The holiday season is a time of joy, family, gratitude, and … yes, a bit of stress, too. If you have a new baby in the home, you’ll want to balance holiday festivities with respect for your own needs as new parents…as well as Baby’s needs for rest and comfort. In addition to all the adorable photo opps, special foods, decorating, and gift exchanges, make sure to carve out time to relax as a family.

We’re highlighting the best ideas for making this a memorable holiday season, while also not overdoing it. So, bake the cookies and put up your tree; light the candles and dress the baby; but above all else, try to weave in moments of peace and reflection where you can. And then continue to do so in the years to come. Here’s how to celebrate the holidays with a new baby.

Find Toy Holiday Décor for Baby

 Plush menorah toy for baby's first holiday

Photo: Amazon

Having a baby version of all your favorite holiday things just makes the season more accessible for littles. Look for plush, felt, or plastic Christmas trees, advent calendars, menorahs, and so on to deck your halls with “please-touch” decor. (Don’t worry, you can still have your traditional decor around little ones. But once they’re up and moving around, high shelves and baby gates are your best friends)!  

Don’t Overbook Baby’s Holiday Activities

Pack your holiday season with family and friends, but spread the celebrations out so you’re not rushing or stressed. It is also okay to turn down party invites and other events that won’t work with Baby’s nap or nighttime sleep schedule. You want to enjoy the holidays, and not spend the season rushing around, after all. 

Visit Santa With Baby

An iconic Santa picture is pretty much a must for those who celebrate. If your baby is very new and tiny, especially sensitive to crowds or noises, or just getting over being sick… you might want to do this from home. There are Santa FaceTime apps and YouTube channels that can help. If planning an in-real-life visit, schedule for a quiet time of day and make sure you can be with or very near them for the big moment on Santa’s lap—just in case tears ensue. 

Deck the Halls…of the Nursery!

 Baby nursery decorated for the holidays

Photo: Instagram/bonniebonsell

Have an itch to be a little “extra”? Deck more than the halls this year! Elevate your little one’s room to holiday mode with tinsel, holly, faux snow, mini menorahs, or a little Christmas tree, and watch your tot’s eyes light up in glee. Just make sure to keep any lights fire-safe, and stick to electric flame candles instead of the real thing. 

Travel Light 

If visiting family for the holidays, have any gifts shipped ahead of time to lighten your load. And consider scheduling a grocery pickup order upon arrival for diapers, formula, and your bub’s favorite snacks to streamline your packing experience. Pro tip: The easiest way to avoid over-packing for yourself or your children is to stick to a specific color palette. This way everything coordinates, and you won’t need extra hats, cardigans, etc for different outfits. 

Plan a Holiday Playdate for Baby

Bring on the joy of the season when you celebrate with friends. This doesn’t have to be elaborate! Instead, put a sweeter, simpler twist on the classic Christmas party. Meet up for baby brunch with the littles dressed up in holiday attire or have some friends and their kids over for an animated Christmas movie night and seasonal snacks.

Buy a Special Holiday Outfit for Baby (Or Eight?)

 Baby girl dressed in a Christmas dress

Photo: Belle Threads 

Nothing says “holiday” with little ones like a themed ensemble. Special Christmas dresses, baby bubbles, or a dapper outfit for your little dude are a must. If you’re celebrating Hanukkah, eight nights of blue outfits are fun to plan. (But let’s be honest, you won’t want just one, even if you only technically have one day of celebrations!). Embrace these baby days when you get to be your wee one’s stylist—seasoned parents know that in a few years’ time, your kiddo will be calling all the shots in holiday wardrobing. 

Write Down Baby Milestones

The slow, quiet ease of a few days off from work and other responsibilities makes the holidays a perfect moment for journaling or adding to Baby’s scrapbook. Note their height/length, weight, and any cute or quirky milestones you’ve observed lately. Add a hand- or footprint and a printed photo if you have the bandwidth. 

You can even pen a letter to your little one this holiday season and tuck it inside a memory box or book so they’ll always have your loving words to look back on as they grow. This doesn’t need to be fancy or complicated, just a pause from real life to jot down your feelings in this special moment. 

Take Holiday Photos of Your Baby

A baby poses with Christmas trees and gifts to celebrate first holiday 

Photo: Instagram/littlemechloe

Whether Baby is wrapped up in a swaddle, seated beneath the Christmas tree, or lit by the glow of a menorah, the very best way to mark and remember the holiday season with Baby is with a special photograph you’ll treasure forever. This can be heavily themed and decorated or incredibly simple; there’s no wrong way to photograph Baby’s first holiday season! 

Read a Holiday Bedtime Story to Baby

With a brand-new baby or an animated almost-1-year-old who loves books, cuddling up with a seasonal story is a special bonding tradition to set in motion now. As the years go by, add a new story each holiday season. Some parents rewrap the same books each year and let the kiddos unwrap them at the start of the season for a fun twist. 

Get Matching Family Pajamas

Family celebrating baby's first holiday by wearing matching Hanukkah PJs 

Photo: Hanna Andersson

Is there anything better than being corny and adorable with your new little family? No, there is not. Full-family matching jammies are a holiday must-have, no matter what you’re celebrating this season. 

Give Baby an Heirloom Holiday Gift  

Your little one won’t remember the gifts they open the first couple of Hanukkahs or Christmases, but you won’t want to forget their first holiday season! Give a meaningful gift like a hand-carved dreidel or a special tree ornament and consider growing their collection in the years to come. 

Take it Easy on Christmas Morning 

You know what the last thing you need right now is? Stress! The holidays should be fun and relaxing, not overwhelming and taxing. Even if you’ll be joining loved ones for dinner, spend the entire first half of the day (or more!) in your PJ’s, open gifts at a leisurely pace, snuggle, and just enjoy your baby. Pro Tip: throw together the makings of an egg casserole the night before and place in the fridge so you can bake and eat it on Christmas with minimal effort and no mess. 

Kiss Baby Under the Mistletoe 

Two dads kiss their baby's cheeks under the mistletoe to celebrate baby's first holiday 

Photo: Instagram/thetatamfamily

Cheesy? Sure. Adorable? You bet! A seasonal smooch is a must-do for any holiday celebrations with your new little love. Grab the mistletoe and make it happen.

Schedule Your First Holiday Season With Baby Wisely 

…And uphold boundaries. Everyone is going to want to see the baby over the holidays, and they’re all coming from a place of love. But you have a right to plan your visits, meals, and celebrations around a schedule that feels comfortable for you. Maybe you’d rather not host and will pop by to visit family the day of or day before the holiday. Maybe you’d rather everyone come to you and try potluck style so your baby stays in a familiar environment and you don’t have to fuss or do major prep.

As new parents, you call the shots. Your comfort and peace are simply more important than anyone else’s desire to spend time with your new bundle. Happy holidays and remember to take lots of photos, because time flies when you’re celebrating with your favorite tiny people! 

 More Ways to Enjoy the Holiday Season:

About Jenny Studenroth Gerson

Jenny Studenroth Gerson is an Atlanta-based lifestyle journalist and novelist (Let Me Let You Go, 2020). Her work can be seen in publications including HuffPost, Cosmo, and WSJ, among many others. Jenny has researched thousands of baby names, combed through hundreds of nursery designs, and curated dozens of baby shower guides, making her absolutely the mom—and writer—you want to talk to when planning for Baby. When not meeting deadlines, she is chasing toddlers or chugging coffee—or both! Find her on Instagram @ourlifeinrosegold for mom hacks and more.

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.