31 Holiday Traditions

Put your own stamp on your holiday celebrations this year with your own family tradition. Here are 31 ideas to get you in the spirit:

"I have always tried to make each holiday memorable in some way for each person in the family. This year, I bought a popcorn tin and after everyone ate all the popcorn we enjoyed making a 1st Christmas time capsule for our daughter. Her velvet dress wrapped in plastic was my contribution, her grandparents gave her a 1st Christmas ornament, her brother drew her a Christmas picture, and her daddy took family pictures and a picture of the tree. Her other grandparents gave her a "Mummford" rattle and we also added some bits of wrapping paper and cards that were hers. I am sure we will all have a great time looking at these treasures in the many years to come." -- iVillager anonymous

"This is actually a borrowed tradition, it belongs to a customer that comes in the craft store where I work. This really nice gentleman wanted something special for his wife. When he got their first Christmas tree together, he had them cut off about a half-inch thick piece of the stump. He then proceeded to take markers and write the date and he put a sawtooth hanger on the back of it. As expected, his wife cried and cried. They do that every year and display them on velvet ribbon around one of their doorways. This is really one of the sweetest traditions that I have ever heard of." -- iVillager kpmkbm

"The first Christmas that I moved out of home I really missed our tradition of decorating the tree together and the tree that we had was small and didn't feel very special. I didn't like the idea of just putting a tree together in one year when the one at home had such meaning. My husband and I started our own tradition of buying a special decoration each year that reflected that year of our lives of a special event. The year we got engaged we bought a pair of golden doves that are on a heart-shaped bauble. This continued every year. We have built up quite a collection and every decoration has special meaning." -- iVillager anonymous

"For the past three years, my mother-in-law has given calendars as Christmas presents. These calendars consist of family pictures from the year that correspond to what was happening in the month. (Example: Valentines Day pictures of family were in February, Christmas Pageant pictures of kids were in December) etc. This makes a great gift and helps to keep the previous year's memories fresh in our minds." -- iVillage anonymous

"This was my son's first Christmas. My mother bought him a little interactive Christmas book. This sparked a new holiday tradition. Every year I will get a Christmas book for each child. Each holiday season I will get out the books and we will have Christmas stories to read every night." -- iVillager traci

"My children are 16 and 11, and every year we take a ride down Candy Cane Lane in our neighborhood, then go to a theater for a yearly Christmas movie that we all agree on. After the movie, we go out to dinner and laugh and talk about the movie. It's a nice way to spend time together as a family without going to a party with a bunch of other people." -- iVillager anonymous

"I came up with the idea of choosing one day in December on which to celebrate ALL the major winter holidays. I named the holiday 'One Day' and designated it as a day to celebrate diversity and remember Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream of a world 'one day' united in peace and love. One Day emblems include one candle and one bare tree (decorated by all, employing personally meaningful ornaments). I chose Dec. 15 and the official One Day date, as it is in the middle of December. This new tradition allows gays/bisexuals to create and shape their own holiday, as many of use have had to create and shape our own families." --iVillager gary

"My family has a tradition that really helps keep the focus on loving and giving to others. Each year we select a person who is needs or who is lonely and needs encouragement and we purchase a gift for them. Then on Christmas Eve my hubby wakes everyone up in the middle of the night and we read a story about a little boy who learned about being a secret Santa. Then we bundle up, pile into the car with the gift, with hot cocoa and cookies and we drive to the person's home (still in our PJs) and sneak the gift onto their doorstep with an attached card that says, 'From your Secret Santa.' On the way home we sing Christmas carols and say a prayer for the person we've encouraged." -- iVillager Judson

"Our family believes strongly in laughing at ourselves. Our philosophy is that everything is funny eventually, but some things take longer than others do. In this spirit, we created a family award (a plaque) voted on and presented on New Year's Day to the person who has done the dumbest thing the year before." -- iVillager anonymous

"Memory bag. I was given a lovely little velvet bag with a drawstring. It hangs on the tree. Each year the family members record the outstanding memory of the year and it goes into the bag to collect." -- iVillager anonymous

"We bought ornaments for everyone in our immediate family. Each year they are the first one we put on the tree. We honor the ones not with us, remember the ones passed and give thanks for those here!" -- iVillager anonymous

