7 Ideas For Creating Christmas Traditions

(Repost from the Archives)

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 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. Thanks Courtney for these ideas. Some of them I didnt even think of. I truly love the one where the kids color the pictures of Jesus and you leave them with houses that display the nativity!! I believe I will use that one this year!!! We dont do stocks, or anything that has to do with Santa or give receiving so those ideas wont work for our family however we can find ways to use them with our traditions.. Thanks again for sharing. I love adding new traditions to our family every year!!! luv ya girl

  2. Love, love LOVE your ideas. Especially the one about placing colored thank you notes in people's mailboxes! Thanks for the wonderful ideas. 🙂

  3. Love these ideas. Especially the Christmas stocking for Jesus.

    2 things we do are:
    1) make a birthday cake for Jesus and sing "happy birthday" to Him.

    2) put candy canes on door knobs with a scroll of "the legend of the candy cane" attached to them

    *if you are not familiar with "the legend of the candy cane"
    here is a link about it

    Thanks again for the great ideas and have a very Merry CHRISTmas!!!

  4. Great ideas!

    This year, to make more room for the big family dinner, we swapped our living room and dining room. Our big Christmas tree does not fit in our 'new' living room so it is in the 'new' dining room. So we purchased a small 3ft tree for the 'new' living room. That is going to be our Jesus tree. I plan to have everyone write a Christmas present to Jesus and place it in a card under the tree. We will open them and read them on Christmas Eve. It can be working on a better attitude. Helping the neighbor. Things that we can do to for Christ and/or others.

  5. Courtney,
    I really enjoyed reading all these… love the mailbox one!!!
    We bake a bday cake for Jesus on Christmas Eve, we all decorate it, then have it for breakfast on Christmas morning!
    We also collect ornaments when we go somewhere or do something new or different. Each child gets 2-3 new ornaments each year. They will have a set to take with them when they are married. ( I still will have some too from their childhood). This year was bittersweet seeing all the ornaments that were linked with my husband's job – last day Dec 31.
    Again, thank you for your ministry!

  6. Courtney… Two weeks ago my oldest daughter who is only 10 was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, so I have been having a hard time with figuring out how to replace some of our food related traditions! Most of course were of the cookies and treats kind! So thank you for your post!…Also please include our already struggling family into you prayers and we may rise to this challenge and not sink into dispair this Holiday season. We are all adjusting and it is very difficult…Mommies are not made to hurt there babies and no kid like 4 shots a day and endless finger pricks…So just include us in your prayers…TY Michelle Paul

    1. Michelle,
      My 6yo daughter was just diagnosed with type 1 in October. I can’t say it has been “fun,” but it has just become part of our life. It has brought us closer to God, and we have built new relationships, as well as improved others. It has also brought so many opportunities to share my faith that I would not otherwise have. Hope you will find the same. When it gets to be too much, and it definitely does sometimes, I lean on the promises we have in the Bible. This one has been a go-to this fall. Matthew 11 verse 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

  7. Great ideas!! What we've started this year is on our count down to Christmas chain, we put scripture verses on each link and every night we take one off we'll read them together. Thought it would be a good way to keep Jesus in the season and keep my kids in the word daily. Thanks for your wonderful blog and Merry Christmas!

    Kim Incarnato 🙂

  8. Great ideas, thanks for sharing! I like the idea of only giving children three gifts…..cause that's how many Jesus received. Also choosing a child from the Angel Tree and shopping for them as a family.
    To Anonymous who has daughter with diabetes try this http://www.simplysugarandglutenfree.com/recipes/#dessert
    for great low glycemic recipes. I've cooked the sweet potato quinoa cookies,carrot cupcakes, and blondies. all turned out well the first try!

  9. Lots of great ideas! And one word of caution… leaving something in someone else's mailbox is illegal and may actually result in a fine. A better thought might be to package the picture/message in a weather-proof manner (maybe a ziploc bag?) and attach it to the outside of the mailbox. No law against that! Long ago I worked for the USPS and know ths to be true.

