6 weeks till Christmas: create a new family tradition

Traditions are great around the holidays because it bonds the family unit, it gives you something unique to look forward to, and it invites a shared past that children can pass on to future generations.

But there’s no reason to purposely create a tradition if it doesn’t fit with your family culture, or if it doesn’t mean anything to you.

12 weeks till christmas on simple momThis week’s project in our 12 Weeks to a Peaceful Christmas series is to plan a new family tradition, or to get ready for your much-loved holiday tradition already in place.

So here are a few ideas to create a new tradition this year — if any of them spark an idea for a unique twist that reflects your family, run with it.

1. Jesse Tree

A jesse tree is a simple tree that holds one ornament per day for a set amount of time, leading up to the final one on Christmas day. Each ornament is a symbol of a particular part of Scripture, starting with creation and leading to the birth of Christ.

This is a simple, powerful way to introduce the chronological epic of the Bible to younger children, since there are many short daily devotions that you can do each day as a family. My favorite is Ann Voskamp‘s “The Glorious Coming.”

You can tweak your jesse tree to reflect your family’s style and budget as well. It can be a separate Christmas tree, of course, but it can also be a craggy branch planted in a flower pot, with lots of branches for hanging ornaments. It can even be a simple construction paper tree cut-out, taped to the wall.

And the ornaments themselves range from heirloom-style quality pieces to simple free printables from the Internet. My favorite ornament collection is this simple one from a friend of mine, but there are also plenty of ways you can make your own. Some families collect ornaments from the store as they find some that fit the devotional topic.

2. Pajamas on Christmas Eve

Many families have a fun tradition of opening one present on Christmas Eve, and that present is always the same — pajamas. The kids always know what it is, but it’s still fun to see what kind of jammies they’ll don on Christmas morning.

3. Baby Jesus under the Tree

This simple tradition is great for little ones. When you put up and decorate the tree, include a simple empty manger at the base. You can make one out of wood, or you can create a makeshift manger out of a crate, a basket, or even a doll’s cradle.

Each evening, after the kids are in bed, add a little bit of “straw” in the manger — raffia from a craft store works well. Then on Christmas morning, among the gifts, will be the most significant gift reflected in the season — baby Jesus was born. Use a simple, unadorned doll and place him swaddled on top of the straw.

4. Christmas Eve Surprise Cookies

Photo by Matthias Rhomsberg

The day before Christmas, deliver cookies to those who have to work — firefighters and policemen, nurses at the hospital, even airline employees at the airport. It’s a small, simple way to cheer up their day when they would probably rather be with family than at work.

Check with these places ahead of time to make sure they’re allowed to accept such gifts — many communities these days have placed restrictions on what they can receive.

5. An Annual Ornament

Choose an ornament for each child, each year until they leave the home. See if you can have the ornament reflect something about the child’s personality, an accomplishment they achieved that year, or something else unique. If your daughter was a mouse in The Nutcracker this year, pick a ballerina or a mouse, for example.

Give this ornament on a set day each year — Christmas eve, or Christmas morning. Then when they leave your home and start their own, let them take their box of ornaments with them.

6. Christmas Play

Your kids don’t need to sign up for the community theater or your church’s Christmas pageant to have fun acting out the Christmas story. Some families have a tradition of all the kids in the extended family — all the cousins and grandkids — reenact the first Christmas, complete with shepherds, animals, and wise men.

It’s not difficult to create your own simple script, but you can find plenty online to download for free. I’m impressed with this collection.

There are also the myriad of more “traditional” traditions — caroling around the neighborhood, driving around to look at the lights, watching your favorite movies, and the like.

The most important part of family traditions are to keep them simple, keep them lighthearted, and keep them fun. Their purpose is family unity, not a perfect holiday season.

What’s your favorite Christmas tradition in your family?

top photo source
Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and just finished traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

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  1. I think, we have a very traditional Christmas with going to church, a festive dinner, visiting the grandparents etc., but I like your ideas, especially the pajama thing!
    .-= Micha´s last blog ..Erfrischend / fresh dessert =-.

  2. Gift Hunter says:

    It’s judst me and my sister together on christmas. we’re both married but we try and find time to bond, specially during the holidays. we’ve had this little tradition going between the two of us. when one visits the other for christmas dinner, they get to take the dinne center piece home with them. the center piece is usually a gift basket. here is this year’s christmas gift that my sis will take home. its the red one.

  3. Ooooh! I like this one! We do the pajama thing too, which is sooo much fun. We also bake cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve, drive around town with hot chocolate to look at the lights, go to our town’s Christmas parade, which is done at night so it’s all lit up – awesome! We also buy one ornament per kid each year, but I keep them in a box to give to them when they move into their own homes. My husband and I buy choose a new ornament for the tree each year – we always try to get the funniest, strangest ornament that we can find – one year it was a glass pickle, this year it’s a funny looking frog…On Christmas day my everyone comes to our house and our kids are allowed to stay in their pj’s and play with the gifts from Santa all day long.

