Family Christmas Traditions

It’s no secret that my favorite time of year is Christmas.  The smells, the sights, the kindness of complete strangers…it’s just so warm and inviting! The time we get to spend with family that we may not see very often. 

And the traditions!  Those things you do every year that just put you in the Christmas spirit and bring back so many memories!

Well, today, I want to share some of our family’s favorite Christmas time traditions! 

(Just to note: we start off our Christmas by setting up our Christmas tree sometime during the weekend after Thanksgiving.  I’m totally one of THOSE people that would decorate before Halloween if I could!) 

But this goes into our first favorite tradition:

Every year we let each one of our kids pick out a new Christmas ornament.  We give them full control over which one they pick, which honestly, sometimes stresses me out!  But it is theirs.  We write their names and the year on each one. And we also pick out a family one all together.  And while we decorate our tree and pull out each ornament, we get to reminisce about how old they were or why they may have chosen a specific ornament and all the memories of picking these out and hanging them on our tree in previous years.  The plan is that we continue doing this each year and when they get their own homes and their own trees, they will get all of their ornaments.  This tradition just brings so many wonderful memories.  

I would say that’s my favorite, but who am I kidding, these are all my favorites! 

Our next tradition starts on December 1st.  While we decorate the house we pull out our little nativity set and we remind the kids about why we celebrate Christmas!  And we remind them about this being such a busy time of year and sometimes we forget to keep our focus on Jesus. So we need to be purposeful about finding Jesus in our everyday.  We may only do this tradition for December, but it’s one that we can reinforce and remember all year long (and they look forward to this all year long too).  You can read about the specifics of how we do this activity here.

Another fun tradition we have, but sometimes tweak is seeing Christmas lights!  This, some years, means we jump in the car in our pjs, run through Starbuck drive thru for some hot chocolate, and then drive around looking for the best lights! 

We have also gone to a a small local zoo that decorates with thousands and thousands of lights each year, instead of driving around. The kids love seeing how everyone decorates each year!

Then on Christmas Eve…this is a big day in our house! 

We always go to a Christmas Eve church service.  And then we come home and make homemade pizza together.  And while that is baking we get to my favorite part of the night, (This is one my dad did with us, and I love that I get to continue this tradition!) the kids get to open one gift! That gift every year is the same, my oldest at eight already knows before Christmas even gets here; he keeps me on my toes with this one! They each get to open a new pair of Christmas jammies with a new book.  Then the three of them get to open a new movie.  They all run to get their new jammies on and about then pizza is ready.  We all sit in the living room, eat our pizza and watch our new movie! And sometimes get to read our new books before bed too. But now that my oldest is getting into chapter books, we may only glance at it that night!

Then Christmas kids are up before the sun without fail!  Anyone else? No, just mine?

This is another tradition that the kids anticipate with tons of excitement!  Each year on Christmas morning, the kids open a gift that holds the long awaited answer to where we will be going for our Christmas trip! They’ve come to know that we go somewhere in the days following Christmas, but they finally get to know on Christmas morning! The excitement on their face as they realize where we are going is so worth the wait of telling them!

These are our own personal traditions, but I wanted to give you all more ideas too! So I asked on Facebook and some of you were kind enough to share your traditions as well!

A couple readers chimed in that they also, do the new pajamas on Christmas Eve.  One gave the idea to add a game or movie. And several of you love hot chocolate to add in! That would be a great addition I think!

Another reader spent time collecting an assortment of Christmas books and each year wraps each one up.  The kids get to pick one each night to open and when they’re done, she puts them away till the following year! What a fun tradition to have something to open and read each night for the season! 

Another great idea, was similar to our ornament tradition, but instead they get a new nativity scene as a family each year! I just love nativity sets!

Other popular ideas:

Bake Christmas cookies together as a family or with extended family!

Advent Calendars – there are tons to choose from! Candy, legos, story of Jesus and the list goes on and on…

Special family dinners.

Local Christmas parades

So there you have it! So many awesome Christmas traditions! If you are a new or a young family and haven’t acquired any traditions yet, don’t worry, they come with time and a little trial and error! 

Hopefully you’ve been able to get some good ideas or feel free to take on one (or more) of these!

Let me know in the comments your favorites!

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