December 19, 2018

All the Inspiration You Need for Great New Holiday Traditions

And yours!

Holiday Traditions

As you know, our theme for December has been traditions. We’ve talked about what tradition means to us, ways to bring more tradition into your life, one of the simplest yet most special traditions, and more.

What’s intriguing about traditions is the special way in which they serve to bond a group of people. Shared traditions give us such a sense of belonging and community. What’s even more interesting is how unique traditions can be! Sure, there are commonly practiced traditions that span across multiple familial groups. But then there are some traditions that are woven so deeply within the fabric of a group. To that group, those traditions are “normal”. But to the rest of the world, those traditions are completely unheard of and, dare I say, strange!

That’s what is so beautiful, though. It’s not so much the ritual itself that brings meaning. Rather it’s just the fact that there is in fact a ritual and that is shared by a group of individuals.

For this article, we decided to dig a little deeper into the traditions that lie beneath the surface. We queried our team, our colleagues, our friends, and even you to learn more about your family’s holiday traditions. We asked you all on Instagram the other day for your favorite holiday traditions, and so many of you responded. We loved reading each and every response!

So, please enjoy below a sampling of responses. Our hope in sharing these is two-fold. May these stories (a) inspire you to strengthen the existing traditions within your family, and (b) embolden you to experiment with new traditions this season!

And before you keep on reading for warm stories of togetherness and traditions, be sure to check out our rainbow Christmas tree full of color, happiness, and love. Enjoy!


My favorite memory is undoubtedly making Christmas cookies with my granny, aunt, and sister. I can’t wait to do that this year with Elle! – Carrie

Christmas has always been a special holiday in my family. Come Christmas morning, we always open stockings first. Our stockings were handmade by my late-grandmother, so they’re even more special. While opening stockings we nibble on homemade coffee cake and take our time sharing with everyone what was in our stocking – sometimes sentimental gifts, but most often funny, gag gifts. It’s always been a special tradition that I look forward to carrying on someday with my own family.  – Alex Carreno, Adored by Alex

One of my favorite traditions is opening up the advent calendar every morning leading up to Christmas. My mom started the tradition when I was a little girl by gifting me a beautiful advent calendar the first day of December and I’ve shared it with my daughter now years later. She gets so excited to open the window every day. We both guess what’s going to be behind the window that day. – Jenny Weber

We have a big Christmas Eve dinner every year: Prime Rib and all of the traditional accoutrements. And…we have a tradition of Sloggin’ and Noggin’ while we puzzle. So this is a ridiculous drink that we have resurrected from college (we have a divided house of Texas A&M folks and University of Texas folks) that consists of Goldschlager and Egg Nog combined with a 2,000 piece puzzle. It is a thing that brings us together strangely! – Laura Umansky, Laura U Interior Design

We always watch Elf as a family on Christmas Eve! – Layla Asgari, JoyBox Flowers 

We had many traditions growing up which were celebrated year after year. Some have been lost as I married into a multicultural marriage and some of those traditions are not celebrated here in the United States, like pedir posada (a series of chats of Christmas songs sang by two parts of the Christmas party where one part plays Mary and Joseph asking for a place to sleep to give birth to baby Jesus, and the other part plays all the people that opened then closed doors to them that night). As well, breaking the Christmas piñata with the kids was always so much fun! We still always display our Nativity at home, do an advent calendar (this year with chocolates), go to church on the Cathedral for the Christmas carol celebration on the 24th with my family that visits from Mexico, and during our Christmas dinner we all take a moment, including the children, to give thanks to baby Jesus for what we are grateful for this year. We also have a special game we play after dinner, which we have been doing for ages, in which we all sit around the Christmas tree and get a little card to read out loud. The message on the card is Baby Jesus’ gift to you this year (his compassion, his kindness, etc) and to one person, on their card, Baby Jesus gifts himself to them, so a beautiful figurine of Baby Jesus stays with him or her! Of course there’s also the singing Christmas Carols, watching Christmas Movies as a Family (Polar Express, Home Alone, The Star, Elf are all favorites), eating tamales. I guess we do have a lot of Christmas traditions! – Maritere Rice

