There’s something magical and significant about sharing traditions with our kids that we can remember long after Christmas is over and look forward to as the next Christmas approaches.
Doing these special things each year help us bond as a family and gives us memories we will always cherish.
I especially love Christmas Eve traditions!
Here are some that are special to my family:
- Eat a fancy dinner. There is something fun about dressing a little nice and sharing a fancy meal with our kids. Our kids think it’s such a big deal to set our table beautifully and eat by candlelight. We especially enjoy Italian food for our Christmas Eve supper, as it is something everyone likes, pretty easy to prepare (or pick up!), and is delicious!
- Go to a Christmas Eve candlelight service. Depending on what our church is offering each year, we enjoy a candlelight service usually just before or right after supper. At these services, many churches sing Christmas songs and hear Bible verses about Jesus’ birth. Some churches have special services specifically for families and are extra kid friendly. Often toward the end of the service, everyone attending holds a fake candle or lights small, real candles. The flame is passed on from those in front of you and you pass your flame to those beside or behind you. I don’t know how this tradition will work this year(we may be watching online), but we really like attending this special service where we get to sing Christmas songs as a family and celebrate the true meaning of the holiday.
- Drive around looking at Christmas lights while drinking hot chocolate (or chocolate milk). Luckily it gets dark so early in the winter it’s no challenge to hop in our car after supper or after our Christmas Eve service and drive around looking at Christmas lights. We actually do this nearly every night in December before Christmas, but of course doing it on Christmas Eve makes the night so much more special. If your kids are old enough, or you are brave enough, it’s extra fun to let everyone drink hot chocolate or chocolate milk from travel cups while you drive around. The next best option is everyone getting to enjoy candy canes!
- Watch a special Christmas movie. We especially love watching a final viewing of Elf or the newer animated version of The Grinch. It’s so fun to cuddle and enjoy a last Christmas movie for the year. I know some families even save a certain movie, like White Christmas, for the older kids to watch with parents only on Christmas Eve.
- Bake and decorate cookies or a gingerbread house. Our kids LOVE baking and decorating together. On years when I have less energy we go for just decorating. We found Christmas Eve to be a great time to put any little kids to bed and let the bigger kids decorate a gingerbread house with us (sometimes while watching our Christmas movie). I like waiting to decorate a gingerbread house until Christmas Eve because I fear our kids would be begging to eat parts of it every day leading up to Christmas. This way we can enjoy the house for one day, Christmas Day, and then throw it away. I prefer buying a pre-made gingerbread house and decorate it using icing and leftover Halloween candy.
- Open one gift. This is especially fun if you buy your kids any comfort items, like a stuffed animal, blanket, or new pajamas. Our kids think it’s the greatest thing ever to get to open a present early, especially if it’s something they get to enjoy immediately. Maybe it’s because my first three children are daughters, or it’s just their personalities, but a new stuff animal is one of their favorite gifts for Christmas.
- Sleep in the same room. This is a challenge for me because I’m not a great sleeper in any “non-perfect” environment, but it’s worth it for this one night. This is especially fun if you have a fireplace or beautiful Christmas tree to sleep near, but even just piling in one of our kids’ bedrooms makes everyone giggle and so full of joy. Although, any kids in baby beds are usually left in their own rooms for everyone’s good.
- Opening Christmas crackers. “Christmas crackers” are an English tradition our family enjoys. Paper cylinders burst open with a little popping sound to reveal a paper crown, a fun little trinket, and a corny joke. Traditionally each person gets one at their place at the dinner table and the crackers are opened before starting the meal. Our kids think these are so fun and it’s great to be able to wear the disposable crowns as we eat and read the jokes together. And luckily they aren’t very expensive!
- Read the Christmas story before bed. There are a few passages in the Bible Granddad always had us grandkids read at Christmas. It’s really special to me to now read these with my kids. When they are old enough, they help read just like I did when I was growing up! We like to read Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah 9:6, Luke 2:1-21, and Matthew 2:1-14.
I just can’t wait to enjoy our traditions and make more special memories with my family this Christmas Eve!