I think because we got married this year and “officially” became a family*, I’ve been feeling pretty sentimental about the holidays. On one hand, I haven’t been in the mood to decorate just yet (feels like a lot of work and I’m in a bit of a seasonal funk), but on the other hand I don’t want to let our “first married Christmas” go to waste! It may look different than years passed, but I am determined to make it special.

I don’t think you have to be married or related to be family, but it did feel more than symbolic to me!

What Are Your Holiday Traditions

What Are Your Holiday Traditions?

Something that has been on my mind a lot is about starting traditions we can do year after year. Of course, I do think the best traditions happen organically and I’m not keen on forcing anything, but I’d love to start brainstorming some ideas just to dream about.

(Our first tradition is already off the rails. Last year we threw an epic “first annual” holiday party with about a hundred friends, seafood towers, lots of booze. Obviously…. that’s not happening!!!)

I’ve been thinking about the traditions my own family had and talking to Mike’s mom about some of the traditions they did.


– Had two trees, one in the family room with the kid ornaments and one in the living room with a more cohesive look

– Went out to dinner on Christmas Eve. For years we did a Chinese buffet and then it morphed into going out for hibachi.

– Wore matching PJs… well, my sister and I did and sometimes my mom joined in!

– Ate a breakfast casserole before opening presents. (I think this was a later addition to the traditions while we waited for my sister to wake up 😆)

– Set up a puzzle in the dining room that everyone would work on over the course of whatever winter break we had. Sometimes we’d pop in one piece at a time and other days we’d sit for hours working on it.

– Played lots of Yahtzee. We usually do other games too, but Yahtzee is our favorite.

– Give $2 for an extended family gift exchange. My dad’s side of the family is Jewish, but every year there’d be a group of people who came over for Christmas dinner (and game night). Instead of doing big gifts, we’d do a competition for the best $2 gifts. We have allowed for slight inflation over the years but generally stick to around $2.

Okay! Do you guys have any unique family traditions for the holidays? Or what tradition do you look forward to the most?

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Growing up my family had a bunch of traditions surrounding Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Christmas Eve we would go to the 5 o’clock mass at our church but be there at 4:30 to reserve the pew for the rest of my extended family that attended with us. After mass was over we’d go home and finish the prep for our annual Christmas Eve party we’d host for our neighbors who are more like family plus some extended family on my mom’s side. We would do a appetizers (always including liverwurst pate), Swedish smorgasbord for dinner, and a cookie buffet for dessert. After the party was over, we would exchange gifts with my mom’s side of the family. Once all the guests had left, we would either go to bed (when we were younger) or help clean up from the party (when we were older). Post clean up, we’d go to bed and my parents would work their Christmas magic, assembling gifts, laying out the gifts wrapped in fabric sacks my mom sewed in a bunch of seasonal fabrics (which we still use to this day), and putting up our stockings which were always full of little gifts.

Christmas morning me and my two brothers weren’t allowed downstairs until after 8 o’clock so we would wait at the top of the stairs until our parents let us come down. We’d open gifts followed by stockings then sit down to a breakfast of sausage and egg casserole.

After breakfast, we would get ready to leave for my grandparents (on my dad’s side), then we’d drive up to their house where they would host a big Christmas Day party with all the extended family on my dad’s side. After the party was finished, we would exchange gifts Pollyanna style with my aunts, uncles, both cousins, and my grandparents. In later years this morphed into a stocking exchange where everyone is responsible for one other family member. The day after Christmas was always pizza night with my aunt, uncle, and cousins. My grandad always made tons of homemade pizza and we would eat until we were all so full.


Oh my gosh, this is so sweet! My family doesn’t have a lot of holiday traditions so reading this gave me all kinds of ideas for what I want to do whenever I have kids one day (10+ years away haha)


Holiday traditions are so special, I love reading about what different families do!
My family has two traditions that I love.
After we decorate the Christmas tree, usually one evening a week or so before Christmas, we eat pizza on a picnic blanket under the tree and look up at the lights! It is an easy dinner after the work of setting up the tree.
Our second fun tradition is that my parents get my brother and I an ornament every year which represents something fun and new we did that year! Favorites include a glass kangaroo from the year I went to Australia, an ice skate from the year I played hockey, etc. We open the ornaments on Christmas eve after dinner and put them on the tree.

