Ask the Readers: What Is Your Favorite Holiday Tradition?

By Ashley Jacobs on 16 December 2014 51 comments

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Bethany, Kristin, and Christina for winning this week's contest!

There are certain holiday traditions that we come back to year after year. They reflect our values, they are fun, or they taste really, really good. They're often the things we look forward to most when winter rolls in.

What is your favorite holiday tradition? Did you pick it up from other family or friends, or was it something you started doing one day — and then it stuck? What kind of preparations (if any) do you need to make for this tradition?

Tell us about your favorite holiday tradition and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

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Guest's picture
KelR1

We usually take one night of the holiday season to drive around and look at Christmas lights (hubby, our two dogs, and me). Then we come home and enjoy some Christmas cookies. :)

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Tina in NJ

My favorite Christmas tradition is the music, particularly the old carols.

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Gina

Our family always opened one present on Christmas Eve and the rest on Christmas day and I continue that tradition. We also always have a new set of pajamas each year. It's just part of Christmas.

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Julie Wood

My favorite Holiday Tradition is making my Cut Out Christmas Sugar Cookies! I share them with everyone and my daughter loves making these every year!

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Ernest S.

I love our tradition of driving down some of our local neighborhoods and seeing all the beautifully decorated homes while playing holiday music. It always gets me excited about the holidays!

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Making Christmas cookies with my mom and sister!

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Nicole Dz

Making ugly Christmas sweaters every year with the family. So much fun.

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Liisa

Making my great-grandmother's Finnish Tarts and Finnish Cinnamon Bread. I remember doing this with my mother and grandmother as a child and the smells, textures and tastes always bring me straight back to childhood.

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Guest

My boyfriend and I decorate a gingerbread house each year. The first year we did it because we found one on sale after Christmas (we celebrate together ourselves after Christmas due to being with our own families on the actual day) and I thought it would be fun. We have continued that every year.

Donna Freedman's picture

Cookies! Making them, eating them, giving them as gifts. For the past few years I've been doing candy as well: two criminally easy recipes for sea-salt caramels and peanut brittle. People think you've labored for hours. Let 'em think that. ;-)

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Revanche

Eons ago, my friends and I started baking together for the holidays. Some years it was pie, other years, cookies. Even though we don't get to see each other much now, we still coordinate and bake "together".

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Selene Montgomery

We open presents one at a time so everybody can see what everyone else gets. We started this when we were first married and continued with our 5 children and 11 grandchildren. It makes the gift-giving last longer, parents can keep track of what their kids got from whom, and teaches the kids a lesson in patience. The only preperation is to have everyone involved in the room before we start.

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Bethany M

We like to decorate the Christmas tree with Christmas music and hot chocolate.

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Dee Dee

Baking cookies with my mom.

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alona

Our Church's Giving Tree :)

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Happy Love

We enjoy baking Christmas treats and sharing them with family and friends.

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Guest

Every year, we go to an historic theater that plays It's a Wonderful Life, and the audience brings bells to jingle when Clarence makes an appearance, and hisses when Potter appears, and general goofiness ensues. My girls are now 10 and 12 and have been every year since I was pregnant with the oldest. It's one of my favorite traditions.

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Toni B

We like to use recyclable boxes i.e. cereal, oatmeal, etc instead of buying gift boxes. It's cheaper & more fun because you really don't know what you're getting.

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Elle P.

I love to drive around at night and look at the beautiful holiday lights and decorations with my family.

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Mami2jcn

My favorite tradition is decorating the tree.

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Olivia

When we first married we combined our family traditions a bit and added a few of our own. Since we moved to Pennsylvania Dutch country we've hidden a pickle ornament on our tree. (A German tradition.) Every year the kids scramble to find it. Whoever does first, gets to open a present on Christmas Eve.

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Janie Gentry

My husband and I get up early on Christmas morning and begin our day by visiting our grandson's grave and placing Christmas flowers. Then we drive about an hour and have breakfast with our older daughter and her family. After all the gifts have been opened, we drive another half hour and have Christmas with our other daughter and her husband and four of their children. When we get home, it's time to relax and spend the rest of the day together.

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Susan Smith

On Christmas Eve we drive around looking at Christmas lights and then come home and drink eggnog and open one present.

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Suz_Glo

Our family tradition is to attend an early evening church service on Christmas Eve and then drive through town looking at holiday light displays while listening to Christmas carols.

