help put them on the ‘nice’ side of the list?

Bust a rhyme
As part of the tradition of giving, the Swede’s in our office still try to ‘bust a rhyme’ every now and again. Also known as the Christmas gift poem. The gift-giver writes a couple of rhyming couplets on their presents, hinting at what’s hidden inside. This is then read out by the receiver before opening it. Great fun all-round especially if you are motivating your child to listen, read, write, or become future poets!

Fill your boots
It’s usually Christmas Eve when St Nicholas ceremoniously slides down your chimney. But December 6th is his actual saint day. A tradition loosely imported from mainland Europe, the idea is that children polish their shoes (the bigger the better) and place them next to the door. In the morning they will find their boots filled with goodies – usually a present, some chocolate coins and candies – all a few weeks early! With the added benefit of motivating your children to clean their own shoes.

5. Picture perfect pyjamas

We like to add some sparkle to the season with festive outfits. The younger ones usually get cute festive themed outfits – baby Santa, reindeer, elves, snowmen and such like. Others receive matching pyjamas or festive jumpers. For some, the Elf delivers their outfits on the 1st day of December, the 6th of December on St Nicholas day, or on Christmas Eve. Whichever day or way, new pyjamas work wonders getting the kids early to bed, and all make for perfectly coordinated pictures.

6. The family portrait

Once the outfits are on, it’s time to get the camera out. But alongside the traditional family portrait and other obvious photo opportunities, there’s a somewhat unheard of, yet growing trend.

In one household, an insta-camera and a small Christmas frame make their way out with the decorations. Each year, a new family portrait is taken. The resulting polaroid print immediately updates the photo frame. Et voila, a new decoration. It’s important everyone sports their new festive wear to appear in the photo!

The annual Luxford family portrait

7. One more sleep to go

Everyone prepares in their unique way for the big day. Candy canes can be hidden in the house, (by the Elf if you have one). Find them all to get the Christmas Eve box. Ooooh! The box can contain whatever you want – the new PJ’s, tomorrow’s outfit, a DVD to watch together as a family, or some small gifts, treats, or last minute decorations. Instead of or alongside candy canes, a treasure hunt is another tradition that gets older kids excited – and reading!

Just before bed, savvy Santa fans also like putting out carrots for the reindeer, and mince pies and brandy for Father Christmas. In the morning, the goodies are inevitably half-eaten with only a few crumbs and carrot tops remaining. Clear proof, alongside the presents and stocking, that Santa has indeed paid a visit. More recently, our festive friend has been known to even leave sparkly footprints between the fireplace (or, general point of entry) and the tree.

learn more about lifecake baby milestone app and record your photos from bump to birth and beyond

8. Bonding and appetite building

There’s no denying that we all look forward to a festive feast, or two. It seems popular to build an appetite for the main event. A pre-lunch or dinner walk along the beach, in the woods, or some indoor games like Twister to get the heart-rate going. For our family, as we typically to return to the same places each year, this provides an ideal opportunity to create an evolution of family shots against the same background. Sadly and despite our best efforts, the ‘cook’ is always missing, but it’s always worth it.

Capturing special moments of your little ones as they grow up is so much fun. Why not read the following article How to capture the best photo on those special occasions?

Once you have captured those precious moments, don’t forget to store them with Lifecake’s private photo storage app.