"For the past several years we have chosen a person or family who is in need, collected allowances and hard-earned money, purchased gifts and delivered them the week of Christmas. It teaches my kids that Christmas is for giving and that is where our joy comes from! Just as Christ gave us the greatest gifts, we must also give to others." -- iVillager anonymous


"When my husband and I first met we realized that neither of us grew up in a house with holiday traditions. We decided that when we started our family that we would make an effort to have holiday traditions that could be carried on. We started a Thanksgiving journal where we can make entries every year and as our son grows up he can add to it as well. We also decided to read a special story on Christmas Eve, The Gift of the Magi. We read it aloud and as our son grows he will take part in the readings too. We have just begun these traditions and we hope to add many more as the years go by." -- iVillager anonymous

"Last New Year's Eve was the first time the kids stayed away until midnight to ring in the New Year. We spent the last hour cuddled up together making a list of things we would like to accomplish in the New Year. We listed habits we would like to form (praying together, keeping bedrooms clean, etc.) and activities we would like to do (projects, State Fair, zoo, etc.). Several times throughout the year we have reviewed our list to see how we're doing. The memory of making plans and goals together has been special for all of us." -- iVillager wundrmom

"Since my son was two, on Christmas Eve, my parents and three close friends from church come to our house. We have dinner and then act out the Christmas story (I videotape, Dad reads the story). We look forward to this every year. This year, while our son was still dressed as the angel, we took a tin of cookies to an older couple we know that doesn't have any children. It thrilled them. Our son also helped go through his toys and we had three bags to take to the Salvation Army. And we both make sure that we always have change to put in that little red kettle during the holidays. Also, growing up we always went to Grandma's house in Michigan for Christmas. She was the most wonderful, caring woman. We had the most wonderful Christmas's there. She passed away several years ago. I've written a few Christmas plays for my church since then, and in every one of them, the main character is always named Elizabeth, after my dear grandmother." -- iVillager TellSavalas

"This year our family accidentally started a new tradition. I decided to start a 'Christmas Memories' scrapbook every year starting this year. My sister-in-law got my 4-1/2-year-old daughter a disposable camera and she took her own Christmas pictures. We've given her her own page in the scrapbook for pictures that she took herself. And, surprisingly, she did a great job! She's very proud of herself and that makes me proud." -- iVillager anonymous

"Since Christmas is Jesus' birthday, we sing 'Happy Birthday' to him. For breakfast we have cocoa and birthday cake. My parents started doing this when I was little and now that I have my own family we do it too." -- iVillager Rebecca2

"Where we live, a department store has a 'real' Santa. Every year for the last six years, we've taken our kids to have their pictures taken with him. Then I make frames and display the pictures every year as part of our decorations. It's fun to see how the children have grown." -- iVillager Julie

"I make a new recipe of latkes this year. My family loved them. As usual, we lit the Chanukah menorah. I think that this is the first year that my son understood the Chanukah story when we told it to him. We also gave some of our son's old toys to charity for Chanukah. At first, he was upset when I told him that he had to give some toys away, but when he heard that it was so other children could have presents, he accepted it. He like the idea of other children getting presents because of him." -- iVillager heidi

"My son came up with one of our holiday traditions when he was three and it is always a lot of fun for every member of our family. We live in an area where it snows, and every year on the winter solstice, we make ornaments from berried, bread peanut butter, egg, honey, and birdseed. We then take them out into the forest and hide them around in the trees and bushes for all the birds and animals. We also make sure that we put a few near our yard so we can be treated to sightings of our animal friends." -- iVillager anonymous

"Our favorite tradition is getting the tree. It may seem old-fashioned, but a lot of people regard this as a chore rather than a tradition. We bring the dog and walk up and down the hillside through the rows of trees, looking for the perfect addition to our home for the holidays. We cut down the tree, my wife kisses the stump, and we drag it back and lash it onto the car. We usually pick up a few wreaths while we're there. We then go home, make hot cocoa, and decorate with the ornaments we've collected. I usually get to do the lights. It's a full day and a tradition we look forward to every year. Much better than picking a tree from a tree stand." -- iVillager Max&Jesse'sPapa

