I love Christmas traditions – it’s so fun to have things to look forward to each year and as a parent, I really love not having to reinvent the wheel every year for activities or how we spend certain days of the holiday.
I definitely try to keep our Christmas traditions to a manageable level (Elf on the Shelf is an immediate no for me because I know myself well enough to know that trying to keep up with that daily tradition would absolutely end me) and I want to focus on the traditions that are really fun and/or meaningful to me.
The other thing I remind myself of is that something doesn’t have to happen EVERY single year for it to be a tradition. If it’s just too heavy a lift one year, due to finances or a new baby or a move or a global pandemic or a million other reasons, it’s fine to say “We’ll come back to this next year.” Nobody’s life is ruined because one year you didn’t do neighbor gifts.
Here are some of my favorite Christmas traditions:
7 Favorite Christmas Traditions
CHRISTMAS EVE SHEPHERD’S MEAL
This is my very favorite Christmas tradition – we eat dinner on the floor on Christmas Eve by candlelight/Christmas tree light and at the end recite the Christmas story from Luke (we each have assigned parts that we have memorized). My family did soup and bread bowls when I was growing up, but now in our family we’ve gone to more of a snack dinner with the kinds of foods shepherds might have eaten if they’d had access to Trader Joe’s (crackers and cheese, dried fruits and nuts, sparkling cider, butternut squash soup, etc). Going to Trader Joe’s as a family and picking out the foods for our Christmas Eve dinner is part of the fun!
A CHRISTMAS EVE MOVIE
We stole this tradition from my family and I love it because Christmas Eve is the LONGEST day when you’re a child. We rarely see a movie in the theater with our kids, so it feels like extra special. They bring along their blankets and we each pick out a candy and it’s just a magical Christmas tradition. (On the years where there is nothing worth seeing in the theaters, we do a special movie afternoon at home, but I much prefer it when we can go to the theater).
LEMON CURD NEIGHBOR GIFT
I love taking around neighbor gifts in December (and I love when we receive them too!). When we lived in Arizona, we had a lemon tree in our backyard that gave off HUNDREDS of lemons right around Christmas, so it made perfect sense to make homemade lemon curd to take around to our neighbors. Since then, we’ve made it into an annual tradition because my girls love juicing a bazillion lemons, it’s an edible gift that’s not plate of cookies, and it’s a little unique, but generally well-loved. (This is the recipe we use).
OPENING GIFTS ONE AT A TIME
After all the prep that goes into Christmas morning, there’s no way I want it over in 10 minutes in a frenzy of torn wrapping paper. Instead, we start with the oldest person and they choose a gift to be opened by someone else. Everyone pays attention as that gift is opened and then we move on to the second oldest person who selects another gift to be unwrapped and so on. This is how my family did it growing up and we’ve carried it on in my family.
A CHRISTMAS PUZZLE
When we first moved to Utah, a friend from Arizona sent us a Christmas puzzle (this one) and said she’d loved doing it and thought we’d enjoy it too. It was such a kind and unexpected surprise and I got SO MUCH joy from doing that puzzle – after the craziness of my job during Q4, having time to sit down and do a puzzle with no pressing work responsibilities felt absolutely magical. Now, I look forward to doing that puzzle every single year in December (and a few other Christmas puzzles we’ve added to our collection and do only in December).
GRAHAM CRACKER GINGERBREAD HOUSE PARTY
This is another Christmas tradition we’ve stolen from my parents and it’s one of my very favorites. Each of the girls invites a friend and they come home after school one day in December and they each have their own little graham cracker gingerbread house to decorate. I love setting up for it and they love the day of and we make a special date of going to pick out all the candy from the bulk bins at Winco, so we get a lot of holiday fun out of this one event. (All the details here!).
A CHRISTMAS READ-ALOUD
I read aloud to my girls most nights before bed and I love when December rolls around and we spend the whole month reading festive chapter books (usually 2-3 depending on how long they are). My all-time favorite is A Return to Christmas which I’ve read aloud to the girls several different years. Last year, we did The Christmas Pig and I have a whole list of other options here!
What are your favorite Christmas traditions? I’d love to hear!
if you liked this post about our favorite christmas traditions, you might also like these other posts:
- What We’re Doing for Teacher Christmas Gifts
- 10 Games Our Whole Family Can Play
- A Christmas Advent Calendar