christmas traditions


Christmas is one of the most important celebrations for Christians and every year billions of people around the world celebrate in their own unique ways, creating their own unique Christmas traditions. While many people celebrate Christmas on December 25th, it can be celebrated at different times or for longer periods of time depending on where you live in the world. Over 160 countries celebrate this special holiday in some unique forms. While some traditions are religious in nature, such as attending church, others are less formal in nature and might include decorating Christmas trees, watching Christmas movies, or baking cookies for loved ones. We have assembled a list of 10 most popular Christmas traditions. See how many traditions your family participates in and also gain inspirations on some new ones you may want to start! We also share a fun list of 12 Christmas traditions around the world that you may or may not be aware of that you can use as ideas on how to celebrate Christmas in a new way with your family.



Watch a Christmas Movie

One uniquely American tradition during the holidays is watching specific movies and TV shows that put us in the holiday spirit. There are a number of favorites that range from old movies to cartoons. What better way to celebrate the holidays than with timeless classics such as “It’s A Wonderful Life,” “Miracle on 34th St.”, or “The Christmas Story?” Don’t forget those cartoons that will forever be a part of the holidays, such as “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” and “Frosty The Snowman.” While some of those older movies and cartoons may not be as popular for the younger generation, you can always find more recent family favorites that bring a smile to your face, such as “Home Alone,” “Elf,” “ or “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.”

As most of us have some time off during this time of the year, there are also a number of blockbuster movies that will be released during the holidays. Kick back, relax, and enjoy these great movies and shows during the holidays.

Top-Performing Christmas Movies Based on Ticket Sales (source: BoxOfficeMojo)


Christmas Movie

Gross Worldwide Ticket Sales


The Grinch



Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!



A Christmas Carol



The Polar Express






The Holiday



The Santa Clause



The Nutcracker and the Four Realms



The Santa Clause 2



Four Christmases



Set Up a Christmas Tree

Once you have had your fill of binge-watching holiday movies, you may want to participate in one of the oldest Christmas traditions, which dates back to the 15th century. That is, of course, selecting and decorating a Christmas tree. Each year, 30-35 million real Christmas trees are sold in the United States alone. Whether you go and cut down your own tree, buy one, or use an artificial tree, decorating a tree is one of the first signs that the Christmas holiday season is upon us.

If you do plan to venture out and find a real tree, finding the perfect one may take some time. You may want to consider things such as the scent, how sturdy the branches are in order to hold all of the ornaments, whether it drops a lot of needles, the price, color, shape, height, and so on. While there are a lot of variables to consider, you will know when you find the perfect one for your home.

Once you do finally get the tree into your home, the decorating fun begins. Start with a festive tree skirt as the base of your Christmas tree. Adorn your tree with lights, tinsel, garlands, ornaments, and a number of other trinkets that suit your family theme and taste.

Many families hang a special ornament each year that holds a special significance to them. Start a family Christmas tradition of adding one special ornament each year to your tree. Minted offers personalized Christmas photo ornaments in case you wanted to create special ornaments to send out to your loved ones this year.

Starry Winter

Starry Winter Tree Skirt by Multiple Artists


String Home & Yard Decorations

Holiday decorating is not limited to just the tree. Decorate your home with Christmas light displays and be the envy of your neighborhood. Some displays even coordinate the lights to turn off and on in unison with popular Christmas songs. Families often travel from miles around to search for the most beautiful light displays.

While you are decorating your home, don’t forget to hang stockings for each of your family members, even that special pet. Remember, you don’t have to have a fireplace to hang stockings. You can hang them from the staircase railing, from garland, on a bookcase, the footboard or headboard of your bed, your TV stand, and so many other places. Be creative! You may also want to read through our post on Christmas mantle decoration ideas.


