Christmas Traditions

Shawn and I were at a Christmas party last week when the conversation turned to the infamous Elf on the Shelf.  If you have young children, you know what I’m talking about.  For you uninitiated, it’s a stuffed elf that lives in your house to keep an eye on your kids and report back to Santa.  Anyway, my friends were sharing all the “mischief” their elves get into while the kids sleep.  One friend’s elf ate chocolate and left the wrappers strewn all over the house for the kids to find in the morning.  Someone else’s elf was a bit nicer.  He put the tree topper on their Christmas tree for them.  Still another took the car out for a spin and left it parked in the middle of the yard.  If you ask me, most of these elves need to be reported to Santa…not do the reporting.  And, of course, my kids have announced that they want an elf to come live with us.  Uh, I’m not sure I have the energy for that!

So, our conversation continued with all the traditions we have as families at Christmas time.  Some friends have chosen to only give 3 gifts to their children as a nod to the gifts the wise men gave.  Someone said they open one gift on Christmas Eve – always a new pair of pajamas so the Christmas morning pictures will be cuter.  And, another said they bake homemade cinnamon rolls to enjoy Christmas morning.

Our family has a few traditions of our own:

-We always decorate the house the day after Thanksgiving (after I return from Black Friday shopping, of course).

-We make a paper chain for the 25 days until Christmas.  On each link we write the way we’re going to celebrate Christmas that day.  For example, one day we might drive through town looking at Christmas lights and another we might host a Christmas party in our home or make homemade ornaments.  We make it work for our life, so some days are really easy like “Pizza under the tree”!  The kids love breaking the chain each day to see what fun we have in store.  I love knowing that even during  a busy season, we’re creating memories for our kids.

– Since Christmas Eve is always a busy day in ministry, we don’t plan much for that night. Our family spends the day leading and serving at MLC, and after the kids go to bed, Shawn and I pull out all the presents and set the scene for Christmas morning.  Then, we usually crash. Who cares about traditions at that point?! 😉

– On Christmas morning, we always read the first Christmas story in Luke 2, and, we take turns saying what we’re thankful for and how much we love each other.  Sappy, yes.  But, oh so precious.  Then, all of us pray and tell Jesus how thankful we are for Him.  Then, knowing we’ve held the kids off as long as humanly possible, we dive into the presents. 🙂

I’m curious.  What traditions does your family have?  Since I might be buying an Elf on the Shelf soon, it looks like I’m in the market for some new things to do.


5 thoughts on “Christmas Traditions

  1. Noelle Smith says:

    I love Christmas. My son was born on Christmas 3 years ago and he is such a special gift. Since he will be 3 this year we are still trying to decide what traditions we want to celebrate for our family. Like some of your friends, we have given and will continue to give William 3 gifts. We have never made a big deal about Santa and until this year we were not sure how we were going to fit Santa into our Christmas traditions. This year we made a bold decision to not celebrate Santa in our home. We have gotten a lot of grief from our family however that is what we feel is best for our family.
    We always adopt a family and we fill shoe boxes for Operations Christmas Child. This year we let William help fill a box and he wanted to keep it.
    We go to Church on Christmas eve and have a big meal. We have a big breakfast on Christmas day. We open presents and spend time with family. We celebrate William’s birthday in the evening and it is a full day.
    Merry Christmas


  2. Since our oldest just turned five we’re still at the “trying to figure out what are traditions will be” stage. We have an advent activities calendar like your chain that we love doing. And this year I got each child a Christmas tree for their rooms – I’m excited to get a new ornament each year to represent that stage in the life (and hang it on their tree instead of our pretty one in the family room – heehee!!). But overall, I LOVE traditions!!


    • I just put trees in our kids’ rooms, too. But, I might steal your idea of hanging their homemade ornaments on their trees. You must have a sneaky mind like me ;). I found a hot pink Christmas tree that someone was getting rid of – prelit and all. Completely tacky, but I knew my 7year old would fall in love with it. So, a few silver ball ornaments and a little fancy ribbon transformed into something we can both be happy with. A little Christmas in every room – a great tradition!


  3. We have an elf on the shelf but ours does not leave messes – I just don’t have the energy for that!:) I’ve actually thought about not even bringing him out until the 15th of the month just cause it seems to go on forever. I’m fun, aren’t I? 🙂

    We did start a new tradition this year – The Advent Jesse Tree – we have sat down as a family every night starting Dec. 1 by our tree to do these devotions and add a new ornament to our special tree. We LOVE it! And, I am so amazed at how well our four year old has responded to it. It’s been so nice to have that focus and time together to slow down each night. This is the book that we’re using …
    Highly recommend it!


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