Twelve Christmas Traditions

image courtesy of Schlottie via

Kids love traditions.  I think there is something about routine that they find security in, and also because as they get older, they get to participate in these traditions on whole new levels.  I shared a couple of our traditions last year in this article, but here they are again, and more in an expanded list.  (And when I write it out, it looks like a lot, but keep in mind that this list has grown over the years, and that these are spread out over the month):
  1. We have a kids Advent calendar, where each flap (1 per day) uncovers a Bible passage to read or an activity to do for the day.  We've used the same one for years.
  2. Watch as many Christmas TV shows and movies as possible, like Rudolph, The Grinch (cartoon version), Merry Madagascar, etc.  Soon, I hope, they'll be ready for The Christmas Story.
  3. Give to and share with others, such as Adopt-A-Child or this idea from last year.
  4. Celebrate Hanukkah by lighting candles, telling the story (love this song), and playing dreidel.  Not technically Christmas, I know, but it occurs around the same time of the year, and our kids really look forward to it.
  5. Decorate our yard with lights and blow-ups (no, the picture above is not our house, unfortunately).  Every year, we spend about $20 after Christmas, buying things on sale for the next year.  And every year, the kids help more and more, including once when I sent Hannah up the magnolia tree with a string of lights. 
  6. Set up a couple of manger sets inside.  Who cares is the ceramic figures get chipped and cracked?  The kids love playing with them and re-enacting.  This year, our dining room table has been taken over with Legos, but we told them they had to make the entire scene about Bethlehem.  
  7. Eat doughnuts on the morning of Christmas Eve, and then buy and deliver some boxes to friends.  This will only be the second year we've done this (and the idea was stolen from a friend), but the kids had a blast last year with it.
  8. Open one or more gifts (such as from extended family) on Christmas Eve.  Of course, we need to remember to teach them to say Thank You.
  9. Wake up in our own house on Christmas Day.  This started unintentionally in the first few years of our marriage, but now it is something we've done strategically.  Takes some planning, and has caused a little bit of tension, but we're glad we're still able to hold on to this through all 12 of our Christmases so far.
  10. Read the Christmas story in bed with our kids, first thing on Christmas morning.  Before gifts, before breakfast.
  11. More gifts exchanged and opened on Christmas morning.  The kids really enjoy picking out and buying gifts for each other, mostly with their own money.  They had better, because they don't get a whole lot of gifts from us.  Also, only one gift is allowed to be open at a time; everyone else watches and we take turns.  This helps us all to focus on the person's joy in receiving the gift. 
  12. Perform our homemade Christmas play / musical.  Really simple -- 4 scenes, sing with tracks on a CD.  Some great memories, including Sender (at age 1), growing weary of being baby Jesus, suddenly walking off the set to join his grandparents on the couch.  The show must go on!

    Do you have any Christmas traditions that you'd like to share with others?


    1. We have begun the tradition of the Jesse Tree this year and are loving it. It is meaning so much to us personally, as well as with our kids. We use the Advent Jesse Tree book, and it is good. I love reading your posts!

    2. Hey, Tiger! Hope your kiddos are good. Thanks for checking out the blog and being a part of the conversation.

      Some friends of ours have used the Jesse Tree as part of their tradition, and I think they've really liked it. I'd be curious for what you think after you've gone through it.

    3. Oh, this is a great post! I love the idea of celebrating Hanukkah! I've never even considered that before... Thanks for the idea. I want to look into it! Sounds like an amazing Christmas line-up to me. I love, love, LOVE having Christmas traditions. I think it makes the lead-up and anticipation even more special.