What are some fun Christ-Centered Christmas Traditions for your family that keep the focus on Jesus?

Even though I’ve been a mom for almost 14 years, I’ve realized that it’s just been in the past four years that our family has really started being more intentional about our December, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day traditions in our own home.

Mostly this is because until 2015, we lived very close to my parents and both sets of my grandparents. That meant that our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day family traditions were much the same as they were throughout the 80s and 90s when I was growing up! :)

My childhood Christmas traditions involved so many fun memories: hanging stockings and sleeping by the fire at my grandparents’ house, going to Christmas Eve church and singing Christmas carols by candlelight, and celebrating on Christmas Day (when I got older it was over New Year’s Eve weekend) with my 29 cousins!

But when we moved away in 2015, we had to start our own family Christmas traditions. And at first, I was a bit lost for ideas!

You might be asking yourself the same question this year: What fun Christmas traditions should I start with my family this year? 

How many of them will involve those same traditions from our childhood?

What are some ways we can keep Christ in the center, even if we’re super busy during December?

Which ones will work, and which new Christmas traditions might cause tension with our extended family because they’re different than before?

how to start family christmas traditions when you don't live near family

The Reason for Family Christmas Traditions

Before you start brainstorming and implementing ideas (like the ones in this post!) think about WHY you want to start new or different Christmas traditions for your family this year.

Is it because you have to, because you’re far away from family? 

Is it necessary because your situation has changed and how will that affect old traditions?

Did you not have the Christmas you wanted as a kid, so you want to do it “better” with your own family?

What do you want to accomplish by starting new Christmas traditions? Family closeness? More of a focus on Jesus? Something else?

Having answers to these questions in mind will help you decide how to go about making Christmas memories with your kids that will be such a joy to them when they grow up–much like my childhood Christmas memories are to me!

These ideas have been gathered from others and are also some that we’ve done ourselves!

They are simple, meaningful, only a few require prep time and all can be implemented even in the middle of the CRAZINESS that is the Christmas season!

At the end of the post, I’ll share what we do now for Christmas traditions in our home.

How to Start Family Christmas Traditions when You’re Far from Family

It’s hard to be far from family at Christmas, or any holiday season for that matter. But there are ways to include your far-away family members in your celebrations too! 

Here are a couple of ideas:

  • Try live-streaming one of your childrens’ band or Christmas programs using your phone, or at least send them a video of your child’s part.
  • FaceTime with grandparents or other special family members who are far away and sing some Christmas carols with them (or just sing to them!)
  • Have your children do a video tour of your house with all the Christmas decorations
  • Send cards and packages in the mail–everyone still loves “snail mail” and I think I appreciate it more now that our society has gotten so wrapped up in the ease of communicating with technology.
Christian Christmas traditions for families

25 Ways to Keep Christmas Christ-Centered

(Organized in three categories.)

Family Traditions for the Month of December

These first 12 ideas aren’t all directly Christ-focused, but what they do is help you connect as a family rather than being pulled apart, which from experience has helped our family focus on Jesus instead of running ragged during December!

1) Go to a tree farm and chop down or pick out a fresh-cut Christmas tree. Let your kids help in any way they can! Then bring it back, decorate it and have some hot chocolate to warm up.

2) Purchase an Advent wreath and light it each Sunday (for four Sundays before Christmas). Learn more about what the candles on the Advent wreath mean and find 15 Advent verses to teach your kids HERE.

3) Wrap up 12 Advent/Christmas books and open one each day to read with your children. {related: a list of our 10 favorite Christmas books}. Click here for tips on how to start a 12 Books of Christmas tradition with your kids!

4) Set up a nativity set in a reachable spot and let your children play with it throughout December. The Little People Nativity has been an absolute favorite for all four of our kids and this nativity is great for older children!

5) Carol at a nursing home or go door to door with some other friends or family. This is a wonderful way to bless others and teach kids how to interact with people of different ages. Give out a Jesus-focused card or treat (like this idea!)

6) Make giving a tradition during this season. We always shop through the Samaritan’s Purse gift catalog, and contribute to Prison Fellowship, Operation Christmas Child and our local Angel Tree location, food pantry and pregnancy center. There are many, many opportunities and you can get your kids involved by having them use some of their money or just pick something out if they are small.

7) Shop for a family in need. Ask at your church or community intervention center if they know of a family who will struggle to provide a holiday meal or gifts this year and shop for them. Have them delivered by the center or a friend so it’s anonymous! Pray for the family receiving the gifts.

8) Do some Advent activities or a devotional each night with your kids. Help them glory and reflect on the real meaning of Christmas! This year, take a look at our family devotional Comfort and Joy: An Advent Study for Families.

9) Have a No-Toy or Low-Toy Christmas! This can be hard to implement with extended family members, but it’s worth a try. We do this with our immediate family, though, and it’s been a successful endeavor for four years. Click here for 20+ non-toy gift ideas that your kids will really love!

10) Turn on only the twinkling lights on display or light candles and sing a traditional song or carol before bed.

