Christmas Traditions & Eating

Updated on December 10, 2008
B.H. asks from Rexburg, ID
18 answers

This is the first year that we're going to be without our extended families for Christmas. We have a one year old and I want to try to create our own family traditions for Christmas. So I would like to hear what things you did growing up that you enjoyed or what you do with your family or wish you did with your family, just so I can decide what I want to do.

Growing up our family acted out the nativity. I enjoyed that. i would like the traditions to be Christ related & memorable. I would also like to know what food you have for Christmas. I'm not sure what to have. Growing up we just had snack food (bagel bites, punch, crackers & dip, etc.) I don't know if I want to continue that or not.

Also what do you do Christmas Eve vs Christmas morning? I grew up opening all presents on the Eve, but my husband did it Christmas morning.

Thanks for your ideas!

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answers from Boise on

On x-mas eve we have hot chocolate that I do from scratch, and pop corn (not something I let them have often cause they make huge messes) then we watch x-mas movies and open one present.

X-mas day we do the normal gift opening and I make a huge breakfast, I know I will not wnat to be cooking later in the day since I have to stay up late only to be woken very early. We also go to my MIl's and she will sometimes cook a dinner.



answers from Pueblo on

My mom made an advent calendar. There is a felt tree and pockets beneath that hold counted cross stitch ornaments for each day of December through Christmas Eve. The ornaments all represent Christmas things - a star, a drum, etc... there is one extra ornament that says "Christ" to be put up Christmas Day. My brother and I would fight over who got to put up the ornament each day. My mom gave it to me last week, and now my daughter looks forward to putting up the ornament each day!

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answers from Provo on

In my family, on Christmas Eve we always eat chili and cornbread, read the Christmas story, and open presents. Then Christmas morning we open Santa presents. I love doing it this way and my husband likes it better too so that's what we have decided to do in our family. I think it breaks up the presents so you aren't opening all of them at once. I also like staying home Christmas day and taking it easy. My husbands family would spend the day visiting everyone and he always hated that. We plan an extended family get together a week or so before Christmas and spend Christmas day at home.



answers from Billings on

In our family we spend Christmas Eve visiting who needs to be visited-the nursing home etc, then Christmas Eve night we go to the church service. Then off to bed for all little people. Christmas morning mom gets up before the crack of dawn and throws a breakfast casserole in the oven and makes hot chocolate for everyone (except me I have to have my coffee) and then when the first kid starts to stir I get them all up and make sure dad is up too. Then the fun begins-present time. When we are done we just have a relaxing day at home where the kids can enjoy there gifts and such and we snack on stuff throughout the day and do a small Christmas dinner a bit early for everyone.



answers from Salt Lake City on

We aren't near extended family either and we do our own thing.
Just a couple of things we do:

Christmas Eve we always eat lasagna and garlic bread.
The kids open 1 present which is of course new pjs (sometimes something extra, slippers, blanket, etc.)
In addition to the story about the birth of our Savior, we read the story about the Christmas orange and after the story we share one of those chocolate oranges.

Christmas morning the kids get 3 presents each. One from Santa, one from mom and dad and one from a sibling (the kids draw names). And then we also have 3 family gifts. I started doing this a few years ago and it has worked out so great! I try to get the kids what they really want, within reason. It's so easy to go overboard and this has simplified it so much. Of course there are gifts from grandpas and grandmas and stocking stuffers too. Because we don't have extended family to go visit, we stay in our pjs and play all day long. For food, when the kids wake up I have hot (Rhodes) cinnamon rolls to eat (I get up in middle of the night to get them rising.) And then all day we snack since we had our big meal the night before - and there's always left overs.

Good luck with making your own traditions. My only advice, make sure you and your husband agree to how to do things. It took me and my husband a few years to get on the same page.

Merry Christmas!



answers from Pocatello on

We love having a candle light dinner on Christmas Eve. My kids love it also. We have had basic things to eat like mac and cheese and hot dogs to nice things like steak and shrimp. We also like to let our kids open one present on Christmas Eve (pajamas). It is always new pajamas and they love it, this is a tradition my parents started with me that I do with my family now.



answers from Boise on

I also want to enjoy Christmas day so we have snack food on Eve and eat leftovers on the day because I usually end up taking the gifts out of the boxes and putting things together more than I get to rest anyway. I also have cinnamon rolls made for Christmas morning -- I freeze ahead of time. I also make homemade chocolates to enjoy during the season.