"The essential meaning of Christmas is to love others and give to those who have less. An activity that we have started this year, and would like to become tradition in our family, is to share experiences about charity activities done through the year. We all will expend some time, energy and money in charity activities over the year, and will share it with each other on Christmas night." -- iVillager Gerardo

"Homemade ornaments. Every year I make one or two new ornaments to add to our tree. My daughter is five years old now and loves making crafts, as does her baby-sitter, so this year we added more than a couple! I love putting the decorations on the tree and remembering when we made them and what was going on in our lives at the time. My husband's favorite ornament is one I made from some flies he tied for fishing. I love our tree as does my husband and daughter. It's neat to see others check out the tree too!" -- iVillager sentimental

"My husband has a hard time choosing gifts for me at Christmas, so this year we got a baby-sitter and went to the mall together. I tried on lingerie and let him help me pick out the best one to wrap and put under the tree. It really was more special to have the time alone together and get something I really wanted than to be surprised. When I opened the gift, I remembered how special our day was.

Whenever we go on holiday vacation, the whole family rolls down the car windows as we cross the state line of our final destination (going and coming home) and screams. This is really fun and get lots of stares from the people at the welcome center on the side of the road!

A friend of mine only gives her children three gifts each Christmas. The children understand that this is because Jesus received three from the wise men. I am planning to try and start this tradition next year, if my kids don't throw a fit!" -- iVillager Cymphony

"We keep the tradition of being grateful alive year 'round by having each person at the dinner table say at least one thing that they are grateful for that day. (Traditional graces were boring our children so this new tradition evolved.) This makes everyone pause and it really keeps the mood up when you have to think of what went right during your day rather than focusing on what went wrong. It is especially challenging for the adults! We extend this tradition when we go eat at others' homes too. The kids take turns asking each family member what they are grateful for so it's not the same every night. If you have ever wanted to say grace but felt your family wouldn't go for it, try this instead." -- iVillager lisa642

"When I was a little girl, Mom gathered us around in the kitchen. Each of watched Mom with anticipation as she made the most wonderful creation. You can't eat it, but it's prepared in the kitchen; it's homemade ornament dough. Mom would mix it and roll it out just enough. Then, we just dove into the stuff and started to create, shape, and form the most memorable ornaments. As Mom cooked them all, we would set out the crafts on the craft table: glitter, markers, foil, etc. Waiting, waiting, and FINALLY, there they were. When they cooled, we let out minds soar with creativity. We would make them for our tree, our friends and neighbors, gifts and their tress, too. They made wonderful presents, as they were our expressions to each other. Now, when I look at our tree and my family around it, we share stories of heritage and what's to come." -- iVillager MamaCar

"Every place we go for vacation or visiting family during the year, we buy a Christmas ornament. Sometimes we just buy a pretty one that doesn't say where it's from, we buy what we like. Then on the day after Thanksgiving we put up the tree. We love to look at the ornaments and remember where we got them and what we where doing. It always brings back good memories and funny moments. It makes our tree special and we love it that way. I let the kids put the ornaments wherever they want and it's always beautiful!" -- iVillager Cheryl_nature_lover

"My favorite holiday tradition is to go the weekend before Christmas on a driving tour of the lights in our city. We have one neighborhood with a pond in the middle that has contests every year. They go all out, and the lights reflecting from the pond are gorgeous. We all pile into the car around 5, drive into town and get there just about the time it gets dark. We sing carols and eat snacks. The last two years, there was a procession of cars that traveled the route at just the right speed, so even though we're alone in the car, we're sharing the experience with many of our fellow townspeople." -- iVillager miklynn

"I come from a large family (six brothers and one sister) and they all live in the St. Louis area. Everyone gets together at my house for Christmas. We do not exchange gifts per say as none of us really need anything. However, I have started a tradition in the past where I buy lots of totally silly and fun gifts for all of my siblings. They are always wrapped in brown paper lunch bags with red markers for decorations. These gifts are always the last ones to be handed out, and each year it is really a fun time seeing how they respond to their 'totally useless Christmas gifts.'" -- iVillager jmb49

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