We all have traditions we do with our families around the holiday season. It’s something we look forward to year after year. We recently asked the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) staff to share with us some of their favorite Christmas traditions to both inspire and encourage you this holiday season!  


“We have a fun tradition where we open one gift early if it snows in December before Christmas Day. It’s usually something warm and snuggly, warm socks or blankets, that we all enjoy.” 

– Shelly Chandler, Ministry Assistant for Evangelism + Church Health Team  

“Candlelight service at New Life Baptist. Watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” on Christmas Eve. Opening stockings on Christmas Eve and reading the Christmas story.”

 – Rachel Wolfe, Ministry Assistant for Marcus Brown  

“Going back to Missouri to see our family. We are scattered throughout the country and getting back to see them and sharing food, presents, Christmas candy is great.” 

– Vince Blubaugh, Team Leader for the Church Planting Team  

“When my kids were little, we had a birthday party for Jesus on Christmas Eve, complete with cake, homemade pizza, and using every stuffed animal in our house to reenact the Christmas story. The boys would have a heated discussion over which stuffed animal should play the part of Jesus. Usually, “Blue Dog” won!” 

– Andrea Lennon, Women’s Ministry Specialist on the Evangelism + Church Health Team 

“My mom was the queen of Christmas decorating in my hometown. She created the manger scene and a winter wonderland children of all ages enjoyed, all made with plywood. This was her Christmas gift to the community of Dierks. A couple of years before she passed in 1997, she gave me my personal manger scene and a couple of angels wishing everyone “A Heavenly Christmas.”  She patiently painted each one with care. She said painting baby Jesus was always her favorite one to do. Continuing the tradition every year I get to place it in my own yard with all the love of Christ and as a gift for my own community.” 

– Bit Stephens, International Student Consultant on the College + Young Leaders Team  

“We always go to see some sort of Living Nativity a few weeks before Christmas. Typically, we drive to Searcy (1hr or so from home) and see one. On Christmas Eve we make it a point to acquire “reindeer food” (a Ziplock bag of Quaker oatmeal and some glitter & various other art supplies we are going to throw out anyway) and after the boys take a bath, we have them spread out the “food” in the front yard. Lastly, after feeding the reindeer we read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas then send the boys to bed while my wife & I eat the cookies MomE (my wife’s name is Erin… “E”… get it?) laid out.” 

– Neal Scoggins, Evangelism Strategist on the Evangelism + Church Health Team 

“Annette and I have a Christmas cookie decoration time with all the grandchildren and great grandchildren. Annette bakes old-fashioned cookies. Everyone present decorates cookies with cake coloring. The cookies are in the shape of Christmas symbols—-bells, candy canes, etc. Of course, we have a contest for whose cookie is decorated the worst. I always win that contest. We give the cookies to the children as they leave. It is always a fun time with cake coloring everywhere. But it is a tradition that our grandchildren, though grown, still want us to get together for this fun event.” 

– Jimmie Sheffield, Assistant to the Executive Director  

“Christmas morning, I cook breakfast, and, in the afternoon, we always go to the movies. We have always opened one gift on Christmas Eve. When our children were young, we always lived away from family. So, on Christmas Eve, Rita would make bread or a dessert or candy. We would pick out 5 or 6 people who had been special to us and would go to their house to sing a couple of Christmas carols and give them the goodies. We would go home and before bed I would read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, then the Christmas story from the Bible.”

 – Bruce Venable, Team Leader for the College + Young Leaders Team  

“On Christmas morning my family all comes together and we make a huge breakfast. Eggs, homemade gravy/biscuits, bacon, sausage, hashbrowns, cinnamon rolls, fruit, waffles, and chocolate milk. We gather around my parents table and have breakfast all together. Then we read through the birth of Jesus in Scripture.” 

– Kayleigh Richards, Ministry Assistant for the College + Young Leaders Team  

“My wife loves the Christmas season, so decorations begin to appear throughout the house in early November. While they do not fit in with the fall and Thanksgiving décor, no one seems to mind! By the first of December, five Christmas trees, over 25 pieces of a Christmas village, several nativities, and much more fill the Ritchie house. My job includes the outside decorations and bringing in the inside decorations from the storage building, neither of which are easy tasks. While part of Christmas Eve is usually spent driving to a family gathering, the evening is usually one of the least rushed evenings in our home all year as we simply enjoy Christmas joy. My kids are now 15 and 11, but each Christmas Eve is filled with baking and decorating cookies and attending a candlelight service. Once the cookies and milk have been left for Santa, and the reindeer food placed on the porch, it is time for me to perform my main responsibility of the year as we all climb in one bed for the reading of the Christmas story and ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. While we all do not fit as easily as we once did, I hang on to the joy of experiencing Christmas through the eyes of a child.” 

– Clint Ritchie, Community Ministries Mobilization Specialist for the Missions Team  

“Our family tradition is an advent wreath. Since our three girls were little, we have taken time in the month of December – 4 different nights at least—where we light candles, read part of the Christmas story, sing Christmas carols, and pray together. We also usually enjoy hot tea, hot chocolate, or hot cider with a cookie or two. When the girls were little, they acted out the story, and they of course loved the cookies and hot cocoa! We have even used facetime to continue this tradition as our girls have grown up and moved away from home. In each season, we have made changes here and there to when we do this as a family. But the wreath and candles that sit on our table are a reminder of Who we worship at Christmas, and it is a special family time.” 

– Cherie Estes, Ministry Assistant for the Church Planting Team  

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