Family Christmas Traditions

I love Christmas. Really I do. I don’t make a big deal about most of the holidays but I LOVE Christmas.

My favorite part of Christmas (after Jesus) is family traditions. My father taught me at a young age that traditions are important. I remember my parents working hard to create traditions even when we didn’t have a lot of money.

Now my kids look forward to our family Christmas traditions. I’ve shared many of them with you over the past three years, but here are some of the highlights.

Cutting Down the Christmas Tree

Almost every year we cut down our own tree. For a few years we hauled the tree 200 miles on the roof of our van just to keep up with this tradition. All the kids help with the cutting and dragging it out of the field.

Knocking Over the Christmas Tree

This isn’t really a tradition, but since it happens every single year I had to include it. The Happy family likes big trees, so big they usually can’t fit into our stand. Each year the tree falls over at some point and we end up bolting it to the wall. A few years ago the tree fell on Cora, I think she didn’t want to end the tradition.

Sleeping Under the Christmas Tree

There is something magical about sleeping under the Christmas tree. Each year we try to have at least one slumber party under the Christmas tree. Usually everyone sleeps under the tree, including dad!

Cookie Frosting Party

This is probably our oldest Christmas tradition. It started when we just had two kids and every year they insist we have a cookie frosting party. I provide the frosting and each kid brings their own cookies.

I love this tradition because kids of all ages can participate, and who doesn’t love cookies!

Baking Day

A few days before Christmas I have a baking day. We make everything from carmel corn to buckeyes to lemon bread. We package up most of the baked goods and give them as homemade gifts for Christmas (even more homemade gift ideas here, too!). The kids are always involved and it is a great fun family activity.

Christmas Pancakes

Christmas pancakes are so easy to make and you will be mom of the year for making them. You don’t have to wait for Christmas to start this tradition. You can make these fun pancakes for any special occasion.

Christmas Eve Gifts

This tradition started when I was a child, we always opened one gift on Christmas Eve. My children will not let us drop this tradition so every year on Christmas Eve morning they get to open one gift. It is actually kind of nice because they have all day to play with their new toy or read their book.

Christmas Eve Service

I love going to church on Christmas Eve. Even if our church isn’t having services we’ll find a church that is and go. We usually try to attend with friends or family, and we always go out to eat. There is something special about going to church on Christmas Eve that I can’t quite explain. Plus what could be more fun than making all the kids get dressed up and trying to get a family photo?

Those are some of my family Christmas traditions, but that’s not all!

If the holiday season seems more stressful than joyous, if your budget seems too small to be generous, or if you are simply in search of inspiration, the 12 Ways of Christmas is written just for you! Click on each of the buttons below and join all 12 of us as we share crafts, decor, traditions, and more!


12Ways_wrappingWays of ReadingWays of Table DecorWays of Planning for the HolidaysWays of CardsWays of CookingWays of Decorating TreesWays of WreathsWays of OutreachWays of Family TraditionsWays of Mantle DecorWays of Frugal Gifting


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  1. what fun! we share most of these traditions, too! except for the knocking the tree over HA! Christmastime is rich in memories thanks to intentional tradition-keeping!

  2. Can you believe it is so close to Christmas – again?
    My kids love their traditional baking day and they always get new pj’s on Christmas Eve under the tree which they put on so that Dad can read the Christmas story to them. Sadly, we have never gone out to choose the tree ….
    Lovely to be a part of the 12 ways with you … btw my blog is pulling my blogging side rather than my homeschooling side, so here is the link!

  3. Here I am…another Christmas junkie! We are already anticipating it! Can’t wait!!!!

  4. The crashing of the tree cracks me up. 😉
    We don’t do a real tree because of allergies in the family, but I have many happy memories of trekking out with my parents each year to find and chop a Christmas tree. And really, no other scent says Christmas like the smell of a fresh-cut tree.

  5. My families tradition is an ornamant exchange. When the children were younger we would all go purchase an ornamant and then wrap it up and then the day after Thanksgiving (my husbands schedule permitting, he’s a firefighter) then we would sit all the wrapped ornaments out and then we would draw numbers and pick the box we wanted. Now that my children have all grown and all but one has a spouse, we all (including my mother and our grandchildren) all put our names in a bowl and draw names (we do this in October so we have a month to find the “right” ornament) and then the day after Thanksgiving (after we’ve shopped all day) we gather around the tree and open our “gifts”. My children look forward to this every year, they are able to buy a “gift” just right for their family member. My children can still point out every ornament that was “exchanged” and a story to go with it. My oldest son bought a 3 foot round ornament (to be used as an outside decoration) for my son in law, it is now our tree topper every year. (it’s kinda like a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree, no matter how big our tree is, the ball will be too heavy and will make the top droop). Our tree started out years ago with a “theme” but every year with each new exchange the “themed” ornaments have came down and all the “gifts” have now taken over the tree. My family loves the whole experiance from day of drawing to day of exchanging, day of drawing I make a LARGE family dinner and my daughter makes the dessert, we all gather around the table and have a good time, we than draw names. Every year when names are drawn you hear at least one say ” I know exactly what I’m buying”, because as soon as the ornaments go out in the store isles my family is already looking. The day of the exchange, we are usually so tired from shopping that I stop and pick up pizza, hamburgers or tacos and bring them home and no matter how tired everyone is, they are excited for their receipiant to open up their new ornament. We then make room one by one for our new ornaments on the “family” tree. One day soon I will either have to give up each of my childrens (and this year I now have 2 grandchildren) ornaments and let them take them home to their trees or I will need to start buying 2 trees for my house.

