10 Fun and Frugal Things to Do Before Christmas

ChristmasintheBigWoods1. Read one Christmas, holiday, or winter-themed book each day for the week leading up to Christmas. You could wrap the books up, in tissue and have one child unwrap one book per day starting around December 17th. The same books can be re-wrapped from year to year. This tradition can be expanded by borrowing library books or purchasing Christmas books at thrift stores.

Our favorite Christmas stories are The Night Before Christmas, The Legend of the Candy Cane, The Story of Holly & Ivy, The Real 12 Days of Christmas- The story behind the Song and A Little House Christmas Volume 11 which contains the Christmas stories from the original books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. My favorite Little House Picture Books with wintery and Christmas Themes are Christmas in the Big Woods, Sugar Snow, and Winter Days in the Big Woods. I think any of these books are available in the library.TheNightBefore

2. Pray for friends, neighbors, or relatives you have received Christmas Cards from or whom you will be sending cards to. A good time to do this is during devotions or Jesse Tree Devotions.

3. Attend a Christmas Cantata, Parades of Lights, or Christmas Eve Service in your community. Check your local paper for details. Then drive around the neighborhoods to view Christmas lights and well decorated homes on your way home. In our area, the addresses of the best lit homes are organized by neighborhoods and listed in the newspaper. When you get home have hot chocolate and home made cookies.

4. Have a family slumber party or movie marathon in the family room or living room. Pull out sleeping bags. blankets, afghans, pillows. Turn out the lights except for Christmas lights or candles. Enjoy popcorn or a snack with a Bible story, book or Christmas movie. Our favorite Christmas movies are The Nativity Story, Christmas with the Kranks, and The Christmas Story.

5. Make package opening time special by allowing only one gift to be opened at a time. Start by having the children give out their gifts first.

6. Set up a card table or coffee table to do a jigsaw puzzle together during the holidays. Work at it every now and then with family, relatives or neighbors until it’s done. Do a different puzzle every year. Inexpensive puzzles can be found in thrift stores.


7. Bake rolled out sugar cookies cut into Christmas shapes and decorate. My children, now older, still enjoy making sugar cookies together every year without my help. OR make candy. Our favorites are fudge, peanut brittle, and toffee. OR make a Gingerbread House. Kits are inexpensive in craft stores. I usually buy one in the after Christmas sales for the next year.

8. Cut your own Christmas tree. In Colorado you can buy a permit to go to a designated place in the forest to cut a tree for $8.00. My children absolutely insist on having a real, live tree preferably one they cut themselves with Dad every year. The oldest is now 23!

9. With small children you can make a paper chain with colored construction paper to count the days until Christmas. Alternate green and red construction paper. Take a link off the chain each night before bed time.

10. Hold a Holiday Open House or invite some friends or family over for dinner. My favorite company recipe is Beef Burgundy. Your event can be simple and casual. Have everyone bring a dish or appetizer to share. Enjoy the company and tell about favorite family traditions or memories.

I think my favorite memory was the year we gave the two younger children a trampoline and rolled it down the road Christmas Eve from the neighbor’s house to our yard. The expressions of surprise and excitement from the children are priceless memories for the whole family.

BONUS IDEA: Make a special Christmas breakfast with homemade Pecan Sticky Cinnamon Rolls. You won’t even need to get up early to do it. All the Christmas breakfast recipes and stress free instructions are complimentary.

Remember to slow down, enjoy the season, take lots of pictures and enjoy the memories.


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38 comments to 10 Fun and Frugal Things to Do Before Christmas

  • Susie

    My favorite Christmas memory was the year we had no money to spend on Christmas. We lived in the city, but we did have a very large pine tree in our yard. My husband got out the ladder and climbed up and cut off some branches. We stuck them in the tree stand to form our own Christmas tree. We popped popcorn and strung it, found red berries and strung those as well, and made paper chains and snowflakes to decorate our “tree”, topped with an aluminum foil star. It was the most special tree we have ever had, made with love and time and what we had on hand. Presents that year were similar — things we made for one another with our own hands.

  • We do many of the things you mentioned above. Another thing we love to do is to bake bread to put into baskets with yummy jellies for gifts to friends and families. We also make mixes in jars to include in the baskets. We have also made “coupons” to give to grandparents for things such as yard mowing, car washing or something along those lines. Thank you for the wonderful ideas and the chance to win a fun prize!

  • Rhonda

    Many years ago when we had five children under eight who never received allowances, but wanted to give gifts to their siblings, we began our “Christmas store” tradition. Each year I keep my eyes peeled for super cheap clearance items & buy things for the Christmas store. I buy 20 gifts, enough for each child to give one gift to each sibling. This is not a budget binder, since rarely do any of the gifts cost over a dollar. It’s gotten harder now that we have three teens, but I can usually find nice pens, mechanical pencils, note pads, etc for very little when school supplies are clearanced. The ones who earn their own money purchase personal gifts for their siblings, but they still shop the Christmas store too. It’s been a lot of fun for us.

