Does your family have any Christmas traditions?
The Clark household was full of them. On Christmas Eve, we’d attend a church service. (And somehow, no matter where we lived in the world, they would light candles at the end of the service and sing “Silent Night.”)
After we got home, we’d eat some chili and “Santa” (a family friend dressed up as the jolly character) would visit, usually bringing a stuffed animal as a preliminary gift.
And afterward we were allowed to open one gift before trotting off to bed.
The next morning, we’d wake to the smell of monkey bread cooking in the oven. My sisters and I would run downstairs to see that good ol’ St. Nick had delivered some extra gifts while we were sleeping. And our family would open presents while a Christmas album played in the background.
And the rest of the day would consist of enjoying our new things and watching Christmas movies together.
As we got older (and more mature), these traditions changed with us. But the one constant through all the years was how these traditions brought us together.
So if a little family togetherness is on your Christmas list, here are five traditions that might help bring your family together in today’s technology-driven culture—using it, entertainment and a little old-fashioned family time to help pull you and yours closer, not push you apart:
1. Watch Christmas Movies and Christmas TV Specials
Curling up with your family under some blankets while drinking hot cocoa is a great way to spend time together. And you don’t have to wait ‘til Christmas Day to try it. Every year, my family has a contest to see who can quote the most lines from our favorite holiday classics. And I’ll never forget the year we replayed the tarantula scene from Home Alone over and over until we were literally crying from laughing so hard.
So, take your pick!
Nearly every streaming platform has a playlist of holiday-themed flicks available to watch. TNT and TBS air A Christmas Story on repeat all of Christmas Day. (Not to mention the slew of feel-good winter flicks that the Hallmark Channel puts out every year.) And Plugged In has a list of the 10 Best Family Christmas Movies on our website, where you can also find reviews for dozens of other holiday films.
2. Play Video Games as a Family
Too often, my parents would make the mistake of purchasing individual gaming devices, such as today’s Nintendo Switch, that would inevitably result in we young’uns hiding away in a corner to immerse ourselves in our games until our thumbs went numb.
But as we got older, our parents got smarter. They’d save those types of consoles and games for our birthdays and instead purchase things like Mario Kart or Just Dance for Christmas as a group gift.
These games can be enjoyed by young and old alike. And you’ll find your kids not only playing together but cooperating better to get a higher score.
3. Listen to Christmas Music
For me, the Christmas season starts when I hear the first few notes of “Deck the Halls” from Mannheim Steamroller’s 1984 album, Christmas. It just sounds like Christmas. I fondly remember many holiday road trips to Grandma’s house singing along to our favorite carols on a cassette tape. And somewhere in our family’s iCloud account is a video of me and my sisters giving an impromptu concert in the kitchen with wooden spoons as microphones.
And now, thanks once again to streaming platforms, we have access to more songs than ever! So, take some time to explore the different Christmas playlists on Apple Music and Spotify. Have your kids share their favorite holiday hits with you and have fun creating a playlist together! Then you can enjoy the songs while you’re driving, cooking, opening presents or while participating in my next suggestion…
4. Take Down the Christmas Decorations
Sometimes putting up decorations can be stressful because you want it to look just so. But some families find that letting their littles help gives it more character. However, even though it might seem a bit banal, taking down the season’s decorations is something everyone can participate in! (Not to mention that it’s a nice break from the screens.)
Epiphany, which is usually celebrated on January 5 or 6, marks the day the Three Kings (or Wise Men) visited the infant Jesus. And you can use this time to not only tell your kids more about the events that followed Christ’s birth, but to bond with them as well. (Seriously, I still have fun helping my dad take down the Christmas lights since it means I get to climb up on the roof of the house!)
5. Teach the Nativity Story
And since we’re talking about the reason for the season, take some time to teach the Nativity story to your family this year.
And, of course, my personal favorite, which is reading it directly from the Bible. Because no matter how many times I hear the story, it still rings true. (And Mom and Dad always read it best.)
Let us know what you think of our traditions in the comments! And if your family does something different (or perhaps has a different spin on these ideas), let know about those as well. We pray they bring your family joy and peace this year!