  4. We always have fresh cinnamon rolls for breakfast on Christmas morning. Last year my three kids didn’t even want to open their presents – they just wanted those cinnamon rolls!

    It amazes me how much we all look forward to sharing that time together. Can’t wait!

    .-= steadymom´s last blog ..Bartering: Advice for the Frugal Mom =-.

    • I love the idea of cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning. I haven’t though been able to figure out how to make them without having to get up 2 hours early to roll out the dough that has been refrigerated overnight. Can you share your recipe or ideas with us? Thanks.


      • We do cinnamon rolls too! Definitely my husband’s favorite gift on Christmas morning. I use this recipe from Alton Brown: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/overnight-cinnamon-rolls-recipe/index.html
        They are called “Overnight Cinnamon Rolls”, so I prep them on Christmas Eve after the girls are in bed and then wake up a little early to let them proof. They are always a big hit!
        We also do Advent readings, similar to the Jesse Tree. My girls love lighting the candles on the Advent wreath and the Scripture reading each night keeps us focused on the really important thing-the coming of Emmanuel.
        .-= Paula@Motherhood Outloud´s last blog ..Post at Isaac’s Keep on Preparing Children for Worship =-.

        • We do Monkey Bread to make it easy. This recipe is called “Land of Nod Cinnamon Buns” which I find very fitting because you can do the work before bedtime and the buns do the rest while you’re in “The Land of Nod”. My family has nicknamed them “Dump Buns” because you really do just dump everything in, let them sit in a cold oven for 8+ hours and bake them in the morning. They’re wonderful!
          Enjoy and thanks for this wonderful post, can’t wait for Christmas morning!

      • Annette,

        I’ve been using The Frugal Girl’s “overnight cinnamon twists” for special occasions — kids’ birthdays, and so on — and my family loves them. I think they’d be great on Christmas morning. I highly recommend them.


        • Thanks for the cinnamon twist recipe! It is exactly what I was looking for. I hope you are enjoying your new camera lens – the photos accompanying the recipe were beautiful!

      • You don’t have to make homemade ones! I make my mother-in-laws recipe called Bubble Bread. It’s sort of like Monkey Bread, but it make big cinnamon rolls, you prepare it the night before and bke it in the morning 30-40 minutes! They are delicious!
        I pkg. Rhoads dough balls (Smaller ones), 3/4 C brown sugar, 1/4 C havey whiping cream, 2 sticks oleo, 1 C. sugar plus 1 t. cinnamon
        Melt together brown sugar, cream and i stick oleo in pan to boil. Pour mixture in bottom of angel food or bunt pan and set aside. In another bowl, mix the white sugarand cinnamon together. Roll frozen dough balls in melted oleo then roll in sugar/cinnamon mixture. Arrange on bottom of pan, they can overlap, make sure bottom is covered. Leave in oven turned off overnight to rise. In the morning, bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes. After baking, let cool for a bit, then turn over onto a large platter.

  5. We buy an ornament for each child every year. We make our annual trip to Hallmark to pick them out. We choose an ornament that best describes our children’s personality. They love seeing what ornament that we have chosen for them every year.

  6. These are great ideas! I’m so looking forward to creating some holiday traditions in our family and this really gets me thinking. I like the Jesse tree idea and also like what someone said about driving around to look at Christmas lights. Thanks!
    .-= Greta @ Mom Living Healthy´s last blog ..Fitness Plan Friday: Raking Leaves and Burning Calories =-.

  7. The kids get pajamas on Christmas Eve–I find that nothing gets them ready for bed faster than new jammies! This year I am introducing the Advent calendar–I’ll look into the Jesse Tree links to see what I can incorporate. The advent calendar I’m making is a string of little knitted mittens and hats, and in addition to hershey kisses, I want to slip something else into most every day–either a piece of the nativity scene that they can add, or a piece of paper that lists an activity for the day (like baking cookies). It would be lovely to incorporate some scripture readings that actually tell the Christmas story.
    .-= Meg Evans´s last blog ..Right Now =-.

  8. I started the pajamas on Christmas Eve when our daughters were really young. Every year they would get their one present and then act all disappointed that it was ‘clothes’. When they grew up and got married, I said I was going to stop buying them pajamas and just do the kids. They went berserk. It’s TRADITION Mom! We have to get our jammies. I even buy pajama pants for the sons-in-laws. They love it.
    .-= MaryC´s last blog ..Past Posts Entertainment =-.

  9. On Christmas Eve, I make authentic posole, spicy with big chunks of tender pork.

    On Christmas morning, I make it my mission to serve the most calorie laden, cholesterol crazy, rich, savory, cheesy, spicy breakfast casserole known to mankind. My family would be disappointed if I didn’t. It’s tradition.

