Christmas Pajamas

December 9, 2013

christmas pjs

By Gabrielle.

Do you have a Christmas Eve pajama tradition? I know it’s a common one. We’ve given new pajamas on Christmas Eve since Ralph was a little tiny guy, so it’s a tradition our kids have come to expect — and one that brings a lot of joy. But I’m so picky about them!

I like the pajamas to feel festive for Christmas, but not be holiday-themed — because I want them to make as much sense in May as they do in December. So I steer clear of anything with snowflakes, ornaments, or other holiday symbols. A red stripe is great. Or a simple green pj works, too. But I don’t want them to be both red and green in one. I totally get it’s a dumb pet peeve, but seeing my kids in santa-themed pjs in August bugs me, so I go out of my way to make sure our holiday pajamas work year round.

And then there’s matching versus coordinated. I usually start with matching pjs as the goal, but that means I need to find a line that comes in both June’s size and Ralph’s size — a line that’s appropriate for a 16 year old boy, and that still appeals to my 3 year old who is in a super feminine phase. So sometimes the matching goal goes out the window. Last year we had a wonderful find from a French store called Cyrillus. A not too heavy cotton broadcloth in navy plaid, with a touch of red and green, that didn’t read too “holiday” (similar to these). We found them in the boys department (which offers sizes from 2 to 16 — perfect!). I knew June would wrinkle her nose at the un-pink, un-lacy pajamas, so I added a red grosgrain bow to the chest pocket on the sets for my girls. Everyone was happy. And they’ve worn those pjs all year long!

If matching isn’t an option, I try for coordinated. For example, some years, I put half the kids in green and half in red. Or everyone might be in a different plaid. Or everyone might be in red — but one has a ruffled night gown, and another has a polka dot set, and another is in a night t-shirt with lounge pants, and another is in long-johns.

Speaking of long-johns, when all of my kids were younger, we preferred a knit, long underwear version, but now that some are older, they no longer want to hang out in clingy pajamas, so we look for something with more traditional button up styling.

I still haven’t decided on this year’s pjs. I considered having Ben Blair pick up these while he was in France. The little dots are actually stars. So cute! And they could definitely work for both girls and boys — especially if I added bows again. But then decided I want to find something here. So I’m still hunting. I’ve pinned a bunch of options on my Gifts for Kids board that I’m considering. We’ll see what we end up with.

On certain years, we’ve considered skipping the tradition, but never too seriously. We like it too much! When the kids are antsy to open something on Christmas Eve, the pajamas are like a peace offering. They give the pleasure of getting to unwrap a gift, and they’re put to use immediately. Plus, new pajamas (especially festive looking ones!) make for extra-charming photos on Christmas morning. : )

How about you? Are you as picky as I am? What do you look for in a Christmas pajama?

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jessica @ Little Nesting Doll December 9, 2013 at 8:14 am

We have done pajamas on Christmas Eve before too, but we actually started a new tradition two years ago that I LOVE. I shamelessly stole your Sibling Gift idea many years back, and now our kids exchange their Sibling Gifts on Christmas Eve. That gives them the joy and satisfaction of opening a gift that night, and puts a spotlight on the work they did for each other. I love it–it’s one of my very favorite Christmas traditions.


2 Design Mom December 9, 2013 at 9:37 am

That’s so smart, Jessica! A wonderful way to put the focus on the sibling gifts when the kids aren’t distracted by Santa gifts. Genius.


3 Chantalle December 9, 2013 at 4:46 pm

We let the kids (6 and 4…and 1) pick out something for everyone who will be there on Christmas Eve at the dollar store. It’s an FHE activity in December, then we wrap them and they make tags sometime that week. Then for Christmas Eve, the kids open their PJs (white long sleeves with pants- made by Grandma- Grammy’s Jammies) and they pass out their little (totally random) gifts to everyone else. They LOVE it! And we enjoy seeing what they specifically picked out for each of the adults (razors, tape, Qtips)


4 kendra December 9, 2013 at 8:33 am

This is one of my favorite holiday traditions. In our family, Mrs. Claus brings the pjs on Christmas Eve, and she hides them under the kid’s pillows while we are at church. When I was a child, this kept me believing in Santa for a long time – I could never figure out how those pjs got under the pillow. (The trick is to deliver them sometime before dinner/church preparation, no one ever checks under the pillow earlier in the day!)


