Our Favorite Christ-Centered Christmas Traditions

Welcome to our 12 DAYS OF HOMESCHOOL CHRISTMAS POSTS! If you are just joining us, here’s what you’ve missed so far:


For our 7th day of Homeschool Christmas:

May Santa reward you for being GOOD . . .

May you enjoy good food and comfort . . .

May YOUR Christmas be magical because YOU DESERVE IT!

May all your Christmas wishes come true . . .

It’s almost impossible to escape the onslaught of the “Me-Centered-Christmas”! Let’s steep our traditions in the true meaning of Christmas so our children will not mistake who is the real center of the season.

~Our 12 Favorite Christ-Centered Christmas Traditions~

1.) Away in a Manger

I’m so thankful I came across this idea on Pinterest a few years ago. My hubby built this (he says easy) manger and every year we display it as the heart of our Christmas celebration in front of our Christmas tree. Some families place a few pieces of straw in the manger every day leading up to Christmas, but we like to fill ours right away and make it sort of the “star” of our decking of the halls. The manger waits humbly through the entire Christmas season, a symbol of the the lowly and empty world ready to receive her king, until Christmas morning. We postpone stockings and gifts so that the sight to behold on Christmas morning is baby Jesus lying in the manger.

In all honesty though: our toddler has been putting her “Dolly-Dolly-Deezus” in the manger ever since we put it out this year . . . but I’m at least saving the swaddling sheet until Christmas day.

2.) A Wise Alternative to Elf-on-the-Shelf

I’m not saying Elf-on-the-Shelf is evil or anything . . . but we just aren’t on board with the whole “be good and you’ll get gifts” message. It’s not even necessarily that we think it’s anti-Christian or anything. Anti-Christian or not, the message that being “good” will earn you loot is just simply untrue. And then there’s the whole “he’s watching you” thing and to be honest it just really freaks me out. All that to say, the only Elf that visits our house at Christmastime is of the Will Ferrel variety and he’s plenty Elf enough to last me until next Christmas.

Even though we don’t shelf any elves over here, I have to admit that the tradition is fun . . . especially the whole waking up to see what sort of mischief Elfy has been up to. A great Christ-centered alternative is the “Traveling Kings.” I grant you, it is a much more sober tradition, but it is every bit as magical and better yet . . . it carries truth and power and meaning.

To start a “Traveling Kings” tradition: place out a stable or nativity but leave it empty all except Mary and Joseph. Let your children place out the kings to start . . . as far away in your house from the stable as you can get them. Explain that the kings had to travel a great distance and that they did not arrive until long after the birth of Christ. Every night after the kids are in bed, move the kings closer to the stable. Your kids will love waking up to see how far the kings traveled and it will provide a strong visual for the Wise Men’s journey to bring gifts to the Christ-child.

3.) Bake a Birthday Cake for Baby Jesus

Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com

It may sound cheesy, but there really is no better way to send the message home to your kids that Christmas is about the birth of Christ than to celebrate it with a cake, candles, and the singing of Happy Birthday.

4.) Carols for the Lonely

This may be controversial this year, but never in my lifetime has our weary world needed to rejoice more. I implore you: get out and carol the good news of great joy! It can just be your family or “inner circle” . . . whatever you feel comfortable with . . . and can be socially-distantly-sung from the sidewalk! Do whatever you need to do to make it safe, legal, or what-have-you. Our neighborhood is comprised of mostly retirees and elderly, and most of them will be alone this Christmas. I don’t doubt that for many of them our singing from the street may be the only hint of a “gathering” they have this year.

5.) The Many Faces of Saint Nicholas + Santa’s Workshop

Generally, when people hear that I grew up not believing in Santa, they assume that our childhood Christmases weren’t very magical. On the contrary, our Christmases were magical, but they were also deep and meaningful. The way my mom handled Santa was extra-special. When I’d ask: “is Santa real?” even though I always knew he wasn’t . . . my mom would answer: “Saint Nicholas was real, and now Santa lives on as a memory and a legacy.”

As I got older, I realized that Santa wears many faces. For me, my mom is the face of Santa. She has always made Christmas magical and full, even now. I’ve carried this idea on with our kids and something we love to say at Christmastime is: “Anyone who is thoughtful and gives gifts at Christmas is a real-life Santa Claus . . . we can all play the role of Santa!”

Join us in “playing Santa” with our kids and stay tuned for our “Santa’s Workshop” post!

6.) King’s Day

We love to set out the gifts of the Magi at the beginning of the Christmas season. Our magi gifts are simple wooden boxes full of salts infused with frankincense and myrrh oil, and a box of “gold” buttons. The gifts remain closed until “Kings’ Day” which is the day our family exchanges gifts.

7.) A LIT Christmas

The best way I know to combat the commercialized (aka entitiled) Christmas is with Christmas Literature that dives deep into the heart of Christmas.

Check out our favorites:

8.) Nativity Play

Whether with a Nativity set or with bedsheets and broomsticks, encourage your children to play out or reenact the Christmas story.

9.) Saint Nicholas Day

We DO celebrate the giving spirit of “Santa” on Saint Nicholas day which is when we open stockings, as fitting with the legends of Saint Nicholas.

10.) The Feast of Stephen

After Christmas day has passed, our family prepares a special feast, traditionally called “The Feast of Stephen,” to remember the first martyr . . . the first to die for his faith in Jesus . This is a powerful way to teach our children what true faith in Christ looks like.

11.) Christmas Wish GIVE LIST

This one hit us big this year . . . and not in a good way. If I’m choosing to look on the bright side and find that silver lining, here it is: God made it so incredibly clear to us that as parents we need to start instilling the joy of generous giving in our kids RIGHT NOW if there is to be any hope that we do our part to grow adults who are not steeped in the selfishness of the holiday season (and every other season for that matter).

For us, this message from above came leaping off the page of our son’s Christmas “Wish List” . . . more commonly known as the ubiquitous “Letter to Santa.” Even though we don’t include much Santa in our Christmas celebrations, I have always played into the whole “Christmas Wish List” thing as if it is somehow an imperative childhood experience. Well . . . I’m convinced it IS a crucial part of the modern child’s Christmas experience . . . that is if we desire to join the first world’s standard for raising spoiled, entitled children. Yup I said it.

Five minutes into writing his “Wish List,” our normally thankful and generous son had spontaneously decided he “needed” a rowing machine (he’s in Kindergarten by the way), was in tears because I had told him that they don’t make fully-operational riding metal roadsters anymore, and was in torment because he couldn’t think of any other single toy he wanted that he didn’t already have. List removed, and lesson learned. Starting this year, and for every year to follow, we will be writing “Christmas GIVE Lists” instead.

12.) Light of the World

Photo by Ahmed Aqtai on Pexels.com

Have a candle-lit night to symbolize the birth of Christ and His coming to earth as a light for a dark and weary world.


A thrill of hope! A weary world rejoices!

Thanks for reading!

Love, ~Our Holistic Homeschool~