    Another tradition we began many years ago is having our family’s personal Christmas mid-December. We normally go to one set of Grandparents’ house on Christmas Eve & the other set on Christmas Day, which would leave a few very rushed hours for our immediate family. Tomorrow is the day we picked to Christmas this year. Everyone picks some of their favorite foods for our Christmas brunch, and we eat on our fine china, which is something the kids look forward to. We don’t let anything else interfere with this day. It’s such a nice, relaxing day & we thoroughly enjoy it.

  • Some of my favorite traditions & memories:
    Christmas eve is a time for just our immediate family (Christmas day all the grandparents & such come over), the girls get to open 2 gifts each, one gift for each of them is a pr of Christmas pjs, the other 2 gifts are “joint” gifts, one is a book and the other is a video or game, then we spend the evening together as a family reading the book, watching the video or playing the game and just being together as a family.

    I made a tree skirt by cutting a piece of off-white twill to the shape of a tree skirt (I just traced one I already had) then each year I have the kids write their names on it (once they can write at all, the first year was just the first letter of their names)with fabric markers & stamp their handprints with fabric paint, it’s soo fun to see how their hands grow & their writing improves.

    We decorate our tree with ornaments I’ve collected my entire life, there’s no “theme” but there’s a story behind, or memories attached to, almost every ornament. My girls are 4 this year and are old enough to start appreciating that and for many of the ornaments, as they picked it up to put on the tree they’d ask “where’d you get this one, mommy?” and I could share my stories & memories.

  • One of our favorite Christmas traditions is to put candy canes on our tree. After reading the Legend of the Candy Cane, we decided to hang our candy canes upside down so they look like the letter “J”. This has been an open door to witness to those who stop by for a visit. We explain to our guests that the candy cane looks like a J and that is the first letter in Jesus’s name. The baby that came in a manger to be the sacrifice for our sins.

    Another favorite tradition is that we attend Christmas Eve service. It has always been full of singing, story telling and prayer. At the end of the service,we each light a candle. The light that illuminates the room is a reminder to us that we should let our light shine for Christ. It is a Spiritual service that prepares our hearts for the real celebration.

    My husband and I participate in a communion service in our home on Christmas Eve just before we go to bed. We have now included our children.

    On Christmas morining, our children are instructed to come to our room in get in bed with us. They are not allowed to go into the living room. Their Dad reads from the scriptures about the arrival of Jesus in Bethlehem. We pray and then they take turns opening their gifts.

  • I always hand make all of our Christmas cards. I usually send out 60-100 cards, so needless to say this takes alot of time, but they sure do draw alot of attention, in which I try to share Christ in the message.

  • The Tradition of the Straws. This is far and away my boys favorite Christmas tradition! Let me share with you what it is all about….you will need a tray, some straw, a manger and a baby. This is the concept…. Jesus is coming! We must prepare a place for him and we will do that by loving and serving each other for His sake. Beginning the fist night, the names of all the family members are written an scraps of paper and placed in a bowl. Each person draws a name, checking to make sure they have not drawn their own. This name must be kept secret! The goal for the next week is to secretly do acts of loving kindness for that person without getting caught. For each secret act of love, you may place a straw in the manger. The idea is to build a soft and comfortable bed made from love for the Christ child who will arrive on Christmas Eve.

    Each week, the names go back in the bowl and everyone draws again. Parents will need to help younger ones with ideas and sometimes with practical help. I have kept many a boy busy so his brother didn’t get “caught in the act”. And often you will have to turn a blind eye so a little one can bless you with an act of love!

    It is amazing how this simple tradition changed our focus and the atmosphere in our home. Sometimes a child will find their bed made, their chores done or their laundry folded. I have found dishwashers emptied, or filled, clothes folded, my bed turned down with a cookie left on the pillow, a wildflower in a vase on the kitchen windowsill, animals cared for and the list goes on. Arguments stop before they really start and everyone seems to be thinking of others first.

    Secret acts done for neighbors, church members and others outside our family circle earn fatter straws, or multiple straws. Hands are constantly testing the manger – is it soft enough for Jesus? On Christmas Eve day the pace for loving acts really picks up….who will place the last straw?

    On Christmas Eve, if the boys determine that the bed is ready, they must search for the baby, just as the Wise Men searched for the Christ child. Whoever finds Him gets to place Him lovingly in the manger that was filled with hundreds of straws, each one representing an act of love to others.

    You can read more and see pictures at my website.

    My prayer for you this season is that you too find the Christ child who was born crucified for you.

    Merry Christmas!