5 Design Mom December 9, 2013 at 9:38 am

I’ve never heard of the Mrs. Claus version. How fun! I’ll bet my kids would love that.


6 Kate December 9, 2013 at 8:54 am

Question, what did you do with all of those PJs? We had the same tradition but then I found that their drawers began to absolutely overflow as the older ones would pass their PJs down to the younger ones. Do you run into this problem?


7 Design Mom December 9, 2013 at 9:41 am

Hah! I can see how this could become a problem, but interestingly, it hasn’t been one at our house. It’s true that the little kids have more hand me down pjs in their drawers than the big kids, but that just means we buy less pjs throughout the year for the younger kids. Since the pjs are worn year round, sometimes my kids wear them out and they can’t be handed down at all.


8 Anna December 9, 2013 at 9:43 am

We do this as well! I only have two to shop for but I still find it very difficult to come up with ones I like since I’m a stickler for no polyester. Cotton can be difficult to find!


9 Design Mom December 9, 2013 at 9:54 am

Same! I much prefer a 100% cotton option.


10 Caitlin Mallery December 9, 2013 at 9:50 am

We gave PJs to our little ones on December 1st, along with a new Christmas book. It was a nice way to start the advent season. Right now they are small enough that they will grow out of these jammies by summer, so I like winter themed PJs (snowflakes, snowmen, etc). I will probably change that when they get older, but it works for now.


11 Design Mom December 9, 2013 at 9:56 am

I really like that approach. In fact, I remember thinking about that when Ralph and Maude were little — about giving my kids winter-themed pjs, but introducing them around Thanksgiving, knowing they would grow out of them before the weather warmed up.


12 giulia December 9, 2013 at 9:58 am

we’ve never done this! it’s not a tradition in spain nor italy, i think it’s adorable:)
i love love love those little polka/star dotted french pjs, but i’m sure you’ll find something just as cute!


13 Lana December 9, 2013 at 10:37 am

These run in pretty small sizes (up to 5T but they are Korean sizes so they run small) BUT they are super adorable. I bought some for my baby’s first christmas this year:


14 jenny also December 9, 2013 at 11:12 am

I LOVE coordinated but not matching! One of my best purchases ever where Lands End flannel PJs; one in Blue plaid and one in red. So cozy! The pics are adorable and the quality is good.


15 Deidra December 9, 2013 at 11:13 am

In our family, Santa would put your new pajamas on when he stopped at our house for deliveries. Up to a certain age, at least (and then they were just placed, folded, on the foot of the bed). It is truly magical! How does he do it without waking you? Magic is the only answer! I love carrying on that tradition because I love remembering the thrill of waking in new jammies and trying to feel them and figure out what they could be while still in the dark of the bedroom.

I feel the same way about overly-seasonal pajamas. And with my oldest being a girl (just two kids now), I hate overly-feminine PJs. Maybe one day I’ll decided nightgowns are okay—perhaps once she can keep the covers on through the night! Classically style that can be handed down to baby brother is the only way to go. It seems it’s okay to pass boy things on to girls, but not the other way around, which doesn’t work here.


16 Heather December 9, 2013 at 11:40 am

I gift Christmas PJs on Dec 1. They wear them through Feb or so…I dont mind Christmas in Feb bc it reminds me of our happy holiday. I love this tradition!


17 Krista Hansen December 9, 2013 at 2:22 pm

We usually do Christmas PJs the day after Thanksgiving. It gets us in the Christmas spirit while we decorate our house. Them the kids will get to wear them a few times before Christmas. I always make sure they are clean and ready for Christmas Eve.


18 Simple Simon and Co December 9, 2013 at 3:30 pm

I am all about making them every year. It’s been a fun tradition to pick out new fabrics…and I feel the same way about seeing Christmas pajamas in the spring. It bugs me as well. This year I went with red and white polkadots and grey and white stripes mixed and mingled for each pair.


19 Tamsin December 9, 2013 at 4:06 pm

We do pajamas and book on Christmas Eve. Once the kids are in their jammies, then we snuggle down for some new book reading, and that makes getting those excited little bodies off to bed just that little bit easier. Hypothetically, I’m as picky as you are, but when I see a pair of glow in the dark rocket pajamas that I know my little boy will LOVE for months to come, then I buy them. Or when the only pajamas I can find that I like for my baby girl are in pink and teal, then I get them. But in my head, those kids are always freshly bathed, shiny-faced and in their coordinating jammies on Christmas Eve.


