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My Favorite Family Christmas Traditions

Christmas is such a magical time, especially when you have kids. Seeing their joy is the best thing in the world, and creating memories and traditions they will carry with them into adulthood is so satisfying. As a Pittsburgh Family Photographer, my whole job revolves around making family memories and preserving them, so I understand the importance of creating these traditions that can be passed down to your kids. There are so many traditions you can start with your family to make the Christmas season special and a time they will remember even when they are adults. And the best part is that a lot of these traditions are free or almost free!

Cut Down Your Christmas Tree

This is my absolute FAVORITE Christmas tradition. I have such great memories from my childhood of cutting down our Christmas tree. And it's not just getting a live tree off of a lot, but going to a Christmas tree farm and cutting your own down. It's a whole experience. The majority of tree farms have tractors that take you to the fields, and then you can walk around and find the perfect Christmas tree for your home. I remember as a kid running around the tree farm every year trying to pick out the best tree. Some farms also have little markets with homemade goods or treats you can get after. It's the best.

Make Decorating Your Tree Special

As a child, my mom would always put out some Christmas music on, and put out cookies and hot chocolate while we decorated our Christmas tree. It's the little additions that can make decorating your tree that much more special, and can become your special Christmas tradition.

Drive to See Christmas Lights

Grab some hot chocolate and drive to see the lights in your area. I love driving through different neighborhoods and seeing all of the different decorations. My kids love it, and the best part is it's free! It's such a simple way to have fun during the Christmas season.

Walk Around Your City

If you live near a city or town, it most likely is decorated with Christmas decorations. Walk around with your family! Grab some hot chocolate (hot chocolate is always a good idea), and just have fun. Kids don't need elaborate, expensive outings to be happy. They just want to bond with their parents. In Pittsburgh, there's the huge tree with a skating rink in the middle of the city. There's also the Christmas Market with homemade goods, and lots of good food. We always walk around and my kids have a great time looking at the Christmas decorations.

Go to Your Local Light Up Night

So, full disclosure - I never take my kids to Pittsburgh Light up Night. It's always so crowded and parking is a nightmare. BUT many towns have their own light up night that's much smaller. I live North of Pittsburgh, and the township I live in has it's own smaller light up night. It's great because it SO much less crowded. There's fireworks, pictures with Santa, and sometimes live music. And FREE!

Make Christmas Cookies

What child doesn't like making cookies with their parents? You can even make a day of it. Plan to make several different kinds of cookies at once so you can knock out your whole cookie list at once and have a fun activity for the day. Your kids will love it.

Build a Gingerbread house

If your kids are like mine, they love doing all sorts of arts and crafts, and Gingerbread houses are like a big, messy craft. Honestly, our gingerbread houses always turn out horribly. They are messy, they look like they could fall over at any second, and rarely last until Christmas - BUT my kids love building them and have so much fun while they decorate them! SO, it doesn't matter how they turn out or that they won't last until Christmas in our house. My girls love the process, and that's what it's all about anyway.

Watch a Christmas Movie Together

Watch a Christmas movie together, but make it special by getting snacks - maybe some popcorn or Christmas cookies. Drink some hot Chocolate, and get all snuggled up on the couch together. Christmas movies with just the Christmas lights on make for a special movie night.


It's so important to preserve life's fleeting moments through beautiful photographs! I am a Pittsburgh family photographer who tells your story through images that are joyful, raw, and connected. If you would like more information about a session or would like to inquire, contact me here!


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