This week on the podcast, by special request, we are discussing favorite family Christmas traditions: Why they’re important. What counts as a family tradition. How to establish a few new traditions. And what to do if an old tradition no longer serves you well.
That’s because I got the following special request from a listener this week. She writes:
I absolutely love your resources: the emails, your podcast, and your website.
I’m so excited you started the podcast. I love listening to it! Will you please do an episode on your family’s favorite Christmas traditions? Then do one on traditions for the rest of the year?
Thank you! ‘
Well, I thought that was a great idea, so I’m sharing an outline of my response to this listener below today’s show notes.
- “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us; and we saw His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” – John 1:14
- “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross.” – Philippians 2:5-8
- “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” – Isaiah 9:6
- “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8
- “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” – 2 Corinthians 9:15
- Christmas Countdown Calendars: scripture chain, candy kisses, bucket and book-a-day lists
- 5 Things that Would Make Christmas Better: a bucket list for minimalists
- A Christmas Carol: the BBC audiobook we listen to with Miriam Margolyes
- The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: another chapter book to read aloud
- Joy to the World: my personal advent journal (I work on it every December)
- Luke 2: the memory passage we read and/or quote every Christmas before opening gifts
- Glad Tidings: another book we read aloud every year–our own family history
- Episode 20: Home Shows and Show Homes – on extending unselfconscious hospitality
- Pennant Banners for Christmas: we hang these colorful homemade signs from our mantle
- Homemade Ornaments & Felt Stockings: a glimpse into our home all decorated for Christmas
- Christmas Movie Trivia Tests: for Elf, It’s a Wonderful Life, While You Were Sleeping, and more
- Shoebox Stuffing Party: even more fun with family and friends
- Bell Ringing for the Salvation Army: another fun service project for families to do together
- Christmas Caroling Song Sheets: helps all the singers stay on the same page
- Candy Cane Gospel: to hand out to neighbors or nursing home residents while we sing
- Christmas Games: lots of other fun challenges for Christmas
- Scripture Memory Challenge: my best tips for hiding God’s Word in your heart
- Subscribe: Flanders Family Freebies -(weekly themed link lists of free resources)
- Instagram: follow @flanders_family for more great content
- Family Blog: Flanders Family Home Life (parenting tips, homeschool help, lots of free printables!)
- Marriage Blog: Loving Life at Home (encouragement in your roles as wife, mother, believer)
Before I delve into all our family’s favorite Christmas traditions, I want to clarify Celestia’s compliment a bit. In addition to my podcast, she mentioned my emails and website (linked above).
The emails Celestia is talking about is a weekly newsletter I send out every Wednesday morning called Flanders Family Freebies. It is simply a list of links to free resources we offer through our blogs, all centered around a theme.
- Last week’s list was full of various Advent Calendars, which I’ll tell you more about here in a minute.
- A couple of weeks before that, I sent free resources for celebrating Thanksgiving: pennant banners, conversation starters, games, coloring pages, Thanksgiving hymn booklets, etc.
- A week before that, it was resources for celebrating Veteran’s Day. So if you enjoy that sort of thing, be sure to subscribe through the link in today’s shownotes.
Then I’m assuming the website Celestia mentioned is our family website, Flanders Family Homelife. It’s especially popular this time of year because we offer so many free Christmas resources: party games, coloring pages, paper crafts, bucket lists, planning charts, calendars, discussion prompts, and much, much more.
That’s a different website than the marriage blog you’re currently reading, Loving Life at Home, which shares the same name as my podcast. But now, on to Christmas traditions….
Our Favorite Family Christmas Traditions
Christmas traditions are valuable because they bond families (and communities) together and foster a sense of belonging, stability, and continuity.
They create memories and give us all something to look forward to. They offer us an opportunity to remember and celebrate God’s blessings – which for us, at Christmas time, center on the Lord Jesus Christ’s taking on flesh and being born as a man.
And they teach history and reinforce important character traits – like generosity and gratitude and love and joy and patience and peace and a sense of wonder.
Some of our family traditions, we do the exact same way every single year and someone would probably protest if we tried to change anything. Others traditions fluctuate and morph according to the ages and interests of our children. And that’s okay, too.
It only takes doing something two or three times for it to become a tradition. Chances are, you already have several family traditions yourself, whether you recognize that fact or not.
I’ll group our family’s favorite traditions in broad categories to help you recognize traditions you already have in place or choose some you’d like to adopt.
These are just fun ways to help your children count down the days until Christmas. Have you ever noticed how, as a child, it felt like Christmas took forever to arrive, but as an adult, the time flies by? You blink your eyes, and it’s Christmas morning.
Over on our family website, we offer lots of free resources for creating your own advent calendars, including.
We re-read many of the same holiday stories every year, including a variety of Christmas picture books, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Barbara Robinson’s The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, the story of our own family history in Glad Tidings, and Luke 2 on Christmas morning before opening our gifts.
I also have a Christmas devotional called Joy the the World I pull out every December to re-read and work through a few more pages. It has word studies, writing prompts, related Bible verses on nearly every page, and some of the most beautiful vintage artwork to color that you will ever see.
Lots of our decorations are homemade: ornaments on the tree, stockings on the mantle ( although ours are way too numerous to fit there any more, pennant banners and paper snowflakes and wreaths for the door.
My mother made sequined felt stockings for me and my sister when we were little, and I’ve continued that tradition myself. In our current house, I hang them all on an empty, 14-foot long curtain rod that hangs over a huge picture window in our den.
Some of the Nativity sets we set up are made with painted wooden pegs and felt scraps. Others were gifts. Others we bought after Christmas when stores used to sell holiday merchandize for 90% off the day after Christmas.
But we normally also put up several trees – including a couple of smaller ones I bought at garage sales for as little as 25-cents a piece. Twelve kids + twenty grandkids + multiple handmade ornaments every year equals way to many to fit on just one tree, so we group them according to color or theme: brightly colored ornaments go on the den tree… fancy, gilded ornaments on the old fashioned tree… blue and white ornaments on the tree in the dining room… etc. You get the idea.
We also have a Christmas village that my mother bought me at a garage sale for $1 a piece that I set up on the buffet in our entry way. It is beautiful.
Rewatch the same handful of movies every year, including It’s a Wonderful Life, White Christmas, Holiday Inn, Elf, Miracle on 34th Street (the old one), and While You Were Sleeping.
I’ve even created trivia quizzes for many of them, which you’ll find linked in today’s show notes.
Cards & Letters
Sending and receiving Christmas cards is definitely one of my favorite things to do in the month of December, and our family has a lot of traditions surrounding the Christmas letters we send to family and friends each year.
We have so many, in fact, that I plan to dedicate an entire podcast to that topic, hopefully next week. So we will talk more about it then.
Acts of Service:
Serving together as a family is a great way to keep the spirit of Christmas alive and thriving, whether you are stuffing shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child, buying gifts for Angel Tree, stocking food pantries, ringing the bell for Salvation Army, or playing instruments or singing carols at a local senior living home.
(That’s all I have time to transcribe right now. You’ll need to listen for the rest.)