Christmas Traditions 

An inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior (as a religious practice or a social custom).

Do you have a Christmas tradition you'd like to share? Send your tradition to:  

Act It Out

As our family has grown and matured, our tradition has changed a bit throughout the years. 
When my grandchildren were toddlers, our family (Papaw down through the tiniest) have annually participated in a simple rendition of the nativity story.

The first year there were 3 toddlers. Costumes were created from towels and blankets. Papaw read the Luke 2 rendition - with pause for the family to create the different scenes. 

As the families grew (now there are 10 grandchildren) --- scenes were recreated per family. One family became the shepherds, another - the wise men, one -the Holy family. We always finished with singing a Joy to the World and Silent Night --- closing in prayer thanking God for sending Jesus to our world. 

The toddlers are teens now and looking back it is fun to remember our nativity traditions. The participation has changed some during the years. 

One year, we had a trip to Bethlehem (our yard) by pretend caravan. We arrived at the manger scene (our barn) to find Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus and shepherds. (A friend's family reenacted the manger scene for us and surprised the kids that year). 

Another year, we have had a scavenger hunt for the nativity pieces - bringing them together to tell the story of the birth of Christ. 

We have had a silhouette cut-out puppet show telling the story. 

As the grandchildren grew to preteens, one year we took a couple of weekends prior to Christmas Eve and video taped them outside reenacting the nativity - with no adults involved. One of their dads edited the tape and added a simple graphic title page and music to the video. The kids loved seeing themselves and have enjoyed viewing other years since. 

Last year - each family told their favorite part of the nativity and led the rest of the family in a Christmas carol. 

Three things have never changed; reading the true story from the Bible, singing carols together, and the prayer thanking God for Jesus. 

As I grow older --- I feel a bit like Mary in that the times we have shared together honoring the birth of Jesus are such special gifts to me ---- I have taken these moments and love pondering them in my heart.

Joyfully Serving HIM,
Emmalea Butler 

Jesus' Birthday

We always celebrate Christmas as Jesus' Birthday We have a decorated birthday cake and the manger scene under the tree - at the very front. Packages are placed behind it. We read the Christmas story and sing happy birthday to him. 

Donna Cooper

"Happy Birthday JESUS" cake topped with an "Edible Nativity," one of the projects you'll find in
Journey to the Manger.

Three Gifts

When starting their own family Christmas tradition my son and daughter-in-law decided to give three gifts to each of their children and to each other, because the Bible records the three gifts that Jesus received from the wise men. I think it's a wonderful idea and it cuts down on shopping stress and greed and helps keep the focus on Jesus! 

A Christmas tradition I have with my four grandchildren is to take them to Big Lots and Wal-Mart to buy items to put in a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child. They each do a box for a child their own age and gender. 

I love this saying, "Have a 'Mary' (not a 'Martha') Christmas! Take time to sit at Jesus' feet this busy Christmas season!

God bless,

Christmas Piņata 

When my children (I have five - youngest is now 18) were very young I began making a Piņata for Christmas eve. At Thanksgiving we discussed the year and came up with a piņata which represented something from the year past. I learned to make paper mache piņatas in the fourth grade, more than forty years ago...we have never missed a year and the older my children got the more intense the suggestions for a piņata and the tougher I've had to make them (strength wise that is) Everyone brings a bag or two of their favorite candies. We invite friends every now and than and they really get into is great....We also have the little ones make stick puppets for the nativity and then put on a show from behind the couch. Christmas morning is not the same without Christmas tree shaped drizzling a pattern then filling it in ... EVERYONE gets a huge homemade sock...I used old pillowcases (two of my children still have their original socks-close to 30 years old) which I fill to the brim with anything I can think of...I wrap Everything taking hours to wrap. I have wrapped a single quarter to toilet paper...lemons, bananas, plastic Santa rings, cans of name takes us an hour to unwrap everything but my kids, grandkids, boyfriends, girlfriends, grandparents, service buddies, and anyone else who may be spending Christmas with us would have it no other way.


Traveling Kings

At the beginning of Advent we place our Nativity Set on display in a prominent part of our home. Each day afterwards one of our children moves the three kings closer to Jesus, finally arriving at the manger scene on Christmas Day. (I know of others who have done this with the baby Jesus instead or they have the kings arrive on Epiphany Sunday.) 

It's a happy memory for us! One day those three kings could be on top of the armoire or on the piano, another day they might be in the kitchen or under the coffee table! It was always fun to see how far they had "traveled."

Sarah Keith

Hospital Caroling

Like most other families, our traditions are not the same as when we were first married. At that time we always went to visit parents and grandparents When the eldest generation became great grandparents we still went to them, until they all went to heaven. Then our parents began coming to our home for a Christmas vacation w/their grandchildren. Changes came about though the year my husband was hospitalized over Christmas. The staff there was great and they made the day as pleasant as possible under the circumstances.

