Intersection of Life and Faith

10 Christmas Traditions You Can Start This Year

  • Cindi McMenamin Contributing Writer
10 Christmas Traditions You Can Start This Year

There’s something very special about traditions. They comfort us in a constantly-changing world. They remind us of the value of vintage and the lessons we can learn from the past. Children – and grandchildren – love them (and even crave them if they find their family doesn’t have many).

Since we live in a society that values the latest high-tech gadget and the newest or most expensive name-brand item, be a family that stands apart by valuing the special memories that happen when old traditions are honored and new traditions are started. Even if you have one or two that you‘ve practiced for years, try incorporating at least one new tradition this year. You might also consider letting each person in your family choose a new tradition to start each Christmas and assure them it will be passed on year-after-year.

Here are 10 ideas of Christmas traditions you can start this year.

Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/evgenyatamanenko

  • 1. Make Christmas Card Placemats

    1. Make Christmas Card Placemats

    Slide 1 of 10

    Several years ago I started feeling badly about throwing out beautiful Christmas cards my family received in the mail. But you can’t save everything. So, one year I asked my young daughter to pick out her favorite cards and we made a collage with the covers of the cards by gluing them onto a piece of cardstock and laminating them. They made lovely placemats the following year, and for years to come. 

    With all of the photo cards you receive from family and friends, that’s a way to keep the memories alive and see how kids have grown throughout the years. If you have a large family, let each member select their favorite card and make one Christmas card collage placemat each year. Make sure to put the date on the front or back so you remember when the placemats were made and realize how long they’ve lasted. 


    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock

  • 1. Make Christmas Card Placemats

    2. Frame Your Memories

    Slide 2 of 10

    How often do you take out a picture album and look through it? Or, scroll through your Facebook pictures from Christmases past? This year, take pictures at special holiday events, or just fun, candid shots around the dinner table or tree. Then do something with them. 

    Print your favorite one or two and put them in a nice Christmas-themed frame (that you purchase at a discounted price in the after-Christmas sales). These framed photos, brought out each year with the Christmas decorations, will keep your memories alive and will be a reminder of precious Christmases past. 


    Photo credit: Unsplash

  • 1. Make Christmas Card Placemats

    3. Start a Habit of Heart Reflection

    Slide 3 of 10

    Things can get so busy at Christmas that we put our minds and hearts in cruise-control and don’t really talk to the One whose birthday is being celebrated. Don’t let this happen this year – for you or anyone else you love. Make a tradition of having “reflection time” in the evenings over dinner, or around the tree before the presents are opened. Go around the room asking each person to share one thing they are thankful for this past year, or this Christmas season. Then have each one say what they are looking forward to in the next year. Lead your family in a prayer summarizing your gratitude to God for all He’s done in your family’s life. 

    As you do this, you are not only making sure your heart is soft and grateful, but you are helping others around you slow down and focus on the few things that matter in life, as well. 


    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/m-gucci

  • 1. Make Christmas Card Placemats

    4. Get into God's Word

    Slide 4 of 10

    What better time to get into the Scriptures than at Christmas when you are reminded not only of the gift of God’s Son – the Savior – but of His Word – our Sustenance. Try reading a Psalm a day – aloud – for the 12 days leading up to Christmas. Or for the next 12 days. The important thing is you are slowing down, focusing on the reason for the season, and incorporating the Bible’s songbook (the Psalms) into your daily routine. 

    You can also read the Christmas story (Luke 2; Matthew 1:18-2:23) every day for 12 days or the next five days, or until the end of December. The daily reading will slow you down, focus your heart, and start in you a habit of reading God’s Word, if you haven’t developed it already. Feel free to design your own reading plan, taking time to jot down any insights you gain and be sure to share them with someone else. 


    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/udra

  • 1. Make Christmas Card Placemats

    5. Be Financially Responsible

    Slide 5 of 10

    Yes, vowing to not go into debt each Christmas season can be a tradition - a smart one, and one that will set a good example for others in your family to follow. 

    Set a budget of what you CAN spend, then get creative and make it a challenge to meet that budget. Too many people go into financial debt buying gifts for others, wanting to outdo the neighbors’ light display, or simply wanting our kids or grandkids to not have to be without anything on their list. But Christmas, or gift-giving for that matter, doesn’t have to mean buying, spending, and over-extending your wallet. That just leads to post-Christmas guilt and depression. 

    For ideas on how to stay on budget and not think of Christmas in terms of spending, see the next “tradition” you can start. 


    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock

  • 1. Make Christmas Card Placemats

    6. Give of Yourself

    Slide 6 of 10

    I know you’ve heard this many times. I have, too. But sometimes I think we really don’t get it. Giving of ourselves is what Christmas is all about. Yet, giving of ourselves is a lost art, partly because of the value our society places on personal spending. 

