Christmas traditions with young children

When I was growing up, the only day we had bacon and eggs for breakfast was on Christmas day. It was the same with my children until a few years ago. However, my kids have also grown up having birthday cake for Jesus with their bacon and eggs on Christmas Day. We light candles on the cake and sing Happy Birthday to Jesus before enjoying our bacon and eggs, followed by cake. This tradition was started after we got “My Birthday, Jesus’ Birthday” board book by Holly Davis. When my daughter was younger, we also sang Happy Birthday to Bluey (her teddy bear), as Bluey had come in her stocking when she was 3! I’m sure Jesus didn’t mind sharing his birthday with Bluey.

Below are a few more ideas based on things we did when our children were younger. Some we still do and some we just did for a season. Some other ideas are also included.

  • Make a paper chain in the lead up to Christmas by simply adding a few links each night. Write someone’s name on a link and pray for or think about that person. We did this when my daughter was about 2 and hung the paper chain in her bedroom. You could also make paper chains that include all the different names for Jesus.
  • Put baby Jesus in the manger under your Christmas tree. Cut up yellow paper to add for the hay. We used one of my daughter’s dolls and her doll’s cot as the manger.
  • We use a homemade advent calendar with symbols representing different Bible stories. When my children were younger, we read the story from a children’s Bible but as they got older, we read from the full Bible. Now we just have a single verse in the pocket to match the day’s symbol. Sometimes I hid lollies in the advent calendar on certain days, as an incentive for them to check the calendar (just in case there was a sweet treat).
  • Make a simple advent wreath. Our wreath has mostly been candles on a green plastic plate. Have it on the dining room table and light the candle at dinner time or in the lounge room and light the candles at story time. Here’s an idea for a simple playdough wreath which children can make.
  • Let your children play with an unbreakable nativity set or make your own nativity characters. There are several ideas for how you can use your nativity set, including these three interactive ways to use your nativity set.
  • Read an advent story for Christmas. The stories we read from when my son was about 4 until my daughter was 18 were by Arnold Ytreeide. He has a series of 4 books which all lead up to being in Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus. The main character in each story also appears in all the other stories too. It was fun to read a different one each year or the same one several years in a row.
  • Alternatively read a different Christmas story picture book each day in the lead up to Christmas or have a basket of Christmas books to read over the season.
  • We also have the tradition of Dad reading “The Night before Christmas” and “An Aussie Night Before Christmas” after putting out the stockings on Christmas Eve. In recent years “Twas the Evening of Christmas” by Glenys Nellist has been added to this tradition. Yes, even though my children are now young adults, I’m sure it’s still going to happen this year!

These are just a few ideas. There are so many ideas and traditions that you could implement for Christmas. My suggestion is to just add one or two new things in or tweak what you’re already doing.

What are you doing with your children to celebrate Christmas?

Jillian Ross
Stafford MOPS Kids Coordinator

Jillian is married with 2 young adult children and has been blogging at for over 6 years.  On the blog, she writes about feeding the family in body, mind, heart & soul.  Jillian enjoys speaking at women’s groups & conferences about parenting and passing on faith to our children.  She has also started developing some faith resources for families. Jillian has just completed a Graduate Certificate in Children and Families Ministry.

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