39 heartfelt, delicious, and quirky holiday traditions

When we asked the Minted artist community to share their favorite holiday traditions, we knew we’d be in for some good tales, but we had no idea how creative and interesting some of them would be. Whether you’re looking for light reading to get into the holiday spirit or exploring ideas for your own traditions, we’ve got 39 of them. Ranging in theme from plaid pants to nontraditional holiday meals, and spanning the globe from sunny California to the Land Down Under, sit down, cozy up, and enjoy.

Just Plain Fun Holiday Traditions

Jennifer Wick of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
“Our hanging advent calendar is the one thing my children have never fought over.”

Lea Delaveris of Columbus, Ohio
“Before my grandfather passed away, he always wore a special pair of Christmas pants—they were plaid and loud and some years, barely fit him. Unbeknownst to us four grandkids, my mom asked a talented friend what she could make out of the pants. Last year we all received a Santa wearing the Christmas pants, and my siblings and I also wear Papou Plaid pajama pants.” 

Jessie Steury of Saint Joe, Indiana
“I have two favorite traditions. 1. I wrap 24 Christmas-themed books, and then each night before Christmas, my kids take turns unwrapping them. 2. I make my family matching Christmas pajamas, and we wear them on Christmas Eve and most of Christmas Day.”

Anne Kostecki of Baltimore, Maryland
“My dad and I watch our favorite Christmas movie (Die Hard) and quote all of Alan Rickman’s lines in his German accent. Then, my mom and I bake at least 20 batches of cookies for our annual exchange, and my brother and I wrap each other’s gifts, listening to the Nat King Cole Christmas album.” 

Anne Holmquist of Westchester, New York
“Each year the week before Christmas, we celebrate Cousin’s Night with the entire clan. We also do a Secret Santa with a theme, and Santa usually makes a visit.”

Erin Deegan of Pacific Grove, California
“Every year my husband and I pile our kids into the car, play holiday music, and tour our town admiring the holiday decorations, concluding with peppermint ice cream cones.”

Harpreet (Neeta) Sawhney of Rocklin, California
“Traveling to various destinations to see the lights of Christmas. We’ve seen holiday lights at the Niagara Falls festival of lights; Birmingham, England; Pottsville, Pennsylvania; Toronto; Montreal; and many more.”

Anna Elder of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
“Every year as a kid on Christmas Eve, my mom’s family would come to our house for a party and we’d make homemade pizza and Italian sausage and play dirty Santa. Now my family comes to my house and we make pizza, sugar cookies, and play board games.” 

Christie Garcia of Sacramento, California
“Hopping on the Christmas bandwagon early, on Black Friday, my family transforms our home into our own little wonderland. We watch Christmas Vacation, Elf, and then Home Alone, and stay in our pajamas the whole day.”

Eating and Drinking Holiday Traditions

Nazia Hyder of San Diego, California
“We give homemade gifts to our neighbors—usually, a traditional Pakistani dessert or any baked recipe.”

Lynette Rieper of Kampai Designs of Launceston, Australia
“Eating fresh raspberries from my dad’s vegetable garden for Christmas lunch.”

Jackie Crawford of Durham, North Carolina
“My dad’s side is from Mexico, and we have tamales on Christmas Eve.”

Janelle Wourms of Duluth, Minnesota
“I’ve tried to carry on my mom’s tradition of making Christmas cookies with my two daughters, but quickly realized I’m a terrible baker. It’s the decorating of cookies that I love.”

Carol Fazio of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
“Following in my grandmother’s footsteps, I make baccala—a salad of salt cod, tomatoes, celery, and garlic with a dressing of olive oil and vinegar— for Christmas Eve feast, The Feast of the Seven Fishes.”

Maddy Susser of Minneapolis, Minnesota
“I grew up in a Jewish family, so Christmas Day Chinese dinner is a must.” 

Susan Asbill of Dallas, Texas
“We always eat tacos for our Christmas dinner—yum!” 

Beth Schneider of Hoffman Estates, Illinois
“Being from Chicago, we order deep-dish pizzas and watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”

Carolyn Nicks of Loveland, Colorado
“On Christmas Eve, my family blasts Christmas music and makes a zillion appetizers—crab rangoons, meatballs, baked brie, and bacon wrapped dates, and more.”