    I do not put any presents under the tree until Christmas Eve, after they are in bed and confirmed to be asleep. I love the look on their faces when they get up on Christmas morning and see what happened overnight. The big drawback is finding a place to store everything.

  10. Our daughter is 16 months old so we are starting a new tradition this year of going to get her picture taken with Santa the day after Thanksgiving. We always host Thanksgiving at our house and our parents visit us from out of state. We think this will be a nice way for them to build holiday memories with their granddaughter. Rather than just sending them a copy of her photo with Santa, they will get to experience it firsthand.

    • Good luck with the Santa pictures, both of my sons got their pictures with Santa when they where less than 7 months old, but now they are both too afraid to sit on his lap to this day (I do have a few screaming & crying pictures with Santa holding them on his lap before they fling themselves to the ground).

  11. On Christmas Eve my in-laws have a great tradition that I’m borrowing. We call it Hot Pot. We basically have fondue (with chicken stock) for dinner. I make a bunch of sauces and have chicken, shrimp and beef. And lots of veggies. All the left-overs get thrown in to make a soup that serves as a light lunch on Christmas Day. They started it because it takes HOURS to eat and kept my husband and his brother busy and not too hyper.

    On Christmas Morning I serve ‘Christmas Morning Wife-Saver’. You make it the night before and pop it in the oven. This way the only meal to worry about is Christmas Dinner. http://www.bestofbridge.com/Recipe2.aspx

    My Mom does the ornament thing each year. When I moved out I had a set of decorations. Now, she’s started getting an ornament for my tree and hers that matches.

    I like the PJ idea and think I might adopt that this year.

  12. We always celebrate St.Nicholas day on Dec. 6, which is when we open our stockings. It is a great time to talk about the real santa and how he lived his life for God and others. BTW I love your idea about taking cookies to people who have to work Christmas. As a nurse, I often work the holidays and it is sad for me to be away from my family.

    • NURSEFEGLEY says:

      I am also a nurse and think the cookies are a wonderful idea.. Although we are not allowed to accept gifts from families or our patients as a co-worker we could do this on the holidays we don’t work… And yes being away from our families on holiday’s such as Christmas is very sad and the ONLY negative of this profession.

  13. What terrific ideas! I feel like if I can help my child understand the full meaning, I can keep my focus too — and not get swept up into the stress and spending that has happened in previous years.

  14. This year we have decided to change-up the pajama tradition and get them on the first Sunday of Advent. We found that we would get really cute Christmas pajamas on Christmas Eve but not really have enough time to enjoy them. Next Christmas the kids will have outgrown them(well maybe mom and dad will too, but that is our own fault!)

  15. Thanks for all the great ideas! I would like to get Ann Voskamp’s book now — I have tried to put appropriate Bible passages into the drawers of our family’s Advent calendar, but I suspect she does a better job giving kids the whole story 🙂

    I also like Lisa’s idea above about having the new pjs on the first Sunday of Advent. Or perhaps we could do them on Dec 6th for Sinterklaas (my ggps were Dutch immigrants – the kids leave out their shoes for a little gift from the Dutch Santa on that day. yes, i know pjs don’t fit into shoes!)
    .-= mommyknits´s last blog ..Is it OK to knit for a patient? =-.

  16. My favourite Christmas tradition actually happens on December 1st. We have a very busy 24th – 25th December, driving to visit extended family, with 3 stops (different family members) along the way. On December 1st, however, we put on Christmas music, enjoy a light dinner and a glass of wine (for my husband and I), then decorate the Christmas tree. Our children are only 18 month and 4 months old, so haven’t helped yet, but this year I hope my 18 month old can add a couple of decorations too. We also have a nativity advent calendar, beginning on Dec 1, with Bible verses in each box. The “Glorious Coming” resource looks interesting. I’ll have to check it out.
    .-= Julie´s last blog ..Things to do with 3 year olds (and other ages too!) =-.

  17. Great ideas! I especially love the Jesse tree! I think that my kids and I will make ornaments about Jesus’s life to hang on the tree during the month of December. Maybe we can do it again in the month before Easter!
    .-= Olivia´s last blog ..Invisible Mothers =-.

  18. We do almost all of these, except the Jesse Tree. I am going to have to look into that! I also do a video interview with each girl near Christmas time, that will be a great keepsake. My girls get a candy cane on Dec. 1 every year, and even though we have tons of fun traditions, this is one they get the most excited about!
    .-= Angela Mills´s last blog ..Homeschool Hop and The Homeschool Lounge =-.