On Christmas Eve, we take stuffed animals that we purchased from St. Jude (one gift), and turn around and give them to kids that have to be in the hospital on Christmas Day (second gift). Then we come home and read "Twas the Night Before Christmas", open 2 gifts (one is their choice and one is new P.J.'s), play games, and watch a Christmas movie.

On Christmas Day we read about Christ's birth, watch a movie about Christ, and open presents (one at a time so everyone enjoys what everyone got and gets to see the person open the gift they gave). I wish we had family that lived near us that we could go visit, but I also like having no where to go and anything to do specifically on that day.

Enjoy coming up with what you want to do!



answers from Great Falls on

I know it's hard to blend traditions from your family with your hubby's sometimes. But, I'll tell you my mess.

Growing up, we would go to church and come home. Everyone wrapped or finished wrapping their gifts and we left them all in my mother's room for Santa to put out. (It was our tradition - even after everyone knew there was no Santa). There were no gifts under the tree when we went to bed on Christmas Eve. Santa would put everything under the tree. From a kid's point of view, I can not begin to describe the magic of going to bed with nothing under the tree and getting up with all these things under the tree. Even if our Christmases were small (and Daddy ALWAYS said they were) we never knew it because of that magic.

We had to wait until our folks were awake before we could get up. That was SO hard! So, we usually gathered in the bedroom closest to theirs and "accidentally" made lots of noise. Then we would all gather at the tree, but before we could touch anything, we read of Christ's birth from the Bible and prayed. Then we would do presents.

My husband's family just tosses their gifts under the tree as they buy them and then Santa brings more. I can't get my hubby to understand the magic of my childhood. But, for my oldest's 3rd Christmas, we did it the way of my childhood - she walked out and an awe filled "wow" slipped out - I was beyond happy!

I usually make a pull apart coffee cake for breakfast. I do everything the night before so on Christmas all I have to do is bake it. We "graze" on that until around noon or 1 o'clock. Then, unfortunately, we usually go to my mother-in-law's house where she has a fancy sit down dinner. Growing up, we put out a spiral cut ham, bread and condiments maybe some side dishes and grazed on that all day. I like that better - and last year, my little family got to do that. It was great - no going, no dressing up. Just stay home, eat if and when you're hungry and play with your new gifts or just be silly.

We've moved 1600 miles from his mom (yea!!) and we'll get to do Christmas more like my childhood this year. There are things from his Christmases that we incorporate - Dutch flags on the tree (I don't know, so don't ask) and mulled wine. Every year we argue over putting presents under the tree or letting Santa do it - but our second is 3 this I think it'll have to be Santa or we'll never keep her out of them!!



answers from Missoula on

We have several traditions we do throughout the Holiday season to help us remember the "reason" we are celebrating. We have never lived close to family and we invite close friends to participate with us in some of our activities which are mostly through our church where my husband also works.

1. We go Christmas caroling to shut-ins, nursing homes and various older members who are not able to participate in many holiday activities. They love seeing the young kids!

2. The Jr. High and High school youth make "Cookies for the Night Shift" They bake and deliver cookies between 10pm and midnight to the fire station, ambulance drivers, hospital staff and police who work the late shifts to keep us all safe.

3. Our church has trees of sharing and sponsors several families as well as a local girls' home with gifts and goodies. They would not have a Christmas without us. Our family is then part of the group that delivers these gifts and sings carols to the recipients.

We have done these things for 14 years now and they are very much a part of our tradition. It makes a difference to those who give as well as receive! On Christmas day we don't go to church. That one day we stay home and celebrate as a family. I know God is with us because we usually go to the three services Christmas Eve and help with those programs. Between services we drive around looking at Christmas lights and a special luminary display listening to Christmas music.

We also do the Christmas Eve PJ gifts. Christmas day we relax and watch Holiday movies or new ones we have received, we play games and have a meal we have decided on as a family. I do let them each pick out an ornament, usually something to do with what they have done or been interested in that year. We put their name and the date on it. Someday when they have their own tree they will have all of those ornaments to start with.

Find your traditions and enjoy!
Blessings for the Christmas Season!



answers from Salt Lake City on

Growing up, my siblings and I each opened 1 present on christmas eve. We always knew that it would be PJ's but that is what we opened. The rest were saved until Christmas day. That is the same thing that I have done with my daughter who is now 8. We always make and leave snacks out for Santa before going to bed.
On Christmas day, sometimes I get up and make pancakes and eggs, depending on various things. We usually have a turkey and ham with all the fixings however, since our oven has been out of commission for some time, and we are getting a new one tomorrow, we may have meatloaf. (WHO KNOWS!!!) The rest of the day is usually spent playing with and trying to figure out gifts that everyone received.



answers from Salt Lake City on

I started with my son a little tradition of my own when he was a toddler....

