Christmas Traditions

Christmas Family Auction

This is a recent addition to our Christmas Tradition. My family is large and some are living away and drawing names just didn't seem to do the trick. Besides if we really wanted something, we would just buy it ourselves. So last year we all brought items we had at home but didn't use, found on a huge clearance at the discount store, purchased at a yard sale etc. Some also brought food items- my sister a complete spaghetti dinner and my family famous chocolate dipped creations. Everyone placed the name of their favorite charity in a bag. Then the auction began. Things you didn't want or need turned out to be just what the others did. The person who bought the most got to draw the name of the charity the money would be sent to. Last year we raised about $240 for Make a Wish. I know this year the auction will be bigger and better!  Deborah Martin

Samaritan Purse

Every Christmas our family gets together and goes shopping for Samaritan Purse. We came up with the idea of using the money our parents would spend on stocking stuffers to help children in other countries. As a family unit, mom and dad included, we head off to Walmart. It is not uncommon to see us throwing footballs down isle or spending a couple hours trying to find the perfect gift to fill our shoeboxes. We started this tradition a few years back. All of us our in our 20's and still look forward to coming home and shopping for Samaritan Purse as a family. Scooters

Ornament Gifts

This year i have decided to start giving each family member their Christmas ornament at Thanksgiving so they can enjoy them as they put up the tree. I am looking forward to this. I search for a ornament that will reflect each family members life style... Marcia Vilk

Ham Dinner, Bible Stories, and Special Letters to Family

Every Christmas Eve begins for us around 4 o'clock when the grandparents come! We have a traditional Christmas Ham with Mash potatoes, etc. The after dinner I usually have a program prepared where we read the christmas story out of the bible and sing songs to go with each passage. After that, somone is always asked to read a story. Last year I read a story from the "Chicken soup for the teenage soul". It was about this girl who didn't have any friends and was real depressed. While her parents were away at their party on Christmas eve, she had planned to kill herself. She walked to the mailbox to put a letter to her parents in there, and to her surprise found a letter from a kid at her church group. He told her that he wanted to get to know her and invited her to the next activity. This letter changed her life.

Two weeks before Christmas each family member chose a name out of the stocking and had to write a letter to that person about why they liked them and why they were thankful for them.. We all read our notes to each other that night! It was wonderful! It is something we will continue in our family every year! Amanda Seymour

Katie's Family's Christmas Eve

My favorite tradition of all was Christmas Eve. My family would often do the seven fish dinner (we seemed to switch back and forth everyone in a while because my mom isn't Italian but my dad is.) But after dinner we would decorate the tree. It had usually been up for several days to let the branches open. Dad would do the lights and my sister and I would get to hang the "kids' ornaments" soft plush ornaments and even more special the old items off our mobiles from when we were babies. Most years the tree decorating would go on long into the night, we would be sent off to bed being told the elves would finish it for us. In the morning we would come down to the tree completed, packages beautifully wrapped under the tree and Sinatra playing in the background ( my whole family loves Sinatra) as I grew older I found there was an extra special ornament added every year. After my mother and father had finished all of the Christmas eve activities of decorating and wrappi ng, they would open up a modest bottle of champagne and hold each other an drink a toast to the family and the world and they would take the cork and wrapper and add it to the tree, they have 30 of these corks now and I am looking forwarded to adding the first one this year with my spouse.

Special Letters

Every Christmas Eve begins for us around 4 o'clock when the grandparents come! We have a traditional Christmas Ham with Mash potatoes, etc. The after dinner I usually have a program prepared where we read the christmas story out of the bible and sings songs to go with each passage. After that, someone is always asked to read a story. Last year i read a story from the "Chicken soup for the teenage soul". it was about this girl who didn't have any friends and was real depressed. While her parents were away at their party on Christmas eve, she had planned to kill herself. She walked to the mailbox to put a letter to her parents in there, and to her surprise found a letter from a kid at her church group. He told her that he wanted to get to know her and invited her to the next activity. This letter changed her life. 