  19. Here are some of the traditions we do around here…

    * Set up and decorate the tree during the weekend following Thanksgiving
    * Read a “new” Christmas book each day (I buy these throughout the year at yard sales, thrift stores, etc.) from my annual stash that stays hidden until December.
    * On Christmas Eve each child opens one gift – it contains a new set of pajamas, a book, and their annual ornament.
    * On Christmas Eve just before bedtime we read Robert Sabuda’s pop up “The Night Before Christmas.”
    * Each of my kids adopts a Salvation Army “angel” around their age and selects the gifts we buy for that child.
    * We drive around admiring the Christmas lights in our area at least one night each year (always hitting at least a few houses on the regional “tacky lights” tour). We’re lucky to have one nearby that has even been on TLC.

    Hmmm…that’s all that comes to mind right now. Thanks for this post and for all of the ideas – I’m always on the lookout for family-centric traditions for all times of the year!

  20. We are an interfaith family, so I’m rebelling and telling about a Hanukkah tradition (which is easily adaptable). We make a Hanukkah coupon book with 8 activities to do with the kids (one for each day). We choose things that each kid likes to do and try to make it special time with the family or one parent… Craft or baking or polishing nails with mom, making a movie or biking with dad, etc. The kids LOVE it and start talking about it at about Halloween time every year.

  21. R.M. Koske says:

    Carolie – love the Hanukkah tradition! Maybe folks who don’t celebrate Hanukkah could come up with seven and count down the last week?

    One tradition I loved as a kid would probably be hard to replicate, but I remember it fondly: My father used to save up his leave from work as much as he could, and accrued enough most years that he could be off work the entire time we were off for Christmas vacation from school. It was a huge treat.

    My father has a stereo that has a lot of power and we’d blast Christmas music through the house (the booming chords that start “A Christmas Festival” still give me chills). One thing that might in the long run become a treasured memory is to limit the playlist a bit. My father’s collection was something like 5 albums. He never bought any others that I know of, possibly even to this day. The first thing my sister and I did when we moved out was to start collecting the CDs of Daddy’s Christmas music.

    My parents also picked one night most years to sit quietly together. We’d read The Night Before Christmas, and then they’d light candles and we’d sit in the candlelight and listen to Christmas music and just be together. It really doesn’t take much to make memories.

  22. We used to always open one gift on Christmas Eve, but it wasn’t pajamas. It was always a book…somehow my siblings and I preferred the book over everything else!

  23. A few years ago we started a new tradition – our take on the advent calendar. At the end of November I plan out our calendar for the holidays, taking into account all the special events going on at school, in the community, library storytimes, etc that we want to enjoy. Then I fill it in so we have a special activity each day of December. Some days are more involved and some are easy and silly (like wearing Santa hats to dinner, or having a red and green dinner, or eating candy cane ice cream for dessert, or making a simple craft). We are a 2-working-parent family, so I try to spread things out so we can manage it over the month.

    Before December 1st I buy an inexpensive pad of Christmas paper and write an activity on each page, folding it up to make something like an envelope. I put a corresponding number sticker on each envelope. We have a foam mailbox that they all go into. Then every morning, before we head out the door, my daughter gets to open the day’s envelope and have something to look forward to all day.

    It is a lot of work, but worth it – she starts talking about it in October! We do a lot of the other traditions too (PJs, church on Christmas eve, and many more) but most of those were carried over from my own family. It’s nice to have started our own tradition as a family, too!

    The year I was best at photographing and blogging our activities was back in 2006 (yikes!)…it starts here if anyone is looking for activity ideas: http://jenjeff.blogspot.com/2006/12/24-days-of-christmas.html

  24. What a wonderful article. 🙂 Our little boy is almost 1 year, so we are trying to figure out what our traditions will be. Thanks for such great ideas!

  25. One of our family’s favorite traditions is going out for dessert on Christmas Eve. We eat an early supper, then head to the downtown area where our favorite dessert restaurant is located. Few people are out, so parking is easy and we have our choice of almost any table. After we eat, we walk around a bit, admiring all the beautifully decorated store windows, ending in a luxurious hotel lobby that’s filled with Christmas trees and a magnificent electric train display. It’s so nice to spend a quiet evening doing something special together after all the hustle and bustle of the season is over.
    .-= Tracey´s last blog ..Napkins for Free This Week =-.

  26. My parents did this for me, and I’ll do this for my son when he’s old enough to understand.

    They hired a “Christmas Elf” otherwise known as a neighbor. They’d knock on our door on Christmas Eve, run away leaving wrapped packages on our door.

    In it? Pajamas!

    We’d quickly get into them and go to bed. It was so much fun! I wrote a post about it two years ago. It’s linked to my name on this comment.
    .-= Kacie´s last blog ..Let’s donate money to pay off the national debt =-.