Now that I am married, I still spend Christmas with my family (my husband goes with his family), but we set a day in mid-December for an early celebration where we exchange stocking gifts and watch a Christmas movie.

Hope your first married Christmas is special!


Monkey bread Christmas morning. Open stockings first. My sister and I sat in the same exact spots on Christmas morning while we opened presents. I love Christmas. 😀


My dad and I would watch It’s a Wonderful Life every Christmas Eve. Now my husband and I watch it together.


I love hearing other people’s traditions! Can’t wait to read the comments 🙂
Here are some of my families:
– Baking family cookie recipes in the week before Christmas to make the ultimate cookie platter and gifts for friends. Recently, we have also tried a new cookie recipe every year to see if it’s good enough to stick around!
– Taking the dog (and family) for an extra long walk in the morning before presents
– My grandpa collected Snow Village pieces and my dad has taken over his collection (and expanded it!). Setting up the village (which consists of hundreds of houses/buildings/people/trees/etc takes us a whole weekend to set up)
– Everyone (dog included) has a needplepointed stocking


My family’s traditions are Mass on Christmas Eve, opening stockings first on Christmas morning followed by presents and breakfast (which is always my grandmother’s waffles), and watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” on Christmas Eve and “Christmas Vacation” on Christmas Day. Usually, we would see my mother’s family on Christmas Eve and my dad’s side on Christmas Day. December 26 (which is Boxing Day in Canada) was “Cousins’ Day when we’d go sledding and hang out with our cousins from my dad’s side all day.
My husband and I have really enjoyed developing our own holiday traditions! We decorate our house for Christmas on the first Sunday of Advent (which is a tradition in his family). Many of our annual activities aren’t happening this year (like hosting our holiday party or attending “The Nutcracker” and “A Christmas Carol”), but we’re taking this opportunity to watch lots of holiday movies and savour the few traditional activities we do have, like going to our local Festival of Trees.


Going through this list in my head is actually getting me more in the holiday spirit — and I’ve been a bit of a humbug about it all the past few weeks!

Growing up, my sister and I would each get to pick out at least one new ornament every year that was related to whatever we were interested in that year. And then decorating the tree was like a walk down memory lane (my *NSYNC ornament still cracks everyone up). Now my childhood ornaments will go on the tree my husband and I get. We’ve started our own collection, picking up ornaments on vacations, for our new dog, for our first official home together, and our for when we got engaged/married and on each stop of our honeymoon. And now that I needlepoint, I can’t wait to add some homemade ones to our collection too! It’s one of my favorite things.

My husband and I started having Christmas movie or Christmas TV show episode binges over winter work closures and it’s so much fun. Last year we put together a list of sitcom holiday episodes (like Happy Endings, Seinfeld, Friends, etc.) we watched on Christmas Eve.

The past several years I’ve thrown a holiday party that’s twofold (but unfortunately due to Covid won’t be able to this year). My friends and I meet in the afternoon to shop to fill shoeboxes for a local nonprofit. Then we have a filling and wrapping party at my house with spiced cider, cookies, and mulled wine. Later on it turns into a holiday party with a “dirty Santa (also known as yankee swap and white elephant)” gift exchange. Honestly, it’s the thing I’m most disappointed about not being able to do this year. My husband and I are still going to fill shoeboxes, but I loved having a full house of so many of my favorite people as we listened to holiday music and wrapped boxes for locals in need.

Also on Christmas Eve my family’s tradition growing up (and now what my husband and I do) is a “snack tray” dinner — so think charcuterie board but not quite as fancy! We have dips and shrimp cocktail and meats and cheeses, and just graze on snacks while we watch holiday TV.

My husband and I are big NBA fans (before Covid we were making our way, albeit slowly!, to every NBA arena to see a game) so Christmas Day is filled with a lot of cozy pajama time and a ton of basketball. I usually do a brunch casserole we nibble on late morning/early afternoon while we get ready to watch some games.

One more that my husband and I started a couple years ago when we got engaged is matching Christmas pajamas (and this year our rescue puggle will get in on the action). Other than last year (when we used our wedding pictures) we wear our goofy PJs for our holiday cards and then *actually* wear them Christmas Eve.