Two weeks before Christmas each family member chose a name out of the stocking and had to write a letter to that person about why they liked them and why they were thankful for them.. We all read our notes to each other that night! It was wonderful!  It is something we will continue in our family every year!   Amanda Seymour

Lead Reindeer to Home

Sprinkle oats on the snow in front of your house to lead the reindeer to your home.  Wanda

Seven Fish Dinner

Every Christmas Eve for as long as I can remember we have always had the "7 fish dinner" together as a family.  When I was in my teens we always had it at my parents' house.  Now since the family is up to 10 grandchildren and 5 inlaws, we have it at my oldest sister's house (since it is a lot

My sister usually does the bulk of the cooking, but myself and my 3 sisters and one brother try to chip in as best we can.  We eat lots of fish, but we are never quite sure if it really adds up to "7."  We eat shrimp, scallops, angel hair pasta with anchovies and grated cheese, smelts (yuck!), bacala (cod fish) as a stew, and maybe fried calamari.  In addition we always have baked macaroni and cheese and steamed broccoli with garlic.  My Mom always makes her fried dough donuts with powdered sugar (MMMM!!).

Writing about this is making me very hungry!  If anyone reading also celebrates the 7 fish dinner please contact me.  I'd like to hear what your dinner is like.  I am always open to suggestions.  patti donofrio

From Thanksgiving 'Til Christmas Day

Our holiday begins the day after Thanksgiving. We wake up to Christmas music and begin decorating, all donning our santa hats! Once the house is done, we all pile into the car and go hunting for a tree. After the tree is up, we all take our turns putting on the various ornaments. We all have a "special" job... Daddy does the lights, Mommy does the pearls and flowers and the kids get to put on their special ornaments. After it is finished, we make hot chocolate and popcorn and watch a Christmas movie. 

Then on Christmas Eve, we go to Great-Grandmother's house and enjoy light refreshments. Then its onto church for a time of reflection of Christ's birth. After the service, we go home and open one present each. On Christmas morning, we have a birthday cake for Jesus and sing "Happy Birthday" to Him. The kids love this and always remind me to make sure and remember!!  Melissa Moyer

Celebrating Jesus Birthday

We always make Jesus a chocolate birthday cake with colored sprinkles for dessert on Christmas.  There is one candle for everyone to blow out.

At some point during the holiday season, I buy jelly filled powder sugar doughnuts.  The kids and I have a special breakfast and discuss how our sins, even though they are scarlet, are covered white as snow. We also talk about the sweetness of the Lord! :-)   Shauna

Fun For the Teens

With a house full of teenagers with opposite interests AND low on finances, I am always looking for ways to make less look and feel like MORE.  As a family, we all enjoy games so  often times I make a scavenger hunt part of the gift giving process.  For instance I might wrap a jar of jam, a plastic toe, and an arrow.  Christopher would then need to figure out that his real present was a game called Tojamminaro (Toe+ Jam + Arrow) or instead of wrapping a box game which he could easily guess - -I would just wrap the instructions and have him hunt for more clues to find the real present hidden in the clothes washer.  Also, I have taken a flannel shirt and put money in the pockets, sleeves etc. for an unexpected surprise hidden in an seemingly ordinary gift. Last year, the family didn't really like the game I had planned - but your family might.  There were several household items that I needed - -cheese slicer, nutcracker, potato peeler etc.  I creatively wrapped these items and  everyone gets to choose one of the wrapped gifts. The order of choice is determined by the throw of the dice.   Once everyone has a gift...they are advised that one of the gifts has a $20 bill hidden inside the package.  Some of the gifts have dollar bills, or $5. or $10 - - the idea is that everyone will get money -- but not everyone will get the  $20 bill.  The dice is thrown again - -and the highest gets to then trade their gift with someone else - - or exchange their gift for the extra present in the middle.  Last year I was secretly glad when no one wanted the hidden $20 gift and it was discarded - -that meant that I got the $20!!!  Maybe that was why my family didn't like the game???  Haven't figured out what we are going to this year -- and tomorrow is Christmas Eve! Happy Holidays to all..and I hope this gives you some ideas of how to add some light hearted fun.   Kirk

Christmas Eve: The Next Generation

My aunt and uncle have had Christmas Eve at their house for over forty years.  We look for to this night all year.  My entire family shares in this evening and we probably have fifty to sixty family members there.  This past year my uncle became very ill and did not think that he would be able to have Christmas Eve.  We were all very concerned about my uncle but, we were also wondering if our tradition would end.