  • The most memorable Christmas “moment” was the first Christmas after my mom died. My dad wanted all of us to make a trip to the cemetery together just before sitting down for dinner. We put the ham out in the garage to keep it cold since the refrigerator was full of other things. My dad didn’t know this and he put his dog in the garage just before we all left. Well…..when we got back we discovered that my dad’s dog just had his best Christmas ever! We, on the other hand, had a side dish buffet instead!

    As for tradition….I let the kids make a gingerbread house every year. They are still pretty young so the houses still look pretty interesting when complete!

    Our church makes a float for the local Christmas parade every year. So, every year the kids walk in the parade alongside the float. I stay home and watch the parade on tv while getting soup and hot chocolate ready them.

    We try to make ornaments every year, some for our own tree and some to give away. We put the year on the back of each of them.

    Starting this year, a new tradition will be started thanks to Marilyn Moll! First thing tomorrow I am going to wrap our stash of Christmas books. The kids will absolutely love the idea of opening and reading one each day until Christmas! Thanks Marilyn!

    Jill (

  • Donna Jackson

    One of our favorite traditions is becoming shopping for the “Christmas Store” that our church has for underprivileged families. My 3 youngest children (ages 11, 13, 14) have X dollars provided by Dad to spend. They get to buy whatever they want for the store. Lots of dolls, Lego sets, hotwheels cars, boardgames or whatever. They have to keep up with the amount they have accumulated so they don’t go over their budget. Then we deliver everything to the church. They are not able to help on store day (they have to be age 18) but they anxiously wait for me to get home that day to find out about the folks who choose their items. It especially excites them when someone has an item they picked out and that person talks about how their child will be excited on Christmas morning. They say this is one of their favorite things to do. I love it because it helps them focus on others and not just their own wants. The store is this weekend…the families also get toiletry items, a huge food box, and the Message of Salvation. This is our 3rd year to participate and we all love it!

  • One thing we do on Christmas day is go to this huge park that is all decorated with lights in a town called Chickasha. It is beautiful there and it takes us about an hour and a half to drive there. It has a pond and the water just glitters. Sometimes the ducks are swimming aound in the ice! This is also the park where on bended knee my Randy proposed to me so it is special The last few years we have had a horse drawn buggy ride there as well -complete with quilts and all. So strange to look back and remember there were years that we had to scrape change together to buy hot chocolate there. We always dance under the huge lighted tree and visit the lighted chapel.
    My birthday is on this day as well so I really look forwad to this special
    night every year.

  • Laura Light

    Our family’s traditions include watching “It’s A Wonderful Life” together. We have it practically memorized! (We used to have watching parties with dear friends that also love the movie, but now, the only TV in the house is in our bedroom–not a good place for entertaining friends! LOL!) We also try to take goodies to and visit with the elderly/widowed folks from our church family. Our favorites to take to them include Cranberry Orange Nut Bread, Chocolate covered pretzels, and gingerbread cookies.

    Recipe for Cranberry Orange Nut Bread
    2 c. flour
    3/4 c. sugar
    1 1/2 t. baking powder
    3/4 t. salt
    1/2 t. baking soda
    1/4 c. butter, softened
    1 T. grated orange peel (I use this from a jar in the spice section–takes less time than grating it yourself–but it’s not quite as good)
    3/4 c. orange juice
    1 egg
    1 c. chopped cranberries
    1/2 c. chopped pecans

    Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Add orange peel, orange juice and egg. Mix well. Add cranberries and nuts. Pour into a loaf pan that has been greased on the bottom only. Bake in a pre-heated oven, at 350 degrees F for 55-65 minutes, until a pick comes out clean. Remove from pan to cool. Cut when completely cool.

  • Melissa Carr

    Every year on my husbands side of the family it is a tradition for his mother to get all children and grandchildren an ornament. Well, the more children we had the faster the ornaments accumulated! Our tree got so full that we couldn’t fit home-made ornaments or even the traditional balls on it anymore. We decided that aside from our family room tree, each child would now have a Christmas tree of their own in their room to decorate. Every year we sort through all the ornaments and decide what will go where and then we all go from room to room helping each other decorate all the trees.

    I also have to add that I love the book idea and I am sure my children will too. You are an inspiration to my family and we thank you for all of your useful knowledge.

    Thanks Marilyn—Melissa Carr

  • Lora

    When my sister and I were children, my mother would make nightgowns for each of us to be opened on Christmas Eve. She told us that we could dream about Christmas morning better in new pajamas! This is something that I have continued with my family. When my first two girls were little, I would make matching nightgowns. As they, and the family, have grown, I now try to get fabrics that “match” the child’s interests. For years, my younger son liked frogs. My older son likes guitars, so I try to find fabric with guitars (Thank God for the internet!!). I now usually make the pajama bottoms and purchase a t-shirt top, which I will often applique with a matching design from the bottom. This has made my job a lot easier, and they seem to prefer the t-shirt. I have expanded this tradition to include my son-in-law as well,even though he and my daughter are many miles from us this year. For many years, the “joke” in our family was that the jammies would be done on Christmas Eve, just in time to put them on. This year they were done on Thanksgiving weekend. Another Christmas tradition which evolved from this is our habit of staying in those new jammies all day on Christmas day. It’s a little silly, but it’s the only day of the year that we can do this. It is my hope that someday my daughters will continue this with their families.

