The Christmas Tradition Ideas Post Was Originally Published In December 2017 And Updated In November 2021.
In case you missed the traditions Eric and I started when we first got married and didn’t have kids, you can see those couple Christmas tradition ideas here. We jumped the gun and already went to look at Christmas lights in our neighborhood this weekend with Leyton because with the snow we got unexpectedly it was too pretty to miss!
We still plan to make a full family date night out of the Christmas light excursion though by wearing Christmas PJ’s, getting Christmas flavored coffees for Eric and I and letting Leyton bring his blanket in the car to go look at the most outlandishly decked out homes in Birmingham. Eric and I always enjoy this date night!
One thing that we are enjoying this year is Leyton’s obsession with “fox” which he calls reindeer for some reason. He has a little plush reindeer ornament he carries all over the house with him and we walk up and down our street at least 2-3 nights a week to look at the lit up “fox” down the street. I’ll always remember hearing about the “fox” and “Chrissy Lights” at 2 years old from my cute little one. 🙂
Our Christmas traditions depend on whose side of the family we are with but usually with Eric’s family, we do apps and drinks after the Christmas Eve service and with my family we do Chinese takeout after church and the girls bake Christmas cookies for dessert while we listen to Christmas music. Pro Tip: We learned you should pre-prep the cookies so it’s just a throw in the oven and decorate situation!
We also love doing an Operation Christmas Child shoe box each year and think it will be fun to involve Leyton more the older he gets. We always bake Eric’s favorite Peanut Butter Blossoms cookies and deliver them to our neighbors as well. We think Leyton will have great fun walking around and passing out cookies with us this year. Ha!
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OK, so enough rambling about my Christmas traditions, look at all these genius recommendations below from the lovies! I can’t wait to adopt some of them into our own family. Thank you for sharing them with us!
BEFORE CHRISTMAS TRADITION IDEAS:
- We have a Santa growth chart from PBK and we put the boys in their Christmas pajamas and measure them every year and take pictures. It’s so fun to see how much they’ve grown since last Christmas! We are also going to do Star From Afar this year, kind of like the Christian version of Elf on the Shelf.
- Family pajamas.
- To keep my kids from sneaking a peek at their presents, each gift has tag that says a different Christmas name. For example, To: Gingerbread To: The Inn Keeper (can be biblical Christmas or “Santa” Christmas). I have the list of who the gift are for. They love trying to guess whose is whose as we open! I have one daughter, she got “Papa Elf” last year and thought it was hilarious.
- A book advent calendar for my daughter, she loves to read.
- Letting my daughter pick out one new, special ornament for the tree each year and writing the year on the back. Someday these will all be given to her for her own family tree.
- We always buy an ornament whenever we take a trip somewhere, so it’s fun to hang all those up and reminisce.
- We pick a night to all wear Christmas pajamas and go look at Christmas lights.
- I make Christmas decorations with my kids every year.
- Our families get each other ornaments every year.
- We get a new ornament for each family member (based on something they did/ were interested in that year, and we buy an ornament on any family trips we take and put new ones from the year in the box as well.) We mark the date on the new ornament for our girls and are planning on boxing them up and giving them as wedding or housewarming gifts to them.
- I make homemade peanut butter snickers cookies every year.
- We decorate the tree together. First, my dad strings the lights, then we all get a lass of eggnog and cheer before starting to decorate the tree. Then my favorite tradition – the first ornament every year on the tree is my parent’s very first Christmas ornament. They put it on together, share a kiss and then we all put up the rest of the ornament. (Love this one, Nicole)
- We all go get the tree together. Whether it be at a lot on the side of the road or in the mountains where we chop it down.
- We watch Christmas movies leading up. Specifically, we watch The Santa Clause every single year!
- We pick a day where we make snacks and watch Christmas movies all day.
- We do an advent calendar and each day as a Christmas activity (decorate cookies, watch a Christmas movie, drive around town to see Christmas lights, make a craft, play ‘ornament I-spy’, see a Christmas puppet show at the cultural arts center, decorate a gingerbread house, visit Santa Clause, etc.
- We have a basket of Christmas books and read at least one each night before bed in December as well.
- Make a felt tree with ornaments and packages so little ones will not bother the family tree
(Eric got off work early for the snow day, so we popped into our neighborhood restaurant for lunch which was SO fun! We watched the snow fall out the big windows and got to see all the hills surrounding us covered in snow…loved every moment of it! I haven’t seen snow like this in Birmingham, AL since 1993 so we really had to soak it up! Who knows if I’ll see it again for another 20 years?!)
CHRISTMAS EVE TRADITION IDEAS:
- We usually host Christmas Eve for my husband’s family and we always do a ton of appetizers (and drinks) to snack on all afternoon rather than a meal. I also make up a ‘Christmas Eve Box’ for hubby, kids, and me containing new, freshly washed Christmas pajamas, a new Christmas book for both of our girls and cookie mix to make cookies for Santa.
- At my parents’ house, we always do ‘Christmas crackers’ (the little wrapped tubes that you pull apart and makes a little pop noise and has a little toy, a joke, and a paper crown inside).
- Christmas pajamas on Christmas eve. My mom’s keeping the tradition going even now as adults. Her mom still sends her jammies too.
- (Heather) We bake cookies typically after Christmas Eve service with mom and my sister while listening to Christmas music and LOVE it! We always get Chinese takeout after Christmas Eve service with my family because it’s one of the few places open in Birmingham that night for dinner.
- (Heather) When we are with Eric’s family we always do drinks and appetizers after the Christmas Eve service.
DAY OF CHRISTMAS TRADITION IDEAS:
- Going to see a movie on Christmas day.
- A framed picture ornament for parents of my kids every year. From their ultrasound on. It’s sentimental to pull out the ornaments and look at how little they were. It’s my parent’s favorite gift every year.
- Cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning.
- Christmas pajamas and special breakfast on Christmas morning.
- Any gifts from Santa come unwrapped, already open, assembled, with batteries, etc. That way’s there’s instant excitement and they can start playing or what not while adults are scrambling for coffee.
- We limit the stuff from us to four packages (sometimes there may be more than one item in a package).
- For Christmas, we do presents a little differently. When we were kids we would get like three presents a day until all the presents were gone and usually the last like 5 days and it was nice because we got to enjoy the gifts we got.
- We try to give each other “experiences” rather than things from Christmas. For example, I love musicals so I usually get tickets to a BJCC or Red Mtn show each Christmas. And for my husband it’s either an Xbox game, concert, or movie tickets.
- Our entire family comes to our house for Christmas Day. We have 30-40 people at our house every year. That is truly the best.
- Christmas morning is just the four of us and we have coffee while we open presents and breakfast casserole and mimosas while we play with the new presents.
- My husband and I swap ornament every year. It’s my favorite gift, I look forward to opening up whatever ornament he picked out from a vacation, memory from the previous year to just something random that made me think of him.
What Christmas tradition ideas did we leave off? I’d love to hear what you and your family do in the comments below!
Maybe you’re thinking, “Sure, Heather, all these ideas sound great, but I just don’t know where to start.” Don’t forget, I’ve got a FREE printable for you!
Get your free Christmas bucket list HERE and start plugging your own Christmas traditions into your calendar.
I knew I needed a way to simplify all the traditions I wanted to experience with Eric and the boys. (I can’t do every cute Pinterest idea under the sun. Fact.)
But I can look at a list, talk to my spouse, and narrow down what we both want to enjoy for our family.