What holiday traditions do you do each year with your family? I’ve come up with a list of 20 memorable holiday traditions for families in Austin. Most of these we do together every holiday season, some are ones I’ve been wanting to try. I hope you enjoy making memories with your kids this year!
20 Memorable Holiday Traditions For Families in Austin
1. Volunteer as a Family
We try and volunteer once a month as a family. We love signing up on the Generation Serve calendar because we can find activities for all ages, so all 3 of my kids are able to do it- from my 5 year old to my 13 year old. My oldest son and husband have also started volunteering with Austin Pets Alive. Here’s a list of all the places you can give back with kids in Austin.
2. See a Holiday Performance
I love live theater and take the kids to see a holiday performance each year. We’ve seen Rudolph at the Long Center, Elf the Musical at the Georgetown Palace, and many others over the years. This year, we can’t wait to see Zach Theatre‘s A Christmas Carol for the first time! We have heard such great things. You could also see Ballet Austin’s The Nutcracker, or another live performance.
3. See the Lights
There are so many great lights displays in Austin each year. A few of our favorites are Mozart’s, Trail of Lights, and Peppermint Parkway. We’ve never done the 37th Street Lights, but I think we might go check it out this year!
4. Candy Cane Flashlight Hunt
Every year, we get together with our friends for a candy cane flashlight hunt! The moms bring a box of candy canes for each kid, then we hide them at a local park. We usually order pizza and after the kids eat, they take their flashlights out to the field and search for candy canes! It’s like an Easter egg hunt, but Christmas-style. Tell the kids to only grab 12 candy canes each.
5. Gingerbread House
You can pick up some cool looking gingerbread houses at H-E-B or Trader Joe’s, or try a gingerbread workshop if you want to make it more special! Foodie Kids has one this year. The Thinkery has brought their workshops back also! You have to purchase a kit ($45) and reserve your spot for the workshop (one per person, $6 each). This doesn’t include the price of admission as well.
20 Memorable Holiday Traditions For Families in Austin
6. Shopping & Lunch Date
We love taking the kids to BookPeople each year for a family gift shopping spree. Each family member has to pick out something they want to give everyone else in the family. Then we head next door to Whole Foods for lunch on the rooftop near the playground. In years past, we used to ice skate on the roof, but I’m not sure if they’re bringing it back this year yet.
7. White Elephant Gift Exchange, Secret Santa, or Dice Game
We love doing fun gift exchanges with our friend group. We have done Secret Santa a lot in the past, but have also mixed it up with fun games like White Elephant or the dice game. Here’s how you play the dice game:
8. Ice Skating
We used to love going ice skating on the roof of Whole Foods North Lamar in years past, but if that isn’t an option again this year, we might try the Ice Rodeo at the Four Seasons or Bee Cave On Ice at the Hill Country Galleria.
9. Road Trip
This is something we haven’t done specifically for the holidays yet. I’d love to see the magical towns of Johnson City or Marble Falls. Here’s a list of some more holiday lights events in other cities that are a day trip away from Austin. We did take a road trip down to San Antonio last year and loved the way 6 Flags was all decked out for the holidays. They have a fake snow blast next to the giant tree that’s super fun to walk through.
10. Make Cookies
We always block out a weekend afternoon in December to make our Christmas cookies. Some years we only do sugar cookies, sometimes we make gingerbread dough too. This is always such a fun and messy day. Put on your favorite Christmas movies to watch when you’re done baking.
11. Advent Calendars
Trader Joes sells my favorite Advent calendars, hands down. They are only $1! You could also make your own with little toys or fun activities for the kids to do each day. But nothing beats that little piece of chocolate every morning.
12. Neighborhood Lights Drive + Hot Chocolate
Get in your pj’s, make some hot chocolate, and drive around your neighborhood looking at everyone’s lights. If you want to see the absolute best neighborhood lights display, head to Circle C in South Austin for the mid-blowing Hogwarts House. It’s absolutely stunning!
13. Santa Pictures
We love the Santa at Bass Pro Shops in Round Rock and visit him every year. You get a free picture and can make reservations online to speed things along. They also have fun toy displays to play with while you wait. Sweet Eats Fruit Farm has Santa visiting on the weekends and his live reindeer are there every day! You can also visit Santa on the Terrace at the Long Center or book a time slot to see him at Pikopye’s Town.
14. Elf Scavenger Hunt
This is one of those activities that never gets old and works for a large range of ages. My 5 year old loves this just as much as my 10 and 13 year olds do. Heck, it’s even fun for grownups too!. We go every year. Santa’s Jingle House has lots of other fun events here as well. 8 Chisholm Trail Rd, Round Rock
15. See the Trees
Memorable Holiday Traditions For Families in Austin
16. Cut Your Own Tree
We usually use a fake tree, but it’s so much fun to cut your own! We’ve gone to both the Elgin Christmas Tree Farm and Evergreen Farms in the past and love the whole process. From riding out on the hay ride to the trees, to using the axe- the boys really get into this whole experience. Talk about memory making! Or pick one out at The Little Longhorn in Dripping Springs.
17. Bethlehem in Burnet
The reason for the season is set up in Burnet. You can walk through a live Bethlehem scene and see what times were like back when Jesus was born. 300 E Washington St., Burnet
18. Family Lego Set or Puzzle
Our family friends bought the Home Alone Lego set last year and spent a day assembling it together. They want to buy a new super big set each year to continue the tradition. We love this idea! Our family does the same 500 piece holiday puzzle each year, and every year without fail, we finish the puzzle with one piece missing. We always end up finding it sometime after the new year, so I tape it to the wall to remember to add it to the puzzle the next year. I’m not about to go digging through the holiday boxes in the attic. The piece becomes part of our decor that year (and makes a funny story).
19. Shop Local
We want to support all the local mom makers and businesses! Instead of buying all your gifts from Amazon, consider buying a few things from a holiday bazaar or craft fair. Try A Christmas Affair, Blue Genie Art Bazaar, Downtown Austin Alliance Holiday Stroll, or Armadillo Christmas Bazaar.
20. Giving a Gift To Those In Need
Austin’s Blue Santa program delivers gifts to those in need. It’s our family tradition to pick out a gift for a girl who is the same age that my daughter who died would be that year and buy her something we think my daughter would have liked. It’s a special way to honor her memory and help someone else have a special holiday.