Our 12 Days of Christmas!

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Contrary to what retailers might have you believe, the 12 Days of Christmas are not the 12 days that precede Christmas. They actually begin on Christmas Day, lasting until the Feast of Epiphany on January 6th. This season, also known as Christmastide, is traditionally when the holiday celebrating starts, but you’d never know it from all the Christmas trees already stripped bare and left by the curb on December 26th. We’ve talked a lot about Advent at Carrots the past few weeks (and I’ve loved your insights in the posts you’ve linked up to Little Holydays!). If you have been observing Advent, you’re probably chomping at the bit to begin celebrating Christmas just like we are!

Here are our tentative ideas for how we will make each day of Christmastide special for our family:

Christmas Eve: In preparation for Christmas we will be decorating our tree today with beloved ornaments and making popcorn and cranberry garlands with our 3-year-old. In the evening we’ll go to Mass and then….the celebrating begins starting with a special family dinner with my parents and brother!

Christmas Day: We’ll spend a special day with my husband’s family, exchanging gifts, feasting, and enjoying being together. Merry Christmas!

2nd Day of Christmas, Dec. 26th (St. Stephen’s Day): After a lot of celebrating, this might be a good day for some quiet and enjoying Christmas movies (our favorites are listed below) that we’ve fasted from all of Advent.

3rd Day of Christmas, Dec. 27th (St. John the Evangelist’s Day): Drive around with hot cocoa to see the Christmas lights (before they all get taken down!).

4th Day of Christmas, Dec. 28th (The Holy Innocents): Make special Christmas Cookies and have a few friends over to sing carols!

5th Day of Christmas, Dec. 29th: Make paper snowflakes!

6th Day of Christmas, Dec. 30th (Feast of the Holy Family): Mass and a visit to a beautiful city park that is covered in Christmas lights each year. It’s magical and the kids will love it!

7th Day of Christmas, Dec. 31st: Take the kids to a local art gallery that is decorated for the holidays with dozens of trees and handmade ornaments by local artisans. The kids get to pick out a special ornament to bring home and put on the tree.

8th Day of Christmas, Jan. 1st (Mary, Mother of God): To Mass to celebrate Our Lady and enjoy a special feast!

9th Day of Christmas, Jan. 2nd: Make Gingerbread houses!

10th Day of Christmas, Jan. 3rd (Most Holy Name of Jesus): Find out our baby’s gender AND celebrate Daniel’s birthday!

11th Day of Christmas, Jan. 4th: Take the kids to see the gorgeous Camellia’s (Christmas Roses) in bloom at a local State Park.

12th Day of Christmas, Jan. 5th: Take the kids to a historical Spanish Mission that is now a museum with historical re-enactments to celebrate how the very first Christmases were observed in the New World. Our bishop is even saying Mass at the reconstructed church site and they will have Las Posadas for the children! Hoping to make a gluten-free Twelfth Night cake!

Favorite Christmas Movies and Books we will be enjoying:

The Muppet Christmas Carol (Can’t wait to share this one with Benjamin this year! I think he’ll love it!)

Elf (Daniel’s favorite)

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the old cartoon)

Scrooge (A campy old musical starring Albert Finney. But I grew up with it and I LOVE it.)

Miracle on 34th Street (I actually really like the new version, too)

Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone (Don’t know why, but it’s become a tradition for Daniel and I to watch this together during Christmas. It’s snowy and magical? But the kiddos will have to wait til their old enough to read the books first. Them’s the rules.)


The Donkey’s Dream by Barbara Berger (This is a new addition to our library. A friend introduced me to it when I was pregnant with Benjamin and I’ve wanted a copy ever since. It’s beautiful.)

Jingle, the Christmas Clown by Tomie dePaola

The Friendly Beasts by Tomie dePaola

George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker Doll by Mary Newel DePalma

A Little House Christmas by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Mortimer’s Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson

The Wee Christmas Cabin by Margaret Hodges

Christmas in the Barn by Margaret Wise Brown (We rented the edition with the Barbara Cooney illustrations from the library but there’s a newer edition available.)

 How are you celebrating Christmas this year?

Wishing you a wonderful Christmastide with family as we celebrate the Nativity of Our Lord!


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  1. says

    Thanks for sharing what you do each day! It’s helpful for me to see what our Christmas could look like. I actually prefer the newer version of Miracle on 34th Street too because I love Mara Wilson and Elizabeth Perkins.

    Try Mickey’s Christmas Carol too–it’s one of my favorites.

    • Haley says

      Oh, good suggestion. I think I love the new Miracle the best, too. It’s darling. And they do try to make it feel timeless.

  2. lois says

    Don’t forget to sign “Good King Wenceslas” on the 26th! 🙂 It’s Brian’s fav Christmas carol, even though I always sing the high-pitched page’s part rather awfully.

    • Haley says

      That’s a perfect one for St. Stephen’s Day! Tim and Zoe came over the other night and we sang carols. Missed you guys 🙁

  3. says

    I love your plans for the 12 days. The 26th we will be visiting family, have been doing it since I was too little to remember the best part was coming home after dark and seeing all the lights lit up.

    Miracle on 34th Street is also a fave of mine, I love both the old and the new so I am always happy to see either. Since it came out I always thought of the first Harry Potter movie as a Christmas movie. A strange one for our family is The Sound of Music.

    • Haley says

      Sound of Music is my go-to “I’m sick and miserable and need a big dose of joy while I languor in bed” movie. Love it always and forever.

  4. says

    I’m so glad we spread out things like putting up our tree this year – we’re just getting our first couple of days of basking in it’s fully decorated glory when when I read my first “Well, the Christmas tree is down and packed up for next year!” post!

    • Haley says

      I love turning on the lights each morning. I always get so sad when it’s finally time to take it down….I wonder if mid-January would be acceptable? 🙂

  5. Emily says

    I love the idea of celebrating the 12 days AFTER Christmas! That was never a tradition in my parents’ house growing up, and I really only learned very recently that, like you said, the 12 days come after Christmas! Thanks for sharing what you do each day. Merry Christmas!!

  6. Hannah says

    Thanks for sharing this! I’m newly married and trying to start up some family traditions. Really, really want to find special ways to celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas!

    I love each of the movies you listed – except that I haven’t seen Scrooge. Do you like It’s a Wonderful Life? That’s gotta be my all-time favorite. And the old stop-motion Little Drummer Boy movie is good, too.

    Also, I agree about Harry Potter! My kids have got to read the books before they see the movies. Same with Lord of the Rings – so they can picture the characters/stories with their own imaginations first 🙂


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