After he goes to bed on Xmas Eve, I would hang candy canes all over the christmas tree as a little added suprise from Santa for when he wakes up and a few sparkle piles of confetti and small treats from his room led to the tree with all of his presents. Mostly wrapped except for the big or most fun items given to him from Santa. Your son might be a bit young but it's fun to start little fun things like that...



answers from Denver on


I don't know if this is something you'd start this year, but I remember making gingerbread castles every year. You could do one as a family or could each do your own. Be creative & do nativity scenes or something of that nature. I am sure this would be fun!

Enjoy your holiday & your first one making new traditions! - C.



answers from Provo on

Oh Christmas is so fun. I am the oldest of 10 children and growing up I remember we would decorate the tree. Mom or Dad would hand us the ornaments and we got to put them wherever, after Mom fluffed the fake tree and put the lights and garland on. We always had an angel for on top. We always put presents under the tree as they were bought and wrapped then Santa would add the ones from him to the collection. Christmas eve we would set out our stockings and I remember, though I don't know if many of my siblings do, that my Grandpa would call to let us know that he just saw Santa fly past his house in our direction and that we had better get to bed. Christmas morning we would have to wait for everyone to be awake before we got to go out to the living room, then we would get to go through our stockings. I don't remember there ever being breakfast that morning. We would just go through our stockings and munch on whatever Santa brought, which of course was candy. Then when everyone was finished going through stockings we got to open presents. One at a time, so Mom and Dad could see what each person got (which once there were 10 of us took forever). Christmas dinner my Mom always made a honey baked ham with all kinds of other side dishes and we had pies (which she had pre-ordered and pre-picked up). Then maybe the next weekend we would go to Grandma's house for the big extended family dinner and gift exchange.

Now when my husband and I got married we changed some things. We still put up a tree, but we have a star for the top. We still place presents under the tree as they are bought and wrapped, then Santa will add the ones from him Christmas eve (this way I don't have to hide more presents than necessary). I had heard from a friend that they only get each of their kids 4 gifts. Something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. We have adopted this and it totally simplifies the gift shopping. We still set stockings out on Christmas eve for Santa to fill, but we also have stockings for my husband and myself.Christmas morning I have to have breakfast, and I have always wanted to make donuts for Christmas breakfast but just haven't found a good recipe and that would take a long time, so I think I need to rethink that one. We make our 4 kids wait until everyone is awake before they are allowed to go out to the living room (the reason for that is so you don't have a kid getting into everyone else's stocking and putting the other's things in their stocking). Then when we are done with stockings we open the presents. Then we have dinner. Sometimes we go to my sister-in-laws house or my mother-in-laws house (my husband's family are the only ones close right now) or sometimes they come here. This year they are coming here for Christmas dinner. For Christmas dinner I make a turkey with all the trimmings including homemade rolls. This year I will also be making a ham with it (at my sister's request since she will be spending Christmas with us this year). And I haven't decided on dessert. I usually make fudge (chocolate fudge, mint chocolate fudge, rocky road fudge....) but I might try something new this year.

Of course my husband used to ask me "why do we always do what your family does for the holidays?". And my answer is always "well that is what I remember and look forward to with each holiday". Then I will ask him "well what would you have us do?" (not to change what I already want to do, but to add to it). So now we allow the kids to open one present on Christmas eve. And after Thanksgiving we make up advent calendars for each of us by tying a candy in a little sac to a long yarn (and each sac has a Christmas quote of some kind to read). So those were his ideas, and we do those now too. :)

Have fun.



answers from Salt Lake City on

Most of the traditions I have now I started after I got married but when I was a kid we always got to open one gift on Christmas eve and usually it was a new pair of pajamas. My parents picked the gift we got to open. Now in my family we get a new pair of pajamas on Christmas eve. Also as a kid we read the Christmas story so we try to do that on Christmas eve to help us remember why we celebrate Christmas. We never acted it out but that sounds like fun. During the month of December I read my kids a different Christmas story before they go to bed. Christmas morning as a kid we always had the same thing for breakfast. Now we go to my moms and she still fixes it. Before the kids open presents i like to turn on the lights and turn on some music. For dinner we usually have ham, rolls, funeral potatoes and salads. This year for my boys we bought an advent calendar, which they seem to have fun opening and taking turns getting the chocolate out. We also try to go see the lights downtown and then afterwards get hot chocolate. Those are the ones I can think of off hand. Whatever you do I am sure it will be great.