I was recently married and my husband and I offered to have Christmas Eve at our home.  Well the family was so excited that the younger generation felt this was important and Christmas Eve is now at my home.  I feel very lucky to be the one carrying on this tradition!  Shannon Delhougne


A Little White Envelope 

It's just a small, white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas  tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past 10 years or so. 

It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas---  oh, not the true meaning of Christmas,  but the commercial aspects of it...overspending...the  frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma...the gifts given in desperation because you  couldn't think of anything else. 

Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts,  sweaters, ties and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike.  The inspiration came in an unusual way. 

Our son Kevin, who was 12 that year, was wrestling at the junior level at the school he attended;  and shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match  against a team sponsored by an inner-city church.  These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them  together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in their spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes. As the match began, I was alarmed   to see that the other team was wrestling without headgear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler's ears.  It was a luxury the ragtag team obviously could not afford. 

Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class.  And as each of their boys got up from the mat, he swaggered around in his tatters with false bravado, a kind of street pride that couldn't acknowledge defeat. Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly,  "I wish just one of them could have won,"  he said. "They have a lot of potential,  but losing like this could  take the heart right out of them." 

Mike loved kids-all kids-and he knew them,  having coached little league football,  baseball and lacrosse.  That's when the idea for his present came. 

That afternoon,  I went to a local sporting goods store  and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes and sent them anonymously to the inner-city church.  On Christmas Eve, I placed the envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what  I had done and that this was his gift from me. His smile was the brightest thing about Christmas  that year and in succeeding years. 

For each Christmas,  I followed the tradition---one year sending a  group of mentally handicapped  youngsters to a hockey game,  another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers  whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas, and on and on. 

The envelope became the highlight of our Christmas.  It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning and our children, ignoring their new toys,  would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal its contents. 

As the children grew,  the toys gave way to more practical presents,  but the envelope never lost its allure. 

The story doesn't end there. You see,  we lost Mike last year due to dreaded cancer.  When Christmas rolled  around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. But, Christmas Eve found me  placing an envelope on the tree,  and in the morning, it was joined by three more. 

Each of our children,  unbeknownst to the others, had placed an envelope on the tree for their dad. The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further with our grandchildren standing around the tree with wide-eyed anticipation watching as their fathers take down the envelope. 

Mike's spirit, like the Christmas spirit, will always be with us. 

If anyone knows the author of this, I'd like to link to her page if she has one and also give credit to her.  This is one of the most touching traditions I've ever read.

Christmas Morning Butterflies

This is my first Christmas away from home, but every Christmas my Mother wouldn't put any of her and Dad's gifts under the tree until we have gone to bed.  We would always get up really early in anticipation to see if Santa had come.  The wonderful thing about her doing this is that the night before there would be a few gifts, but the next morning the gifts would be piled high.  It was an amazing site.  I'd get all excited and get butterflies in my belly.  Dad would always make us sit down to breakfast before we started unwrapping to prevent us from filling ourselves with candy.  Kim Allport

A Special Christmas Eve Day

Our Christmas tradition starts every Christmas Eve morning.  We get up early, go out for a big breakfast and head up to the mountains for a day of "tubing" and snow ball fights!  After playing all day in the snow, we make our way home for a pot roast dinner that's been cooking in the slow cooker all day (boy does THAT smell great when you walk in!) and then spend the rest of the evening driving around looking at decorated houses.  Then we head home again, build a fire, eat cookies and hot chocolate, open one present each, and read "It's the Night Before Christmas" and the Santa Story by William Joyce. By this time we are soo tired out that it's no problem getting the little one to bed (or the big ones either  LOL).  The Moore Family

A Relaxing Christmas Eve

Every Christmas Eve Day, my children and I go shopping together.  It is a day of relaxed shopping and looking at decorations.  Christmas
Eve night, the whole family eats a light dinner and goes driving around our town and sometimes other places to see outside decorations.  Weeks before Christmas, it is very hectic so this is a relaxing time for us.  Debbie Bagwell

