Christmas traditions are a wonderful way to celebrate and add meaning to the holidays. My family has never been into Santa Claus, but I never felt I missed out because we had so many other amazing Christmas traditions. Whether you are a Santa-believer or not you’ll find plenty of merry traditions on this list. Incorporate a few or all of these traditions into your family’s Christmas celebrations this year!
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- Celebrate Advent—Advent simply means “arrival”. Growing up we celebrated the arrival of Christmas by lighting candles, reading Scripture about the coming of Christ, and singing off-key Christmas carols around the table. There are many different kinds of advent calendars and count down options (Legos! Eric Carle!) out there to suit your family.
- Christmas carols and gift delivery–Load up the car and visit friends and neighbors homes a to sing Christmas carols and deliver small Christmas gifts. It’s hepful to have an on-key singer in the group, but not necessary. 😉 You can also do this at a nursing home or homeless shelter, a wonderful way to share the joy of Christmas in a simple way.
- Cutting our own tree—Growing up we went hiking out into the frozen wasteland to find the perfect one. There aren’t any Christmas tree farms close to us now, but we still like picking out our own live tree.
- Decorating the tree to a favorite movie–This is my own little tradition where I decorate our tree while watching White Christmas. It makes the time fly and I love the mixing of two of my favorite Christmas traditions.
- Decorating Christmas cookies—there was always lots of baking in our house growing up, but Grandma Conrad Christmas cookie baking is a necessity. Icing is best spread with your fingers, but don’t lick and dip!
- Christmas Eve gift—Nate’s family always opened one gift on Christmas Eve, which was generally a movie or game the family played together. Would be fun to do so, plus add some new pajamas so everyone plays in their pjs!
- Christmas craft–A creative way to celebrate the holiday at any age. If you have kids, try something simple like this Christmas tree or these craft stick ornaments. For teens or adults get your friends together for a “Pinterest party” of holiday crafting! Make a wreath or snowglobe or your favorite pinned craft that has been waiting for you to “get around to”.
- Buying an Annual Ornament—We always got an annual Christmas ornament growing up to hang on the tree. In ‘95 it was a house with a bell, one year my grandma made us all angels, the year we traveled to Maine we got lighthouses like the one we visited. When we moved out we took our box of Christmas ornaments and memories with us. Nate and I are keeping us this tradition with a new commeomorative ornament each year.
- White Elephant Exchange–At our extended family gathering now that we’ve done away with gifts, for the last 4 years we’ve done a naughty/nice white elephant exchange. You may get something great or you may get a creepy clown!
- Enjoy non-traditional food—Nate and I have non-traditional food for our “Christmas” meal (whether or not it takes place on Christmas) apart from our families. Our menu includes perfectly grilled steak and cheesecake. It’s a good tradition.
- Christmas lights with a twist—A lot of people drive around and look at Christmas lights, but when my friend Carra’s family does it they prepare a small gift for the house their family votes has the best lights and then deliver to the family’s doorstep with a Christmas card!
- Pickle on the tree—I just think this is fun. Hide the pickle, rehide the pickle, all in good fun. It doesn’t have to be a pickle either….How fun would it be to use this Olaf ornament?
- Non-traditional gift giving—So this is the sweetest thing my brother and sister-in-law started doing: they have their girls pick out a gift from Compassion International or Heifer to give to someone in need. You can read more about it on their blog, but my niece is the cutest and picked to give a mom and baby food for a month. Precious!
- A book a night–Collect Christmas, winter-themed or your favorite books and enjoy reading them together before bed at Christmastime. For older kids you could read a classic chapter book, like The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and couples could enjoy a deeper read like Waiting Here for You by Louie Giglio or The Dawning of Indestructable Joy by John Piper.
- Volunteer together–Whether filling a showbox for Operation Christmas Child, buying presents for a family in need or volunteering at a local charity find a way to show kindness together this Christmas.
- Visit a Christmas light show–Christmas light shows are entertaining for all ages to walk or drive through and often involve Christmas music too!
- Sleep under the tree— My friend, Melissa and her husband started a new tradition when they got married of camping out on Christmas Eve under the Christmas tree! So magical and fun!
- Christmas parades—Christmas parades are a fun way to kick off the Christmas season in your hometown. Dress warmly for optimal enjoyment!
- Small town traditions–Every year our town has a Wassailing event where the downtown businesses host open houses with hot drinks, snacks, crafts, Christmas carolers, even reindeer! It’s such a fun event…find a fun Christmas event in your town and make it part of your family Christmas traditions.
- Christmas movie marathon–Grab all your blankets and camp out in front of the tv with popcorn and hot chocolate for a Christmas movie marathon!
- Attend a Christmas play, live nativity, musical, or concert–There are so many amazing and low cost ones out there put on by churches, schools, civic theatres, and orchestras. I love watching little kids acting in cutesy church programs, but am also totally swept away in the epic nature of Handel’s Messiah or a holiday pops concert.
Honestly we love these Christmas traditions without Santa Claus. I don’t have anything against the “big guy” per se, but prefer our Christmas celebrations to focus on family togetherness, practicing kindness to strangers, and Biblical traditions.
What are your family’s favorite new or old traditions? Any non-traditional ideas you’d like to share?