Our Christmas Traditions

Our Christmas Traditions

I have gotten several questions about how we celebrate Christmas.  It’s pretty simple around here.  Just the 11 of us on Christmas morning (+ some years my parents join us).

We get up early and I set out treats on the coffee table.  Cookies and sausage balls and punch.  This year, since I’m off sugar, we will also have tea and fruit.  I got some nuts and gluten free treats too….we will graze on it all morning while we open gifts.

James will read the Christmas story from the Bible and we will talk about Christ being the focus of our time together.  That usually turns into a spontaneous conversation about gratitude or something sweet.

We don’t do Santa here.  Never have.  James and I always felt it was not best for the children’s character to have the focus be so much on their gifts or some mysterious stranger.  Our goal in parenting is to teach them to focus on others and love the Lord.  Christmas is no exception to that.  So we buy each child one gift and they each get a stocking with small things in it.  I go a little overboard on the stockings some tears, but I am working on it.  It’s getting to be too expensive now that I can’t just pour goldfish crackers and Target dollar spot toys in there.

Also, the kids draw names each year and keep it a secret.  We call it “Secret Buddies” and they spend $20-25 of their own money to buy this one gift.  Once I have all of the secret buddy gifts I wrap them and place them under the tree all at the same time so they won’t be able to guess who their buddy is (they know who has been shopping already so if I put them out as they were purchased they would be able to guess).

That means on Christmas morning each child has 2 gifts, one from Mom & Dad and the other from their secret buddy.  That is plenty for our family considering we don’t need a thing and we have so much already that it’s shameful.  James and I also give each other a gift and the kids usually chip in to get us something.  I know a lot of people skip Mom and Dad, but we believe that sends the wrong message to the kids.  Mom and Dad are just as special as the kids in God’s eyes and the gifts communicate that.  It doesn’t have to be something huge, but there needs to be something for everyone under the tree.

We unwrap gifts one at a time.  No chaotic, wild time of everyone ripping into their own presents.  We like to enjoy seeing what everyone else gets and it teaches us to all be interested in each other and not just ourselves.  Also, we expect all of the kids to pay attention to the others while they open.  It can be hard for the little ones since they’re so excited, so we may let them play a little with something new while they watch, but they can’t be distracting or completely self-focused.

Once the gifts under the tree are opened we take a little break.  I usually get lunch started and we clean up all of the trash then we gather together again and start emptying the stockings.  One at a time while we all watch and enjoy.

Once we finish, we eat and settle into playing with new toys and checking out our presents.  I love just mulling around watching the kids and being with them while they enjoy their things.  We eat a late lunch (this year I’m making roast) then just hang out together.

It’s a simple, love filled day.

How about you?  What’s your favorite family Christmas tradition?


  1. I love how calm and un-chaotic (is that even a word?) your day is. We give pajamas to our kids on Christmas eve and then we all change into them and sit and watch a Christmas movie and eat popcorn and candy. We also get each of our kids a special book and wrap that to put in front of their door on Christmas morning. We sit and read their new books before we let them open presents under the tree. We have six kids and also only get them one gift and fill their stockings. They do “secret siblings” as well. It’s fun to take them each shopping individually for their gifts for their sibling (other than the ones that are too little). I lost my parents a couple years ago, so now we celebrate, just us. The first year it was hard, but I must admit, I enjoy the lazy day and just getting to spend time with the most important family…ours.

  2. Alicia The Snowflake :

    This sounds a lot like our Christmas morning….even to the sausage balls. This year I have found a grain free sausage ball recipe that we will try for the first time. We’ll make it this weekend to see if it needs tweaking. I don’t want to make it for the first time on Christmas morning and then not like it 🙂 I like to open one gift at a time too. My husband’s family is all at once and I feel like no one really appreciates the moment.

    Christmas can be very difficult for me. My family is extremely dysfunctional and we don’t celebrate Christmas together. This saddens me. So I try to focus on my little family instead. There may only be three of us. But we are a family and we are making memories together…and that is what is important. Blessings to you my friend.

  3. Sounds wonderful. I hope you and your family have a very blessed Christmas this year. You have been a great blessing and inspiration to me me. Blessings for the new year!!

