What were your family traditions during Christmas time when you were a kid? If you are like most people, you probably don’t have to think for long to come up with an answer to that question. 

Advent season is one of the most memorable times of the year when it comes to family traditions.  For better or worse people remember the way that their family celebrated Christmas. 

What will your children remember when they look back at the way that you celebrate Christmas in your family? What aspects of your family traditions will they incorporate into the way they celebrate Christmas with their children? 

One of the functions of fatherhood is to build a Christian culture in your home. Culture is built on things like values, habits, routines, and traditions. These are the things that your children will remember about their upbringing when they get older. If you build a good culture in your home, your children will incorporate elements of that culture into their own homes when they have children. This multigenerational impact of godly culture building is how families become mighty nations over the course of centuries. 

One powerful way that you can build a strong family culture is by intentionally building memorable family traditions. Traditions are certain practices that we observe on a regular basis, which inculcate customs and values into the family culture. All families have traditions, though not all families are intentional about them. 

I should note here, that the aim of this blog post is to encourage men to intentionally establish memorable traditions surrounding our celebration of the birth of Christ. I am beginning with the assumption that celebrating Christmas is a good thing for Christians to do. For those interested in reading a biblical defense of Christians celebrating Christmas see this blog from Gary DeMar, this blog from Dr. Andrew Sandlin, and this quick audio message from Dr. George Grant. 

So how do we establish memorable Christmas traditions that will help us to build a culture that exalts Christ and His Kingdom in our homes? Here are four principles that have helped me. 

Keep Jesus at the Center

Keeping Jesus at the center of Christmas is something Christians often talk about with regard to the culture wars, but something we often struggle to do in our own homes. Quite honestly, if you are excited to have the opportunity to offend people by telling them “Merry Christmas” but you do not open the word of God to your children and teach them about the incarnation of the Christ of Christmas, then you may have missed the point.

It is true that we should do all that we can to keep Christ at the center of Christmas in the public square, just like we should make Him the center of every other discussion in the public square. And one of the best ways we can keep Christ at the center of Christmas in the public square is by keeping Him the center of Christmas in our homes.  

Have your home overflowing with love, joy, and excitement at the celebration of the Advent of Christ, and intentionally let that spill out into the culture around you. That is how you keep Christ at the center of Christmas!

So how do you make keep Jesus at the center, practically? 

First, joyfully share the Advent story with your children several times over the course of the Christmas season. Read it to them directly from the Gospel of Matthew, and directly from the Gospel of Luke. Read it to them from their favorite Bible storybook. Use an advent reading schedule to share other passages that speak to the coming of Christ. Make the telling of this story a central part of your family’s Christmas routine. 

Another way you can keep Jesus at the center is by singing songs with your children that celebrate His coming! Songs like Joy to the World and O Come O Come Emanual are fun joyful Christmas songs, that help to teach your children important truths about who Jesus is, and why He came.

These are enjoyable elements that you can incorporate into your family worship time together that help to keep Jesus at the center of your Christmas traditions.

If you aren’t already doing family worship on a regular basis Christmas time is a great time to get started! 

Don’t Be A Christmas Curmudgeon 

Christians should be the most joyful of all people this time of year. We are celebrating the coming of our Saviour! This season should be a time of tremendous gratitude and thanksgiving! 

Sadly, instead of being full of joy and gratitude, Christians can often become the Advent police, scolding everyone and anyone who does anything that cannot be supported directly by a chapter and verse from the bible.  This is not the way we should approach Christmas!

Relax! No one appointed you to the office of Christmas killjoy. It’s okay to put up a Christmas tree, watch Christmas movies (provided that they are clean and wholesome), read Christmas stories, and enjoy some of the cultural elements of our Western American way of celebrating the season. 

Interestingly, most of these elements find their origins in explicitly Christian ideas. For more on that consider watching Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas, which considers much of what makes most of the cultural traditions we practice in America during Christmas time, and locates their origins in an explicitly Christian heritage. The movie got bad reviews because people hate Christians, but it’s a pretty good movie. My family and I watch it every year. 

Use the cultural elements of Christmas as an opportunity to teach your children to think biblically about what is happening in the world.  But be careful that you don’t make them begrudge their Christian upbringing by turning the holiday into drudgery. Instead, sit with them, enjoy some Home Alone, or How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and provide them with a good family context in which they can enjoy the holiday. 

Feast on Good Food and Good Fellowship 

Food is an important aspect of family culture. This is part of the reason why in the scripture Holy Days are always associated with feasts. 

Your children will remember what happened at your kitchen table.  They will remember both what you ate and what you discussed. They will remember if meal time was a joyful time, and or an anxious time. You, as a father, have to be intentional about what kind of a culture you use your family’s meal time to create. 

And this is doubly true for Christmas time! 

So when you get around the table together, make everyone put their phones away, and plan to have some good conversation with your kids. Not the normal “how is school going this week” and “Are you behaving yourself for your mother” type discussions. I mean take control of the discussion, and talk to your kids about some useful things that will probably interest them. 

One way to bring about this type of discussion is through good storytelling. Kids love to hear stories from their fathers. Decide ahead of time some stories from your own childhood that you want to share with your kids, specifically stories that you think they will find to be entertaining, and spend some time letting your kids get to know a little more about where they come from. Feel free to intentionally sprinkle in some good dad jokes. Everyone rolls their eyes and says they hate it when you do that, but trust me, they actually like it. 

Be A Generous With Your Family

This last one may seem like a bit of a stretch in a certain way. One of the battle cries of many Christians over the last several decades has been that we need to “kick the consumerism out of Christmas!” I don’t entirely agree with this. 

While I certainly agree that we should avoid materialism, I also think we need to avoid Gnosticism. We live in a material world, and material things play an essential role in our celebrations! There is a big difference between teaching our children to idolize things on the one hand, and on the other hand giving them gifts as an expression of our love toward them. 

I would argue that joyful gift-giving is a part of the pattern of fatherhood established in the Bible. God in Heaven is the great and awesome Father from which all fatherhood is patterned, and for which all humane fatherhood exists to a point too. God, as our Father is a generous giver of good things. 

Since God, our Heavenly Father, is a joyous gift giver, humane fathers, when all is as it should be, desire also to give good gifts to their children. Jesus appeals to this idea in the Sermon on the Mount when He is teaching about prayer. In Matthew 7:9-10 Jesus speaks as though it is a foregone conclusion that fathers want to give good gifts to their children, and since sinful human fathers desire to bless their children with good gifts, then, therefore, how much more does our Heavenly Father want to bless us as His children with good gifts? 

Generosity is one of the things that fatherhood is for. Therefore, it is my encouragement to you to use this season as an opportunity to express your generosity toward your children and give them good gifts. 

Of course, there are warnings here. Don’t use generosity as a means of violating other biblical precepts. For example, it would biblically unwise to go into debt for the sake of buying your children presents. It would also be contrary to scripture to spoil your children by using the season to teach them to covet after things. Your generosity must be tempered with wisdom, but you should still be generous, nonetheless. 

These are just some good suggestions to get you started! Take some time to think today about how you will use this Advent season to build good traditions in your home, that will help you establish a culture of exalting and advancing the Kingdom of Christ! 

As Christian fathers, we need to keep our eye on the big picture! We are trying to raise our children, who raise children, that raise children who all want to worship Christ and advance His Kingdom. Godly traditions are an essential piece of making that happen. 

May God bless your efforts, and may your advent season be a time of joy and celebration!


Derin Stidd

Assistant National Director

Operation Save America