answers from Provo on

my husband and i grew up with different times of opening presents too and neither of us wanted to give up our tradition. so on Christmas eve we open one present and the rest are opened Christmas morning. we really enjoyed opening our presents last year with his parents watching via webcam. when i was little, my mom would make a birthday cake "for Jesus" and we would sing happy birthday to Jesus. corny, but we enjoyed it at that age.



answers from Colorado Springs on

What a nice set of responses you've gotten so far. I felt good all over just reading them, and the moms who have answered have had such great suggestions.

I only want to share one tradition my family had, although your little one is too young to appreciate it yet, perhaps in a few years it will be something you want to do.

When my children were young we started doing a family Advent project each year. Each year, on Thanksgiving day, we would hold a family meeting and I would present some Advent project ideas. The children would choose which one they wanted to do a a family. My children's expectations as far as gifts go were modest indeed. They each got four modest gifts on Christmas day - one from each family member and one from "santa."

I wanted them to know that Christmas is not about a mountain of gifts under the tree but about celebrating the gifts we already have - the best of which is the love of God and the sending of baby Jesus - and about doing something to help show that love to someone else.

Over the years we did such things as taking underwear to a homeless men's mission (not an exciting gift but it's what the director told me was most needed), visiting a nursing home on Christmas morning to give candy and fruit to residents whose families had not picked them up for the holiday, adopting a child from the Angel Tree and getting that child both a coat and some toys - whatever we decided on that year.

When my children were in middle school and high school, their music teacher's husband was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer in September and died just after Thanksgiving. The family had two daughters in grade school, and my family had once lost a family member during the holiday season, so we understood how devastating that is. It was the kids who suggested that year's Advent project, and it was our most ambitious. We called it "The Twelve Days of Christmas" although it was in reverse because we used the 12 days leading up to Christmas. Each day we anonymously delivered a package containing a gift and a comforting scripture verse that related to it. (We had to recruit some helpful "elves" to show up and make some of the the deliveries, but others I just took to their house and put between the storm door and the door while all of them were at school. The school principal agreed to let me know if the music teacher was out sick or took a day off because I would not be able to take the gift to her house if she was at home.) As to gift/scripture combinations, one example was Matthew 10:29-31 and a bird feeder.

The Advent project was such an important and meaningful tradition for my family that when I divorced their father and we held a family conference about forming new traditions because of the changed status of our family, this is the only tradition from our past life that the children wanted to maintain. (Guess what? They were tired of going to my mother's house for Thanksgiving as well!)



answers from Boise on

Sounds like you will have a fun time. When I was growing up we got to pick one present to open on Christmas Eve, usually from my Grandmother and Grand-daddy who lived in Arkansas. My husband had a cool tradition that we have adopted. He also got to open one present on Christmas Eve and that was a new pair of pj's. It's very exciting for my girls to open up their new nighties to wear on the night before Christmas!!! It also makes pictures in the morning beautiful because they are wearing new items, not the ones they have been wearing all year :-)!!

Good luck and above all make it fun. Don't stress too much about your own traditions, the best traditions are those that "just happen".



answers from Provo on

We also did the acting out the nativity on Christmas eve thing at our house growing up, as we got older, it turned into telling the story and singing songs, which was still fun. We always got to unwrap one gift on Christmas eve, which was always our new Christmas pajamas. We would put presents under the tree that friends or distant family had given, but everything else waited until Christmas morning. We usually have a big Christmas dinner gathering on Christmas Eve and usually we had a ham and a turkey along with the trimmings, then all of the family that's together does the nativity and gift thing. We are hosting it in our new house for the first time this year, so I am really excited for it. One thing I started doing with each of my children since they were born was to get them some small gift that was somewhat the same each year. My oldest gets something that is a snowman, my second gets moose, third gets bear, fourth gets puppy, and now my fifth will have his first Christmas and we have decided on penguin for him. It is usually a small stuffed animal, but one year I got the the little animated creatures. They loved it. Now, at least the older 2, know that they are getting something special from me every year...I love it. Christmas Day we have done several things. We have just grazed and we have had formal dinners. I am not sure which I prefer, but having a clam and relaxing Christmas I think will be my priority this year.

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