The best part of the holiday season is the traditions we look forward to year after year. Everyone has their own unique ways to celebrate the holidays whether its baking cookies with family and friends, taking family pictures, or giving your time to others. You know what is even better? Passing these traditions on from generation to generation. So no matter if you’re celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza or anything else – we've curated a list of 22 holiday traditions and trends to inspire you to get creative with the holiday projects and family activities that are sure to create memories to celebrate year after year! No matter what you celebrate, we all share one thing: the importance of family, friends, food and fun.
1. Photos with Santa
For a lot of families, the holiday photo is an annual tradition, and they make great gifts for family members too! A nice memory for years to come. Maybe you don’t have little ones, no problem! Just because everyone is grown doesn’t mean you can’t still have all the fun of that annual Santa photo! Keep that tradition alive.
2. Writing a Letter to Jolly Ol’ Saint Nicholas
Everyone loves to write their holiday wishes and share them with one another, but when it comes to Santa the sky’s the limit. While he makes no promises, he will always do his best to deliver the magic and spread holiday cheer.
Kids create wish lists of the latest toys and games. Trending this year are anything to do with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) building kits, art kits, and sensory toys. These hands on educational yet fun (kids don’t realize they are learning) gadgets and gizmos are great boredom busters. They keep your kid busy for hours and help reduce stress.
For the adults why not write a letter it can be anything such as a holiday wish to a lost loved one or someone that’s not able to be with you this holiday, which may help bring you peace and comfort just to write it out. Don’t stop believing in the holiday magic.
3. Decorate a Tree!
What’s trending this year for Tree décor? Well, the upside-down tree is still popular and makes people look twice, the latest trend with tree decor is monochrome colors schemes with grey being the frontrunner, followed by beautiful trees ordained with sunflowers and burlap garland, and the cutest trees ever, Christmas village trees! Still trending this year after being extremely popular last year are the nostalgic traditions of rustic farmhouse and buffalo checker prints or the nautical theme trees with seashells and starfish so much fun! Nature trends are always popular. Choices, Choices, still not sure which direction to go, how about retro? It’s always a WIN! For tabletop trees it’s gotta be the doll rods adorned with colorful color complimenting decorations such as red and green or green and blue or even decorating with colorful candies trinkets and make it a festive candy land. Whatever your pleasure, it’s time to gather your supplies and prepare for your tree trimming party. Check out our Christmas Trees Pinterest board for fun ideas to decorate your tree this year.
4. Hang Your Stockings, by the Chimney, with Care...
For those who have been good little boys and girls when they wake on Christmas morning, they traditionally find that their stockings are filled with little gifts, candies, fruit, and other small goodies. For those on Santa’s naughty list (or for a fun joke) coal is found placed in the stockings instead.
5. Gift Exchange
When it comes to the holidays, people love to give each other gifts to let them know they appreciate them. For those celebrating Christmas its traditionally one gift opened on Christmas eve and the rest on Christmas day. For Hanukkah they open one gift per night for eight nights. For Kwanzaa gifts are typically opened on the last day of the celebration, January 1st. The best gifts are those that are made with love and come from the heart!
6. Eco-Friendly Wrapping Paper
Did you know that in the US alone we waste enough Christmas wrap to encompass the globe 4 times? This year why not be a little more eco- friendly and use things like recycling some old magazines and newspapers, turning trash into treasure. Christmas patterned fabric that can be saved and reused year after year, brown paper (its compostable), or purchase sustainable wrapping paper that’s printed with eco-friendly dyes. This paper can be recycled or composted. Also consider using biodegradable tape as an alternative to sticky scotch tape.
7. Baking Cookies
Anything goes…sugar and spice they both taste so nice! Baking cookies is a great opportunity to get everyone together to decorate some delicious treats while singing and sharing memories. Who doesn’t love those ooey-gooey fresh from the oven cookies? We sure do and we’re pretty sure that most of the family does too! Find yummy Holiday cookie recipes on our Pinterest page.
8. Sing Along to the Sounds of the Season!
With the hustle and bustle of hectic holiday travel it’s always fun when you crank up the car radio and start bopping in your seat as you sing along to your favorite holiday jams. Check out our Holiday Lyrics Pinterest Board!
9. Send Holiday Cards
What a perfect way to let someone know you are thinking of them. We send cards to family and friends to let them know we haven’t forgotten them and that we want to wish them a safe and happy holiday season. Holiday Cards are so much fun and so festive with all their beautiful imagery or personalized pictures of families you just must smile when you open the mailbox and see them. Picking out the perfect holiday cards are almost as much fun as picking out that prefect gift for your special someone.
10. Black Friday and Cyber Monday Holiday Shopping!
Now we’re talking!! The search for that perfect gift or the best holiday bargain is one exciting tradition that many people partake in. The biggest shopping day of the year marks the unofficial beginning of the Holiday shopping season. Cyber Monday is when all the sales hit the online retailers and instead of fighting the crowds in the stores you shop from the comfort of your home and have the purchases delivered to you!
11. Kissing Under the Mistletoe
Lather on the lip gloss and pucker up buttercup. The tradition of kissing under the mistletoe started in ancient Greece, the plants association with fertility and life made it a common find at marriage ceremonies. The tradition of the mistletoe holds that men could sneak a kiss from any woman standing under the mistletoe. Any refusal was considered bad luck.