20 carrie December 9, 2013 at 7:17 pm

This may be a silly question, but do you wash the PJs before giving them? I love the idea of this tradition, but personally hate to wear new clothes without washing them first (thanks to working in the textile industry and seeing a few factories…). I also like gifts to look crisp and new though, and worry that laundering would take away from that… (not that kids would think about these things, I suppose, but I’m curious if this has been a consideration).


21 Sarah December 9, 2013 at 10:32 pm

My mom did this for us as kids and I do it for my husband and son now. We prefer cotton snug fit and I love stripes. Hanna Andersson are my current favorite. I also am trying Boden this year to see how they hold up.


22 Sonia December 10, 2013 at 4:53 am

I make this an advent activity for my little girl. This year I picked out a double set from Target on Black Friday. One pair has black pants with gold polka dots and a gold panda on the black shirt, the other set has cream pants with gold trimmed cupcakes and matching top. She loves new PJs and I kill two birds with one stone.


23 Pat December 10, 2013 at 7:36 am

I love it! We started our own tradition 21 years ago after the birth of our first child. We wanted to carry on traditions from our families but create our own too. We now have 5 children , ages 21,19, 13, 10 and 6 and it is a very special date time that my husband and I share every year as we choose very specific pj’s for each child. Some years we all match but more often they are specific to the personality we have seen from that child. The kids are equally excited for Christmas Eve , when they are allow to open one gift. This is what we bring out after Mass for them to open.
This year our oldest is studying in Paris for the year and won’t be home but we could not let her miss out(she was the beginning of our tradition) and gladly she will have her parcel to open Christmas Eve this year too!


24 Emily December 10, 2013 at 8:30 am

For as long as I can remember, every Christmas Eve every member of the family would each open one present, and it was always the same thing. A new pair of pajamas! Some years we would all match, some not so much. We would prance around most of Christmas Day in our new PJ, only changing just before friends and family would arrive. I continue this tradition with my own family now.


25 Jaimie December 12, 2013 at 1:40 pm

I get new Christmas p.j.s (to be opened Christmas Eve) for my two kids, ages 5 and 3. While they are still little and it’s still possible to find their sizes in the same pattern, I’ve gone for matching pyjamas. I don’t mind a winter theme but I don’t usually choose an overt Christmas theme. This year they are red pyjamas with dogs skiing on them. I love the Canadian company Hatley: (no affiliation on my part!) They’re 100% cotton, well made, and their patterns are fun and a little unusual.


26 angee December 29, 2013 at 7:30 pm

We do Christmas Eve pajamas as well that an Elf drops off with a letter to the children while we’re out. Our Elf leaves them for the whole family! This year I had my friend make us personalized shirts and I’m in love! She threw in a matching ornament! Not sure if these links will work.


27 angee December 29, 2013 at 7:31 pm

Oh the links didn’t work. Well you can check out my instagram. They are dreamy. There’s 3 or 4 different photos of them. :)


28 Jan July 29, 2015 at 1:58 pm

Our family has had a tradition of giving plaid flannel pajamas on Christmas Eve. Many years ago I gave both Evan & Marcia (my daughters in-laws at the time) a pair each. They were thrilled to be included in our tradition. The following year Marcia asked if she could give a pair of plaid flannel pajamas to her elderly mother, Elaine, that would be visiting for the Holidays and say they were from me. Of course I agreed. Her mom opened up a brightly wrapped package at the dinner table and was so excited to see she had been included in our family tradition. She said she had earned her place with our family.

That being said…you need to read Marcia’s e-mail below…

> Dear Jan,
> I thought of you on 6/16/15.
> I’m sure you remember my mother.
> She was so honored to “earn” her red plaid pajamas one Thanksgiving so many years ago.
> Elaine died on 6/16/15 after a brief illness.
> She had 101 good years and one really bad month.
> We should all be so lucky.
> The day she died, the people at assisted living had dressed her in her red plaid pajamas and she was cremated in them.
> Not an elegant outfit like what she usually wore, but warm, cozy and meaningful.
> That’s how I remember her.
> Love, Marcia


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