Need old fashioned Christmas ideas for family or want to slow down for the holidays from the bustle of the holiday season to a more simple time? These old timey Christmas traditions and fun holiday ideas are for you and your family! Definitely add these magical Christmas traditions to your holidays this year for some family quality time!
Best Old Fashioned Christmas Ideas For Kids and Parents (Old Timey Holiday Traditions)
Whether you’re looking for a fun Christmas day theme, want to have a vintage Christmas party, or just have a relaxed Christmas at home, you’ll love these old-fashioned Christmas ideas for families! Great ways to start new Christmas traditions (or traditions to bring back from childhood), fun themes for old fashioned Christmas party ideas, and simple things to do for the holiday!
How do you have an old fashioned Christmas?
Fun Vintage Christmas Ideas To Try:
- Cut your own Christmas tree
- Make popcorn cranberry garland
- Decorate with handmade beeswax ornaments
- Sleep under the Christmas tree
- Make 0ld-fashioned ice lanterns or snow lanterns
- Enjoy homemade hot cocoa, Christmas tea with cinnamon sticks, or homemade egg nog
- Go for a snowy walk using an old-fashioned lantern
- Put citrus treats inside stocking socks hung by the fire
- Enjoy a yule log
- Take a horse-drawn sleigh ride
- Roast chestnuts on the fire
- Make old-fashioned snow ice cream
- Cut paper snowflakes and use them for Christmas decorations
- Bake old-fashioned Christmas cookies like gingerbread and decorate gingerbread men
- Make an orange clove pomander (aka: orange spice balls) to give your a festive smell
- Decorate with natural decor like ivy, pinecones, mistletoe, and pine tree branches
- Make your own Christmas crackers
- Have a tinsel tree
- Make your own wrapping paper or use fabric for wrapping gifts
- Use fake spray snow to make a flocked Spruce Christmas tree
- Make your own Christmas cards (and then send them!)
- Decorate with vintage ornaments
- Make homemade cookies and treats and give them as homemade Christmas gifts
- Put a toy train around the Christmas tree
- Sing Christmas carols, go caroling, or listen to old-fashion Christmas music
- Listen to a podcast of Christmas stories around the fire (like the old-fashioned radio shows) or old fashioned Christmas songs around a radio
- Watch an old fashioned Christmas movie together
KEEP SCROLLING for the full retro and traditional Christmas ideas list and creative ideas for old fashioned Christmas decorations to make! DON’T MISS THE VICTORIAN CHRISTMAS IDEAS AT THE BOTTOM and tons of other old fashioned Christmas ideas to try this year!
How to decorate like an old fashioned Christmas?
For old-fashioned Christmas decorations, think warm, cozy, and simple! Here’s how to decorate the old-fashioned way for the holidays and best way to celebrate this year!
Use Natural Greenery: Start by bringing in natural greenery like pine branches, holly, ivy, and mistletoe. Use these elements to create wreaths, garlands, and centerpieces throughout your home. Hang a sprig of mistletoe in a doorway for a traditional touch.
Used Classic Christmas Colors: Stick to a classic color palette of red, green, gold, and white. These colors have been associated with Christmas for centuries and evoke a timeless feel.
Decorate With Traditional Ornaments: Decorate your Christmas tree with traditional ornaments such as glass balls, wooden figures, and simple paper ornaments, beeswax ornaments, or fabric decorations.
Safely Use Holiday Candles: Candles were a central element of old-fashioned Christmas decor. While we don’t recommend using real candles in candleholders on your Christmas tree like they used to (for safety reasons), you can still use them on table centerpieces and fireplace mantles.
YOU’LL ALSO ENJOY THIS FUN HOLIDAY IDEA (ways to have an old-fashioned Christmas): How To Throw A Little House On The Prairie Christmas Party For Kids (Old Fashion Christmas Traditions of Pioneers)
Make Homemade Crafts: Create handmade ornaments and decorations with your family. Paper chains, salt dough ornaments, beeswax ornaments and beeswax candles, and popcorn-cranberry garlands are simple yet beautiful DIY options.
Use Old-Fashioned Christmas Lights And Decor: Instead of modern LED lights, opt for traditional string lights with larger, colorful bulbs or the bubble Christmas lights like this (which are my husband’s favorites!) or those old school ceramic Christmas trees. They really do give it that old fashioned Christmas tree vibe!
Switch To Old-Fashioned Stockings: Hang long wool socks for stockings by the fireplace instead of purchased Christmas stockings.