Amanda G

I wanted to answer this, as our family has two unique holiday traditions for Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Year, we actually get more excited about these traditions than actually celebrating the holiday itself.

Thanksgiving – Day after Thanksgiving, we have turkey tacos. We use the leftover turkey and stuff a tortilla with turkey and fry it so its like a crunchy taco. Its very messy, dirty and you are guarantee to burn yourself from the hot oil but well worth it.

Christmas/New Year – Sometime in between the holidays we celebrate “Year In review”. We give each other gifts that highlights something significant that happened to you in the past year that you may have forgotten about. One year, I purchased a car and was given a pair of dice to hang from my rear view mirror to celebrate me getting a new car. This year who knows what will be celebrating??! Finding Clorox wipes because yes that was a significant event this year and you always felt like you won a million dollars when you found some. We actually get more excited about year in review than exchanging Christmas gifts.


My family celebrates a big Christmas Eve where we exchange presents and have a family meal.

My husband and I have started doing mimosas and cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning! and this will be our first year to send out Christmas cards as a married couple, so I’m very excited to keep that tradition going!


As kids we would be invited to my uncles annual Christmas tree cutting party. It was always a special celebration with friends and family and then tailgating at the tree farm once you find your tree!
When my brothers and I got older and were in college the 5 of us (parents and kids) were never home at the same time except fir the day after thanksgiving. Now, every year the Friday after thanksgiving we go to cut down a family Christmas tree (still arguing about the perfect one… even as adults!). This year won’t be the same as we won’t have my younger brother with us (he lives in Florida) but my boyfriend and I are cutting our first for our own apartment and I couldn’t be more excited for next Friday and to create wonderful traditions with him!!

Angelina Mount

Last Christmas was our first married Christmas together. It is a tradition in my husband’s family to spend the holiday week at Disney World (crazy, right?!). We’ve done that together several times when we were dating, but we decided NOT to go last year and spend our first Christmas together at home. We were supposed to again this year…now we’re kicking ourselves for passing up last year!

Some traditions we have started together:
Mickey waffles on Christmas morning
A long dog walk to the lake
Matching PJs
Christmas naps
Stocking first
A new Disney ornament each Christmas

…we’re a little wild about Disney in this family! My own family never could afford to go, so when he told me his family goes at LEAST once a year, my mind exploded. Haha.


Every year we go to Mass on Christmas Eve, have takeout from our favorite local Italian place for dinner, and then we go by our family friends’ house. They’re like Grandparents/aunts and uncles/cousins to me, but we don’t get to see them very often, so it’s really special seeing them on Christmas Eve! We always play Left, Right, Center, and use oatmeal and sprinkles to make “Reindeer food” which we sprinkle all over the lawn even though the kids are all in our teens and 20s. All day on Christmas we have the 24-hour A Christmas Story Marathon which only gets turned off if Elf is on!
My family always also had two trees, the kids tree and the “nice” tree that had everything that was breakable. We also had this electric train set that always got set up around the nice tree that my brothers and I loved to play with and place Lego men on.
Similar to many people, we always opened stockings first, then presents, and then had a huge breakfast!


Hi! Since you mention your father’s side of the family is Jewish, do you also plan to incorporate Hanukkah traditions into your holiday planning? I’m also half-Jewish and love hearing other people’s traditions for celebrating both holidays!


One year I dragged my poor husband out of bed before the sun was up to watch the sunrise. We brought our cameras and documented the whole thing. We’ve used that footage for a lot of projects but the stillness of the early morning and excitement of Christmas morning was so special and I’m grateful for that.

Another tradition my parents do is host the neighbors for Christmas Eve dinner. We play games have soup & sandwiches and do this between the 2 Christmas services we’d go to. It makes me so sad that won’t be happening this year.


My Dad makes freshly squeezed orange juice every Thanksgiving and Christmas morning. It’s a laborious task, which is why we only do it twice a year. It’s a hit with all ages, especially the mimosa lovers. I invested in my own juicer years ago so I could keep the tradition going with my husband. Our Thanksgiving holiday will be a lot smaller this year, but there will ALWAYS be freshly squeezed orange juice.


