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16 Ways to Make Baby’s First Christmas Extra-Festive

From ornaments and stockings to sweet traditions, here’s how to make baby’s first Christmas extra special.
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By Ashlee Neuman, Content Director
Updated November 29, 2023
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Over the first year of baby’s life, you’ll document a lot of major moments—but when it comes to making memories, there’s nothing quite like Christmas. The good news? You don’t need to spend a lot on presents for baby to make the holiday special. Besides, baby’s too little to get excited about gifts—they’re much more likely to be smitten with the cardboard box the present came in rather than the item itself. Instead, focus on sweet traditions your family can revisit and build upon each year to make sure your holiday happiness lives on—in your heart and in your photos! Here, our favorite ideas for how to make baby’s first Christmas special.

Image: WhileHeWasNapping | Etsy

1. Create a Holiday Countdown Jar

Instead of the typical Advent calendar, make an activity-based countdown jar. On 24 strips of red and green paper, write out special activities to do with baby, like reading a Christmas-themed book or taking a walk in the snow. Then toss them all into a jar and pull one out to do each day. By Christmas Eve, you’ll have made an entire month’s worth of fun memories for baby’s first Christmas, rather than just one or two days. (Need inspiration? Download this kit from Etsy.com, which comes with 30 pre-stamped strips as well as 16 blank ones for you to add your own ideas.)

Image: Trendsetter Images | Shutterstock

2. Decorate the Christmas Tree

Hanging your ornaments is probably at the core of your holiday traditions, and this year the process of decorating will be all the more meaningful. Commemorate the season with a special Baby’s First Christmas ornament—you’ll gaze at it with fond memories on all the future Christmases to come. As you’re decorating the tree, make sure to keep these holiday safety tips top of mind. (After all, little ones love to grab and pull things!)

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Image: KeaBabies

3. Preserve Baby’s Handprint

Sure, you’ll have photos to look back on, but there’s something extra-special about preserving baby’s handprint in salt dough or paint to remember how tiny your child was at their first Christmas. You can even turn it into a Christmas ornament! Both Keababies and Amazon sell adorable kits.

Image: SergeyIT | Shutterstock

4. Attend a Tree Lighting Ceremony

Baby’s eyes are sure to light up as they witness a towering Christmas tree sparkle to life. Cities and towns across the country host local tree lighting ceremonies in the weeks leading up to the holiday. (Even if the events take place slightly past baby’s bedtime, you may find it’s worth the outing.)

Image: Bogdan Sonjachnyj | Shutterstock

5. Decorate Baby’s Nursery

Don’t just deck the halls—deck out baby’s nursery too! String up some white twinkle lights, add a tiny tree with sparkly ornaments or hang paper snowflakes from the ceiling—there are lots of festive, wintery items to pick from. Just make sure any decor is safely out of baby’s reach.

Image: Kristen Prahl | Shutterstock

6. Visit Your Local Santa

Braving the lines with an infant in your arms may not be for every family, but if the tradition of saying hi to Santa at a nearby store or mall hits home for you, you’re bound to get a memorable photo of your little one on the big guy’s lap (even if baby ends up wailing, as these hilarious #SantaFails prove!).

Image: New Africa | Shutterstock

7. Hang Baby’s First Christmas Stocking

Your family has expanded, so it’s time to hang one more stocking on the mantle! There are tons of cute options for baby’s first Christmas stocking—as well as sweet stuffers to put in it.

Image: Galina Zhigalova | Shutterstock

8. Read Christmas Stories

In the nights leading up to Christmas, make your bedtime storybook selections holiday-themed! Whether you choose classics, like Twas the Night Before Christmas or Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, or something more modern, like How the Grinch Stole Christmas, you and baby are bound to enjoy the special stories and snuggles.

Image: Fly View Productions | Getty Images

9. Find Baby a Special Gift

Your child isn’t going to remember what you bought them for Christmas this year, but that’s not to say they won’t enjoy playing with a present! There’s no need to go overboard, but selecting a few special gifts for baby’s first Christmas can bring joy to your little one (and you!). You might pick out a toy or two, or perhaps even an heirloom gift your child can treasure when they’re older.

Image: Igisheva Maria | Shutterstock

10. Snag a Cute Ugly Christmas Sweater

Sporting an ugly Christmas sweater can be a beloved tradition even baby participates in! These days, retailers have tons of options when it comes to finding the cutest baby ugly Christmas sweater you’ve ever seen.

Image: Sergii Sobolevskyi | Shutterstock

11. Make a Christmas Eve Box

Here’s an idea for a sweet holiday tradition that can grow with your child: Assemble a Christmas Eve box that holds holiday pajamas, some Christmas books, cookie mix to make cookies for Santa and a few carrots for the reindeer.

Image: Vadym Pastukh | Shutterstock

12. Spend Christmas Morning in Holiday Pajamas

What’s Christmas morning without snuggly pajamas? Make the morning extra-festive by having baby don some Christmas-themed PJs. Even better, have the entire family sport the look with matching family pajamas.

Image: LumiNola | Getty Images

13. Dress Baby Up in a Festive Outfit

When the afternoon rolls around and you’re ready to shed those PJs, have a special outfit picked out and ready to go for baby’s first Christmas. It’ll make your photos that much cuter!

Image: Ulza | Shutterstock

14. Take a Holiday Photo

You can’t let the holiday go by without snapping a Christmas photo of baby! You can go all out with a themed setup or just get a shot of your little one looking cute in their Christmas finery—either way, it’ll be one for the books.

Image: Don Mason | Getty Images

15. Slice off a Christmas Tree Round

Here’s another favorite tradition: If you have a fresh Christmas tree in the house, saw off a round of the trunk and mark it with the date. The slice of wood will preserve beautifully and make an ideal memento of baby’s first Christmas—and every Christmas to come.

Image: Lostinthe_Midwest | Shutterstock

16. Put Together a Christmas Time Capsule

Buy a keepsake box in which you can place mementos from baby’s first Christmas (think: the holiday card you sent out, wrapping paper or bows from their first gift, photos from the day, the outfit baby wore and the note left for Santa). Then mark the box with the year and store it somewhere safe until you’re ready to revisit those memories in a decade (if not sooner).

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