There’s nothing quite like snuggling a newborn during the holidays—or exploring the season’s magic with a newly mobile one. When baby is young, it’s the perfect time to start new family traditions. And if you can’t be with family and friends this year, this is how you can make the holidays magical and memorable. Try these fun, festive ideas to make this season with your little one as merry and bright as can be.

1. Rock your family Christmas jammies.
Fact: It’s not Christmas until the whole family has donned matching Christmas pajamas and snapped some silly photos for posterity (or to post on Insta). If you’ve never taken a ride on the matching jammies bandwagon, now that you have a baby, this is your moment. We especially love the family jammies from Burt's Bees, Primary and Hanna Andersson (shown above).

2. Turn on a favorite flick.
Make it a family tradition to cozy up for the same Christmas movies every year. Childhood favorites like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman are sure to be a hit, but don't hesitate to turn on the classics like It's a Wonderful Life or White Christmas. There's no such thing as "too young" when it comes to Christmas movies.

3. Make (or buy) an advent calendar.
There’s nothing that builds the anticipation of Christmas Day quite as much as an advent calendar. Bring baby in on the fun of a holiday countdown with a chocolate-free, baby-friendly version. One to try: This pop-up style calendar by Eric Carle that allows baby to add a new decoration to the display each day. Or wrap a Christmas-themed book to open each night from December 1 to Christmas. Get them from the library to keep costs down. You can then purchase any that become family favorites and build your collection for next year.

4. Take a Christmas lights tour.
Whether you stroll through a particularly festive neighborhood, cruise down a drive-through display, or visit a holiday-themed event at a local botanical garden, kids of all ages love watching the twinkling lights and you'll love watching the wonder in your baby's eyes as they take in all the sparkly magic.

5. Decorate a gingerbread house.
To minimize mess and maximize fun, keep decorating simple with white frosting and sprinkles. Assemble the house first; then let baby explore the textures (and taste!) of the frosting and develop fine motor skills by adding the colorful candies.

6. Start an ornament collection.
Commemorate your little one’s first Christmas—and start a special holiday tradition—by gifting baby a keepsake ornament each year. For this first year, choose an ornament that is personalized with baby’s name and birthdate. In the following years, select an ornament that reflects your little one’s interests for that year. And, when baby is all grown up and ready to start Christmas traditions of their own (we know; they're never going to leave you, but just in case…), you can send them off with a collection of ornaments that will bring back fond childhood memories.

7. Turn up the holiday tunes.
It's no secret that babies love music and that Christmas music > any other kind of music. Creating a music playlist of holiday tunes will keep baby happy all season long…through those long treks to Grandma's house or navigating the mall parking lot. If you need inspiration, here are a few of our favorite Christmas songs.

8. Read Christmas stories.
Story time with kids is a highlight all year long, but it's even more memorable around the holidays. Cozying up on the couch with your child and a special Christmas-themed story is the stuff that traditions are made of. Keep a collection of books—old classics and new favorites—within reach for guaranteed precious moments. Check out our favorite holiday books for babies and toddlers.

9. Attend a community Christmas event, in person or virtually.
Coming together with the people in your community, from oldest to youngest, to share good cheer is one of the best parts of the season. Whether you prefer a town tree-lighting, a Christmas Eve service or a virtual event, baby will love taking in all the friendly faces, colorful decorations and holiday tunes.

10. Design a holiday card.
Before baby arrived, you could get away with a set of boxed cards. But with a baby on the scene, it's time for a personalized photo card. Dress up your child in a Santa hat or their holiday best, snap a few photos, and then share the beautiful results with friends and family. Or, go all out and do a professional family photo shoot. Find more holiday card inspo here: 9 Adorable (& Hilarious) Ideas for Baby’s Holiday Card

11. Visit a Christmas tree farm.
Selecting your tree from a Christmas tree farm can be a magical experience for the whole family, and it makes trimming the tree even more enjoyable. Your child won't remember the first experience but will enjoy looking back at photos from years past. If you don't have a tree farm nearby, make the tree-buying a family event to give it some holiday spirit.

12. Take a trip to see Santa.
This tradition has an expiration date—maybe ten years if your child turns out to have an active imagination (or a good sense of humor). So don't let the holidays pass you by without planning baby's first visit with the big guy himself. Even if your child goes into total meltdown mode, the first meeting with St. Nick is guaranteed to be an iconic moment. (Just google "Santa's lap photos" for evidence.)

13. Donate a gift to children in need.
Kids whose family can't afford to buy them gifts deserve to have a nice holiday. If you have the means, donate a toy or warm clothing to holiday drives. As your child gets older, include them in the process of selecting and donating to other kids to teach the true spirit of Christmas: caring and sharing with others.

featured photo: iStock

—Suzanna Palmer

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