  • Lydia

    Our family has a holiday tradition of volunteering to do a presentation at the nearby nursing home. This year we all dressed up in our Christmas best and we presented the Nativity. My husband read the excerpts from the bible while our four children built the Manger scene bringing out one piece at a time and placing it on the table. We sang lots of christmas hymns in between the pieces being brought out. Sang happy birthday to Jesus and had birthday cake with the nursing home residents. Also this year we have been reading Ann Voskamp’s Jesse Tree devotionals and hanging the little themed ornaments on a small tree to keep us all focused on the true meaning of Christmas. I am sure that this will be a holiday tradition that will continue. Blessings. Lydia

  • Gina

    A special tradition we have is our Jesus stocking. This was actually my husbands idea and has become very special. Before Christmas each of us write a letter to Jesus (or little ones draw a picture and write a few words with help from Mom.) Then we put them in our Jesus stocking which hangs in the middle of all of ours. I found a cross stocking holder which we use for the Jesus stocking too. We read all the letters before we open our presents. The letters have contained some really emotional and speical things. My husband does his in bullet points and “talks” to and thanks Jesus for each family member and things to do with that person. Many of the letters include thanks for coming to earth, dying on the cross, grace, healing etc… I save them and put them in the scrapbook to review in later years.

  • Tammy

    My favorite tradition that my family has started many years ago when my children were small. We had bought them bikes for Christmas and, with nowhere to hide a built bike, we bought the ones not put together. Christmas Eve meant my husband was building 2 bikes! Well, to get the kids out of the house, my sister and I decided to take the children to drive around and look at lights (thinking that maybe they would fall asleep in the van!). We got them in their jammies, made hot cocoa for everyone and loaded up. We live in Florida, so the weather is mild here, but hot cocoa was a must! While we were driving through a neighborhood, we stopped at a stop sign in front of a house and quite spontaneously, I said, “Who wants to sign some Christmas songs to this home?” Well, everyone thought that sounded fun, so we jumped out (jammies and all!) rang the bell and carolled for them! Well, the surprise and excitement on their faces was enough for us – we were hooked. We visited so many houses and would ask if they could sing for them – it was fun to hear them say, wait let me get the whole family to hear! One house was having a party and had the whole party come outside to listen! Now, every year we drive around on Christmas Eve and Christmas Carol. We have expanded this over the years to include nursing homes and our Meals On Wheels Customers. We also bring along some Christmas goodies to eat and to share. It is such a blessing to share God’s love and the truth of His birth in this way.

  • Susan Oatis

    Our family has four young boys in it, three of whom have birthdays the very begining of December. Because the birthday theme is so fresh in their memories we call Christmas a birthday too. We then proceed to have a birthday cake on December 25 and open presents in honor of Jesus Christ the person whose birthday we are celebrating. My youngest son who turned three in October was well coached that when his brothers had their birthdays in December, he would not be getting any gifts. Last week when grandma asked him what he thought he might get for Christmas he replied that he already had his birthday, therefore he would not be getting any gifts. I explained to him that because Jesus came as a gift to save any man who believes – everyone gets gifts on this day. He smiled and shouted, “That’s great!”


  • Cathy

    2 years ago we started doing the Jesse Tree with our children and they love it (so do we!). This year we were blessed with a gift of a book called Jotham’s Journey (out of print now, but I bet you could find it) and it is meant to be read along with the Advent. What an exciting and incredible story! Daddy and I can’t wait to read it every night!!! Really communicates the story of Christ’s first coming very well.

    My children are still very young, but they are enjoying making candy and cookies for others for gifts. They also make a card for each family, some of which are very interesting, but handmade with love nonetheless!

    This year we are making easy bird-feeders out of orange peels filled with a suet mixture that hangs by twine from the tree. They are beautiful and they feed the birds too. We hope to make that a tradition because everyone loves them as a gift and the children can participate in making and giving the gift.

    Thank you Marilyn for all the wonderful ideas!!

