13 Favorite Christmas Traditions 2021

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It’s not the bottle brush trees (though they are cute), the glazed ham (though it is tasty), or Mariah Carey (though she is talented) that make Christmas far and away a favorite holiday. It’s not even the hot chocolate (yum) or the presents (it is nice to be thought of)—it’s the traditions we do year after year.

If you ask anyone who celebrates Christmas about their favorite part of the holiday, I’ll bet nine times out of 10 they answer with a tradition they’ve done for many years with their families and loved ones. It might actually include decorating with bottle brush trees or making hot chocolate, but it’s the people you do it with—and the anticipation of repeating it each year—that make these Christmas traditions truly special.

Read on for some of our team’s favorite Christmas traditions—which might include ones you already do, as well as ones that might inspire you enough to add to this year’s celebrations. Merry, merry!

“I can’t tell you why, but 10 years ago, my sister and I bought matching red onesies to wear on Christmas. Every year since, we’ve worn them all day. We don’t even take them off to go for a little walk around the neighborhood, and we certainly keep them on as we make and eat the annual Christmas lasagna (hey! there’s another tradition!)”Rebecca Firkser, Assigning Editor

“When I was younger, we’d wake up on Christmas morning to the whole house covered in paper snowflakes. My mom would make them over a few weeks and then hang them from the ceiling with fishing wire on Christmas Eve. Very magical!”Hali Ramdene, Director of Special Projects

“Honestly…getting our Christmas tree! We cut down a big one, decorate it, put up all the decorations in the house, and hang our stockings on the same weekend, which feels like the official start of Christmas. Also, we always get Friendly’s ice cream and go see Christmas lights on the trees and houses all around my parents’ neighborhood while playing the Hilary Duff ‘Santa Claus Lane’ CD.”Kelly Vaughan, Staff Writer

“Every year we decorate our Christmas tree with multicolored lights that ‘sing’ carols when they’re plugged in. We’ve had the same ones my entire life and I was convinced that I would never be the same when they died on Christmas…but then I found out they’re sold on Amazon!”Isoke Samuel, Production Assistant

“Back when we were little, my parents would leave our stockings on our beds, then we’d get into bed with my parents bright and early in the a.m. to open them up. My mom’s parents did that for her, and my brother continues that tradition with his kids.”Jill Baughman, Recipe Editor

“Putting up the Christmas tree, of course! We have a fake one at my parents house that I decorate almost every year (because my parents are too lazy), and my husband and I bought our first real tree ever last year in our home. Christmas trees always equals the holidays to me.”
Jada Wong, Market Editor

“Christmas is always celebrated at my parents’ house (historically my parents hosted a large Christmas Eve gathering and Christmas day dinner), so almost all holiday memories take place there. A tradition my brother and I begged to start was getting one gift early on Christmas Eve. My parents made sure no big ticket items were in the running, and let us pick whatever other gift was under the tree to open. Sometimes it’s silly like a pair of socks, sometimes it’s something we asked for and really wanted. Either way, it stuck!”Caroline Mullen, Assistant Editor

“My mother-in-law got diagnosed with a rare disease called Huntington’s disease, and unfortunately, she can’t cook or bake anymore. She used to make all these different holiday cookies every year but her recipes were all over the place—from Gourmet in the ’80s to photocopies of old cookbooks. I put them altogether in a custom cookbook for her and I’m going to try (if time allows) to bake all 10 cookie varieties with her so I can learn her tips and techniques, and write them all down in the cookbook. It’s not a tradition (yet!) but a warm and fuzzy one for this year!”Lizzie Greene, Senior Director & Head of East Coast Sales

“My parents still insist that Santa comes—I’m almost 40. Oh, and we all play Santa. It’s like we’re all in on it but nobody is in on it at the same time. It’s confusing. Don’t join my family.”—Brian Mahoney, Director, People Operations

“My family has a Christmas Eve bonfire on our farm, and we reflect on our year together (high-low style) and talk about Jesus. I have three older siblings—and some adopted ones—so it takes a while for everyone to share individually. There’s lots of laughing and tears, but I look forward to it all year.”—Kelsey Burrow, Head of PR

“When we’re with my husband’s family, on Christmas Eve, we read ‘The Tailor of Gloucester’ by Beatrix Potter aloud, passing the book around the room and we all join in for the ‘Tip, tap, tip, tap, tip, tap, tip!’”Amanda Hesser, Founder and CEO

“We always saw a Boxing Day movie in theaters! Our extended family is very large, so Christmas Eve and Christmas are really busy with a lot of visitors. On Boxing Day, we would go out (only the four of us: mom, dad, sister, me) and see a movie. Movies of the past have included the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Matrix trilogy, and MANY Harry Potter movies.”—Kaleigh Embree, Product Development Coordinator

“I’ve been baking Christmas sugar cookies with my mom and grandma basically every year since I can remember, and I look forward to it each year. Also, my grandma always hides a pickle ornament on the Christmas tree and the first person to find it on Christmas morning receives some $$$! Gotta love a little holiday competition.”—Megan Güntaş, Senior Product Designer


What Christmas traditions do you share with your family each year? Tell us about them below!



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