One of my very favorite things is hearing about other people's traditions, especially those related to Christmas. I love hearing how other people do things for the holidays with the hope that I'll be inspired in different ways to incorporate some ideas into my own family's traditions someday.
I asked all of my friends to share some of their favorite holiday traditions with me, and just as I suspected would happen, there is such a fantastic range of sweet/unique/funny ideas and events and memories.
May your Christmas be merry and bright and full of joy, and may these stories get you in the Christmas spirit and help drum up some of your own warm and cheery Christmas memories!
"Every year my grandma makes an assortment of homemade cookies for our entire family. All seven of her kids get a huge platter of cannolis, kolackys, pignolis, pizzelles, and oil cookies to share with their spouses and children. It wasn’t until two years ago when I asked my grandma if I could learn the recipes and join in the baking that I finally got to learn just how much goes into getting our family these cookies every year, which is something we all really count on. It truly is a labor of love. Not only was it such an amazing bonding experience for my grandma and I, it was a way for me to learn how to perpetuate the tradition for my family in the future." -Michelle
"My sister and I usually have a wrapping paper party and wrap everyone's gifts on Christmas "Adam" (Eve-eve). This is occurring while my mom is going crazy baking 100 batches of molasses cookies to distribute to various members of our family, as well as friends. And one of my favorite parts of Christmas morning is discovering what is inside our stockings because my mom always fills them with candy that is unique or sometimes unheard of (but always delicious)!" -Janessa
"One of my favorite holiday traditions is getting home late in the evening on Christmas Eve after church (my mom directs a local church choir). We make mulled wine and sit in the living room that is only lit by the Christmas tree lights and candles. Then we eat fancy cheeses and meats and drink and talk—it's simple but there's nothing I'd rather do more!" -Maddy
"Because we always spend our holidays traveling to my grandparents’, the best memories are just of all of us sitting in the car with it packed to the brim with Christmas presents for everyone and just driving with anticipation to see our family!" -Emmy
"My family has a huge Christmas Eve party. It all started when my parents were newlyweds and wanted to have a holiday at their own house. Every person they invited said, 'I'd love to come but I need to spend time with my in-laws/brother/cousins/some other random.' My parents’ response was always, "bring them!" Because of the open door policy we have anywhere from 50-75 people, literally from newborns to 103 year olds! Everyone drinks and eats and enjoys each other. It is my favorite day of the year!" -Emily
"For awhile my parents had lost their connection to Christmas because they associated it with religion alone, which they were no longer practicing. But as we have gotten older and moved away from the religious aspect, it has become less about our older holiday traditions and more about just being together. We always do something different each year. Different food, different games, different people coming over. So that's our tradition, constantly changing it up! However, my dad and I do like to keep some themes alive, so every year I always spend a lot of time decorating, wrapping gorgeous presents, making glittery pine cones, learning how to make a new bow, carefully curating the gift wrap, etc." -Leigh
"When my siblings and I were the only grandchildren, my grandfather started reading The Night Before Christmas after dessert had been served and we were all in a food coma. We use the Jan Brett version, which has absolutely beautiful illustrations. Since she is big on illustrations, there is only a sentence or two on each page so the whole family takes a turn reading a page and we pass it around the table. As more and more grandchildren have been added, it seems to get cuter and cuter because the young ones love showing off their reading skills. I'm the oldest of 15 cousins and my second youngest cousin is in kindergarten this year so he will most likely get the chance to read for the first time. It seems very simple, but we all cherish it and it makes us appreciate our family more and more each year. " -Elizabeth
"We sing happy birthday to Jesus on Christmas morning. We thought everyone did this until it was mentioned in public and people thought it was the funniest thing ever... " - Alycia
"Growing up, my Jewish household never celebrated Christmas. Everything from Santa to Christmas movies was a mystery to me. Lots has changed since then, and last year was the first year I celebrated Christmas with my mom. It was exciting to newly experience everything from cutting and decorating the tree to having the feast of the seven fishes Christmas Eve. We plan to keep this tradition going, and I am looking forward to my second Christmas this year!" -Ellie
"I have two favorites! On Christmas morning we have a big breakfast with Eggnog French toast. I love it--my grandma, aunt and uncle come over and we sit around the kitchen table for a while just enjoying each other's company. Secondly, my family goes on lots of walks when we are together, and over the Holidays we usually go up to our camp where it is very quiet and we always go for a long walk through the woods--it is so beautiful with all the snow!" -Beth
"My parents get a trailer and hay bales and we decorate it with Christmas lights, ribbons, bells, blankets and a big stuffed 'Santa Bag.' Then on Christmas, once it gets dark out, everyone who is at my parents’ house gets on the trailer and my Dad wears a Santa hat and pulls it around the neighborhood with his tractor. Everyone has jingle bells, we all drink mulled wine (or hot chocolate for the unfortunate under-agers) and sing Christmas songs. Now that we've been doing it for a number of years neighbors will come to their doors to wave and some will jump on for part of the ride. It's very fun and tends to get a bit rowdy!" -Chelsea
"My sisters and I have had matching pajamas every year since I can remember and now we are all in our twenties. We have a big Christmas Eve party at our house with family and friends. Once they all leave, we change into our matching jammies and exchange gifts. Sometimes we don't even wait for everyone else to leave before getting cozy. We've had everything from plaid nighties, onesies with elf feet, candy cane striped pants (even our dad had a pair that year), and last year's t-shirt with Jesus' face saying "We gonna party like it's my birthday!" -Heather
"The first tradition that comes to mind is O’Garas on Christmas. O’Garas is the local watering hole. Every Christmas Eve we go there after our big holiday dinner with all the cousins. They keep it open for a few hours and then lock it up and we keep drinking in the back bar. And it is funny because I still remember the first Xmas eve we went, I was pumped because I was going to a bar (I was about 17) and my mom was HORRIFIED that we were going to a bar on Christmas Eve, like we had officially become that family (let’s be serious though, we all knew that already). But that first Christmas Eve we decided, at about 1 in the morning, to go sledding at this huge hill by my house. Brought out the old Ninja Turtle Saucer of course. It was awesome. And after that year, it is something we have done every year, with even more friends partaking! -Maura
"Feast of the seven fishes: This Italian tradition goes back generations. Apparently, at one point in time Catholics did not eat meat on Christmas Eve, thus the feast of seven fishes! To us, Christmas Eve is even more important than Christmas day. First we wake up very early and pile into one or two cars to go "Fish shopping," although not without a coffee stop first. Usually six or seven of us go and we stand at the seafood counter debating what to buy, arguing in loud boisterous Italian fashion, inevitably ending up with the same thing every year, and always more than seven. Then we go back home, meeting everyone at my gramma's house for breakfast (which really is brunch at this point). Thats when we have the first fish: baccala, which is cured cod. We also have sweet bread, fried dough, and a variety of antipastos. Next, we all go to our respective houses (which are all in the same neighborhood), shower, and get ready for church. After the Christmas Eve vigil we go back to my grandmother's to commence the rest of the feast of the seven fishes and spend the evening eating and drinking (two things we do best) and generally sharing goodwill and Christmas cheer that lasts well beyond midnight." -AnnaLynn