Keeping Christmas: How we keep celebrating from the partridge all theway to the drummers

by | Dec 24, 2013 | Catholic Living, Christmas, December, Liturgical Year | 7 comments

At our house, we’ve been making a concerted effort to wait to celebrate Christmas, until . . . about now.

It gives us at least a chance of keeping up with the kids’ enthusiasm for the whole twelve days. (Or however many days of Christmas you like.)

So, in case you’re looking for ideas to make your celebration last all the way to Epiphany, here’s what we’ll be doing:

1. Twelve Days of Christmas Tree
We replace our kitchen table Advent wreath with a little Christmas tree. Each morning, we put another ornament on (we have a set like this one from Land of Nod, currently only $13!) and sing the song.
2. Find the Wise Men

I heard about some folks sending their Wise Men on adventures during Advent, as an alternative to Elf on the Shelf. Which is fine. But if I were being nit picky, I might say that I prefer to have my traditions be less reactionary and more historically accurate, and my understanding is that the Star of Bethlehem rose upon the birth of Christ, and that’s what they were following. (But wow, if you really want to confuse yourself, try to figure out some hard facts about the Wise Men!)

So, our Wise Men depart from their spot on the other side of the mantle from the Holy Family on the evening of Christmas. And they journey through the house for two years, because we’re real sticklers for accuracy around here. Just kidding. They journey for twelve days until the Epiphany, when they arrive at the Baby Jesus. And we have our Epiphany celebration.

Our outside Wise Men move across the yard and end up on the front porch. There they are on the right, creeping up . . . 

3. Christmas Movies!
Each night for twelve nights, we sit down as a family to watch all the movies and shows we didn’t watch during Advent.
This year, we’re planning to find some new favorites, courtesy of recommendations by Christy at Fountains of Home (check out her Five Favourite Classic Christmas Movies) and Kathryn at Through a Glass Brightly (she recommends A Muppet Christmas Carol in her piece comparing Dickens and Dante).
But right now our five favorites would have to be . . . 
It’s not perfect. I cringe at the way the family fights with each other (and we fast forward through the Buzz’s magazine part). But my kids love it. And for me, the unpleasantness of the beginning is more than outweighed by the beauty of the Christmas carols and the lesson Kevin and his neighbor learn about forgiveness, and how he hides in the Nativity set (Sanctuary!). It’s just old-fashioned slap-sticky fun.
There are so many things that are endearing about this movie. The kids and grown-ups in our family both find it hilarious. And we totally own a Red Ryder BB Gun as a result.
Here’s where I start cheating, because this one is actually five shows. The kids like all of them, but as Jenny from Life in the Cookie Jar points out, one is especially dumb. Rudolph, for as extraordinarily odd as it is, is somehow endearing. And The Little Drummer Boy is a sweet retelling of that story.
4.Walt Disney Classic Cartoon Favorites Volume 8
& Volume 9

These are awesome. Volume 8 is a collection of great old cartoons (some really old) starring Mickey, Pluto, Donald, and Chip and Dale. Volume 9 has The Small One, a very sweet telling of the backstory of the donkey that ends up carrying Mary to Bethlehem, Mickey’s Christmas Tree, and Mickey’s Christmas Carol.

It looks like these DVDs are hard to find, but most of the individual cartoons seem to be available on YouTube.

Bing Crosby stars as Fr. O’Malley in this Christmasy sequel to Going My Way. It doesn’t hold the kids’ attention as well as the others on the list, but it’s just so sweet, I make them sit through it anyway.
And, we watch It’s a Wonderful Life, obviously.
4. Treats!
We do some Christmas baking during Advent and hand out plates of cookies to the neighbors, but we (mostly) try to make ourselves wait, and have a Christmas treat each of the twelve nights.
New for this year, I totally want to make these!
So that’s it! What do you guys do to keep it Christmasy at your house?

If you’d like to keep track of ALL the feasts of the Catholic liturgical year, I’ve created a wall calendar to help you do it!

It features the all the feasts and fasts of the Universal Calendar and then some, illustrated with images featuring the traditional Catholic monthly devotions. It’s an easy visual way to bring liturgical living into your home. You can keep track of the feasts and fasts and seasons of the Catholic year, and be reminded to focus your prayer on a different aspect of our faith each month.

January:The Holy Name of Jesus 
February: The Holy Family 
March: St. Joseph 
April: The Blessed Sacrament 
May: Mary 
June: The Sacred Heart of Jesus 
July: The Precious Blood 
August Immaculate Heart of Mary 
September: The Seven Sorrows of Mary 
October: The Holy Rosary 
November: The Poor Souls in Purgatory 
December: The Immaculate Conception 

As the Church year begins with December, so does this calendar. You get December 2017 through December 2018, thirteen months. Available for purchase here. Thanks!


  1. Madeline

    The melted snowman cookies are great but if you make them, plan on using something solid for the scarves or pick a color other than red if you use icing. My friend made them with icing scarves… and it looked like decapitated snowmen instead of cheerfully melting snowmen.

  2. Molly

    I saw something about the Wise Men alternative to Elf on a Shelf yesterday and thought "But the Wise Men didn't show up at the birth silly people!" I'm thinking next year we might try the Wise Men game for the 12 days, maybe this year, but I don't feel the need to rush it.

  3. Nanacamille

    It's all so much fun to find the wise men in your room or waiting for you in the bathroom in the morning. It really helps in putting the Christ back in Christmas doing it this way. Nanacamille

  4. The Nem's!!

    We are starting to watch The Very First Noel…a 30 minute animated movie voiced by Andy Griffith. Perfect for the littlest ones! (using the html cheat sheet to include the link…hope it works!)
    The Very First Noel

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Hi! I’m Kendra.

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