Your family traditions are so sweet! And it’s good that you’re thinking about creating more now with your husband. For me, family Christmas traditions are mostly about food: as we are from Portuguese descent, my grandma always brings in Portuguese food and drinks at the table! We also enjoy playing card games while waiting for Santa!

Julia x
Last Post: How To Get In The Christmas Mood Despite The Pandemic! 🎄


When I had children at home, I had 24 books I’d read to them Dec 1-24 & I continue to do this for me. And as parents, we decided Santa filled the stockings at our house and parents put gifts under the tree. Once Santa was discovered to be me- we asked what to do now- the kids decided they’d fill each other’s stockings & ours. It was fun to see them being creative each year.
One song I discovered in my university years was this:
I sang it every year either a cappella or with piano to my children as we introduced the nativity figures. I’m so grateful to this day, that a brave teen girl sang this song in front of so many strangers for me to learn about it & have it become part of my traditions.


Christmas is the one time of year I (mostly) let go of my aesthetic preferences. My only real rules are that we have white lights on the tree and that we hang up our needlepoint Land’s End stockings. Beyond that, I always want the house to look and feel like whatever Christmas should be to everyone living here—even though that does mean that I have multicolored lights nailed to my living room wall this year. I look forward to when Annabelle can start contributing too!!

We’re a super tradition oriented family:
– Matching PJs for all the girls, and any guys who want to join.
– Muppets Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life every single year.
– We get our real tree before Thanksgiving (even though it’s extra lol).
– Our cat gets a “Christmas kerchief” to wear all season.
– Christmas breakfast with my dad, Christmas dinner with my husband’s mom.

And so many more. Too many more. I’m just gonna stop here!


Hi Carly, I feel like this is so weird to say but I just wanted to say thank you for being open about being part Jewish. I am Jewish and it seems that there isn’t much Jewish representation out there in the blogger/influencer world (or many Jewish bloggers/influencers that I know of at least!) It can sometimes be hard to relate to all of the Xmas related content but I enjoy it nonetheless because who doesn’t love Christmas? Haha! but thank you for being open to sharing about your Jewish side. Anway, happy holidays!!


Starting with Thanksgiving we always watch Avalon for the Thanksgiving scenes ( and I’m from Baltimore- yay hometown!) We put up one tree day after Thanksgiving and decorate the out side of the house. Every year we buy a year ornament when we are at Disney plus an ornament from where we have vacationed. One weekend is dedicated to baking Xmas cookies. We buy a live tree from our local volunteer fire dept tree sale. Xmas Eve we go to early church. Xmas Eve dinner is usually a roast. I give my daughter Xmas pjs on Xmas Eve. Xmas day we wait for our daughter to get up, open presents and stockings. Breakfast is smiling pancakes – a tradition my Dad started. My daughter loves to cook so she is taking over making Xmas dinner this year. We used to go to my cousin’s house but not this year. My Mom is in assisted living so who knows if I will be able to see her or bring her home for the day for Thanksgiving or Christmas.


We always go to movie on Xmas day. Not this year! ☹️ Christmas morning my mom makes doughboys. It’s basically fried dough in crisco. You eat them hot with butter. They are soooo bad for you but sooooo good! Once a year can’t hurt!


Our big tradition is on Christmas Eve. We usually decorate the tree that night while noshing on all kinds of food (my favorite is sausage bread). We open a present or two, then we play Scrabble.

Rachel S

I am loving reading all of the comments about other people’s traditions! 🙂

I got married last year and a tradition we started was exchanging ornaments with each other. Anything that we think the other would like or was representative of the year. I only have one tree that is mostly sentimental ornaments.

This year, we also started getting matching pajama sets! I was pleasantly surprised that my husband liked his so much! 😂

Hopefully in future years, we can go back to visiting holiday markets, seeing Christmas-themed live performances, and hosting larger family gatherings!


Our family traditions include decorating on Dec 1st. This started with my grandmother an it’s been great to see how it’s extended to everyone else as we’ve grown up.

We do our big family celebrations on on Christmas Eve but before the celebrations we go to Mass. we then gather at home have dinner, we make tamales. We then change (everyone changes into PJs for our family photo) and then we play white elephant (Kids and Adults $10 max) and then we do Secret Santa. Names for Secret Santa get pulled every year on Thanksgiving.


