Christmas Day and Christmas Eve Traditions for Families

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I can’t believe it’s the week of Christmas! This week always seems to fly by, so I especially love having a few Christmas Day and Christmas Eve traditions for families that ensure we connect and spend time on what is most important. And I love the traditions for helping us reflect back on these special times!

Here are our family traditions for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. And I LOVE hear about others’ special traditions, especially around holidays of any kind, so please share yours in the comments!

christmas eve traditions for families

Christmas Day and Christmas Eve Traditions for Families


Bethlehem Dinner

One of my very favorite Christmas Eve traditions for families is doing a Bethlehem dinner. We love gathering sheets to spread on the floor to eat foods that would have been available during the time of Christ. Some of it is a bit more authentic than some others, but it’s still fun (falafel, for instance, is not very likely but works for us since our family doesn’t eat fish ;)).

While eating our Bethlehem dinner, we always read the Nativity story from Luke 2, and have Handel’s Messiah playing in the background. We try to remember to dress up in Nativity costumes, which makes it extra fun.

Here’s our family Bethlehem dinner menu:

  • Flatbread (pita or lavash)
  • Olives
  • Hummus
  • Honey
  • Dried fruit (figs & dates)
  • Grapes
  • Pears
  • Mandarin oranges
  • Goat cheese
  • Nuts
  • Pomegranates
  • Tomatoes/cucumbers
  • Falafel


We love singing and playing some carols together on Christmas Eve. I’ll often play my violin, and my kids will pull out their violins and cello, too.

We also LOVE pulling out our pipe chimes. I made ours years ago when a set wasn’t readily available for purchase. I really wish it had been because it would’ve been 100x easier and totally worth every cent to not do it myself. 😉

Finally, we really love watching this short video of one of my favorite Christmas carols. It’s another one of those lovely and super simple Christmas Eve traditions for families.


Our family visited the Holy Land several years ago, and we love looking at pictures from that trip on Christmas Eve! You could also just pull up pictures of the areas where Christ may have walked, or you could watch some of these short Bible videos.


Finally, we usually end the night by turning on It’s A Wonderful Life. We usually start it with the kids, who then go to bed while we finish watching while drinking hot chocolate and finishing up any last minute wrapping.

family christmas eve traditions


Christmas Morning: Breakfast

I have to admit, I’m one of those mean moms who makes my kids eat a bit of breakfast before we get started with presents. We don’t do a super long and drawn out one, and I’m fine with them bringing their food over to the tree to continue eating while we open, but I at least want something in their bellies before we start so we have the best chance possible at having a happy and cheerful and grateful morning.

I’ve made the exact same thing for Christmas morning breakfast for years. And it makes it so much easier for me to not rethink things each year! We all love these cranberry orange rolls and this breakfast slab pie! Plus unlimited homemade hot chocolate, of course.

Christmas Morning: Presents

When we first got married and when our kids were young, we did stockings first for years. Then we would progress through the gifts and end with the biggest gift as the climax. Makes sense, right? And for a lot of families it works perfectly.

But here’s the thing – it DIDN’T work for us. I’ve always hated the idea of having everyone just tear into their pile of presents. I feel like it helps us feel more grateful and intentional when we go through each gift one by one. That also means that it takes a little while to get through all the presents.

So by the time we got to the “big” present, our kids were often too tired to be really excited, which was a bummer for them and for us! Plus, they would end up taking forEVER on stockings right at the start. We’d have to pry them away from their $0.50 lip balm and candy (which would have them totally hopped up right from the start) to try to start on other presents.

Christmas Morning Hack

So a couple years ago, we decided to do stockings at the very end! We go through all the presents and end with the big present, THEN move onto the stockings. For my kids who love stockings maybe more than anything else, it’s the perfect ending, and it is way better for the parents who want to see them with energy to be excited about the presents we put much more thought into. 😉 It’s such a great Christmas morning hack with kids!

Christmas Day Afternoon

We always get a game or consumable activity or STEM kit for Christmas, and those are perfect to pull out on Christmas afternoon. We also always turn on movies all afternoon – usually classics that we’ve all seen a ton so it’s fine if we come in and out of the room. We love turning on White Christmas, Charlie Brown Christmas, Home Alone, Meet Me In St. Louis, etc.

Also, I get dressed and ready pretty much every single other day of the year. Christmas Day is the exception. I know some people love getting dressed up on Christmas, but for us, it’s the one day a year we all stay in our pajamas all day long. It’s the best and definitely a favorite Christmas tradition for families.

Fun Family Christmas Dinner

Our very favorite family Christmas dinner tradition is fondue! We always make a cheese fondue and a chocolate fondue. Some years, we make it from scratch and some years, we buy the pre-prepped GOOD cheese fondue from Trader Joe’s. Both are delicious.

Christmas Night

December always feels busy, and I never feel super inclined to ruin a night with everyone sleeping on the floor under the tree. My kids think it is SO fun. but of course, no one sleeps as well. That’s tricky when we already have some late nights for holiday activities and when we really need good attitudes.

So it feels perfect to do it on Christmas night! At that point, it’s fine if they’re a little extra tired the next day, and they’re usually worn out from the excitement of the day, anyway. With all the gifts cleared out, there’s room to bring in blankets and pillows and we turn on movies with everyone lying down. And the parents sleep in our own bed. 😉

That’s it! Simple and fun, focused on family and home and the reason for the season. I’d love to hear your Christmas Day and Christmas Eve traditions for families in the comments!



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