  • Cyndi

    My favorite Christmas tradition from my childhood that I now continue with my own children is the making of a “Happy Birthday Jesus” sign. One evening is set aside and the whole family participates and gets to help. This is made new every year to remind us how He makes us new. Every year it is also different and unique from the year before just as we all are. And it is always made out of things that are just around the house, nothing fancy is purchased for it, to remind us that God works with us just as we are and we don’t have to do any “fancying up” to go to Him. After being prominently displayed in the living room we hang all the Christmas (birthday) cards we recieve around it to remind us of all our friends and family and as they come in they are prayed for.
    Every year I take a picture of it and it’s a wonderful blessing to look back on each one and remember the family time we had making it, not to mention how it helps remind us all what we are actually celebrating this season for.

  • Janette

    Our oldest daughter will be turning 3 the end of this month. She has had a fun time playing with a Nativity set her Grandma bought at a thrift store. The only time she gets to play with the figurines is when we are reading the Christmas story to her and she can move the different figures when they are mentioned in the story. This not only helps with her listening skills it also reinforces the Christmas story for her.

  • Alisha Walters

    My most memorable Christmas was in 1984 when I was 16. My grandpa had passed away that August and we all wanted to make it a very memborable Christmas for my grandma. My stepfather is the oldest of 4 and we invited all of his family to our house that year. That meant that the number went from 7 to 17 in our house for an entire week. Mind you we lived in a small 3 bedroom rancher. With help from our neighbors with extra rooms and a camper it made the week alot of fun with “fun/gag” gifts done by my mom and aunt to fit everyone’s quirks or personality. We also did a huge “fancy dress up” formal dinner. That was a blast!

    The best part was how everyone chipped in to do something for everyone else. Each family took their turn cooking or cleaning up. It was a difficult time and we all seemed to make it the most memorable, especially for my grandma who had not had her whole family together in a very long time. It was difficult with us all being spread out from the east to west coast.

    The traditions my husband and I have started are pretty special to us and our kids. We get our Christmas tree and put the lights on but don’t decorate it until after they go to bed on Christmas Eve. Every year it is still an awesome sight to see their faces light up with excitement at what happened over night. We have 4 that range from 8 yrs to 2 yrs.

    The kids favorite tradition is making the variety of cookies that we share with everyone we know. This year we almost didn’t get to do this. We had to test for gluten intolerence for 2 weeks and this almost put a damper on having any type of baked good for the holidays but we are free and clear of having any gluten problems and the cookies are on their way to being made!!!!

    My husband’s family is all local and he is one of 5. Every year we all have a huge gathering with now 19 of us to make sure we are able to celebrate together. We take turns having it at a different house each year and we all help by making food and goodies for us all to enjoy!

    The kids like to put a new ornament on the tree every year and we put the year on the back to remember when it was done. I have been doing this one since I was young.

    Merry Christmas everyone! Let’s all keep Christ in our hearts no matter what time of year it is!


  • Kelly

    I think my favorite Christmas tradition is actually one we start on Thanksgiving. I buy a plain glass ornament ball and a paint marker. I write Blessings and the year on the top. Then we as a family write down the blessings we have seen in our lives from that year. It is fun at Christmas then to see all our blessing balls from past years, reminding ourselves that God is at work! And it helps us to focus on Christ and what He did for us more. Andto really be Thankful. It helps the kids to realize too, that Gid is at work!

  • Diane S

    Our family creates our own Advent calendar each year. I come up with a list of activities or events to take place on each day leading up to Christmas. (I do get helpful suggestions from my kids and husband for this.) My husband and daughter have taken over creating the design for the year. We have done an ornament, sleigh, Christmas tree, bell, candle, etc. We have a window to open for each day that will tell us what special thing to do, or eat, for that day. We always include baking a birthday cake for Jesus and the 25th is Happy Birthday Jesus! This has been a very special tradition for our family.

  • Amy Hintzman

    I love Christmas traditions! I try to read at least one Christmas book to my younger children during the season; my favorite is “A Christmas Carol” by Dickens followed closely by “I Saw Three Ships” by Elizabeth Goudge. I’ve collected Christmas stories over the years and try to vary what I read, but can’t resist the old favorites!

    My parents stay with us for five days or so. On Christmas Eve, after having attended Church, we come back home to a buffet of yummy foods made from recipes from my childhood: Ham Deviled Eggs, Dried Beef Cheese ball, shrimp with a fabulous curry dip, Refried Bean Dip, cold cuts (my brother sends us a box from his local smokehouse (yum!), crackers, etc. While we eat we watch “A Christmas Carol” starring Alastair Sim (our favorite version) and afterward, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The children are then allowed to find out what’s in their stockings!

    On Christmas morning, my husband reads the Biblical account of Jesus’ birth to put us in the proper perspective before we open Christmas presents. One person opens only one present at a time so we can all enjoy the gift. After everyone has opened all their gifts, we usually snack on leftovers from the previous evening’s yummies and then have our big dinner in the late afternoon/early evening. All-in-all it is a wonderful time of fellowship, companionship and joy. My favorite time of the year!