    Begin this year to think of Christmas as a time to give of yourself. Your time. Your talents. Your service. Your prayers. Don’t under estimate the power of giving someone  hand-baked goods or coming over to help someone decorate, or just inviting them into your home for a meal. Write a poem or song to a friend and frame it, draw or paint a picture and give it to someone. Those gifts mean so much because they came from within you. 

    God gave His only beloved Son so that we could be with Him forever. Jesus gave His life to that same end. What can you give each year as a personal sacrifice because of what God gave up for you? And how can you help others in your family adopt that tradition of giving of themselves, as well? 


    Photo credit: Pexels

  • 1. Make Christmas Card Placemats

    7. Record Your Blessings

    Slide 7 of 10

    Designate a cookie jar, a nice dish, or a ring that hangs on the wall and start recording on small slips of paper all that God has done for you and your family this next year. Jot down those amazing “coincidences,” the promotions, the situations in which you sensed God’s favor, or just the trips you were able to take, and memories you were able to make. Record the big blessings and especially the small ones. 

    As you take the lead on this, others may join in. (Or, like in my family, they tell me about the blessings, knowing I’m the one who jots it down, hole-punches it, and places it on our family’s “blessing ring.”) Read through all the little blessings on the slips of paper every Christmas Eve, on Christmas Day before opening presents, or on New Year’s Eve as a way of celebrating what God did in your family’s life the past year. 

    This will not only start a tradition of gratitude in your home and in your heart, but it will make you aware, all year long, of what God is doing in and around you.  


    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/JessicaRuscello

  • 1. Make Christmas Card Placemats

    8. Spread the Love

    Slide 8 of 10

    Christmas can be the most difficult and depressing time of the year for many people. If they’ve lost someone and are especially reminded of it at Christmastime, or if their health has taken a downturn or if they are just alone, getting through the holidays can seem unbearable. 

    Consider adopting a neighbor, a widow from your church, a shut-in,  or someone whom you know  is having an especially hard time this Christmas. Include that person in your Christmas activities, invite them to your church’s Candlelight Christmas service,  or leave a gift and some food on their doorstep, along with a note telling them they are loved. 


    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/arsenisspyros

  • 1. Make Christmas Card Placemats

    9. Make Some Music

    Slide 9 of 10

    If you don’t already, start Christmas caroling this year.  If you have children or grandchildren, they will love this. If you can’t hold a tune, it doesn’t matter. The point is to bring joy to others and remind them of the peace on earth (even if just on Christmas Eve) and good will toward men, manifested in your thinking of someone else. 

    Take your family, grab some neighbors along the way, and spread love and cheer through song in your neighborhood, around your church, or in a shopping center. Keep in mind that if people aren’t feeling particularly merry, no one turns away a softly-sung rendition of "Silent Night". It can calm the heart and bring peace in ways you might have never imagined. 


    Photo credit: @RamilF

  • 1. Make Christmas Card Placemats

    10. Plan Ahead for Next Christmas

    Slide 10 of 10

    How well the Christmas season goes next year depends on how well you make good use of your time and money this year. Take advantage of deep discounts in the after-Christmas sales to start your shopping for the next year…even if it’s just for wrap, gift tags, or to get a jump start on some gifts. When you shop a little each month in preparation for Christmas, you will most likely stay on-budget (instead of going into debt in November and December) and you can slow down and enjoy this time next year, instead of adding to the mall madness and last-minute shopping frenzy. Make lists of how you can give of yourself next Christmas, what gifts you will make rather than buy, and so on. 

    Peace doesn’t just happen. You must plan for peace. So make a list now of how you will handle all your December tasks throughout the year for a more enjoyable, relaxed Christmas in 2018.


    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock

    Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker who helps women and couples strengthen their walk with God and have drama-free relationships. She is the author of 16 books, including the best-selling  When Women Walk Alone (more than 125,000 copies sold), When a Woman Overcomes Life’s Hurts, When God Sees Your Tears, and her newest book, Drama Free.  For more on her speaking ministry, books, or free articles to strengthen your soul, marriage, or parenting, see her website 

    This article is part of our larger Christmas and Advent resource library centered around the events leading up to the birth of Jesus Christ. We hope these articles help you understand the meaning and story behind important Christian holidays and dates and encourage you as you take time to reflect on all that God has done for us through his son Jesus Christ!

    What is Christmas? Understanding History, Origin and Traditions
    Christmas Eve History and Traditions
    The History of Santa Claus: Origin of St. Nicholas & Christmas Traditions
    When Was Jesus Born? History of December 25th
    The Birth of Jesus: Bible Story and Scripture Verses
    What is Advent: Definition & Meaning Behind Christmas Tradition
    Advent Wreath & Candles - Understanding the History, Meaning, and Tradition
    The History and Meaning of the Advent Calendar
    What Are Advent Readings & Why Are They Important?
    Christmas Bible Verses & Scripture Story
    Christmas Prayers
    Angels of Christmas - Bible Story