  27. Reading all these posts started to get me excited about Christmas. I would love to add a Jesse Tree this year, but we will see if that happens!
    My husband’s family is from Texas and we started a tradition of eating tamales on Christmas Eve along with other Southwestern type food. My sil is always able to find someone that makes them homemade.
    I started hosting a Gingerbread House decorating tea for Lilly last year. I keep it small and simple and have some of my former students coming to help this year. We purchase the ready made houses at Publix and each person brings a certain kind of candy.
    We also attend a “big” show in Atlanta and go to dinner downtown. This year we are attending the Rockette’s Christmas Show. I’m really looking forward to my Bird seeing the Nativity scene at the end.
    .-= Kim @ whatsupbird´s last blog ..A Gift of a Tuesday =-.

  28. A tradition that we have started in the past couple of years is to sleep under the Christmas tree the first night after we have decorated it in the sleeping bags that we got a couple of Christmases ago. It’s fun to have a little campout together and enjoy the beauty of our new tree.

  29. Here are our traditions:
    *We put our Christmas Tree up the 1st week of November and begin addding our homemade decorations to the Tree each week.
    *I buy a clear glass bulb for each girl to personalize. They decorate it on Thanksgiving each year and put it on the tree. I am hoping to continue the tradition with our grandkids. Which shouldn’t be too far off, as my two oldest are step-daughters and are 20 and 18. My youngest is 4.
    *I make tons of cookies, candies, fudge, puppy chow, & homemade breads each year. We give them to local businesses, friends, amd family.
    *We spend Christmas Eve with our extended family. We eat finger foods, exchange gifts and everyone wears festive Christmas Jammies.
    *Our immediate family, which consists of my hubby, myself, and our three girls, spend Christmas Day at home together. Just us!!!!
    *We are trying teach our daughter’s not to be materialist. Therefore, they only receive 3 gifts under the tree(like the wise men gave Jesus), and each receive a stocking full of goodies.
    *Last year we gave to TOYS FOR TOTS. This year we are looking at doing something with Samaitans Purse. We are also thinking of buying some chickens for a family in the phillipines for my father’s Christmas Gift.
    We love spending time together as a family.We will probably add more traditions as our youngest one grows older and our oldest one give us grandbabies:-)

  30. These are wonderful ideas and I have known since our kids were born that I wanted to have some special traditions. My mom gave me a box of my ornaments when I left home and now every year our kiddos get a new ornament! I may even have to start a few more bc your suggestions are perfect! Thank you 🙂

    *Just want you to know I have new mommy blog too if you would ever or anyone else, want to visit!! smilinggreenmom.com ( I love your blog and am going to add you to my blogroll) 🙂
    .-= smilinggreenmom´s last blog ..Friday Friends ~ Meet Beth!!! =-.

  31. When we were little, my mom would put special pillow cases she had made out of holiday fabric on our pillows five days before Christmas. It was always so exciting to go to bed and find out that we only had five more sleeps until Christmas!

  32. Thank you SO MUCH for the Jesse Tree idea and links. I’ve been wanting to start that tradition, and now I have some good resources for doing so.

    I LOVE traditions. thank you for sharing this motivation!
    .-= Megan at Simple Kids´s last blog ..November 13th: Weekend Links =-.

  33. I love traditions and we always went out to eat Christmas Eve and then to church. It was a great family time and each year we tried a different ethnic restaurant.
    .-= Joan´s last blog ..Erase Worry =-.

  34. I’ve been thinking about the ornaments and the pajama thing. We will be doing our first Jesse Tree this year so I’m thinking that may be enough newness for this year.

    One tradition that we have from when I was growing up is having the littlest one hands out the gifts. Really help to teach some patients and reinforce the idea of giving on Christmas instead of getting all the time.
    .-= LaToya´s last blog ..Alphabitty Moments J =-.

  35. Annette was asking about having cinnamon buns ready for Christmas morning with no getting up early. Here is the perfect recipe. I’ve used it for years. Your kids can help so it is another great tradition. The recipe is from the book The Best of the Best and more.

    Land of Nod Cinnamon Buns
    20 frozen dough rolls
    1 cup brown sugar
    1/4 cup instant vanilla pudding
    1-2 tsp. cinnamon
    3/4 cup raisins (optional)
    1/4 to 1/2 cup melted butter

    Grease a 10″ angel food cake pan. (I’ve used loaf pans, 9×13 etc.) Put frozen rolls in. Sprinkle brown sugar, pudding powder, cinnamon and raisins. Pour melted butter over top. Cover with a clean, damp cloth. Leave out at room temperature all night.
    In the morning, preheat oven to 350 F and bake 25 minutes. Let sit 5 minutes and turn out onto a serving plate.
    .-= Joan´s last blog ..Activities to do in Doctor’s Office =-.

  36. Wow, everyone has such great traditions. For my family, we actually open all our gifts on Christmas eve. I’m not sure why that started, but we’ve always done it since I was a kid, and we continued it with my family. Maybe we just can’t wait for all the fun!