  6. One of our favorite Christmas traditions is dressing the kiddos up in their new WARM Christmas pj’s late on Christmas Eve, preparing hot cocoa to go, and driving all around town looking at Christmas lights! I did it with my mom as a child, and now my children LOVE it. Such a special time of watching their expressions and listening to their perspectives on the lights and decorations! 🙂

  7. Love these Christmas tradition ideas. I love the breaking ornament- too funny! Its inevitable every year isn’t it? I need to go think of a new tradition to start this year with our family. Thanks for inspiring me. Happy to be participating in the 12 ways with you. God Bless!


  9. We have a couple of traditions that we have been doing since I was a child.
    1. Going to see Christmas light in downtown
    2. Baking cookies on Christmas Eve
    3. Traditional Rabbit and Rice Breakfast on Christmas Morning

    Last year, my family started to celebrate Kwanza to close out the traditional Christmas holiday.

  10. Oh, I love these traditions! My daughter is 2 1/2 and I am realizing that I need to get my act together with traditions. We need to start some great ones this year so she will remember them as far back as possible. 🙂

  11. I’d love to hear more details about your cookie frosting party. So much fun!

  12. I’ve just started my Christmas blog and have shared some of my Christmas Traditions and Customs with my readers. I came across your blog/site as one of the ‘related articles’ and I’m sooo happy that I did. I’m sure I could have expanded on my memories, and will no doubt remember more tomorrow, but I really enjoyed reading your blog post.


  13. Great traditions, thanks! I am always looking for more to add to what we do – I think I’ll do a cookie decorating party. Maybe add the ornament decorating I think Wendy suggested..

    I started a blog with a few Christmas traditions of ours at if anyone wants to take a look. I haven’t added everything yet – so a suggestion that isn’t on there yet is a Jesse Tree – you can just google it if you haven’t heard of them. It is my favorite tradition.

  14. We have many. We light our advent candle each Sunday from the Sunday after Thanksgiving on. We also have advent calenders (very popular in Germany, where we live and we’ll carry this tradition on forever!). The kids help me put together and decorate the Christmas tree, we try to do this the weekend after Thanksgiving and decorate the house. We make Christmas goodies throughout the month of December, with the biggest being done the last week to week and a half. Buckeyes are a family favorite and one my husband introduced this Kansas girl to (he’s from Ohio…so they’re a way of life there lol). Every year we go to our local Christmas Market (oh how I love Germany) and each of us picks out an ornament every year. What I love is that ours are not mass produced, they’re hand made and there’s maybe 4 or 5 of each made. On Christmas Eve we let the kids open one predetermined gift and it’s always new PJ’s, they open them after we get home from our Christmas Eve service from chapel, then they sit down and Dad reads the story of our Lord’s birth from the bible. On Christmas Eve we also make sugar cookies together. After Dad reads from the bible, they each pick out 1 cookie, pour a glass of milk and leave it on the table and off to bed they go!

  15. One of my favorite Christmas traditions is taking the family on a Tacky Light Tour to see bigtime Christmas lights. Its super easy now that there is a website that lists houses around the country at

  16. 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:

  17. I started our Christmas tradition when my babies were 1, 2, and 5, when we woke up on Dec. 26, and realized my kids wanted more, and my husband and I, along with the rest of our family, spent way to much money, and we still weren’t satisfied. Something was missing and we had missed the entire reason for celebrating Christmas. We are Christians, and Christ’s birth is a big celebration in our faith.
    I decided to wrap a large box with snowflake paper and then filled the box with 24 small items. Each item corresopnded with each day leading up to Christmas morning. For instance, on Dec. 3, we opened the Dec. 3 package and pulled out a balloon and blew it up, then let the air out. I then talked to my kids about the Holy Spirit. I explained that, like the air in the balloon which we could not see, we cannot see the holy Sprit, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I went on to write short devotions for each day leading up to Christmas morning. We have done this for many years and I’m happy to say, my kids are now focused on the true meaning of Christmas. This was something fun for the kids, as they were opening a small gift and they were surprised every year when they saw what was inside. We called our box, The Good News Box. It was never a chore to them and as the years went on, to my surprise, they looked forward to opening it every year. I had accidentally created a family tradition, that my family adores and looks forward to. I did want to share this idea with anyone who was in the same situation as I was when I had young children.
    Two years ago, before my mom passed away, she asked me to write about our family tradition so that others who wanted to make Christmas more about Jesus, would get some good ideas. I know my mom is smiling about this and I felt like I needed to share this with you. I hope you have a blessed day

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