When it comes to holiday traditions, my multi cultural family has so many! We start with posadas (basically a Christmas party that includes a re-enactment of Mary and Joseph’s search for a lodging in Bethlehem, traditional food like tamales, and ponche and it all ends with a star shaped piñata ). These parties take place between the dates of December 16- Christmas Eve. Christmas eve is actually the main event for us. This is not just from my our Latin culture, but was also something that my grandfather learned during his time in Norway and continues even now. We all gather on Christmas Eve, have dinner, and then attend Christmas Eve mass. As a kid, I loved staying late and gathering with my family and basically spending the 25th playing with my toys and my cousins. Talking about toys, Santa is not the only one who delivers toys. You get toys from Santa (surprisingly, my family’s Santa tradition was from my grandfather’s time in Norway and New Orleans), Baby Jesus (that is the tradition from my Colombian side), and on January 6, the three kings arrive. Since we get so many gifts we try to keep them simple.

I have to say, a brand new tradition has been to traveling during Christmas. For the past few, we have gone on trips and I have to say it has been refreshing since we don’t focus so much on gifts. The kids are still young so I am not sure how Santa/baby Jesus/ three kings will work in the future, but right now it is very nice to focus on time with each other and exploring a new place.

Personally, the husband and I have a little tradition that we have been doing since we were married. I was a bit hesitant to write about it because the point is to do it without people knowing, but this might inspire people to do it. We like to adopt a family (getting gifts for them) or pay off layaways. When we started, we didn’t have much, but we knew that every little bit helped.  – Monica Abney

Tradition has always been very important to me, especially as I have gotten older and started some of my own. My favorite holiday tradition is lighting the menorah at Hanukkah, which literally means “a dedicating” and is also known as the “Miracle of Lights.” For as long as I can remember my parents and I would gather around it in our home every night for eight nights. We would say a prayer, light the candles and then exchange gifts. The lighting is very brief and doesn’t take more than a minute, but I understood the importance of why we lit them. The menorah symbolizes an eternal flame. It has been said that it is a symbol of the nation of Israel and its mission to be “a light unto the nations.” When I take a moment to realize that I am honoring a miracle that occurred over 2,000 years ago I feel incredibly blessed in that moment I am lighting. So when I lived on my own during college I got myself a menorah (inexpensive and electric) and lit it on my own if I couldn’t be home with my family for the holiday. Now that I am married my husband and I purchased a beautiful menorah for our home that we saw in Israel and now he and I light it every night during Hanukkah. I hope that we will have it as long as we live and look forward to one day lighting it with our own children. – Valerie Halfon, Shop with Val

We open one present Christmas Eve after church (and PJs). – @racheljludwig

Give ourselves a gift that implies spending time together and make memories. – @bejoyful_creativemarket

Watch Disney Parade on Christmas morning! – @caylawelsh

In December we make a kindness/giving calendar to put us in the right mindset. – @bestrongstory

Hot chocolate on Christmas morning. – @mommygineer

Gingerbread house decorations with our whole family. – @ibbylaw

Oyster soup on Christmas morning! – @sincerelysarahstudios

Making gingerbread houses with my family on Christmas Eve. – @lomurph

Holiday movies, photos, parties, and lots of quality time together. – @gabyosin

My mom prepares a huge Christmas morning breakfast with plenty mimosas and a pancake bar. – @eatingwitherica

Watching “White Christmas” with my family and singing along to every song! – @a.s.ochoa

Banana fosters french toast freshly made for the family on Christmas morning. A favorite! – @michelenab

Listening to Christmas songs while playing board games. – @manohlt

Decorating super colorful gingerbread houses with my two girls!! Love their creations. – @fitfashionfile

Watching National Lampoons Christmas Vacation, playing tons of card/board games and puzzles. – @chicaconfident

Watching Die Hard with my family on Christmas Day because IT IS a Christmas movie 😉 – @outofofficechic

One present on Christmas Eve – PJs! – @sklauck

My husband would make the gift giving like a scavenger hunt! Secret notes for all. – @chefvalstanley

Baking Christmas cookies and opening our matching jammies on Christmas Eve!! – @tableanddine

A couple more things

We’d love to hear more of your favorite holiday traditions. Share in the comments below! And did you see our rainbow Christmas tree? If not, check it out here. Have a great day!

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