Use Tinsel and Garland: If you choose to use tinsel, go for the classic, thin, silver tinsel strands (tinsel icicles like this). You can also make garlands from popcorn, cranberries, or dried citrus slices. (SEE FUN CRAFT LINKS BELOW!)
Get A Visit From a Victorian-Style Santa: Have the traditional Victorian Santa with a long robe and a cloth bag of toys visit your Christmas party. (GET SUIT IDEAS)
Use Vintage Christmas Cards As Decorations: Display vintage Christmas cards like this on a mantel or string them up as Christmas garlands.
Set Up A Nativity Scene: Set up a nativity scene as a central focus of your Christmas decor. These scenes are a traditional and meaningful part of the holiday.
How To Have An Old Fashioned Christmas At Home (With Pictures!)
We found adding some these holiday crafts and activities and easy way to escape the modern world and slow life down during this time of year!
Celebrate With An Advent Calendar
Did you know that advent calendars have been around since this early 1900s? Advent calendars were a Christmas tradition for many kids and makes them a fun addition to your vintage Christmas activities.
Make Handmade Beeswax Ornaments
Last year, we decided to have a super slow holiday season and do hands-on Christmas activities (like making all of our own Christmas ornaments).
It was one of the best Christmas ideas ever and we have these lovely homemade bees wax ornaments that we’ll always treasure because we made our own ornaments. These Christmas decorations made the best vintage decor and give fake or real Christmas trees that old fashioned feel!
PRO HOLIDAY CRAFT TIP: Keep an eye out at thrift stores, flea markets, or an antique shop (or other stores that have vintage items) for vintage cookie cutters! They make great beeswax ornament molds!
Make Orange Pomanders
The orange with cloves tradition is a fun family activity to add to your holidays ideas.
(You can eve make a lemon pomander.)
Once you’ve made these orange and clove Christmas decorations, you’ll want to do it every year. They make your house smell so good and also make nice homemade holiday gifts for friends and family.
Make Popcorn Garlands
When people talk about old-fashioned Christmas decorations or vintage Christmas activities, stringing popcorn cranberry garland is usually one of the first things mentioned.
However, stringing popcorn garland isn’t as easy as it sounds. Be sure to click over to learn the important garland trick to keep the popcorn from breaking off the garland!
Make Dried Fruit Garland For Vintage Christmas Decorations
I love this simple Christmas garland idea because I think it looks like something they would’ve made in pioneer Christmas days.
You can make it from nature finds or a mix of dried fruit and nature decorations. (Dried orange slices make beautiful Christmas holiday decor!)
Make Pinecone Nature Christmas Tree Ornaments
These are super simple pine cones crafts for kids that they will love!
It’s fun to go on a winter nature hike, gather pinecones and then come back and make these holiday ornaments.
Great old-fashioned Christmas ideas for all ages.
Make Ice Lanterns
If you’ve never made DIY lanterns from ice, you definitely need to put this on your list of old-fashioned Christmas ideas.
Not only are they super fun to make, they are beautiful Christmas decorations with candles added to your holiday table or outdoor solstice bonfire.
Make A Paper Star Christmas Craft
This DIY Christmas star is so easy, but makes a beautiful old-fashioned paper Christmas tree ornament. We made it with scraps we had around this house!
Make Ice Cream From Snow
If there’s one old fashioned Christmas recipe I remember making with my mom, it’s snow ice cream!
It seems like I remember everything about it, from gathering the freshly fallen snow to making snow cream.
If you’ve never tried old-fashioned snow ice, definitely put in on your list of old timey things to do at Christmas with family. Your kids will get a huge kick out of making ice cream from snow.
This would be a really fun Christmas Eve family activity if you have snow!
Make Old-Fashioned Snow Taffy
Snow candy is another recipe I remember making with my mom, especially when we made snow cream.
This snow taffy is a fun winter recipe because you can make it into snow taffy strips or snow taffy suckers!
You may remember this recipe from Little House On The Prairie Christmas.
Gift Homemade Food Gifts
Back in the day, people didn’t buy kids or family members or friends a ton of store-bought gifts. Most of the gifts that were given were handmade gifts or something baked or homemade food.
We love these two vintage gifts – homemade hot chocolate jars (mason jar hot cocoa mix) and also Christmas peanut brittle. People are always excited when we give these as DIY gifts for holidays.
Use Old-Fashioned Gift Wrap
Did you know that people used to wrap Christmas gifts in fabric or use newspaper for Christmas wrapping paper?
This DIY Christmas gift trick is a great way to get a vintage feel to the gifts you’re giving at the holidays.
