Holiday - December 19, 2020

Christmas Family Traditions

My family has never really been rigid when it comes to traditions we do every single year, but there are a few things I remember from growing up that were special. And as Duncan and I are starting our own family, we’ve been thinking about what traditions we want to start. 

I imagine it might take us a few years to really get into a groove and figure out the traditions we want to make sure happen every single year. I thought it might be fun to share some things we’re thinking about and also some traditions my family did growing up. 

Plus, I asked you guys to share one family tradition you do every year and wanted to share a round up of your answers as well! Consider this blog post your ultimate inspiration for family tradition ideas and inspiration if you’re looking to start or incorporate some! 

Brighton Butler wrapping gifts under Christmas tree wearing grey turtleneck sweater

A Few Traditions My Family Had Growing Up

Like I mentioned, we have never been super rigid when it comes to making sure we do the same exact things every year. Some years we traveled over Christmas (we went skiing a few times!) and our traditions sort of evolved and changed as we grew older. I’m the oldest of 4 – I’m 31 and my youngest sister is 24. 

Family White Elephant Party – I think this started about 8 or so years ago and it has been so much fun! I’m not always able to attend (since I’ve actually been away from home for 10 years), but we get together on the 3rd with all our cousins and do a lively white elephant party on 23rd at my parent’s house. It’s a really fun way to kick off the Christmas celebrations! 

Neighborhood Christmas Eve Parade + Party Hopping – I lived in Houston until I was 9, but when we moved to Baton Rouge, we moved into a neighborhood that had a big Christmas Eve parade each year. I have *so* many memories from the parade growing up – sometimes we were in it and other times we would watch it go by and catch beads and candy. But the most fun part is that many of our friends in the neighborhood would host parties during the parade, so we’d go from house to house and see all our friends on Christmas Eve. It was something we all looked forward to each year! 

Christmas Eve Church & Dinner- After the parade, we’d always go to 4 o’clock church as a family! And then usually after church, we’d all meet up at my uncle’s house to watch a Christmas movie together…usually Christmas Vacation.

Casserole on Christmas morning – I shared our family casserole before on the blog (we also make for Easter), but we usually have this breakfast Casserole on Christmas morning with a whole spread of other goodies too! 

Going to the movies on Christmas Day  – We didn’t do this every single year, but I have several memories of going to the movies on Christmas Day! I always thought this was so fun – we’d bring a whole big crew with my aunts, uncles and cousins too! I spent last year with Duncan’s family and we did this as well! We went to see Elf at Alamo Draft House!

I’m sure I’m forgetting some, but these are the ones that come to mind first! Now I want to share *some* (not all, there were WAY too many!) of the traditions you all submitted in the question box. I tried to refine and organize the list as best I could, so it wouldn’t be too much. 

Christmas Tradition Ideas from the BTD Community

Food Traditions

  • Chinese food for Christmas dinner
  • Decorating Christmas cookies
  • Creating gingerbread houses
  • Breakfast for super with mimosas on Christmas Eve
  • Make a cake for Jesus on Christmas Day
  • Hot cocoa and Christmas movies
  • Cinnamon or Orange rolls on Christmas morning
  • Seven fishes on Christmas eve
  • Making monkey bread on Christmas morning
  • Bake pull-apart bread on Christmas morning.
  • Homemade hot chocolate and marshmallows
  • Roast chestnuts
  • Fondue on Christmas Eve
  • Christmas breakfast is a birthday party for Jesus
  • Bake off with the family
  • Prime rib on Christmas
  • Christmas high tea
  • Eggnog on Christmas morning in wine glasses
  • Breakfast with Santa at a local hotel

Activity Traditions

  • Picking out or cutting down a real Christmas tree
  • Card games with family
  • Pickle Ornament game – the first kid to find the pickle ornament on the tree on Christmas morning receives a special gift
  • Advent calendar for the kids to do each day
  • Christmas Eve church service
  • Drive around looking at Christmas lights
  • Setting out Christmas cookies and milk for Santa and carrots for the reindeer
  • Go to the movies on Christmas day
  • Play a new board game on Christmas eve
  • Read an advent devotion with the family every Sunday in December
  • Make garland and wreaths
  • Watch Christmas Vacation together
  • Light weekly advent wreath candles at the dinner table
  • St. Nick fills stockings on December 6th
  • Wrapping paper fight after opening presents
  • Watch Home Alone
  • Leave a beer out for Santa
  • Wear Christmas PJs all Christmas day
  • Go see the nutcracker each December
  • Christmas morning picture on the stairs
  • Sing Christmas carols
  • Play the Neil Diamond Christmas album every Christmas morning
  • Deliver meals to those less fortunate
  • No phones on Christmas
  • NORAD Santa tracking with kids
  • Scratch off lottery tickets
  • Dance party Christmas day
  • Christmas bingo
  • Midnight mass on Christmas eve
  • Dad dresses as Santa every Christmas morning
  • Stocking scavenger hunt
  • Decorate the tree the day after thanksgiving

Reading Traditions

  • Read a night before Christmas on Christmas Eve
  • Read the Christmas story out of Luke on Christmas Eve
  • Receive a new Christmas book every Christmas Eve to read to the kids
  • Wrap 12 books for the 12 days of Christmas

Gift Traditions

  • A new ornament for the Christmas tree each year
  • Shaker gift – everyone gets to shake the gift on December 1st. They get to ask one question then guess. We continue the game until the the person correctly guesses the gift
  • Pickle Ornament game – the first kid to find the pickle ornament on the tree on Christmas morning receives a special gift
  • Open one gift on Christmas Eve
  • One person is assigned as “Santa” each year. They pass out the presents Christmas morning.
  • Secret Santa gifts – each person pulls one name and is responsible for only the person for Christmas
  • Christmas pajamas are given as a gift every Christmas Eve
  • A new nutcracker every year
  • Ornament exchange
  • Watch Love Actually while wrapping presents on Christmas Eve
  • Open gifts one at a time so we can each stop and appreciate it
  • Santa leaves stockings at the end of the bed – you can open before everyone wakes up
  • Open gifts at midnight
  • Santa brings 3 gifts because the wiseman gave Jesus 3 gifts
  • Adopt a family every year to purchase and deliver gifts to