    We also host a cookie swap party. Basically, we invite our friends and family to spend an evening together before Christmas. Everyone bakes a couple dozen cookies and on the night of the party, we all swap cookies. Everyone gets a variety of wonderful cookies to take home, and we all get a fun night together.
    .-= Eric | Eden Journal´s last blog ..WIN a $25 Amazon Gift Card! 5 Weeks of Contests, 5 Chances to WIN =-.

  37. Thanks for the Cookies to the Firefighters etc.
    I am an Emergency Nurse, and usually work every other Christmas. We usually have a pretty festive atmosphere, but when we know that someone else is thinking of us, it is really wonderful. One year a patient’s family member told us he had to leave for a bit, came back with a huge vat of Caribou Coffee and bagels for us. It made a huge difference to us. including your kids is a great way to teach compassion.

  38. I started the tradition of an ornament every year when my son was born 25 years ago. Who knew it would be his younger sister who would be on her own first. This Thanksgiving we will carry her box of ornaments to her so when we arrive to her apartment in December, she will not have a bare tree! My son is getting married in 6 months — we will give him and has new bride his ornaments….looks like I’ll be shopping for good deals on tree decor this Christmas for next year’s tree!

  39. It is a great thing to be reminded that traditions can be made to suit our lifestyles.
    When the children were young we had traditions too, but we cannot be together anymore for Christmas so now we have to create a different tradition that fits a change of circumstances.
    As life changes, traditions can be adjusted. Hmm.
    .-= Wilma Ham´s last blog ..All conversations are not equal in intimacy. =-.

    • Hello, I am a mother of 5 children with families of their own. I have been stressing over the changes in our Christmas traditions. They are spread all over the country and it makes it hard to be together, especially at the same time. Do you have any ideas of tradition in this changing times? Martha

  40. My mother gave my sisters and me a Christmas ornament each year so that by the time we left home we had an entire collection. I’ve chosen to do the same thing with my own three children, and every year at the end of the first week of December we go buy our tree and everyone gets a new ornament (my husband get one for each other as well!).
    .-= elizabeth´s last blog ..Sacred Sunday =-.

  41. Thank you for remembering RNs in your post. We work hard, love what we do but are often overlooked in the thanks department.

  42. Awww my family does the Pajama’s on Christmas Eve! I’m almost 3o and I still love to get the cozy set! I guess when I have kids we can continue it!! 🙂
    .-= Jen @ After The Alter´s last blog ..Twas The Month Before Christmas… =-.

  43. very sweet ideas. we also share pajamas – it is one of my favorite childhood memories and i’m glad to be sharing this tradition with my children.

    does anyone set up a village for christmas? the little ceramic houses with lights? if so do you have any creative ideas to make it a little easier………………

  44. I have always baked cookies, but this year it will be the Annual Blankenship Women Cookie Baking Day with my daughter and my new daughter-in-law. I bought a Christmas apron for them both to wear that they will open before we begin. I hope I can make sure this is a big deal every year.

  45. Yeah! We do the annual ornament every year! For 6 kids that one can get expensive though!
    .-= aaronshawphd´s last blog ..Baby Animal of the Day! Fox! =-.

  46. This year I’d like to plan a family tradition that is not focused on gifts (or eating). After the toys have been opened and the dinner has be eaten we will sit down together and watch our home videos. It seems we record dance performances and birthday parties but never revisit these memories.
    .-= Lia´s last blog ..Grey Anthropologie Inspired Capelet (first attempt) =-.

  47. We used to do the pajama thing on Christmas Eve–but then I had the realization that because the kids were still growing, they would wear them once and that was it–so a few years ago, we started the tradition of giving them their pj’s on Thanksgiving night–after the guests said their goodbyes from having Thanksgiving dinner at our home, I would put their pajamas on their beds–it was always a “surprise” as to what they looked like–then they would come out of their rooms in the “jammies” and we would put up the (artificial) tree. We didn’t decorate the tree, but we would place the “Christmas Nail” in the tree and hang the stockings on the mantle. By doing it this way, our kids had the whole season to wear the Christmas pajamas.

    We also bought the kids a special ornament each year. Now that the girls are 19 and 20, each girl has 2 silver “ornament trees” with their crystal dated ornaments, that they will take with them when they set up their own housekeeping.

  48. One of my favorite traditions growing up was going to get cheeseburgers and milk shakes with my family and then driving around looking at Christmas lights while we ate them. Our car heater wasn’t always reliable, so I can remember being huddled under blankets in the back seat with my brother and constantly wiping off the window to keep it from fogging up. haha. My husband and I have started doing the same thing and can’t wait to introduce it to our kids someday, along with the Jesse Tree tradition which my husband grew up with.