The following year, and for about 6 more to follow, we went back to the hospital on Christmas day to sing carols for the staff. We invited 2 other families to join us so we had a few more voices, took plates of cookies and sang our way through the corridors of the little hospital. Since it is so small, less than 40 beds, we went to each dept:- admitting, emergency, med/surgical, the kitchen- and sang a few songs in each area. One year there was a new baby in the OB ward, too. The yearly trip was our way of returning the blessing to those who served us so faithfully.

One tradition that hasn't changed is caroling w/our church in mid-Dec. and also attending the Candlelight Service on Christmas Eve. These are times of great joy for all who attend. Some of our college students look forward to the caroling so much that they do their best to arrange their schedules to arrive home in time to participate. If your church doesn't have these activities in place yet, there is still time to make plans for this year. The memories everyone will make are part of what will help to bind all those involved into a true church family.

Thanks for all the ideas we are able to share in this forum.
The Marshall Family

Gingerbread Houses

What a great idea to put together holiday family traditions for young families! So many of us are disconnected from our extended families and don't know where to start. Many of our traditions come from our church - like Christmas play or caroling with the youth group.

Our big family tradition is that we see family on Thanksgiving and stay home for Christmas! From the 1st year we had kids, I promised that home is where Christmas is so that the kids wouldn't be overwhelmed and we could focus on the real meaning of the season. But after Thanksgiving dinner, we always compete in a different twist on gingerbread houses. We make pretzel log cabins and tree houses. Only your imagination will limit you. Since pretzels come in all shapes and sizes anymore, we gather all month long and ask others to bring bags of uniquely shaped pretzels. We have even used dry cereal to add some decorations! Usually we use peanut butter for the glue but one year we had a relative attending that had a peanut allergy and we substituted mashed potatoes and cheese whiz. The little children to the grandparents have a blast with this and it brings everyone together, rather than the kids being excused and the adults sitting around chatting, with teenagers bored out of their minds. It's an intergenerational event that really works. After a day or two, we take them out to the woods to let the animals have their own feast. I would love to hear others' ideas.

Ashley Stensland
Children and Youth Coordinator
Covenant Central Presbyterian Church

Tell the faith story! Make a Christ-Tree this Christmas.

Ginger Bread Stables

My tradition started about four years ago. We celebrate Christmas in our Sunday school. Luckily I have been directing our ministry since then so whether we are allowed to do it every year it has not been a problem. Every year, the Sunday before Christmas, we get all of our classes together and the kids make ginger bread stables. The kids decorate the stable with candy and candy animals. They spend all Sunday morning creating their stable. After they are done, they vote to see who is the prettiest of all. We give the child a present for using his/her imagination. Some classes participate in secrete Santa and we use the time to do that as well. 

*If you are interested in learning more about our Sunday school traditions e-mail me at
Edgar Ramirez

Started New Christmas Traditions 
A few years ago we: 

1) Began making ornaments for our tree (1 per night) on the first day of November. By the end of the month we have plenty to decorate our tree with. 

2) We make a family advent calendar in which we do an activity together each evening in the days leading up to might be to watch a movie together, to deliver cookies to shut-ins, or to play a board game. 

3) On Christmas Eve, we all get a new pair of PJs. The kids get excited about going to bed in something new on Christmas as an added bonus, everyone looks their best in those early Christmas morning photos! 

Angie <><

Fondue Christmas

We have several traditions in our family...Not on purpose one year we decided to "fondue" on Christmas Eve before attending the Candlelight Service. The following year I asked everyone what they wanted to eat on Christmas Eve and the kids chimed in together "fondue" of course. My children are 24 and 30 and we still celebrate our fondue tradition. We have been blessed with a son-in-law and one granddaughter and another one on the way who are now a part of this tradition.

When our children were little I began purchasing a Christmas ornament (that related to some highlight in their life that year) each year for them to open when we decorated our Christmas tree. Even they are grown we continue this tradition. The love to look over the decorated tree each year and talk about old memories and their special ornaments. My daughter has begun this tradition with our granddaughter.

Each year, I purchase a new Christmas book (there are so many wonderful ones that tell the real meaning of Christmas) that is wrapped and put under the tree. Each book is dated and it's great fun to pull them out each year and display them in a basket to read and enjoy.

I am a game lover so I also purchase a new game each year, wrap it and put it under the tree to play on Christmas day.

We also have the tradition of new "jammies" each year. 

Connecting Children & Families to Jesus,
Linda Annett, Minister of Children
Fellowship Reformed Church

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