  • You know, I ran across something similar yesterday; someone asking for our favorite Christmas memories and I replied that I had just too many to share. But sitting here thinking, I’ll share a few :-)

    One of my most precious memories is of Christmas ’97 and it is not because of any tradition we had but because we were 4 days away from meeting our firstborn. I was recalling this story to her just a few days ago. We had dealt with infertility for nearly 5 years before getting pg. The Lord saw fit to move us from our lifelong home in New Hampshire to Florida so dh could go to Bible college, when I was 8 wks pg. We had nothing but the promise of this wonderful miracle I was carrying. when we arrived in Fl, we knew nobody, had very little money, no job, no place to live, nothing. But the Lord blessed each and every step.

    So, on that particular Christmas, as I sat on the couch of a family I barely knew, I remember rubbing my belly and thinking of how grateful I was to be carrying that child! I was blessed all around actually. DH and I didn’t have any money for presents and no family to share Christmas with but this family had taken us in and made us feel at home so we wouldn’t be alone for the holiday. And in four more days, we’d meet our daughter, who is about to turn 10. That was an awesome Christmas.

    As for ‘traditions’, before moving away from home, dh and I would wait for the first good snowfall of the year to go pick out our tree. Never a fake one for us. We’d drive our camaro (dumb kids! lol) in the first good storm and go tree lot to tree lot, holding up and shaking each tree we wanted to look at. I can still remember the smell of pine mixed with freshly fallen snow. MMMMM….. And when we had the perfect one and got it home, it made our entire house smell of winter. It’s a scent that no candle can duplicate.

    Since moving south (dh has pastored in MS and now in KY), we don’t have the fun of waiting for the first snow, but we do try to build the anticipation of getting our tree the day after Thanksgiving. We let the children (now 3 of them – we added a set of twins 5.5 years ago) pick out the tree, come home and put on Christmas music and decorate. Then we drink hot chocolate even if it’s 80* out!

    This year we started what I want to become a tradition and that is of making our own strands of popcorn and cranberries for the tree.

    Also, this Christmas is going to be very special as we are taking the kids home to NH for christmas! We’re leaving Sunday, in the middle of their anticipated Nor’Easter so we’re guaranteed snow! AND we’re going to take them to cut down a Christmas tree and try to give them all the things that we had when we spend our Christmases in New England as kids. I can’t wait.

    OH, It’s a Wonderful Life and White Christmas are ‘must sees’ this time of year too!

  • We lived a life of constant travel for 21 years. My husband was in the Air Force. A few different times we lived close enough to travel back to parents’ homes for Christmas. The problem was whose house to go to. The stress of trying not to hurt feelings, balancing who gets a Thanksgiving visit and who gets a Christmas visit while trying to make a happy Christmas for our three children became overwhelming. I actually dreaded the beginning of the holidays.

    One day, instead of trying to hide under a pillow until December 26, I went to a Christian bookstore for help. I found a neat little book about celebrating Advent. I discussed the idea with my husband and we tried it out. The kids and I made an Advent wreath. Each night starting the Sunday after Thanksgiving we had devotions. To make it more enticing to the kids to sit still, I had a small gift (peppermint stick, chocolate bells, etc.) each night. It was a huge hit!

    The next year, the kids started reading the devotions, lighting candles, and handing out the gifts. Over the years, we had to scale back to just having the family devotions on the 4 Sundays before Christmas and on Christmas Eve due to work schedules. The kids started writing their own devotions. This year, we’ve had to move the devotions to Mondays. My oldest daughter resisted the day change a bit, because she wanted to preserve the tradition exactly for her little boy, but realized that if we want the whole family to participate, we must be flexible. Our son’s fiance has been able to attend this year.

    I still give little gifts each night. The now-grown kids even laughed the first night this year as they explained to our son’s fiance just what type of gift they would get each night: 1st night-candy, 2nd-socks, 3rd-ornament or cocoa mug, 4th-new pjs.

    We are so enthusiastic about bringing the focus back to Christ during the hectic holiday rush that I am asked each year to head up the Advent candle-lighting and devotion portion of our Sunday morning worship at church.


  • Jessica Claxton

    My husband, two-year-old son and I started a new tradition this year that we will definitley repeat. My son and I made homemade Portuguese sweet bread for all of our neighbors, and shaped them into wreaths. On the first snowy night, we waited until dark and took the bread around to the houses. It ended up being such a blessing to everyone – us and our nieghbors!
    Portuguese Sweet Bread:
    – 2 pkg active yeast
    – 1/4 cup warm water
    – 1 cup lukewarm milk (scalded and cooled)
    – 2/3 cup sugar
    – 1 tsp salt
    – 3 eggs
    – 1/2 cup margerine
    – 1 tsp cardamom
    – 5 1/2 – 6 cups all purpose flour

    Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup water in large bowl. Stir in milk, sugar, salt, cardamom, eggs, margerine, and 3 cups flour. Beat until smooth with hand mixer. Stir in remaining flour 1/3 cup at a time to make dough. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes). Place in greased bowl, greased side up. Let rise until double. Punch and divide (we made 3 wreaths with each batch). Shape into braided wreaths (make 3 snakes and braid together), place on greased pans, and rise until double. Heat oven to 350. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle colored sugar on top, bakd 35-45 minutes. We simply wrapped these in clear plastic wrap and tied a big bow on them.

