Family Christmas traditions are a wonderful way to anticipate and cherish the Holiday Season! Children thrive on repetition and routine, which creates a sense of security in their world.
In our family, Christmas has always been about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Our Family Christmas Traditions are centered on Christ’s birth, the purpose of His birth, and all that His birth means to the entire world!
Although our children know where the story of Santa comes from (the story of Saint Nicholas) we do not include “Santa Clause” in our traditions. Neither do we include reindeer, elves, or other things typically included in the made-up version of Santa.
Therefore, the following ideas are mostly from a Jesus-focused perspective. There are also a collection of familiar traditions, with a few traditions from around the world, too!
Family Christmas Traditions You Can Start This Year!
As Christmas approaches, we tell our children that Jesus’ birthday is coming up. We talk about why we give gifts at Christmas, which is to celebrate the greatest gift of all time: Jesus!
In a simple manner, we share the story of the very first Christmas when Jesus was born. We explain how it is more important to give, rather than to receive since that is what Jesus taught us many times through His example in the Bible.
- Put together shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child! This is the perfect way to include children in the process of giving to others — and it is a lot of fun, too!
- Donate to the Salvation Army. Find a store that has the red kettles & bell ringers out front, give our child a couple of dollars or quarters and let them drop it in the bucket! **This is extra special to me and I share why HERE.**
- Prepare for Advent. Just a few years ago, I had no clue what the word advent meant! Now, we celebrate Advent as a family and it is an amazing way to focus on the true reason for the season — Jesus!
Favorite Christmas Resources!
DIY Jesse Tree Ornament Kit for AdventThe Advent Jesse Tree: Devotions for Children and Adults to Prepare for the Coming of the Christ Child at ChristmasThe Little Big Book of ChristmasJotham’s Journey: A Storybook for AdventCookie Advent Cookbook: With 24 festive recipesLegend of the Christmas Tree, TheOld Fashioned, Keepsake Quality Handknit Wool Christmas Stockings (Christmas Trees – Green)Charlie Brown Christmas 50th Anniversary, A: Deluxe EditionMickey’s Christmas Carol 30th Anniversary – Special Edition (DVD + Digital Copy)
- A Jesse Tree is also an activity that helps the Advent season become a visual and hands-on experience for children. You can either buy a Jesse Tree set or create your own.
- Christmas Books Countdown – Purchase Christmas-related books and wrap each individually. Whether you choose 25 for Dec.1-25 or just 12 books for Dec.13-25, it is a lot of fun to unwrap a new book each day leading up to Christmas to read together with your children.
- Start the Advent reading and activities. There are so many options. In addition to a Jesse Tree, you can find several books based on Advent. We really enjoy this series set in Biblical times.
- Christmas Countdown – Making a Christmas paper chain with the kids to count down the days until Christmas is fun and gives a visual for how many days til the holiday. Drawing a “first Christmas” manger scene and hanging the chain from it will give even more of a visual for the reason we celebrate the day!
- Bake Cookies – In the weeks leading up to Christmas, spend time baking fun Christmas cookies with your children. You will be teaching them a valuable skill, preparing for your Christmas party, and creating amazing memories for your family.
- Cozy Evenings – Homemade Popcorn, hot chocolate, apple cider… having cozy winter evenings together as a family crowded around the kitchen table putting together a puzzle or playing a game is a great tradition to start!
- Christmas Tree – Bundle the family up and go to a local tree farm to choose the “perfect” evergreen Christmas tree. Then enjoy decorating it together. Decorating with all homemade decor is even more special — string popcorn and cranberries, make paper chains, etc.
- Hang Stockings – This tradition is a fun way to decorate and to save on wrapping paper — just put the gifts in the stockings! Hanging up stockings is part of the legend and original story of St. Nicholas. This is one of the more realistic parts of the legend (unlike a flying sleigh with reindeer).
- Christmas Movies – Great Christmas movies for younger kids: Charlie Brown Christmas and Mickey’s Christmas Carol. While It’s a Wonderful Life – Little Women – A Christmas Carol are all great for the older kids/adults.
More Favorite Christmas Resources!
It’s a Wonderful Life (60th Anniversary Edition) by Paramount by Frank CapraLittle Women (Collector’s Series)Disney’s a Christmas CarolMickey’s Christmas Carol 30th Anniversary – Special Edition (DVD + Digital Copy)The Story of ChristmasClassic German Baking: The Very Best Recipes for Traditional Favorites, from Pfeffernüsse to StreuselkuchenJamie Oliver’s Christmas Cookbook: For the Best Christmas Ever
Christmas Eve/Day Activities:
- Read the Christmas Story from the Bible – We read it directly from the Bible (usually Luke). This is a great picture book for children that takes the text from the KJV Bible, the illustrations are amazing and the text is classic! See The Christmas Story by Pamela Dalton.
- Christmas Dinner – Whether you have a classic “American” ham dinner with all of the trimmings, choose a traditional dinner based on your heritage, or decide on a family favorite that is a completely new tradition… a big meal is one of the main traditions everyone enjoys for Christmas!
I love having an old-fashioned Christmas with timeless family Christmas traditions, but I also love exploring, learning about, and adding in some fun traditions from around the world. I often add in 1 or 2 things from other cultures, too.