Can you create Christmas traditions as a couple BEFORE you have kids?


Or what about if you aren’t planning on having kids, or can’t have kids–or if your kids are with your ex-spouses for the holidays. Does that mean that Christmas can’t be Christmas?

Nope! Because Christmas isn’t about kids; Christmas is about love. And so let’s talk today how the TWO of you can create great Christmas traditions, on your own.

And don’t miss my most popular Christmas post ever–Christmas Stocking Stuffers for your husband! Loads of unique ideas, most for under $20, that will make him smile Christmas morning!

I actually ran this post five years ago, but the ideas in it still work during COVID! So I thought, as more and more couples are having Christmas alone this year, it may be a good idea to run it again. It all started with this question from a young wife: 

We don’t have kids yet, and all the Christmas articles I see on Pinterest about making Christmas meaningful all have to do with children. What can we do when it’s just the two of us to start Christmas traditions or make Christmas fun?

I thought that was a great question, so I put it up on Facebook and asked my readers: Any ideas for Christmas traditions as a couple? We had a whole lot of great ideas, and today I thought I’d share 10 ways to make Christmas meaningful before you have children (or to make it meaningful even if you never have children!).

1. Buy a meaningful ornament that sums up the year

Search for it throughout the year, or go to a special Christmas store together right before Christmas and get one that encapsulates what you’ve been through.

It could be something about exams and school, or something about a new job, or even something poignant. I’ve always loved the ornament that says, “Because someone we love is in heaven, there’s a little bit of heaven in our home.” We got a special one the year that our son died–and we also had special ones when we had our first child and when we first got married. We even have one for our life on the road in our RV now! Get creative. They can create a memory treasure trove of your life at different stages.

2. Put hot chocolate or coffee in a thermos and drive around looking at the Christmas lights

A quiet drive at twilight, a thermos of something hot, and a chance to snuggle. It’s lovely. And you can admire the beauty outside and the beauty of the season together, too.

And then there’s always those one or two houses that do Christmas BIG–that have every Christmas character lit up and that threaten to eat all the electricity from the whole neighborhood. Those are the houses it’s always fun to return to year after year, to see “what did they come up with now?”

Christmas Lights

3. Watch some Christmas movies together–and make some YOUR Christmas movies

Everybody has their favourite Christmas movies–and sometimes they’re not even about Christmas! The Sound of Music. Pride & Prejudice. Even Sleepless in Seattle!

Or maybe you go more traditional like Elf or Home Alone or National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. My daughter Katie and her husband David watched White Christmas for the first time. (Katie’s reaction: “Mom! How come we never watched this when we were kids?!?”)

Watch some movies together and make that your Christmas movie, the one that you’ll come back to year after year.

4. Go carolling with some other young marrieds

Chances are you know other couples in the same boat–couples who don’t have kids yet, either (or maybe older couples who never did have kids, or whose kids are with the other sets of parents this Christmas). Get together and go carolling! It’s awfully fun. It sounds hokey, but people actually enjoy it if you’re in a group.

And you can socially distance while you’re carolling, too, so it’s a way to get together even if you can’t go inside.

Here’s a Christmas carol booklet you can download and print! 

Christmas isn’t about kids; Christmas is about love.

5. Bake some cookies together and take them to your neighbours

Just because you don’t have kids doesn’t mean you can’t have fun or do the Christmas baking! Bake some cookies together and then hand them out to your neighbours. Lots of people are alone and sad this year, and besides, who says no to cookies?

6. Write a letter to each other

One woman shared this Christmas tradition:

Since the year before my husband and I were married, we write a letter to each other. It reflects the past year and looks forward to the next. We read them to each other then roll them up, put them in a clear Christmas ball, and hang it on our tree. We do it Christmas Eve before we exchange our Christmas Eve gifts. ..new shirt and tie for him, lingerie for me…to wear for him.

Along those same lines, here’s another idea:

7. Create a Christmas Eve box to open together

It could have a Christmas movie you’ll watch together, some new jammies (or lingerie!), a board game, a bottle of wine, or whatever you want to do together that night.

Christmas Traditions as a Couple: Christmas Eve

8. Adopt a Family through the Angel Tree program–or volunteer in some other way

Many communities have an Angel Tree program (you can often find them at malls) where you can “adopt” a child or a family and buy Christmas gifts for them.

Think of Christmas as a time when you can give back to your community in some way. If it’s not the Angel Tree program, maybe you can volunteer at the food bank on Christmas Eve. Maybe you can work at a soup kitchen together on Boxing Day. 

Pray that God will show you what works for you as a couple so you can give back. And many of those traditions can be continued once you have kids!

9. Go for a Winter Hike

If you live somewhere that actually gets winter (like I do!), then pack up those thermoses and put on the scarves and hats and take a winter hike. Go somewhere with a lovely view, or somewhere that’s super quiet. Make it “your” place where you can reflect on the year that’s past, the beauty of God’s provision, and where you think God is leading you next year.

And even if you live in a warm place (which normally I’d be jealous of, but I like cold Christmases), then you can still hike. It just may not be that different from hikes at other times of  year!

And you can continue this one if you become parents, too!

Christmas Traditions as a Couple: Christmas hike

10. Commemorate Your First Christmas Together

If it’s your very first Christmas as a married couple, here are a few ideas from another Facebook fan:

Make an impression of your first house key in some salt dough and make an ornament out of it. If you use a real tree, cut a slice off the bottom and write the year and 1st Christmas together on it. Make an ornament with a picture of you two. If you are married put a wedding announcement in a clear glass Christmas ball and hang it on the tree.

I love it! I’m going to share that one with my daughter and son-in-law.

And here’s a bonus Christmas tradition for you to start next year:

11. Create a Couples Advent Calendar with Activities and Prayer Prompts

My blogging friend Darby Dugger, who has guest posted here before, created an advent calendar for her husband with verses to read and pray together, and lots of fun prompts for things to do! It’s super easy–she just wrote it on index cards and stuck it on a corkboard. Or you can be more creative. But it gets you in the spirit of remembering Jesus, and making Him the focus of our relationship.

So there you go–traditions that you can start now, even if you don’t have children. After all, Christmas isn’t just for kids! And now that you’re together, you have the chance to build your own Christmas traditions.

And a big THANK YOU to everyone who participated on Facebook and gave me these great ideas! If you’re not part of my Facebook community yet, come on over.

One more word for those who are newly married: I think it’s perfectly okay to tell parents, “we would like to spend a day or two just the two of us over the holidays, creating our own traditions.” You don’t need to wear yourselves out going between two families. It’s your family now, and if you want to create some of your own traditions, don’t be afraid to take some time to do just that!

10 Christmas Traditions to Start Before You Have Kids

Now, let me know: what Christmas traditions do you have as a couple (that don’t necessarily involve the kids?) Let’s brainstorm together!

PS: Don’t miss my Christmas stocking stuffers for your husband! The ideas are great!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum

Sheila is determined to help Christians find BIBLICAL, HEALTHY, EVIDENCE-BASED help for their marriage. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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