11) Here’s an idea I got at a MOPS meeting: Wrap a shoe box and filled it with 3×5 blessing cards and have family members fill them out on Christmas Eve or throughout the holiday season {ex. “This year I was blessed with wonderful new neighbors.”}. Take turns reading the cards on Christmas morning or New Year’s Day. Save the cards and add to them throughout the years.

12) Look for one homemade gift idea and then make a few for special people in your life who seem to have everything. I love making this Homemade Hot Cocoa every year! Or what about Homemade Spice Rubs? Have your kids write a nice note or color a picture to add to the package.

Christmas Eve Traditions

1) Have your Christmas Eve be immediate family only. This was something we started once we moved away from my family, so this could get tough to implement if you’re near extended fam. However, I do really think this is something to consider starting because it makes for a calm and Christ-focused evening with just you, your spouse and kids!

So this year, try to just be at home, put on quiet Christmas music while you open personal gifts to each other and read the Christmas story from Luke 2 together.

I know from experience that traveling with really little ones to visit family can take our attention and energy away from the one thing Christmas is really about (Jesus coming to earth for us as a baby). But you need to figure out what works for YOUR family, because this will likely be different for each one!

If your relatives really can’t miss getting together on Christmas Eve, consider having a noon meal together if possible. It is really important to spend time with extended family, yes, but establishing your own plans are essential too!

2) Wondering about how to incorporate Santa as a Christian family? Or if you SHOULD? This isn’t a salvation issue, so it’s fully up to you! :)

If you’d like to have Santa visit while still keeping the emphasis on Jesus, here’s one helpful idea a friend gave me: Santa fills stockings only at their house on Christmas Eve and he always includes a letter about the importance of celebrating the birthday of the Savior.

For our older kids, we read a book about St. Nicholas, just like my mom read to me when I was a little bit older to help me understand the real story of Santa Claus. This one is an updated version of the one my mom read to me. This one is also a favorite.

3) Have your children act out the Christmas story. Or act it out with them in front of your family and friends {come on, I know you can do it!}. :)

4) Drive around looking at Christmas lights while listening to Christian holiday music. We do this each year and have our favorite neighborhoods picked out now. We also add an ice-cream run to this little adventure and eat it in the van while we look at lights and listen to festive music.

act out the Christmas story

5) Have a Christmas Eve Bethlehem dinner.  A neighborhood church planned a festive Bethlehem Dinner a few years ago and it was really a neat experience! They hung tablecloths from the ceiling, used a large tent, and put out food in baskets. They served flat bread, chicken pieces, oranges, pomegranates, figs and bean soup. All of the “actors” were dressed in biblical costumes and wore sandals. We ate on blankets on the floor and a speaker read from the Old Testament Isaiah 9 passage. Then the kids got to pet a donkey outside. You could definitely modify this for your own family and do it at home (still fun even if you don’t have a donkey–haha!)

6) Sing Christmas carols together in the evening. You can find YouTube videos, pull out a hymnal and play the piano or just sing acapella! You may find a new favorite! :)

7) Watch a Christmas movie together that tells the story of the true meaning of Christmas. Ideas include:

  • A Charlie Brown Christmas
  • What’s in the Bible: Why Do They Call it Christmas
  • The Nativity Story
  • Jacob’s Gift
  • The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey

Christmas Day Traditions

1) Attend Christmas service after opening gifts, or sing Christmas carols during the afternoon after Christmas dinner. This was of my favorite traditions at my grandparents’ house from when I was a kid!

2) Give a devotional to your child each year at Christmas. Or, like my friend Meagan does, write a prayer for each child in a blank journal and then read that prayer to them out loud on Christmas Eve, adding a new prayer each year! I wish I’d started this sooner but am planning on doing it this year for our four kids!

3) Record a Christmas message with your kids saying some Scripture for a far-away family member and send them the video or FaceTime with them on Christmas morning! Such a sweet gift to those who can’t be with you!

4) Bake a birthday cake for Jesus! My dad’s favorite thing to do was bake chocolate cake and then shape it into a Christmas tree and have us “decorate” it with sprinkles, etc. Then we would sing Happy Birthday to Jesus. Now he does this for our kids!

5) Read The Legend of the Candy Cane on Christmas morning. This is one of our very favorite Christmas books because it draws a parallel to a tangible object that kids can see and touch (maybe have them hold a candy cane while you read!) to explain the coming of Jesus as well as His death and resurrection.

6) Open gifts on another day besides the usual day. One idea is to open them on Epiphany Sunday, the first Sunday following the new year. This is the when the wise men giving gifts to baby Jesus is recognized in the church. This might work well if you have to get together late for family Christmas!

I hope these ideas will give you a chance to start some new, Christ-centered traditions with your family this year!

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43 Comments on 25+ of the Best Christian Family Christmas Traditions to Start in 2023

  1. Hello Jenn
    Thank you for sharing all these wonderful Christ-filled Christmas traditions.
    I would love to share with you my 25-day Christmas Devotional and interactive Treasure Box called The Wise Men Journey searching for The King.