I love the ways these fabric wrapped presents look and it’s definitely one of those old Christmas traditions we’ll continue (along with our modern traditions).
Sleep Under The Christmas Tree
One of my favorite things as a kid was to sleep under the Christmas tree once the tree was decorated. There’s just something magical about the lights and decorations. (My husband still talks about it, too!)
Why not add a Christmas Tree Sleepover to your family fun? Your kids can do it as a fun holiday sleepover party or you can do a Christmas tree campout as a simple family tradition to start this year.
This seems to be one of those festive traditions that kids and adults enjoy.
Watch Old Family Christmas Movies You Forgot About!
Have a holiday family movie night and watch holiday movies that you haven’t seen for a long time! There are tons of Christmas movies that deserve a comeback!
If you don’t want to do a Christmas movie night, find some Christmas story podcasts and listen to them around the fire or candles like old timey Christmas radio!
Do you have ideas for old-fashioned Christmas traditions and activities for new traditions? Let us know and we’ll add them to our Christmas list!
What were the traditions for Christmas in the 1800s?
Want to focus specifically on Victorian-themed Christmas ideas? Here’s a great list!
Victorian-Era Holiday Decorations and 1800s Christmas Ideas
Holiday Decorations: Families decorated their homes with natural elements such as evergreen branches, holly, mistletoe, and ivy. These were used to make wreaths, garlands, and centerpieces. There were also homemade ornaments, often made from paper, cornucopias filled with sweets on the tables, and sometimes even hand-painted decorations on the Christmas tree.
Christmas Trees: The tradition of the Christmas tree, which originated in Germany, gained popularity during the 1800s, was popular. Families brought in live evergreen trees that they cut down and decorated them with candles, tinsel, handmade ornaments, and small gifts. While we don’t recommend decorating the tree with candles, be sure to use candles to light up your area.
Carol Singing: Carolers roamed neighborhoods, singing Christmas carols and raising money for charitable causes. Families also gathered to sing carols around the piano or organ in their own homes.
Christmas Cards: The custom of sending and receiving Christmas cards became popular during the Victorian era. These cards featured intricate designs and illustrations.
Christmas Eve Church Services: Attending a religious Christmas Eve service was a significant part of the celebration during this historical era. Churches were often beautifully decorated, and carol singing was a central focus.
Gift Giving: Gift-giving was a significant part of Christmas celebrations. Children eagerly awaited the arrival of Santa Claus (often referred to as Father Christmas), and gifts included books, fruit, clothing, handmade items, and toys. Gifts were often placed in stockings, which were the children’s long wool socks, hung by the fireplace.
Christmas Crackers: Families pulled Christmas crackers at the dinner table. These crackers contained small toys, jokes, and paper crowns, adding a festive element to the meal.
Christmas Dinner: Christmas dinner was a big deal during the Victorian era! Traditional Christmas dishes included roast goose, turkey, beef, stuffing, vegetables, and rich gravies. Christmas pudding or fruitcake was a popular dessert. Include some of these old fashioned Christmas food for your Christmas party!
Visiting Relatives: The Christmas season was a time for family reunions. Relatives from near and far would come together to celebrate, often staying with each other for several days as part of the celebrations.
Parlor Games: Families played parlor games such as charades and word games. These games provided entertainment and laughter. (Remember: No TV or radio!)
Reading Stories and Poems: Families would gather around the fire to read classic Christmas stories and poems like A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Bible stories, and tell stories.
Homemade Gifts: Handmade gifts and decorations were the norm. Families would spend time crafting ornaments, wreaths and gifts, and baking as a way to personalize their celebrations.
These traditions emphasized the importance of family, tradition, and generosity during the holiday season, helping to shape many of the enduring Christmas customs we still enjoy today.
KEEP THE CHRISTMAS FUN GOING!
More Family Christmas Tradition Ideas To Add This Year
- Start the Christmas Eve Box tradition as part of your own family traditions for things to do on Christmas eve / new Christmas Eve traditions for families.
- Play Christmas morning present games (like the holiday stocking game).
- Looking for meaningful family Christmas traditions? Each year lay an empty stocking under the tree as a memory of those you lost.
- Start family Christmas gift giving traditions of collecting and donating to a local shelter.
- Take a funny picture for holiday cards for the following year
- Wrap small toys (like trinkets from a dollar store) and let them unwrap one per day for a 12 Days of Christmas activity. (Or, do a gift treasure hunt / Christmas scavenger hunt with them!)
- Have a Charlie Brown Christmas party
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!