For the last thirty-three years, our family has hosted a big Christmas Eve celebration. It’s a tradition I love and thankfully the kids, now some of them teenagers, do too.

“Christmas just wouldn’t be the same for my girls if we didn’t do it at your house,” my sister said.

Traditions can create expectation and excitement.

They can strengthen family culture.

And in some ways they’re the anchor of comfort and familiarity in the middle of a sometimes chaotic busy season.

The downside

But traditions can have a downside too.

Tradition can carry with it the idea of “big” and “going all out.”

They can weigh you down with expectations you can’t live up to and the pressure to do something even when the joy has long gone away.

My grandma used to give every adult brown paper bags for Christmas Eve stuffed with homemade caramel corn, fudge, chocolates, and a little gift. That paper bag was the highlight of my Christmas. LOVED that paper bag!

When grandma passed away, I decided to take on the “paper bag” tradition. But after a decade or more, trying to find unique gifts for every adult besides making homemade treats and regular Christmas shopping and hosting just got to be more stress than pleasure. This year—the first!—I’m not doing paper bags. And a little of the joy of Christmas (and more energy too) has seeped into my soul already.

That’s why I like the idea of creating mini Christmas traditions.

Mini traditions are…

something to look forward to

easy to do,

don’t require a lot of planning,


but still intentional about faith and family.

Mini Christmas Tradition ideas

My suggestion: Pick two this year and pair them with the short family or faith tie-in beneath.

Have everyone put on their pj’s and read the Christmas story under the Christmas tree.
Doing this reinforces the specialness of the gospel story.

Kiss your spouse under the mistletoe–in front of the kids.
Then tell him or her how much you love and respect them. Highlight something you appreciate about them while the kids are listening.

Make hot chocolate (instant works just fine) and have everyone share his or her favorite or funniest Christmas memory.
Shared memories make for great bonding experiences!

Hide an ornament on the tree between now and Christmas and give a gift to the first one who finds it.
Gifts don’t have to be for special occasions. God often tucks fun surprises into our days just because he loves us.

Call a friend, put them on speaker phone, then have the whole family sing them a Christmas carol.
Singing is a simple thing to share. It encourages people and makes them smile while building us up inside too.  

Scoop out your change jar or car coin holder and drop it off together at church or at a local charity. (Don’t worry about how much or little it is!)
Be excellent at everything you do, especially when it comes to giving (2 Corinthians 8:7).

Create a special family handshake with a special name.
Use your unique combination of high-fives, low-fives, fist bumps, or elbow grabs to say, “Hey, our family is special. We’re family and we stick together.”

Light all the candles in the house, turn off the lights, and sing “Silent Night” together.
 Imagine what it would have been like on the night Jesus was born. What would it have felt, looked, sounded, smelled like?

Have an outside in-the-snow picnic or an inside on-the-living-floor picnic.
Take a minute to be thankful that God gives you the desires of your heart–especially when it comes to good food. (Psalm 145:15-16).

Mini Christmas traditions - outside picnic
Make memories with an outdoor winter picnic

Tell an ornament story.
Tell your kids about a special memory, tradition or trip associated with an ornament. The year our son spent several days in the hospital, for instance, a family member gave him a nutcracker ornament. “This small soldier reminds me how brave you are,” she said. 

Wake up early and watch a sunrise.
Jesus is described like the rising sun who comes to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness (Luke 1:78-79). Explain that Jesus brings light to a dark world.

Do you have any mini Christmas traditions to share?

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