7 Ideas for Creating Christmas Traditions

Warmth, memories and meaning are created through family traditions. Traditions are something we do year in and year out. What makes them meaningful is the anticipation and the certainty that they will take place! If you are in search of a new tradition here are 7 ideas for creating Christmas traditions.
1. Read the Christmas story before opening presents. Every year on Christmas day we get together with my extended family. Before the presents are opened, we read the story of Baby Jesus to the children. Each year we try to be creative. One year we used a birthday cake. Another year we used a poster and stickers to tell the story. Last year we did a skit. Though we did not use costumes, each child had a role and even some of the adults were innkeepers turning away Mary and Joseph.
Here are our little actors getting warmed up!

Another tradition is for the paparizzi to show up!
Count them…that’s 5 cameras capturing this moment! lol!

2. Spread the love of Jesus while driving around looking at Christmas lights. Every year before we leave the house to go look at Christmas lights, I have the children color 5-10 pictures of baby Jesus. (click here for coloring pages to print) Then as we drive we search for homes that are displaying the nativity. Each time we find one we clap and cheer. Then we roll down the back window and allow the children to take turns putting their picture in the mail box. I write on each picture “Thank you for displaying the reason for the season.” We hope it blesses them as they have blessed us!
3. A Jesus Stocking. A long time friend of mine from Jr. High, Erin, hangs an extra stocking for Jesus and each time someone in the family does something for Jesus they write it down on a slip of paper and place it in the stocking. On Christmas Eve they read them all together! I LOVE this idea!
4. Put the baby in the manger on Christmas Eve. Another idea came from Heather. She sets up her nativity without baby Jesus and on Christmas Eve they have a special moment as they place baby Jesus in the manger.

5. Cookies for the shepherds. Dorothy leaves cookies out for the Shepherds on Christmas Eve – along with her cookies for Santa!

6. Some traditions come in the form of foods. Growing up we always had pizza and shrimp cocktail at my grandma’s house on Christmas Eve. My pastor’s wife used to let her kids have sugar cookies for breakfast on Christmas morning (my kids sure would like it if I adopted this tradition!). I read of another who always has Fondue on Christmas and another has orange sherbet! Whatever the special food item is – if you have it year in and year out it will create a tradition and fond memories!

7. Special story books. One of my dearest friends from high school, Holly (a missionary to the Ukraine) says: “We read the book “One Wintry Night” by Ruth Bell Graham. It is 11 chapters, so we read a chapter a day, starting 11 days before Christmas so that chapter 11 falls on Christmas. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a beautifully illustrated picture book which tells the story of Christmas from creation to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Each chapter is very short with breathtaking pictures. We usually read it right before bed and then read the last part on Christmas day. It’s powerful!

I hope these ideas inspire you. I’d love to hear what traditions you do with your family. Please share them in the comments section!!!

Walk with the King!


  1. Oh thank you for posting this! Not sure why, but my family has never really started any Christmas tradition, other than reading the Christmas story and Christmas Advent quilt we put up on Dec. 1. I'm going to buy that Wintry Night book today! Thank you!

  2. Great ideas…about 9 years ago we started this. We take our elderly neigbors (whom never had children)out to a late lunch on Christmas eve day. Exchange ornaments and just eat! Then my family will go home and it all starts around 5ish. Next we start making cookies (normally my husband really helps do this, I clean as they go. The children decorate them and after were all done, we take a plate to all of our neigbors,most are reired and see our children as there gradchildren. They all love doing this! We come back and they open the one gift(always new pajamas)take showers, go see the lights with hot chocolate then we all snuggle in and daddy ready the story. Pricless memories!

  3. Cookies for the shepherds, I had never thought of that.

    Some of our traditions include making cut-out cookies, delivering containers of cookies and candies to neighbors and people from church (we make a list ahead of time and have back-up names down in case someone isn't home when we show up. This year I think it'd be fun to make a list of people that are more in-need and could use a little Christmas cheer rather than just friends).

    We also travel around and see Christmas lights, and on Christmas Eve we've started sleeping under the tree.

    Thank you for sharing these Courtney. I'll probably have mine up on my blog eventually if/when I have pictures to go along.

  4. I grew up in a very stress-filled home. Christmas was no exception. I remember my mom being completely worn out from preparations and the air was so thick with anxiety that no matter how glitzy we dressed, it was not very enjoyable. We would have a huge party and invite a house full of people. The food was exquisite. The gifts were abundant. However, mom was always exhausted, grouchy and wanting a lot of praise for her sacrifices and accomplishments. Courtney, I will never forget that ~ not because I don't forgive her, but because I don't want to repeat that!

    Our Christmas is very low-key, quiet, beautiful, relaxed, simple. We go to church on Christmas Eve and then come home to a roasted "something" meal and a yummy dessert. We listen to Christmas music and watch a movie together. We open one gift before snuggling down into bed. The next day we have a blueberry puff breakfast (only served on Christmas) that was easily put together the night before and baked while opening gifts. Then we have grandparents visit or we go visit them. The food is usually something easy to make that we don't have very often. Mom is adjusting to this new "norm" one year at a time. She is much older and can't put on the productions she used to. Now it's up to me and my family's choices.

    Simplicity! Beauty! No stress! Our lives are FILLED with just the opposite that I think our kids and our families would benefit from and remember Christmas MORE for NOT being complex, busy, toiled over and stressful just like every day life. Just quietness and beauty.

  5. I found you through Desiring God.
    Isn't it amazing how traditions can be so valuable when we bring them under God's authority!

    Have a Christmas full of Him!


    P.S. My post yesterday "Christmas by the Hour" is about our own traditions. We want to keep Christ the center of our celebration-

  6. Thank you everyone for sharing.

    Anonymous – I especially thank you for what you shared because it reminds me that having a Christmas that looks like the magazines doesn't mean it's going to be a "merry" Christmas.

    It's the simple quiet moments as a family that truly make it a "merry" Christmas!

    Thanks to everyone for sharing!

  7. I just wrote a post on my blog about the lack of Christmas traditions at my house. I told my son about the "Jesus stocking" this morning that you suggested. He loved the idea so I'm picking one up today! Thanks, Courtney! ;0)

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