Hang the Mistletoe

The tradition of hanging a strand of mistletoe in the house goes back to the 2nd or 3rd century. Mistletoe was said to have powers that bring good luck to a home by getting rid of evil spirits. More commonly, it was also used as a sign of love and friendship. This is where the custom of kissing under the Mistletoe originates. If you’re curious about where you can purchase mistletoe nearby, consider Home Depot, Lowes, your local hardware store, the garden section of Walmart or Kmart, or the pop-up Christmas tree sales tent.

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Mistletoe branches

Mistletoe branches by Pati Cascino


Host or Join Christmas Dinner

Of the many Christmas traditions celebrated around the world, the most common thread is the celebration of a shared meal. Create memories and reflect on the year by joining friends and family together to enjoy a delicious meal. If the idea of interacting with a larger group this holiday season has you feeling uneasy, look to just host a special meal with your immediate household.

As you might imagine, there are countless food choices that people enjoy throughout the world during Christmas, however, there are some main staples that are a part of many Christmas meals. Some classics include roast turkey, ham or chicken, potatoes, stuffing, and of course you cannot forget the gravy. You can also pair the food with some cocktails too.

If you're hosting, you can create a merrier ambiance around the dining room and kitchen with napkin sets and tea towels in Christmas patterns. Some candles and garland in the dining table set the mood for this Christmas dinner with your loved ones. Little accents and decorations here and there in the house will certainly make the season brighter and warmer for everyone.

Not everyone shares the same seasons and climate. In some parts of the world, there could be hotter temperatures during Christmas, which would result in serving colder or lighter dishes. Serving roasted meats cold or enjoying seafood recipes may be more common in warmer climates.

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Nutcrackers by Itsy Belle Studio


Bake Christmas Cookies and Decorate Gingerbread Houses

While we all love a good meal, the actual process of baking together is often a family tradition in itself. Making cookies, baking pies, or building gingerbread houses falls in line with the holiday spirit that it is better to give than receive. Don’t forget to set a few cookies aside (with a glass of milk) for when Santa pays a visit. Some popular Christmas snacks include:

  • Sugar cookies with intricate decorations
  • Gingerbread men
  • Yule log
  • Pumpkin Pie
  • Puppy chow/reindeer chow (Chex Mix treat)
sweet home

sweet home by Ana de Sousa


Exchange Gifts

Gift giving is one of the most beloved traditions of Christmas (especially for children) and it goes back to when the Three Wise Men offered gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to baby Jesus in the manger. Gifts are usually placed under the Christmas tree or within stockings in festive patterns. Browse some unique gifts you can get for your family and friends.

>The timing and place of the gift exchange could vary depending on where you live in the world. For example, in some European countries (Netherlands, Germany, Czechia), some presents are opened as early as December 5th, right before St. Nicholas’ Day on December 6th. In America, we have created a few unique ways to exchange gifts in large group settings, such as

  • Secret Santa - In work environments or clubs, one popular tradition of exchanging presents is through “Secret Santa.” This is when each person in a group is randomly assigned another’s name in the group, and is responsible for getting them a gift without them knowing their “Santa’s” identity. Be sure to check out our list of Minted-inspired Secret Santa gift ideas for this year!
  • White Elephant - A fun twist on the “Secret Santa” tradition is known as “White Elephant”. In this tradition, all gifts are placed in a central location. Numbers are drawn for when each participant will choose a gift. Recipients have the option to take a previously opened gift from another person or test their luck by selecting an unwrapped gift. The “White Elephant” concept provides a more fun and interactive environment for a gift exchange.
  • Christmas Story Pass-Around - In this gift exchange game, everyone starts with the present they brought. A common Christmas poem or story is read aloud and after certain breaks in the text, all gifts are passed to the left, right, or across the table. Presents are continually swapped until the story is complete.

The tradition of giving gifts to others is centered around showing how much we appreciate others and value the role they play in our lives. As you go about your holiday shopping, remember Christmas is a time to think about others and the joy of giving rather than receiving. Need some help finding the perfect personalized gift for your friends and family this year? Browse Minted’s Holiday Gift Guide for our top picks this 2022 season.

Tree Lot Wrapping Paper

Tree lot wrapping paper designed by Joyce Pinhe