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lostAnnfound

Cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning. Ever since the kids were little we've been doing this. Even now that they are 19 & 21 they look forward to getting the rolls in the oven, then starting to open the gifts.

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JD

I really enjoy baking and sharing with neighbors and a few others in our rural community.

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Christie

One of our favorite things; We save our wrapping paper after we've opened our gifts, then have a huge wrapping paper snowball fight. It's fabulous.

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Judy

My favorite tradition is the way our family opens Christmas gifts. We give them out and everyone piles theirs up. Then we start opening, usually with the youngest, and go around and around the room, one at a time, opening one gift. That way everyone gets to see what everyone else got and who gave it. Plus it helps to keep up with throwing paper away and not accidentally throwing away money or gift cards.

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Monica

I love to eat all the yummy food we only make and buy around Christmas and Thanksgiving. This weekend we will be making tamales and they are so yummy!

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Kristin G

My favorite tradition is decorating the tree with my family! I love visiting Santa's village and getting pics done as well.

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An g

we open one present each on Christmas eve

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Nicole

We play Crazy BINGO on Christmas Eve every year. One of us buys a bunch of little gifts and wraps them up. Then each time someone wins at BINGO, they get to choose a gift, or they can steal one that was already taken (and the person whose gift is taken gets to select a new one). This goes on until everyone has a gift (so if you've already won, you sit out the subsequent rounds unless you'd like the chance to steal a gift). Once gifts are opened you can swap if you'd like.

The fun part for me is picking out the gifts (since I've taken over this tradition from my mother) as well as watching everyone go after the gift they think is the "big" prize (i.e. money or a gift card). It's just a lot of fun and not very expensive when you have 8 people participating like we usually do. I look forward to it every year and is why I kept the tradition going when my mom got tired of coordinating it.

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kelly

Getting small gifts in our stockings the 12 days before Christmas… It always makes the days leading up to Christmas a little more special.

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Wendy Roberson Welch

After the extended family Christmas get together on Christmas Eve, we bundle up, grab hot chocolate and snacks, pile into the car, and go around the city looking at Christmas lights and decorations. It's a nice way to unwind and spend a little one on one time with the kiddos.

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Donna Sako

Baking cookies is my favorite.

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Rose Marie

Just for fun, even though there are no children in the house, I like to leave a glass of milk and plate of home made, decorated cookies near the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. I take a photo of it, then put the milk and cookies in the fridge overnight (because I have cats). In the morning, I drink the milk and eat the cookies, deliberately leaving cookie crumbs and a half eaten cookie on the plate, and put the glass and plate back out near the tree, and take another photo. One year I even left a fresh carrot out (for the reindeer), and included that in my "before" photo, too. In the morning, the carrot was put back in the fridge before I took the "after" photo. I use different glasses and plates each year, and just have fun with this idea.

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Lynda

my favorite holiday tradition is a cookie exchange between the cousins.

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Mary W

Every year on the Saturday before Christmas, I host a charity sit down dinner at my property. First comes a day of fun and games and then we share a big mid-day meal together. This year 40 people will be attending. It's a lot of work and tons of fun.

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Susan P.

We always make a few new ornaments each year and remember making ones from previous years as we decorate the Christmas tree.

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Emily

I am well into my 30s and still find my advent calendar incredibly exciting. And my tree all lit up makes me giddy every time.

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Louly

Our family used to take a picture in the same position in front of the tree each year. We did this for over 20 years. It's very cool because you can actually see my sister and I grow up right before your very eyes each year :)

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Linda F.

I enjoy baking holiday cookies with my husband.

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Jane L

I love cooking up a feast with my family. Very cozy (& chaotic)!

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Christina

Christmas trees!

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Laura J

Oh one of my favorite traditions is the Rudolph Kiss! Growing up every Christmas morning we would wake up and have a red dot on our hand...which was Rudolphs kiss!!! I carried in on to my son...and now my grandson! We have so much fun with it every year!

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Betty

Most of our holiday traditions are the desserts we serve, but my favorite tradition is playing games after dinner. Lots of laughs!

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BRB

Watching the Garfield Christmas special!

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Megan

Probably my favorite is packing up the kids in the van, bringing along hot chocolate, a movie, and then driving around looking at lights.

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Guest

My parents don't put names on the gifts, but a riddle instead. It's a fun way to make us work for our presents. :)

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Carmen

Attending candlelight Christmas Eve service; it's a calm after all the business.

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Whitney

I'm a pastor, so my favorite holiday tradition is the huge nap I get to take after I've done all the Christmas church services! :)