Our Favorite Christmas Traditions

I'm not a Grinch or a Scrooge... but I'm not far off. There are lots of things I love about the holiday season, but many of them aren't the typical aspects of celebrating Christmas. I don't enjoy most holiday movies and rarely read Christmas books. I love hanging stockings and putting up the tree, but I don't do any other Christmas decor. We don't do Elf on the Shelf... or Santa Claus. I know, right?! If I did the work, I want the credit!

But I do love the feeling of Christmas – the anticipation leading up to it, the coziness of sitting by the lit tree, the joy of choosing the perfect gifts for my boys, and the fun of our family traditions. I may not enjoy all the trappings of Christmas, but I want to make it special for my boys. I will never pass up a holly jolly dance party with them! I was recently thinking about our Christmas traditions and wanted to share the four I love most:

1. Christmas Book Basket
I got this idea from Pinterest! Starting on December 1, we read one Christmas book at bedtime each night. We started in 2018 and have happily continued it. I store all of our Christmas books separately, and they only come out during December so they stay special! The selection always changes a little – I borrow things from the library and buy new (and used) books to add to it throughout the year. They're a mix of spiritual and seasonal.

The first year, we wrapped every book because that's how I saw it done. I realized that would make me resent the tradition, so now I leave them unwrapped. On November 31, I pick 25 for our book basket. On December 1, my big boy gets to pick anything he wants me to read at bedtime that night. He looks at the books on his own frequently but knows we'll only read one a day together. He gets so excited to make his selection each night! 

2. Jesse Tree Advent Calendar
My parents didn't do an advent calendar when we growing up – at least not that I remember? – so it wasn't really on my radar when Nick and I got married. After we had our first baby, I started noticing cute little advent calendars at Target where you'd get a different product/candy/surprise each day. That seemed fun, but I felt like we were already spending so much money on stuff and didn't want to add to it. Then, I heard about a Jesse Tree.

This tradition first started in medieval times, and it's my favorite thing we do at Christmas. A Jesse Tree is an advent calendar that focuses on telling the story of God's family from Creation to Jesus' birth. We purchased this gorgeous felt ornament set and stand. Every day, we hang a new ornament on the tree and read the corresponding story in our children's Bible. I love how it helps us keep our hearts and minds on Jesus during this season.

3. "Cookies & Jammies Light Night"
Don't you love my very official name for this evening? I need to work on something catchier! About halfway through the month, we bake cookies together (sometimes Christmas-themed, sometimes not). After dinner that night, we put on our pajamas, bring our cookies in the car, turn on some classic Christmas music, and drive around our neighborhood looking at all the lights while snacking on some sugar. It's so much fun!

 It doesn't last too long – maybe an hour, at most. But we love our big boy's commentary on which houses are the best! He'll tell Nick when to slow down or stop and what streets to go down. We live in a pretty big neighborhood where lots of people go all out with their decorations, so it's the perfect place to look at lights. I doubt this tradition will continue once the boys are older, so I'm soaking up all the childhood sweetness while I can. 

4. Christmas Eve Gift
This is a tradition from my own childhood that I wanted to continue, with a twist! Growing up, we always got to open one gift on Christmas Eve: a new pair of pajamas. Then, we'd wear our new jammies to bed that night and would be looking extra cute in photos the next morning. I'll never forget hearing my doorbell ring on my first Christmas Eve as a newlywed and finding a box left on my doorstep – new pajamas for me and Nick. *tears*

For our boys, the pajamas are holiday themed and, of course, matching. As a teen and adult, my mom just gave us something cozy and cute (so I'll make that shift when the time comes). The twist I've added is each gift contains a book (or two or three...), too. I was inspired by this Icelandic tradition and just looking for another opportunity to gift more books. Is there anything better than going to bed with a new book and waking up to Christmas morning?

What's your favorite holiday tradition?


  1. I love these traditions! They're great for kids and I think they'll evolve well as they grow up.

  2. These traditions are all so sweet! I LOVE the Christmas Book Basket idea and the one based on the Icelandic tradition of gifting a new book on Christmas Eve night. It seems like a great way to foster a love of reading in children and also to make reading and books something to look forward to!

  3. I’ve completely jumped on the bandwagon for pjs and a book on Christmas Eve too!

  4. I love seeing your Christmas traditions! I think the book basket one is especially wonderful, and the PJs one is a tradition my sister and I have had for a few years ;)


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