  • Michelle D

    We have many favorite memories. We always choose a very special read-aloud or devotional to do each evening in December–past favorites include the Jotham’s Journey series and the Handel’s Messiah Advent Reader. We always stop normal “homeschool” and do “Christmas school” instead–we draw the name of one picture book each morning to read, and one activity/craft/recipe to do that day as well. The children help me bake my extensive gift list–we bake for nearly all our outside-the-family gifts. We also adopt a “secret family” for Jesus each year and secretly gather gifts for them, which we leave on their doorstep in one or more secret “doorbell ring-and-run’s” This is probably our children’s favorite tradition! They can hardly wait to choose our family, choose items and be the one to ring the doorbell and run like crazy!
    We collect nativity sets and as we read about different cultures, we often find a nativity set that is in a style that reflects that people, often praying for those people to know Jesus better as we set it out (or make it!)
    We also choose one of our family heritages each Christmas, and “explore” it. So we look up German, or Irish, or Scotch, or Swiss, customs and recipes and try a few. My children did not like pfefferneusse! LOL But we have great memories thinking about those who have gone before us and remember that we come from a long line of families celebrating the birth of our Savior over hundreds of years.
    We love Christmas and all that it means for us, and we especially love remembering just what that special Baby grew up to do for all of us!
    Michelle D

  • Dori

    A favored family tradition was that on Christmas Eve, we kids could always choose one gift to open right before bed from under the tree. (Usually the really big one was not under it yet, so that way our parents kept the next morning from being a letdown with the smaller gifts!!!)
    My children have embraced this idea WHOLEHEARTEDLY, (of course!) and can barely wait to go to bed on Christmas Eve! This is great for my husband and me, as we get some much needed quality time together on a special eve, get to wrap last minute gifts and share some spiced cider without the whole “crew”. It’s the only night of the year my kids beg to go to bed, starting about, oh, 6pm.. LOL

  • K Mikell

    A couple of years ago we made cookies in a jar for all the people on our street. I made up invitations with the recipies on them, and asked the neighbors to keep some for their families, and bring some to our party. We haven’t been able to do it again until this year. But, during the making of the jars we prayed for each neighbor and that they would come to know Christ. Since we’ve just moved, it provided a great way to get to know our neighbors!

  • My children and I have several traditions on Christmas Eve. First, like a couple of other posters, they receive two gifts: one is a pair of pajamas and the other is an ornament. The ornament tradition started with my mother giving them to my sister, brother and I so that we would have ornaments for our own tree when we moved out as adults. Now, my children get one from me and one from each grandmother! We are going to need multiple trees soon! Another tradition is eating home made pizza on Christmas Eve. We also alternate which child will put Baby Jesus in the manger, so that each child gets a turn. Our last Christmas Eve tradition is that someone reads “Twas the Night Before Christmas” and then I follow up with the Christmas story from the Bible before everyone is tucked into bed. It really is a special time for my children and I.

    Thank you for this opportunity!

  • Donna P.

    We used to watch the Christmas Carol every year. I have the Muppet Christmas Carol and A Christmas Carol with Patrick Stewart. We would make hot chocolate, eat home made cookies. The girls can still recite parts of the movies and actually remember some of the songs off the Muppet classic! This year, we are miles apart but they still remember sitting watching these movies and they tell me these are wonderful memories!

  • Erin Mewes

    We have a different activity to do every day in December…we watch the Grinch, make gifts (cocoa and cookie mixes in a jar) for siblings, we make gingerbread houses (with leftover Halloween candy!), go for a drive to see all the pretty lights, make something yummy for the pets as well as the outdoor animals, make goodies for our friends, go to the mall to see the decorations (and have a cocoa!), go to the Christmas parade…stuff like that. :-) The kids look forward to it every year!

  • Michelle Johnson

    Cheri Shelnutt, that is the first I’ve heard of the straw and I LOVE IT! Thank you thank you. I cant wait until next year to do it!!!!! It actually brought tears to my eyes reading it. How perfect to remember Jesus in this way. I LOVE IT!

    Jeanette Fields, we go to see the lights in Chickasha too. Its one the girls all really look forward to. We walk through and buy hot chocolate when we are done. My oldest daughter was just saying the other day how she wanted to walk through again this year b/c last year we sang christmas carols as we went and people noticed.

