7 Fun Family Christmas Traditions for Children with Special Needs

Mom and daughter making a gingerbread house one of the 7 fun family Christmas traditions for children with special needs.

Do you have treasured family Christmas traditions your children look forward to year after year? Christmas is a time of year that always brings enjoyment, love, and excitement to children.

I loved our family’s Christmas traditions that got me so excited for the holidays as a child. As the world becomes more and more unpredictable, it’s important to continue holiday traditions for children with special needs.


7 Fun Family Christmas Traditions for Children with Special Needs


The holidays can be overwhelming, so it helps to stick with a consistent schedule for your children with special needs. Here are seven family traditions to try this year over Christmas break. 


#1 Cookie Decorating Contest

Every year, my mom would bake dozens of cookies during the holiday season. So start a family tradition this year with a family cookie decorating contest. After all, family members love to have their creative time during the holiday season!

There are so many different cookie options to choose from. But I would recommend baking traditional sugar cookies for decorating. 

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What to collect for decorating cookies? 

  • Cookie cutters
  • Sprinkles
  • Rolling pins
  • Parchment paper for less clean up
  • Icing
  • Piping bags

If you have a small family, maybe you can try this with friends or neighbors.


#2 Holiday Movie Night

After the cookie decorating contest, you and your family can enjoy the cookies while watching any number of wonderful Christmas movies. There are so many movies you could watch a different one every night of the week through Christmas.

A personal favorite that our family always watches each year is “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Some other family-friendly Christmas movies you could watch include:

Christmas Movies 

  • The Polar Express
  • Elf
  • Muppet Christmas Carol
  • Miracle on 34th Street
  • It’s a Wonderful Life
  • The Santa Clause with Tim Allen

Be sure you have blankets and pillows and prepare hot chocolate. It’s always best to snuggle up together during this family tradition!


#3 Opening a Gift on Christmas Eve

Each year, as a child, I always loved Christmas Eve. 

  • Santa was coming
  • We hung our stockings
  • The Christmas tree was all lit up
  • My grandparents all came over for dinner 

Christmas Eve dinner with my grandparents was one of the memories that I always cherished. We would eat dinner and then get to open up one of our Christmas gifts early. 

A popular family Christmas tradition is opening up a pair of pajamas on Christmas Eve. Many parents give their children pajamas to open up on Christmas eve, so they are nicely dressed for pictures Christmas morning. Each year they come out with a variety of matching pajamas for the whole family. 


#4 Gingerbread House Contest

One of our family Christmas traditions is making a gingerbread house. We even turned this activity into a contest. This contest was one of my favorites to do with my siblings and parents. 

My parents would pick up a premade kit and some extra icing for us to use. My siblings and I loved making it with the icing, candy, and all the sticky goodness. 

Over the years, I got much better with the design of my Gingerbread House. Of course, it was a different kit each year, but we always enjoyed doing this Christmas activity together.


#5 Create a Countdown Routine

To make your family Christmas traditions more enjoyable for children with special needs, create a family countdown. The excitement builds every day leading up to Christmas day.

Fun Ways to Countdown to Christmas

Younger kids can sing along or learn the days of the week backward to count down. It’s always fun when you get to zero! This can be a fun learning experience.


#6 Reading Christmas Stories

Reading Christmas books is another family tradition that children with special needs can enjoy.

One of my family’s favorite Christmas stories is “The Night Before Christmas.” I like reading it loudly and dramatically! And we all love the illustrations, too. There are various family Christmas books you can choose from, so I’m sure everyone will find a favorite.

Here are the 7 Best Christmas Books You Should Read to Your Child This Year  to get you started! Combine this family Christmas tradition with the countdown routine and read one book each day until Christmas.

#7 Design An Ornament

Designing an ornament can be a great family Christmas tradition to bring loved ones together.

Every year, your family can design their own unique ornament to put on the Christmas tree. This family Christmas tradition will help children with special needs create family memories every year as the family decorates.

Ideas for DIY Ornaments

You can make this a family Christmas tradition by creating a new ornament for the tree each year with their name on it.

What Family Christmas Traditions Do You Have?

As a child, I loved these Christmas traditions. They were consistent each year, and that really helped to ease my anxiety about our holiday plans. As a parent, it is crucial to ensure that children with special needs have those consistent yearly traditions that make the holidays special. 

What family Christmas traditions do you have? Please share them in the comments below. 


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Mom and daughter making a gingerbread house one of the 7 fun family Christmas traditions for children with special needs.
The holidays can be a tough time for children with special needs. Here are 7 fun family Christmas traditions the whole family will love!

Picture of Taylor Fulcher

Taylor Fulcher

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