12. Holiday Movies
Cuddling on the sofa with a cozy blanket and a glass of milled wine, warm spiced cider or some delicious hot chocolate is the perfect way to spend a night in watching some holiday classics. For me my favorite holiday go to movie is now the Polar Express but growing up I could never get enough of those classic Christmas cartoons like Frosty the Snowman and of course The Grinch with his dog Max. Why not host a movie marathon and check out some of these great classics tonight? Check out our Holiday Movies Pinterest Board.
13. The Holiday Feast
The best of the best. No Holiday meal is complete without all the yummy goodness of the traditional holiday meal. Family and friends coming together to spend quality time with one another, reminiscing and sharing stories, all the love and laughter. Plus…FOOD!!! Who doesn’t just love all that mouthwatering deliciousness? The smell of pies baking in the oven, the moist plump turkey or perhaps you prefer another main dish like ham or beef? It's all good! Warm homemade stuffing, maybe a green bean casserole, or sweet potatoes with marshmallows and granola…YES PLEASE!! No matter what’s on the menu this year, the important thing is spending time with family and friends. Find more Holiday Recipes on our Pinterest page.
14. Family Game Night
Take a break this holiday season and enjoy some time with friends and family, gatherings are a great time to break out the board games and have some fun. Monopoly anyone?? Yeah I know it can take hours but the latest version called Monopoly Speed only takes 15 minutes from setup to finish! There’s a ton of variations of Monopoly now including my favorite Monopoly Banker it does all the banking work for you! Have you ever played the dreidel game? This Hanukkah tradition is a super fun game that any family would enjoy, give it a try! Anyone can play and it’s fun for hours.
15. Holiday Candles
Traditional religious and cultural candelabras including menorahs and kinaras along with other festive holiday centerpieces adorn tabletops and mantles in many homes across the globe. From the soft warm glow of candlelight creating that magical ambiance to the fragrant scents of the season, candles are found everywhere during the winter holidays. The scents to get this holiday season are oatmeal cookie, vanilla bean, cinnamon, cedar and pine. My nose is already tingling waiting for those scents to fill my house. Can you smell them too?
16. Story Time!
A family tradition that stands the test of time. Does your family read The Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve? Maybe an excerpt from a religious reading, such as the birth of Jesus? How about the ever-popular Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol? Grab your pajamas and cuddle under the covers and let the story begin…Want to start a new tradition? How about having Santa Claus read to you? He can with Storytime with Santa.
17. The Elf on the Shelf
The idea behind the Elf on that Shelf is that this little helper comes into your home to encourage the children to behave. The story is that the Elf watches over the children, their activities and behavior then returns to the North Pole at night, reporting back to Santa Claus. The elf is moved around by parents as needed and can create messes and mischief for added fun. Many families name their elf, and it comes back year after year to visit them This latest addition to this trendy tradition is a book written by Greg Wolfe. It is an attempt to explain to his son and other Jewish kids why Santa Claus won't be coming to visit them without creating misunderstanding and heartbreak. His book is called Shmelf the Hanukkah Elf.
18. UGLY HOLIDAY SWEATERS!
May they never go away!! Holiday attire is based on however you choose to celebrate. From ugly Sweaters to plaid pajamas, tuxedos to dashikis, you’re only limited by your imagination. For ugly sweaters the worse the are the better, and if they are comical in nature bonus points!! Mine is made out of green garland and has colored mini ornaments hanging from it, with a snowman and a protruding carrot nose in the middle of my back. Its hideous and I absolutely love it.
19. The Magic of Giving
Spend some time helping the homeless or those less fortunate by volunteering. Contact your local churches or Red Cross to volunteer in a soup kitchen or maybe a blood drive. Ring a bell for the Salvation Army. Do the shopping for an elderly neighbor or help them write their Holiday cards. There are infinite opportunities to volunteer your time and give back to the community. You’ll feel good that you did. Giving is Better than Receiving.
20. Quick and Easy Holiday Craft Decor
Here’s a quick and easy do it yourself project. Make those fun construction paper loops that you glue together to countdown the days until your holiday. Red and green for Christmas or whatever color match your holiday scheme. Blue and white for Hanukkah and Red, Green and Black for Kwanzaa. Its super easy just cut construction paper into equal size strips. Make the first one on into a loop and secure it with either glue, tape or staples. Slip the next slip of paper through and create a loop linking the two together and secure it. Keep going for as many days as you like or for however long you want your chain to be. We have made these and used them as garland on our tree. It’s a fun way to get together as a family for a little arts and crafts!
21. Countdown to the Holiday Season
One of our favorite traditions are Advent Calendars. You can get premade advent calendars, filled with little chocolate shapes, at most drug stores and large retail outlets, or get one made of wood that you can use year after year and fill it with whatever you like. The advent calendar is a 25-day countdown where you open one door each day to reveal your surprise.
22. Holiday Travel
Make your own tradition. Each person is unique, why not make your holiday experience unique to you and your loved ones? Visit family and friends, go on a holiday getaway to someplace new and exotic or maybe visit the beach or the mountains, whatever you do its all about you and your family.
Remember no matter what holidays you celebrate, the season is a time to give thanks, reflect on the past year, and spend time with loved ones. Go ahead and incorporate these traditions into your holidays this year or make your own memories. That is the best part of a tradition, it’s truly unique to you and your loved ones.