Christmas Book Countdown Family Tradition {Plus Book Recs and a FREE Tag!}

The annual Christmas Book Countdown is on! This countdown is near and dear to my heart and to the hearts of many other parents and teachers out there. With this tradition, you celebrate the countdown to Christmas by reading a Christmas book each night.

You can do a full countdown starting on the first of December up until Christmas, or try a modified version, with a lead-up for the 12 days before Christmas. That’s what we will be doing this year as my kids have gotten older and inevitably, our evenings are busier.

I want to share all the books we’ll be unwrapping this year and spotlight my personal favorite from this year’s Christmas book haul! You can also grab a set of number labels for the books, which we’ll discuss below.

{Disclaimer: Affiliate links have been used throughout this post, but I only share books I actually read and enjoy!}

Just looking for book ideas? I’ve got you! Our Christmas books for this year’s countdown can be found on this list.

Christmas Book Countdown Dos and Don’ts

Christmas books spead around the floor in front of a fireplace with Christmas decorations.

The Christmas Book Countdown is a fairly easy way to celebrate as you inch closer to Christmas. It’s like counting “sleeps”, but instead, you’ll wrap a set of books for each day and unwrap it each night you choose in December to read with your kids. 

Here are a few tips I’ve learned since we first started this tradition in 2015.

Do:

  1. Start early!  You can find books at the cheapest price if you purchase them for the next year right after Christmas.
  2. Search multiple places to find the best Christmas book deals. I search the Scholastic website high and low to find the best deals and they typically have great bundles available. Check discounted bookstores like the Half Price Bookstore, where available.
  3. Modify this tradition to fit your lifestyle/budget. Here are a few suggestions:
    • Wrap the same books every year. Store the books each year after Christmas so that your kids will be excited to pull them back out and make a special connection with them.
    • Add to your collection each year, but keep the majority of the books the same. You can find just 1-2 new books to add to your Christmas book collection. This allows you to continue finding and adding picture books, but you don’t have to purchase a whole new set every single year!

Don’t:

  1. Feel obligated to use Christmas books. You can use any type of book you want or a mixture of both. Totally up to you!
  2. Fixate on doing this every day until Christmas. You can choose to only do a few days leading up to Christmas, like 12 days of Christmas, only the week before, or read them sporadically throughout the month. 
  3. Stress yourself out. This is supposed to be a fun experience for you and your kids. If some part of the process feels overwhelming, nix it.

Christmas Book Countdown Books

As mentioned earlier, we will be doing our Christmas book countdown for the 12 days before Christmas and we unwrap new Christmas books each year. My children love books and thanks to my job, having new books is just a part of the process! I like to be able to provide recommendations for you. 

But again, none of these things are required. 

Here’s a look at the books we’ll be unwrapping this year! But first, let me tell you about my favorite from the bunch.

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Admittedly, I make sure to read these books before I introduce them to my kids and this year, I’ve found my favorite! How Does Santa Go Down the Chimney? by Mac Barnett answers the question that I can say with confidence, every.single.kid. is wondering! 

This book answers it in such a hilarious way that I just know the kids will be hooked! I can’t wait to unwrap this one.

Now, here’s the full list.

12 Christmas book recommendations for the Christmas book countdown family tradition

You can find all of these book recommendations in one place using this list.

  1. How Does Santa Go Down the Chimney?
  2. Mr. Boddington’s Studio: ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas
  3. The Christmas Pine
  4. Hey, You’re Not Santa!
  5. The Christmasaurus 
  6. Merry and Hark: A Christmas Story 
  7. Share Some Kindness, Bring Some Light (The Coco and Bear Series)
  8. Santa’s New Sleigh
  9. When Santa Came to Stay
  10. The Truth About Mrs. Claus
  11. Santa Shark: A Great White Christmas
  12. Merry Christmas, Gus

You can find several other Christmas book recommendations from our previous years of Christmas book countdowns in our lists from 2020, 2021, and 2022.

Wrapping and Numbering the Books 

Once I’ve chosen all of the books, I wrap them all! You can do this all at once or piece by piece. Then, for an added element of surprise, place them under the Christmas tree like presents. 

Of course, you don’t HAVE to wrap the books. You could tuck them away and pull each out day by day, but just look at how cool this looks!

Wrapped Christmas books

I like to use Christmas wrapping paper and I’ll often, though not every time, label the books with numbers. The numbers represent each day we will open the books, so on the first day (which is day 12 for us) we will open book #12. We count down from there!

I do genuinely love the idea of numbering the books because it builds excitement as the numbers go down, i.e., it means we’re closer to Christmas. In previous years, I’ve even added a bible verse that we read each night too.

If you want to use these numbers with your countdown, download these FREE number tags right here.

Preparing for Next Year

If you adopt this Christmas Book tradition, you’ll likely accumulate a TON of books. So, what do you do with them?

As mentioned earlier, you can simply reuse these books year after year. Or, if you plan to purchase new books as you go, you can store the books away until the next Christmas then pull them out and on display for your kids to read throughout the season.

Of course, you can always donate them to classrooms or kids in need once they’ve had their run in your home or class!

Don’t forget these Christmas Book Countdown tips and book recommendations, save the image below for later!

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