    Families will love this Christmas Journey to join the wise men and discover the EXCITEMENT of CHRISTMAS through 25 treasure words.
    Blessings to you, dear friend.
    Lynette Meintjes

    Visit: WiseMenJourney.com

  2. Thank you so much, your mails have helped me help my children. Many times i felt like I couldn’t keep up but now everything is great. Would love to win the giveaway will be such a blessing for my children’s school needs coming up in January. Right now we are trying to spend as little as possible since we have alot to do for school bills. God is good.

  3. This giveaway will be such a blessing for whoever wins it! I would use it to finish my Christmas shopping, get extra groceries, and pay a bill :)

  4. I’m humbled, counting my blessings, proclaiming Truth that the Lord’s Grace is sufficient right where I am, all the time, with what He has graciously provided. We are a military (USMC) Family with six kids (12 years through 6 months old), and we are right in the middle of a move and will move again in the summer. All I truly need, I have in Jesus. May God be glorified and enjoyed in this generous PayPal gift giveaway.

  5. I would like to get my beautiful daughter a house for Christmas for her and I as currently live with my Mom.

  6. We would like to bless our grandchild with a big girl bed for Christmas. She is 5 and has been sleeping in crib turned into a daybed.

  7. We moved into a “fixer-upper,” of sorts, three years ago. I would put it toward some home improvement projects (doors, windows, paint, etc.) that have been on hold. 5 young kids = little time and little extra money. :) (Though we are SO blessed!) Thank you for your encouraging blog, and the chance to win!

  8. Great tips!
    Some out of pocket medical bills, supplies for our upcoming 7th baby (surprise!)

  9. I would buy a washer. We had trouble with our fridge and had repairs done and our washer went right after. I have been going to the laundromat, it would be a real blessing to not lug our laundry.

  10. I love getting purposeful mom emails. Always so much great information and articles.

  11. My husband has been out of work for 4 months so winning this would mean I could catch up on some overdue bills.

  12. What an awesome giveaway! And your blog has so many great ideas to implement during the Holiday season! Thank you!

    • To answer your questions .. we are in full-time ministry. This time of year is always hardest for us financially. Many give and participate in the community work we do (we give away groceries to over 200 needy families in Mexico every Christmas), which is awesome, but they do not necessarily help us personally. We have 3 wonderful kids and this money would help pay bills and buy them Christmas.

      • Thanks for your comment, Lisa! Being a pastor’s wife, I understand the hardship when you are in ministry for sure! Blessings to you this Christmas–may you see God provide for all of your needs.

  13. I love all of these great ideas for slowing down during Christmas. I would take my FL kids on a trip to see & play in the snow.

  14. I would use the money to pay for presents for my daughter and husband! We read books all year long,…but I love traditions, especially ones involving food! We eat Hollandaise sauce with Welsh rarebit every year,…it’s a tradition my mom started when I was a little girl, many moons ago!

  15. This money would bless me in a way where I can get my daughter something for Christmas. I would use the money to get her gifts as well as buy groceries.

  16. My children are teeneagers now, but I loved this list for additional ideas to do with my great neices and nephews. We did the wrap a book tradition but I had forgot about it. Ii am going to use your book list to buy books this holiday. Thank you!

  17. Thank you for the suggestions! We just received the Little People’s Children Nativity Set for my son’s 1 year birthday last week! I’m already starting to decorate for Christmas :)

  18. It would be great to have my family over for Christmas lunch around the table and not have to worry about the cost. My siblings do not live in the same city and I have not seen my sister or niece in 4 years. I cannot imagine giving my mother a better gift than all her kids together in the same room.

  19. We’re expecting surprise baby girl #5 on December 26. We were “done” having kids so we gave away everything and are starting all over again with this little one. Friends have helped us with getting some of the necessities, but this would be such a blessing to get the things we need.

  20. Thank you for your encouraging blog! Even though I don’t have any living children of my own, I love reading your blog so that I can apply the learnings to my relationship with my niece and nephew and be the best aunt (their “other” mom) I can be, and to support my sister, it takes a village to raise a child.

  21. Wonderful reminders. Traditions are important. As my children get older it is anchor but also beware of business as they can crowd out the traditions as they reach adolescence. But starting young it becomes something they look forward to :-) Thanks for sharing ideas as one can always add to traditions as well. Sometime we do a “try a new thing” tradition finding a fun new way to celebrate.

  22. I remember it was always a special treat when my dad would bring home hickory farms. I am so glad to know about free shipping to apo/fpo addresses as well.

  23. One of the favorite things about Christmas is the chance to fellowship with family. The best part is to celebrate the gift God gave us in JESUS. We are blessed.

  24. We do #15 for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. I only make Paula Deen’s french toast casserole for Thanksgiving breakfast and my mom’s lasagna recipe for Christmas dinner instead of the traditional turkey or ham. Everyone looks forward to both to finish off the year.

    • Ooh, those dishes sound delicious! I love the idea of having something “untraditional” for Christmas dinner :)

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