  10. We've had different traditions through the years..some have remained and some have gone by the wayside…when the children were small, I put one of those individual serving size of cereal in their stocking so that they could at least eat something while they played with their toys…later it was monkey bread for breakfast….we always opened gifts from our immediate family on Christmas Eve and then went to Grandparents for Christmas Day…Now that the grandchildren can read, we each have a Bible and read a few verses of the Nativity before opening gifts…Usually we have several translations…Now that both my husbands and my parents have gone home, we are rethinking how we celebrate in our family.
    Mama Bear

  11. I love the Jesus Stocking Idea. My grandmother spent many Christmases with us and this Christmas will be my first one since she passed away. I've been wondering what oh what to do with her stocking… Such a small thing to most but painful for me, as it's another reminder for me that she won't be here this year. Thank you.

  12. I love the stocking for Jesus idea! I'm going it first thing tomorrow morning. Thanks for a great post!

  13. We always pick 1 night to look at Christmas Lights and stop for a drink of hot chocolate at Starbucks.
    We do the Jesse Tree during the month for our homeschool bible lesson.
    We have friends over for a Jesus Birthday Party – with cupcakes and purple balloons to release up to heaven!!

    Great post – thanks for some new ideas!

  14. I love hearing the traditions of others! I'll tell you what I've been doing for 4 years now, that my mother started me doing. It was not a tradition of our as we were growing up but one she helped me start with my own 4 kiddos. I wrap up 25 different Christmas books and each night the kids get to choose one to open. It's a neat way to count down the days until Christmas, and it gives us that special time before bed to read together. I re-use the same books every year, and I usually end up buying a couple new Christmas books each year to add to our collection too.
    Julianne 🙂

  15. Love this post, thanks so much for posting this! I have a 6 month old this Christmas and I was so wondering what traditions to start with him!

  16. I love to read about other people's traditions. It is how I find some to use. I was determined not let our first year without all the traditions that go along with Santa be sad, and so I started new traditions. On Christmas Eve, we all sit around the table and eat Santa's cookies. We have a journal that we have kept over the years and each family member writes out their favorite scripture that spoke to them over the year and their favorite memory for the year. Our girls each get a tiny gift on Santa's Plate where we would have put cookies out. They have truly enjoyed the new traditions.

  17. I am loving #1 and #4. We always read the Christmas story, but doing it BEFORE opening presents sounds like a wonderful idea! It is one time we are guaranteed to all be together in the same spot. And this year I learned people in some countries put a crib next to their tree, which is adorable. So I am thinking we will lay the baby in the manger Christmas morning and then read the story. Thanks so much for adding to our Christmas traditions with this wonderful post. And thanks so much for linking it to the Christmas Party!!

  18. I appreciated your ideas. Absolutely loved the Jesus stocking. I'm going to add that one to our traditions. We read "One Wintry Night" every year. It's the best!

  19. We're doing most of these already, but the Jesus stocking is new to me. During November, we do a Thankful box where we write down things we're thankful for and read them on Thanksgiving. The stocking would be a perfect way to follow that.

    Thanks so much for sharing that idea.

  20. We have frozen pizza for 'brunch' on Christmas day every year. I tried making a special b-fast but that never went over. The kids are too excited and want to do presents right away and then we go to my parents in the afternoon so we started this about 5-6 years ago. It works great! 🙂

  21. Added the book to my queue.

    we do something a little bit like the stocking…

    we have a blessing jar. I add things to it at the beginning of advent. each day we draw one out. if you do that days blessing then you put a coin in.

    this year when we got to 30 coins we went for ice cream.

    our next goal is 60 and we buy someone else's.

  22. Hi – would you mind if I use some of your post for an article on “How to Be a Blessing to Your Neighbour” that I’m working on for December this year? I really like your idea of colouring the picture and putting in people’s mailboxes who have a nativity on their front lawn.

  23. Courtney,
    I love what you have written here! I have some traditions on my blog that I’ve shared as well. I am writing a new piece today about what my neighbor did for me, and I would like to include some suggestions that you’ve written about above for additional ideas leading up to Christmas morning, if that is ok. I have your badge already displayed on my website as I love your work! You have encouraged me far more than you will ever know! My blog is: http://www.lightlovehope.com
    Blessings to you and yours!

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