    Also, my parents did the ornament a year thing for us growing up. They started the year we were born and faithfully stuck with it…..actually, they still give me and my brother ornaments! When I left home, I had a box full of special memories, complete with my mom’s handwritten date on each one. My husband’s parents didn’t have that tradition, so we’ve started him on it as an adult. =]

  49. When I was younger we got to open one present on Christmas eve from my aunt who would bring them over (so we already knew Santa didn’t bring them). I also love looking back at old pictures and we were always in our pajamas (they weren’t special Christmas pajamas, but it was fun to have a big celebration and not have to get dressed). My mom also saved every ornament or craft we ever made (she has one about 25 years old-made of edible parts-yuck).
    On the first day of winter, I put our bird seeds and things to help the animals make it through the tough winter (I got this idea from a cartoon a few years ago).
    Now that I have my own family, we’ve started some new traditions for Christmas as well. We go looking at lights on Christmas eve (this local area lights luminaries on this day every year). Santa only brings one present and fills the stocking for each child (so they can be thankful to those who gave them gifts and realize there is not an endless supply of free gifts). We also have a big Christmas breakfast on Christmas day the year that we have a new child born and invite the entire family to come over (that way we aren’t expected to travel much with a new baby) and those that don’t have small children are usually able to make it out.
    This year we are going to make a birthday cake for Jesus to go with Christmas dinner. I like the St. Nicholas day ideas, I think next year we may use this as the day to hang our stockings.

  50. One tradition ,I did not see mentioned, is giving a Jesus’ Birthday party. I did this for my daughter and her friends each year she was in grade school. I dressed as Mary ( easy: borrow white choir robe put blue towel on head and a stretchy girls headband across forehead kept towel on and wore sandals) and told the christmas story from my viewpoint using nativity puppets made on popscicle sticks. One year, I made nativity cookies and they each decorated a nativity with icing and sprinkles to take home and use in their celebration. Another year, we fed God’s creatures by making peanutbutter/bird seed pinecones hung up with yarn outside for birdies. I always bought darling cutout paper ornaments from a Catholic bookstore (very inexpensive) for them to add to their tree. Another year I found The Christmas Story coloring books at a dollar store for them as favors. We had a birthday cake with a small plastic creche and toasted coconut for straw on top of the cake. Candles and Happy Birthday song were the finale. It was a fun and easy way to focus on Christ in such a child centered way. I treasure those parties for giving me a chance to Give God the Glory on Christmas.

  51. We began a Christmas tradition 8 years ago with “Cakemas”….Only the men can bake the cakes decorate them, create them, the women cannot do anything but advise and suggest as they go about creating them at home……Everything on the cakes must be edible……On Christmas Day we all gather at my business partner’s home for the contest…..The women judge the cakes on Presentation, artistic creativeness, taste and theme…..The winner gets the trophy and also a $50 gift certificate……This has evolved into almost like a Food Network Challenge with as many as 8-10 entries each year and they get bigger and bigger and more intricate, lights, moving parts and all……Most of us take 2-3 days to work on our creations, it has really gotten competitive for a bunch of husbands who are not professional chefs or bakers!!……Bottom line is that it’s a lot of fun and so0mething different for Christmas Day among friends and family!

  52. Spencer says:

    Our family Christmas traditions actually start on Thanksgiving! All the kids get the tree all decorated wile the turky is in the oven! After our feast we open one Christmas present! Our family also buys advent calenders from our local choclate shop, Fanni May, and opens one box per night starting on December 1 only to find a heavenly choclate inside! On Christmas Eve we always have chineese food catered in from a local restaraunt, and open one more present that night! There are always some new sheets on our bed’s and new PJ’s hanging by the fire place. The whole family will sit in the living roon to watch an old fashon Christmas movie and read a cute book. On the day of Christmas it is non-stop gift opening with several trash pick-up’s every so often… We have a lovely dinner with the family, its almost like a second Thanksgiving! Opening the stalkings late at night is just a little something to look forward to when all the gifts are gone! Close to Christmas we always find time to make a gingerbread house and watch “Its Christmas Charlie Brown”, a family favorite.
    I love some of the ideas posted like, driving around with some hot cholclate to see the lights! We’ll have to start that one!

  53. Rachel Eagen says:

    I love all the ideas,today we let our daughter who is now 16 put the tree up and her boyfriend helped as she put the ortiments on we talked about all the ortiments that her and her brothers has made over the years that I still have and they are always put on the tree. My kids are now 18 16 and 14 years old and today we made a new tradition to put everyones name in a hat and draw names and then we have to either make or bake something for the person that we drew. I can’t wait to see all the great things.

  54. One of my favorite traditions is on the night of November 30,2011 my daughter and I bake brownies, and we write her christmas list to santa. Then we put it on the door step and the Elves come get the list and leave special christmas P’js. That way she can wear the christmas pjs all month. She loves it.

  55. We did something a few years ago when we visited my family in Denver and have done it since a few times. My family and I went out to dinner in downtown Denver on Christmas Eve. After dinner we walked around handing out $5.00 gift cards to McDonalds with a candy cane and small note to all the homeless people. Those have been the best Chritmas memories we’ve had as a family!