    Michelle D, this year we were going to do an adoption with the 12 days of C-mas. We planned and planned the things we would give the family based on teh song. The girls were so excited. My 8 yo wash actually jumping up and down with excitement to do this. Now I”m on bedrest for pregnancy and we cant. But we will NEXT year.

    Anyway, 2 of my favorite traditions (and the girls say they love it too) we should be able to do this year. One night after all the girls are in bed we pop popcorn and put hot chocolate in spill proof cups. Then we wake them up and load them up in the van. (DH has it heated up and with blankets at everyones seat.) Then we drive all around town listening to christmas music and looking at lights.

    My other favorite happens on c-mas morning. I hand out the stockings but instead of the girls ripping into them, we go around the room, one at a time, and relate our gift to Jesus. Oh, you should hear the funny things that are said, especially when the kids are younger. It literally takes us all morning to do the stockings and we need food and drink breaks. But it makes it more meaningful.

    I have so many more, but will stop here.

  • Dareth Kettner

    My husband’s work keeps him very busy at Christmas. Often, gift giving is squeezed in, sometimes a week before Christmas. So, we made putting our tree up a special night. We always eat the same food and have egg nog and cider. We always listen to Bing Crosby’s White Christmas(my husband’s favorite) CD, first. We decorate the tree, and the kids take turns putting the star on top. We turn off all the lights in the house and then turn on the tree lights. It is a wonderful family night that we all look forward to each year!

  • Laura Weimer

    Marilyn, your house sounds so much like our house at Christmas! We have so many traditions. This year we started some new ones…Christmas caroling with some of the neighbor kids, and having devotions every morning using the Jesse Tree. Some tried and true ones are driving to Naples, CA (looks like Naples Italy with canals and very nice homes.) We take our picture by this huge fountain, eat pizza at a local place, and then walk the canals looking at the pretty trees and lights. My dh doesn’t do much cooking but at Christmas he loves to get a prime and rib and he does the cooking! It always turns out great. My favorite is baking with the kids. We bake bread, cookies and make caramel popcorn for the neighbors. We pick a day, and then deliver all the goodies with cards. For the cookies, we invite the neighbor kids over to decorate the sugar cookies we’ve baked. I bake shapes like trees, stars, angels, etc. and then we talk about what each of the shapes are and what they are a symbol of at Christmas. The kids love it and it gives us a chance to share the gospel with the neighbor kids and sometimes their parents!
    Sugar cookies:
    1 cup butter, at room temp
    2/3 cup sugar
    1 large egg
    1 tsp vanilla
    2 1/2 cups flour
    1/4 tsp salt

    Beat butter and sugar until blended, then beat on high speed until creamy. Add egg and vanilla and beat until well blended. Add flour and salt, beat on low until combined, then on medium until well blended. Divide dough into 3 equal portions. Chill dough in fridge at least 15 minutes, or up to 2 days. Working with one portion at a time, roll out on floured surface until 1/8 in thick. Cut out cookies, bake on baking sheets at 350 degees for 7 to 9 minutes.
    Icing for spreading:
    3 cups powdered sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, 1/4 cup water. Mix together and add food coloring of choice.
    Icing for piping:
    2 cups powdered sugar, 1/2 tsp. vanilla, and 1 1/2 tbsp water. Mix until smooth. Add food coloring a few drops at a time. icing should be thick. Pipe through pastry bag, or plastic food bag with the corner snipped.

  • We have a number of favorite holiday traditions.
    I grew up celebrating advent and having a family advent wreath. We’ve continued this tradition with our children. We love the time reading the Bible, discussing Jesus’ first coming and the second coming we’re expecting, & singing the Christmas hymns together.
    Ever since the birth of our first child, my sweet mother-in-law has given us an ornament each year for each of the children with their pictures in the ornaments. These are the most precious ornaments on our trees – we (the children & us) enjoy seeing them each year.
    A few years ago I heard of the idea of making our annual Christmas letter a newsletter and giving the kids the responsibility of being family reporters. This had made it so fun to read their perspectives on the events of the year.
    Finally, our tree skirt was a family tradition for years (although it’s now full). I made a tree skirt from pretty, plain material and each year had the kids place their hand prints & write their names on it. The skirt is now full, so they no longer paint their hand prints on it but I have sweet little hand prints (and a set of foot prints) from years gone by.
    Thank you for offering this opportunity to share these traditions/memories, for the great recipes and ideas you share, and for offering this wonderful contest.
    Have a blessed Christmas.
    In His love,
    Tina in AL

  • […] Check it out! While looking through the blogosphere we stumbled on an interesting post today.Here’s a quick excerptAttend a Christmas Cantata, Parades of Lights, or Christmas Eve Service in your community. Check your local paper for details. Then drive around the neighborhoods to view Christmas lights and well decorated homes on your way home. … […]

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