Wanting to start some Christmas Traditions with 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?

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.


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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