  4. Oh, I just love the quiet family time during Christmas. We do a big dinner on Christmas Eve, so we have the left overs for the next day, but so that we don’t have to hurry through Christmas to get dinner done so that if someone has to work the day after Christmas they can get packed up and headed home. This works so well for us with family just over an hour and a half away. The bring their camper and stay over so nobody has to travel on Christmas. After dinner, the girls get to open their new jammies, we read the Night Before Christmas and The Christmas Story. Christmas morning we get up and make cinnamon rolls, coffee and hot chocolate. While we’re waiting for other to wake or at least wipe the sleepies from their eyes, we (the hubby and I! He is such a great help on holidays or really any other day of the year!) start to put together a big brunch for after we open gifts. When the rolls are done, everyone gets a drink and a cinnamon roll, we all gather in the living room and usually the hubby distributes the gifts to everyone. When under the tree is empty we go around the room opening gifts one at a time. Making sure that there are many thank you’s shared. When it is all done, we clean up the paper, the kids play and we finish up brunch. I was raised that Christmas day is for family, so we don’t go anywhere. We have always done all the visiting before or after, but never on Christmas Day. So we spend the day in our jammies, eating, watching movies and enjoying each other right at home. I know that soon this will all change as my kids are getting older and will start to make families of their own, but for now we are truly blessed to share Christmas together! Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  5. Awh…this post just touches my heart. I LOVED reading everything your family does!

    What a treasure, to raise children in an environment that focus’ on Christ…and others. God is SO honored…this way.

    We do some similar things…and my heart is ALWAYS so full…just being with family!

    Merry Christmas my dear,
    P.S. I LOVE…your Christmas stockings!

  6. Sounds absolutely lovely….wish my crowd would follow these ‘rules’….but as children branch off into families of their own things can change. I just have to feel blessed to be with my children, grands and great grands.

  7. WONDERFUL ideas! We take turns opening gifts too and I really like the idea of setting snacks out to enjoy during the gift opening.

  8. I love reading how you celebrate! It sounds very similar to our day. We’ve never done Santa either although we do talk about how that all started and who Saint Nick was. And we’ll even do a picture with Santa but our kids think of him as just another character. Our kids also get stockings and one gift from us. They exchange sibling gifts on Christmas Eve … each child gets a gift from the boys and a gift from the girls. They always look forward to that.

  9. This sounds a lot like ours. We read our final Advent story (the birth of Christ) before anything else. We give our kids two gifts each, but we don’t do stockings. Believe it or not, I don’t have a good place to hang this many stockings in my house, so we have skipped the stockings the last few years. We used to give the kids new pajamas on Christmas Eve, but that has become too expensive.

    We also open one gift at a time. It’s so much fun to see what everyone gets, and not have the chaos of everyone ripping paper at the same time. Plus, it makes the fun last longer. 🙂

    We love keeping Christmas simple and keeping it focused on Christ!

    Have a blessed Christmas, my friend!

  10. Growing up, my mom stuffed our stockings a week before Christmas and we opened one gift each night. I have done this with my children some years and other years we have saved stockings for Christmas morning. The Christmas story is read by daddy, then gifts are opened slowly…one at a time. We have a big family lunch, this year there will be about 30 of us. I love it!

  11. We have similar traditions. We have Christmas Eve services. Afterwards we come home, the kids will find pjs under their pillow. We change from church clothing to our new pjs. Then everyone goes to their secret hiding places and retrieve their gifts to put under the tree (no gifts allowed under the tree before now). Christmas morning…..we open stockings first thing. Then we prepare and attend Christmas morning services to celebrate the birth of our savior. Afterwards we come home, change. Have homemade cinnamon rolls while we wait for any of our married kids and their families to arrive (all their gifts are under our tree…..they only have their stockings at home to open before church and come to our house for the rest. This year will only be our daughter and her family). We open gifts one at a time as well. This can take hours. We take breaks in between to check on lunch/dinner. Potty breaks. Drinks, etc. We have black trash bags in designated spots so trash is kept up as we go so we have minimal clean up afterwards. This year, there will be 23 of us opening gifts. 7 of them just joined our family the first part of November. A couple of them have not had a Christmas while in foster care. They are so excited to have a family style Christmas they can hardly stand it.

    A very Blessed Christmas to you and your family and may 2014 be full of wonder and blessings.

  12. Lisa, sounds a lot like our Christmas, too. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Sounds like an absolutely wonderful Christmas Day! Our family traditions are very similar 🙂 we have never done Santa with our kids, I fill stockings with fruit, nuts and trinkets and they get one gift from mom and dad and they draw names and shop for one another. And they are happy with that. We spend Christmas Eve with the lights turned low and candles lit, enjoying hot cocoa and Christmas goodies while Dad reads from the Bible and we sing carols. Christmas Day is a fun and low-key day when we all give and share and stay in our pj’s til noon (or later for some).