christmas traditions

12 Christmas Traditions From Our Family

Everyone has their own family traditions for the holiday season, whether they’ve been around since you were a child or you created them when you began to have a family of your own. All traditions have to start somewhere and I think it’s never too late to come up with new ones that fit your family. Memories can be fleeting but traditions are memories you can count on over the years, they hold such sentimental value.

christmas traditions

The oldest tradition in my family is the opening of one gift on Christmas Eve. My sister and I would spend the entire day on edge just anxiously awaiting that moment when our parents gave us the go-ahead to pick a gift to open. Only a few of our gifts were from our parents, as I recall, Santa brought most of it. So the gifts from my parents would sit under the tree that night for us to choose freely. We knew which one we wanted, always carefully selecting in our heads early on. Sometimes, it was just pajamas, but other times it was an awesome toy we wanted. Either way, it was always so exciting because it gave us a taste of the big day to come.

In anticipation for the big day, my sister and I could never fall asleep. We would climb into the other’s bed and just talk and talk all night. My parents would tell us to be quiet a few times and then just give up. Somehow, we would fall asleep and then wake up again when it was still dark but if we could no longer hear my parents in the living room, we would go running out to see the beautiful view. There was something so magical about boxes stacked around the tree, with paper shimmering by the lights of the Christmas tree. My kids have told me that they do that same peek before we wake up and I never fault them for it. On the contrary, you stare at those wrapped gifts while I sleep an extra couple of hours, okay?

Another one that my parents always did was driving us around to see people’s Christmas lights all over town. Now, I do think this one has become more difficult over the years. I feel like there are so many less people who put up lights now. Even my house only has that little projector thing that we’re all doing now. I feel like that thing makes my point perfectly. We’re all too busy, we can be arsed to put up a bunch of Griswold-esque lights for people to ooh and ahh over. Not to mention the bill! But I digress, the point is that it got to be impossible for us to try to find enough consecutive homes of lights so that we weren’t driving around in the dark catching a house or two every few neighborhoods. We moved on to light shows. Shady Brook Farm became our go-to light show when we lived in Philadelphia and yes, even when we moved an hour or two away in New Jersey. Now that we’re in Tennessee, we’ve been planning to visit Cherokee Caverns in Knoxville that everyone’s been talking about. We love caving and this place does their Christmas lights in the cave. I can’t wait!

The rest of my family traditions are ones that we’ve slowly adopted over time. I didn’t grow up Christian so one of the big things I’ve enjoyed doing with the kids as I’ve grown until my faith is a Christmas Eve service. Each church seems to hold their ceremonies differently but our last church did a message about the Christmas story, a few carols, and candle lighting (with LED candles for the kids). It keeps us spending quality time together and making sure we take the time to focus on Jesus.

When we put up our Christmas tree, we always do it as a family. Each child is handed ornaments from their first Christmas to carefully place on the tree, then a few of their favorite characters (like I, of course, have a Clark W. Griswold ornament I always put up!), and then everyone takes turns with the very fragile colored baubles because we’re risk takers in this family.

Advents are HUGE for me because I’m completely impatient and so excited all month long. I buy the kids chocolate advents, book advents, anything I think is cute. I was eyeing up those cheese advents for adults but I couldn’t justify that cost to myself. They’re such an awesome way to countdown to the big day!

christmas traditions

Sometimes I just sort of make my own advent but I really just call it a book countdown. I have books that I only take out during December so that they never get old and feel repetitive. It’s like a gift that keeps on giving! Some of them are typical classics like How the Grinch Stole Christmas and a beautiful collectors copy of The Night Before Christmas but every year, I add more. So for each day of December, I pull out a different book for each kid and gift it to them for the day.

My husband has always loved The Christmas Guest poem and if you don’t already, look up the words and I think you will love it too. The Christmas Guest is a poem about what the spirit of the holidays really is about. It’s about helping, giving, and being there for people. So every year, we listen to the version of Johnny Cash reading this poem, and we urge the kids to listen to the words and take it to heart.

We don’t host many holidays at my home but Christmas Eve dinner has belonged to us for years. My mom and the kids’ grandparents come over while my husband puts together an elaborate dinner (he’s superman!) and we open gifts together. The whole evening is exactly what I imagine Christmas should be like, family laughing together, sharing stories, making memories.

christmas traditions

Baking cookies is the most delicious thing we do on Christmas Eve. I make my homemade sugar cookies and we all use Christmas cookie cutters and take turns. Then, we frost the cookies, sprinkle them with sugar, and leave some out for Santa!

christmas traditions

The elves come to our house and they’re great if I can remember to move them. (I’m a terrible Tooth Fairy, I don’t know why I thought I’d make any better of an elf facilitator.) What I really love, though, is The Shepherd’s Treasure. This guy is like the elves but he’s a Christian version so he’s doing things like reminding your children to pray and of important stories in The Bible. I have the Advent cards for this one so it doesn’t require as much imagination as the elves do, which is helpful because when I’m trying to remember to move things during a wakeful moment at 3am, creativity is not my strong suit.

Possibly my absolute favorite tradition began a few years ago when we completed our family of seven. The kids wanted to buy for each other but we have a lot of kids and that could get pricey. I’ve always loved polyannas so I thought what a great idea it would be to host our own family polyanna. Each child picks a name out of a hat and then gets to shop for that sibling. It’s great when I’m not ruining it:
“Mommy, can I use this paper to wrap her present?”
“No no, that paper is to wrap presents that are FOR you. So like, [sister’s name] will use that paper when she wraps your present.”
“That’s who has me?” OH NO! But really, they love it and the gifters and giftees are always very pleased!

I love hearing about the things that people do with their families for the holidays and everyone has different things, just like everyone has their own list of Christmas movies on the must-watch list every year!

What are some of your family’s traditions?

4 thoughts on “12 Christmas Traditions From Our Family

  1. On Christmas Eve we have Chinese food for lunch since for many years one of us or both of us are working at the church during services. My boys will then get to open one present (which is always clothes to wear that evening). We will all sit together for one of the services. When we get home the boys get to open another gift. This one is always pajamas, a new throw blanket, a movie to watch that night and movie snacks. We then all watch the movie together as a family. After the boys go to bed, me and my husband watch It’s a Wonderful Life together. There are so many other things that we do throughout the season and special things on Christmas morning but this post will be the size of a novel if I write it all down 😂

    1. That’s how I ended up with a post the size of a novel LOL but I love your traditions, that’s so cute!! I hope they keep it up with their families too!!

  2. We usually bake cookies together but we got a late start and didn’t find out that the oven portion of our new range wasn’t working until the evening of the 23rd. We are very rural and we believe that the problem is there isn’t any gas getting to the oven and broiler because the conversion to propane wasn’t done correctly. I have an appointment set with my propane company but they scheduled it 2 weeks out. Fun, fun, fun. At least I learned I can make perfect filet mignon in cast iron on the stovetop. Our other traditions are opening Christmas pjs on Christmas Eve, changing into them and turning off all of the lights except the holiday lights and just enjoying the peace for a little while. We also leave our tree up until the epiphany/ little Christmas and exchange small gifts then.

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