We don’t have a ton that still stick (all of us are scattered these days), but my mom still decorates the tree with all the ornaments we got as kids- every child has their own box with their ornaments then there’s a box (or 3) with ‘family’ ornaments. When we were all still at home we’d tackle our boxes then haggle over who got to do the family ornaments.

The ones that have stuck;
– We go out for Italian (same restaurant every year) then go to the see the lights at the Botanic Gardens and see how long it takes my dad to cave on hot chocolate requests
– Christmas Eve at whichever relative is hosting that year
– Christmas Day, we slowly amble to the living room, my dad makes coffee and mimosas, mom puts cinnamon rolls in the oven then once we’ve done presents I made eggs Benedicts to order.

Sadly won’t be the same this year, but I’ve a cute little tree for my apartment and am actually going to decorate!


My family for the past ~20 years spent Christmas on one of the many islands in the Caribbean (we switched it up a lot) so this year is looking veryyy different! We always opened gifts on Christmas Eve and had a big breakfast on Christmas Day. This year I am thinking about traditions I can start with my boyfriend and definitely want to do the big Christmas Day breakfast (for 2) and maybe incorporate ornament decorating and cookie baking during December to feel more festive. Still brainstorming ideas to keep the Caribbean in the celebrating even when we can’t be there!


I am totally going to copy thee puzzle tradition starting this year! How have I not thought about it?! 🙂


Everyone would pick a candle on the christmas tree. Whose candle burned the longest would get out of loading the dishwasher at the end of the night (we celebrate on the evening of the 24th in Germany)!


I have a large family (six siblings). My parents always wanted us to give gifts to each other so we do $10. We are now adults with adult jobs and this is still a tradition we stick with. $10 is enough to be funny and creative and we all still love it! Perfect for budgeting, get your family on board and have fun!


I have bought a silver bell ornament with the year on it every Christmas since we got married. I started to buy one for each child after they were born, and when they get married I will gift them a lifetimes worth of bells to start their own tree.

Loren Grace

Ah I love this! My dad grills the best steaks ever on Christmas Eve and my mom always does rolls, brussel spouts and other goodies. We also eat lunch out at a restaurant with both our parents and siblings for lunch on christmas eve!


My family and I make “gingerbread houses” together out of graham crackers held together with icing and decorated with lots and lots of candy that my grandmother buys on sale throughout the year. We started out making a standard Santa’s Village, with a toy factory, Santa’s House, and Reindeer Stables, but now everyone designs whatever sort of building suits them–last year, I did Notre Dame Cathedral because I studied art in France that year (I’ll send you a picture on Instagram lol). None of us are very artistic but it’s fun to flex our creativity and eat lots of candy together!


I love family holiday traditions! My family also always did 2 trees with 1 for all the kid ornaments! My favorite tradition with my family is we alternate each year and that person buys a new board game for the family. It’s the only present we open on Christmas Eve and we play the new game together before watching movies! We’re all big fans of board games so it gives us something fun to do Christmas Eve and usually that becomes the go-to game while were all home over the holiday!


My husband and I give each other an ornament on Christmas Eve that symbolizes something special to us that year. We have been married for 14 years now so it’s really fun to walk down memory lane with our son as we decorate the tree.


My mom’s family’s big holiday is Thanksgiving and there are usually about 50 of us for a big lunch, that then stretches into dinner. In the evening, the adults and bigger cousins go to the movies (it’s a big deal once you’re old enough to go) and the next morning, we all gather for a brunch full of biscuits, grits, and leftovers!

Christmas is usually just my immediate family and I love the more community oriented traditions we started as we got older: my mom and I would bake cookies for the neighborhood the week headed into Christmas, on Christmas Eve, we’d all go donate blood together, and on Christmas morning before presents, we’d go around and share a charity we wanted to donate to that had a special impact on us that year. Other traditions I’ll be carrying over to my family: cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning, a movie marathon through the long weekend, and a New Years Day party. Can you tell we’re a big holiday family?!