Lisa Assenmacher of Brighton, Michigan
“My Grams’s family came from Croatia, and every year we make Orehnjaca, a traditional nut roll.” 

Sentimental Holiday Traditions

Kristy Kapturowski of Hooray Creative of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
“When I was a kid, my mom sent and received so many Christmas cards, never forgetting a single relative, friend, or neighbor. Now it’s my tradition to send holiday cards to as many people as I can, too.”

Debb Wilson of San Francisco, California
“When I was a little girl, after seeing what Santa brought and having breakfast with the entire extended family at my grandparents’, my dad would take the kids to a movie. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized the movie was a way to get the rambunctious children out of the house so mom and grandma could cook and bake Christmas dinner in peace. My dad has passed away, but we still go to the movies on Christmas Day, a heartfelt tradition.”

Carole Crohan of Tolland, Connecticut
“For me, giving to others is always easier than receiving. I find great joy in hand-crafting gifts to share, as a way of showing my love. Then the gathering of our Christmas Eve dinner! Cooking the traditional foods from our Swiss Heritage, which include kummelwurst, Knöpfli, wecca bread, cheesecake, snowflake pudding, and lots of cookies.” 

Music Holiday Traditions

Carrie O’Neal of Cincinnati, Ohio
“Playing ‘Hawaii Tattoo‘ by the Waikiki’s on Christmas morning. My grandfather started this tradition after falling in love with the song while he was in the Navy.”

Jackie Crawford of Durham, North Carolina
“Our Annual Holiday Sing-A-Long, in which all of our guests are required to bring a musical instrument.”

Danielle Hartgers of London, Ontario, Canada
“The Boney M. Christmas album has been a staple in the Hartgers’ family household as long as I can remember. My dad would put it on the record player, and we would dance and sing around the rec room like we were part of the group. I’m going to keep the tradition going with my kids; I might add a disco light to their dance party.”

Amy Fontes of Three Kisses Studio in Nevada
“Listening to Sounds of Christmas (1961) and More Sounds of Christmas (1964) albums by The Ramsey Lewis Trio.” 

Christmas Trees & Decorations Holiday Traditions

JeAnna Casper of Logan, Utah
“Back when we started dating, my husband got me a tree ornament for Christmas. Fourteen years later, we still get a special ornament each Christmas that represents something we want to remember about that year: children being born, trips we’ve taken, and the tree just gets more full of memories as the years go by.”

Julee Snider Kwiatkhowski
“We lived abroad for two years and took every opportunity to visit as many countries as possible. In every city, we bought a memento that I somehow crafted into an ornament.” 

Megan Cox Babb
“Every year as a child, my parents would take us all to hunt for a wild juniper tree. Now, with my girls, the tree hunt thrill lives on at our local tree farm. To savor the tree and memory a little longer, we started sawing off a portion of the trunk before placing it into the stand. Now I have a few years’ worth of tree slices, and I look forward to many more to come.”

Paula Pecevich of Braintree, Massachusetts
“My parents, now in their late 80s, still host Christmas, and we all pitch in to help. My mum loves how her dining room table looks when set for Christmas. I’ve started wrapping tiny gifts as the centerpiece—one for each person at the table.” 

Victoria Scullin
“It wasn’t until I met my husband that I began to really enjoy Christmas. Now I enjoy making art for my family and friends as well as picking out small stocking stuffers. The holidays are really about the people you love—without them, it’s just snow.”

Melissa Casey of Batavia, Illinois
“We have a huge Christmas tree trimming party for about 100 people. We have craft supplies for people to create their own from scratch.”

Anita Brown of That Girl Press of Northern Virginia
“Each year since my boys were born, my mother and then my mother-in-law have bought them each a themed ornament based on whatever they’re into that year. This year will mark 25 and 20 years, respectively.” 

Jan Kessel of Bellingham, Washington
“We celebrate Hanukah and Christmas in our house. We have a tree, we love decorating for both holidays, and we light the candles every night of Hanukah.” 

About the Author: Amy Schroeder, Minted’s Artist Storyteller, founded Venus, the magazine about women in the arts and DIY culture, and has written for Etsy, West Elm, Pitchfork, and NYLON. Connect on Instagram @thevenuslady.

Published December 21, 2017

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