Christmas Dessert Theatre

Each year our church puts on a special Christmas Dessert Theatre with lots of fun drama and fun Christmas music.  It runs for a couple weeks, so we usually buy tickets for friends and family on two different nights, get tables close to the front and enjoy the performance.  We begin the evening with a potluck dinner at our home, and as we arrive at the church, we're treated to valet parking, ushers with Tuxedo's, and cheery waitresses to keep our china cups full of coffee and tea and then treated to wonderful desserts.  This has been our tradition now for six years.   annie

Christmas Eve Family Party

A week before Christmas, our family draws names out of a hat and each gets an extra special present for the person whose name they drew. On Christmas Eve we have  a big party and open that one  present.  Jordan

Quick Gingerbread House Creations Contests

We make houses using milk cartons as a base and covering with graham crackers held on by the frosting.  From there use your imagination.  So far, my son's has topped us all.  He and his girlfriend made a two story train depot with miniature train and  an outdoor manger scene.  Houses can be decorated with candies, cookies, frosting, etc.

To make this an exciting get-together, invite several couples over and see which couple can come up with the most creative, funniest, best, etc., house.  For me, I have the most fun listening to the  couples 'discussing' their differences of opinions while trying to work as a husband/wife team in their creation.   Annie

If you can help the lady below, click on her name to send email.

Note:  We are doing a class project and have been unable to find out about when gingerbread began being a popular Christmas tradition.  Do you know where this originated from?  Marge Teisl

Christmas P.J.s

Since I was born, my family has always opened one present on Christmas eve when we get home from the candlelight service at church. We always eat peel-and-eat shrimp and open the one present, which is always a pair of Christmas pajamas to wear to bed on such a magical night. Now that I'm married and have a daughter of my own, we have continued in this tradition!  Laurie Fyler

Family Cookies

Every year, for as long as I can remember, it's always been a tradition for me, my brother, and my mom to make christmas cookies and decorate them.  It's also a tradition that whenever someone gets one of those big tins with the popcorn in it, the rest of us eat it while they're not looking.  Also, not a Christmas goes by that we don't read the Christmas story from the Bible.  That has always been my dad's job. Bethany Dougherty

An Italian Celebration

My family is not Italian; however,  it wouldn't be Christmas to us if we didn't eat spaghetti on Christmas Eve.  We most often find an intimate restaurant known to be open on Christmas Eve.  We eat and drink and make merriment.  One year we were entertained by the owner who happened to be in the Opera.  What a treat!  After dinner we go "Christmas light looking" and the young ones look for Rudolph's shiny nose in the sky. I'm twenty-nine years old and I still get a thrill from looking for old St. Nick.  I'm from the South so sometimes the season isn't very cold, but a thermos of hot chocolate is always available.    Renee Martin

Victorian Feather Trees

As a child, my parents allowed me to have a Victorian feather tree in my bedroom to humor me.  At that time, 36 years ago, my parents had no idea that the tree would become valuable, as they are today.  My dad thought it looked like a bottle brush.  Anyway, to make a very long story the years have gone by, myself and my brother have had Christmas trees in our bedrooms, most of the time real ones, in all sizes and species.  The tradition grew as each year on Christmas Eve, each member of the family would exchange a special ornament with all of the other members of the family.  The ornaments most often would reflect the recipients hobbies or occupations.  The tradition has also grown to include trees in virtually every other room of our homes including the kitchen and bathroom.  Of course these trees are of all types and materials suited to their surroundings.  They also offer their own themes, such as a snowman or angel tree.  A pastor friend of the family had a very lovely thing to say about our tradition and other extravagant decorations that we tend to display.  He basically said that the way we decorate is an outward display of the inward love that we hold in our hearts for our Lord and Savior, Jesus, the Christ.  I now have another original Victorian feather tree which now is over 100 years old.  It brings back lovely memories of my youth.  C.Leahy

Cedar Blanket:  Information Needed

I am sorry I don't have a tradition to share today. I am looking for help,
instructions, ect. for making a cedar blanket for my Mother's grave. I
have heard of this and this is our first Christmas without our precious Mother
and Grandmother. I think it would be a comfort to our family to do something like
this. Thank you for any help you can give us. We are also new at this computer thing,
but really like it. Thank you.

If you know how to make this blanket or know where she can turn, please email Helen at


We'd love to hear your family traditions!