I am putting up some lights this week, but the real Christmassy decorations will have to wait until December…


One of our favourite traditions that we started when the kids were a bit older was to go to a museum or art gallery on Christmas Eve day. They are so empty because everyone is out Christmas shopping or wrapping presents and we are having fun enjoying the place to ourselves. We would go home to our Christmas Eve candlelight dinner. Before bed we read Christmas stories aloud which morphed from children’s stories (accompanied by Christmas cookies) when they were young to A Child’s Christmas in Wales etc when they were older (accompanied by wine or sherry and cheese and crackers).


Awe how sweet! we always go somewhere warm for the holiday because we, well myself and my mother, like to escape the cold Minnesota winter for a while. While we are not going to that this year, I am going to start some new traditions for our cozy at home christmas of just the three of us 🙂

Parker Wojciechowski

We had two trees too! I’m an only child but my parents collected every Disney ornament that hallmark released in the 90s/early 00s so I have QUITE a collection that needed its own home! Haha (which I’m super grateful to have now!)
Here in Las Vegas we have several community Christmas events so we always go to those (even now that I’m grown my parents and I always go together)
And my grandma normally has a massive Christmas Eve party with all her neighbors and our family, friends, random friends of friends. We’re doing a Zoom cocktail party this year!
And then Christmas Day is biscuits and gravy and presents. I always open up a present Christmas Eve (Christmas PJs)!


I love reading about traditions and love building our own as a family. Our kids are still young so we are a bit flexible and still testing a few things out. These are a few of our traditions that are a bit different:

– Santa doesn’t wrap presents (too busy!). I objected at first but now think it is pretty awesome. The kids have something to play with (and without major supervision) almost immediately and the adults can watch and finish a cup of coffee while they play. Uninterrupted coffee drinking is a simple joy for parents.

– Christmas Eve we get ready for bed and then do the first gifts of Christmas: a book exchange. My hope is as the kids become independent readers we can all sit together and be cozy by the fire, reading our new books before bed. For now we read to them! Apparently this is a thing in Iceland and I love it and shamelessly have borrowed it.

– the Thanksgiving Eve and Christmas Eve menu is exclusively finger food. Think charcuterie, mini quiche, cocktail shrimp, deviled eggs, great bread etc. Then you don’t worry about spoiling your appetite for dinner!


On Christmas Eve we would go to my maternal grandparents for appetizers and church. My grandpa, mom, sister, and uncle/cousins would play music and we would sing Christmas carols (badly). If anyone had any homemade gifts we would open them up on Christmas Eve and usually play a game like hot potato with special presents.

After church, my nuclear family would go home to our house for dinner. First we’d have mini hot dogs as appetizers. We’d have a traditional Quebecois meal of tourtiere (pork pie) and potato pie. Then we would have an old fashioned slide show of family pictures.


After dinner, my family all sits around the table and makes predictions for the upcoming year. It spans things from our family’s personal lives (new jobs, houses, trips), to world news and celebrities. And then is so fun to get out the old predictions from the year before and see who was right!


I always loved that my mom would wrap up a new pair of pajamas for me to open on Christmas Eve. That’s a tradition I want to carry on to our kids one day!

We also do a “sock exchange” on Christmas day with the extended family. Instead of buying gifts for everyone (we only buy gifts for the kids), each person brings a wrapped pair of socks and we play a game (like dirty Santa) to determine the order that each person gets to choose a package and see what kind of socks they got.


My mom and I love driving around to look at Christmas lights. We usually go after church on Christmas Eve but unfourtnately we will have to make an adjustment to our tradition this year!


-Santa was left whiskey (we are Irish, what can I say?)
-roast beef and Yorkshire pudding for Christmas dinner, always
-always a real tree with generations of ornaments; we have some ornaments that are over 100 years old
-boxes of thank you notes in our stockings, which we hated, but it’s good training


Growing up my family always got Chinese takeout on Christmas Eve too! It’s now a tradition my husband and I do. His family tradition we’ve adopted as our own is watching The Santa Clause movie on Christmas morning when we wakeup.


This is such a fun post! I love reading about everyone’s different traditions.

This isn’t for Christmas, but last year on New Year’s Eve my fiancé and I stayed in and made homemade gnocchi. It was so much fun because it’s such a lengthy process and we wanted something that would keep us entertained until midnight! We’re really looking forward to it again this year and I think we’re going to try to make crème brulee as well!