  56. Kristen Gallagher says:

    Hey Everyone, here’s a new tradition with a bonus!!!if you can please back my mom with $10. If she doesn’t earn her goal by Jan 3rd then it doesn’t subtract any thing from our accounts so its’ not a big deal but if she does get more donations it will post it in more public areas.
    She’s been writing this book for a while now and it’s something she really believes in.
    Plus it’s about me 🙂




  57. On Christmas eve my children and i make reindeer food which is oatmeal and glitter the glitter is so the reindeer can see the food glisten on the ground and we sprinkle it outside by the nezt morning the birds will have eaten the oatmeal. We bakE cookies play the candle game which is when u light a candle in the middle of the room blindefold the kids and they each have one chancE to blow it out its funny to watch where they end up blowing. Then we curl up by the fireplacE and read twas the night before christmas.

  58. We follow the tradition of the pajama elves , where elves sew magical pajamas and deliver them to good children on Christmas Eve. The pajamas are stitched with elf magic that will guarantee the children a good night’s sleep so Santa can visit unnoticed. * Added bonus – cute pics of the kids Christmas morning in coordinating jammies. Here is a great book if you are interested in starting the tradition: https://www.createspace.com/3953085#

  59. I am compiling a post of Christmas Traditions and would love to add this one if I could.

  60. My husband passed away a few months ago and I have 3 children 13,10,8 , I was wondering if anyone had any ideas for Christmas ( like a new tradition ) to help us get threw this holiday season

    • I am so sorry about your husband passing away.
      When my dad passed away, my mom gave each child and grandchild something special from my dad. Not wrapped or anything, but just something like a pocketknife, special coin or other thing he had and she had a conversation with each person about it. My kids really treasure those things.

  61. We always do the pj gift tradtion on xmas eve.
    The next morning we sing karaoke to xmas songs. You can find lyrics on youtube.
    If my family is on vacation we have water balloon fights (using red & green balloons).

  62. This year we have a stocking on the fireplace that we are filling with our own random money donations which we will buy something for someone else and delivering anonymously as a family. Since the children have found out about Santa, I read the story of who Saint Nicholas with his anonymous generousity and how the Santa tradition came about. He was a real person with mortality but we carry on by his example this tradition of anonymous generosity on Christmas as it would be pleasing to God and celebrate the birthday of Jesus. Becoming saint nic has softened the blow of their discovering that he is not in the North Pole with elves but in our hearts.

  63. – Have a wrapping party a few evenings before Christmas. Set up wrapping stations in different parts of the house. Let the kids invite a friend who needs to wrap. Have a Christmas movie going, fire in the fireplace, big pot of soup and desserts with eggnogg and apple cider. Keep it simple and get it all done so will not be up late Christmas Eve!
    -Look at Christmas lights and have a little fun gift, like an ornament, for the house your family votes as favorite. Leave the gift anonymously somewhere like on the mailbox with a note saying they won.
    -Budget tight years – if not getting everyone PJs Christmas Eve, buy a new game and open that for everyone to play Christmas Eve.
    -Make some simple treat and put it in cute bags with a bow and have the kids take it to all the neighbors on Christmas Eve. That is a difficult day especially for so many. There’s no telling how special that could be. And it’s so fun!
    -Read the Christmas Story from the bible before going to be Christmas Eve.
    -Christmas Morning – have baby Jesus the last piece added to the manger scene.

  64. A friend did this one year among her friends and I thought it sounded really interesting. Instead of buying gifts, each person brought something special to them that they were ready to give away. Without revealing what they brought to a dinner at one of the woman’s houses, each unwrapped item was placed on a table. After dinner, they all at around the items and one at a time, each friend picked out something on the table that she admired. She would say why she picked it. Then the person who brought that item would tell the story about it and why it was special to her. Of course – it would mean the last two people would not have a choice, but.. those things seem to work out as they should.

  65. I’m looking for a new Christmas tradition to begin this year with my 27 year son and his girlfriend. We’re a small group since I divorced my husband this year, so wanted to begin something new and extra special this year as we celebrate on Christmas Eve. Thanks for the great ideas. I like the idea of reading The Christmas Story from The Bible and the story of St. Nicholas. Since we no longer live together, the jammies idea won’t work out. Any other ideas would be appreciated. Thank you for sharing such wonderful stories.

  66. Grandma has family Christmas story lessons, activities, and games based on the nativity set. You’ll find them here:

  67. We have three ‘girly’ daughters,ages 13,12,and 10 and they all love to to be dressed up cute on christmas eve! They love wearing poofy holiday dresses with a cute bow in their hair,white tights and white ‘mary jane’ shoes.Then to add to their cuteness,they each have a cloth diaper and rubberpants that i put on them and they wlove wearing them under their tights.they have worn them with their tights sinnce they were toddlers and still like wearing them to be ‘little girls’on christmas eve!

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