6 Christ-Centered Family Christmas Traditions

Growing up, Christmas was all about Santa Claus. We didn’t have a nativity; we didn’t celebrate Jesus’ birth; and Advent was not in our vocabulary. I’m not upset about that. That’s just the way it was.

But as I’ve matured in my faith and God has blessed us with children, I’ve come to the conclusion that any time the world recognizes and celebrates Christ in any way, I need to be a part of that celebration. I need to be in on that conversation, spreading truth and speaking the Gospel wherever I can: first and foremost, with my own children.

Traditions are one fun and easy way to unite a family and draw its members closer together. Traditions are the stuff memories are made of. Growing up, we had some great traditions at Christmas time, but now that I have a family of my own, we’re creating our own based on our own values and goals for our family.

Since Christmas is less than 4 weeks away, I’d like to share some of those Christmas traditions with you, including a few new ones, in hopes that they might inspire you to come up with your own.

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Growing in His Glory: 6 Family Traditions for a Christ-Centered Christmas

Photo credit: Benjamin Nussbaum

1. Nativity Set

When our oldest was two, I purchased this VeggieTales nativity set with Larry and Bob and an angel that sings “Away in the Manger.” It’s a really fun nativity set that my girls still look forward to pulling out year after year. After reading aloud the Christmas story together, my girls like to use the figures to retell the story to each other. This is one tradition we continue doing each year because you can never share the story of Jesus’ birth enough. Plus, the figures are really fun.

2. Christmas Music

You may think, “How is Christmas music a tradition?” Well, I have very fond childhood memories of listening to Wee Sing for Christmas on audio tape. I even performed in a Christmas program or two at our church with many of the songs from it. (Thanks, Mom, for that memory!) In Wee Sing for Christmas, there are Christmas hymns (“Away in a Manger”), traditional songs (“Birthday of a King”), and fun new ones like my personal favorite “Alfie the Elf.” Many of the songs are sung by children. I want to pass these songs on to my kids, and Wee Sing for Christmas is a fun way to do it!

(And right now, you can stream Wee Sing for Christmas FREE with Amazon Prime in the Amazon Music Library or buy the MP3 album.)

We also enjoy some Mannheim Steamroller, also free to stream on Amazon with Prime. Most of the time, though, we listen to the Classical Christmas station on Pandora. The girls and I like to listen to Christmas music while we’re cleaning house, working in the kitchen, decorating or wrapping gifts, and doing school work.

3. Truth in the Tinsel

Beginning on the first day of Advent — December 1st — we will start our THIRD year of Truth in the Tinsel with the kids. Truth in the Tinsel is an eBook designed to focus you and your children on the Christmas story. Each day you read a passage of scripture, discuss it, and then make an ornament. My girls LOVE getting out the craft box and create new ornaments for the tree. This year, because we have a new baby, we’ll be using the lovely printable ornaments, but making the actual ornaments when we can.

For more about how we use Truth in the Tinsel with our little ones, read this post.

Use the coupon code GROWING20 to get 20% off your Truth in the Tinsel eBook today! Remember, Advent starts on Monday, December 1st!  

Buy it HERE.

4. Christ-Centered Christmas Books

I’m all about seasonal books. One year I wrapped up all the Christmas books. Each day, the girls opened one book, and we read it together. That was fun but I really detest wrapping things. So since then, I’ve put all the Christmas books in a basket, and we read a book or two a day.

Over the years we have accumulated quite a few Christmas books from after-Christmas sales, yard sales, and used bookstores. Some of our favorite Christ-focused books include the following, but there are many others I hope to share with you soon when I unearth our Christmas stuff from storage:

5. Christmas Movies

While we decorate our tree, we will usually play a Christmas movie. Growing up, we always watched National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, but that isn’t exactly appropriate for our small children (although it is hilarious!). Instead, we will watch one of these movies:

This year I also plan to introduce some classic Christmas movies with the kids like Miracle on 34th Street, White Christmas, and It’s a Wonderful Life

6. Advent Wreath & Devotionals

This year we’re trying out a new tradition: the advent wreath.

The advent wreath symbolizes the 4 weeks of the Advent in the liturgical calendar of the church. The circular wreath of evergreen branches represents eternity. On the wreath are 5 candles. One candle is lit each Sunday and represents an aspect of the spiritual preparation for the coming of Christ. Advent is about fasting, prayer, and waiting for the arrival of the Messiah. For more about what Advent is, check out this post.

You can buy an advent wreath and candles on Amazon, or make one yourself. I bought some garland, 5 pillar candles, and a candle tray from Walmart for under $20 to make my own. Each day after we light our candle, we will do our Truth in the Tinsel lesson and activity together.

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In addition to lighting the Advent candles, I’m also reading this excellent FREE Advent daily devotional by John Piper. Here’s an excerpt:

Advent is for adoring Jesus.

The Christmas season is one of the busiest times of the year. But it is also a season of reflection and preparation for that special day when we mark Immanuel’s coming—the arrival of our eternal God in our own frail humanity.

This is the greatest of history’s many wonders, something too stupendous to celebrate just on one day. Advent is a way of lengthening and intensifying the joy of Christmas.

These 25 brief devotional readings from John Piper begin on December 1 and carry us to Christmas Day. Our hope is that God would use these meditations to deepen and sweeten your adoration of Jesus and help you keep him at the center of your Christmas season.

I’ve read the preface and introduction and am looking forward to starting on December 1st.

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Another great Advent study I’ve done in the past is Good Morning Girls’ Advent Study “Keeping Our Hearts Focused on Jesus” (see top right sidebar). I love how there are daily Bible readings, a weekly devotional thought, plus activities to do as a family including making yummy recipes like peppermint bark and sugar cookies. Bonus: It’s FREE!

Those are a few of our Christ-centered family traditions at Christmas time.

What traditions does your family have to keep Christ-focused this Christmas?

How do you keep Christ center stage?






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  1. My husband and I have been discussing what traditions we want to have with our children the past few weeks. We have a couple that we have already established, but we have never done any advent stuff and it wasn’t even something I was familiar about (even growing up in a Christian family) until someone spoke about it at MOPS a couple years ago. I think we will be starting that this year. Thank you for the list of resources!
    Stephanie recently posted…Do You Let Lack of Education Stop You?My Profile

    • Yes, Advent is new to us too. I’m learning as I teach my children how to think in terms of anticipation — not for Santa, but for the Messiah to come. It’s really shifted my perspective away from the material to the spiritual, and that is something I truly desire for my children.

  2. We have the Little People nativity set for my daughter (actually talking about it on my blog tomorrow). We have also been watching a lot of Veggie Tales Christmas movies. I own all of them on a 2-disc set, plus just purchased the new one.

    I’m going to have to remember Truth in Tinsel for next year. I don’t think my 2yr old would quite get enough out of it this year.

    (visiting from the Art of Homemaking link-up)
    Julie @ Logger’s Wife recently posted…Amazing DaySpring Black Friday DealsMy Profile

  3. We started celebrating Advent two years ago and it has been such a blessing. I’m going to check out the GMG study; thanks for the link!
    Susan recently posted…Advent ActivitiesMy Profile

  4. Great ideas. Thanks for sharing!!
    Everyday Life Mother and Wife recently posted…Cherry Yum-Yum RecipeMy Profile