19 Unique Family Holiday Traditions
Some families go to church... others have a Christmas COPS marathon.
1. Do a little gambling.
"My dad hosts the annual X-mas Texas Hold 'Em tournament! It's usually on the 21st and goes on until the wee hours of the morning." — moviepsychoreviews
2. Enjoy the seasonal delight known as "White Castle."
"My family got burgers and milkshakes from White Castle after getting our Christmas tree every year, but the weird thing is we only ever went to White Castle on that night — so, for a while, I thought White Castle was this seasonal treat that everyone waited all year for. You can imagine my delight, then, when I figured out that White Castle is just a regular old fast food joint I could visit whenever I wanted, and the confusion of everyone around me when I talked about how much it reminds me of the holidays. I took advantage of that freedom for a while in college, but I still like to think of it as a special, disgusting, delicious treat." — Arianna Rebolini
3. Watch terrible TV.
"There is always a COPS and Alaska State Troopers marathon going on, so our good family friends come over and we open each other's gifts, eat salmon pie, and watch a shit ton of people getting arrested." — katew431ca5b08
4. Create a "baby indoor forest."
"For the past ten years or so, my family has lived in house too small to have a regular sized Christmas tree, so we resort to having eight or nine tiny trees (each about three feet tall) kind of littered around our family room, like a baby indoor forest. Each tree has a theme: one contains ornaments from my mother's childhood and her Prussian grandparents, one has Coca-Cola products to support my father's borderline-crazy brand loyalty, one has all the elementary school ornaments my two siblings and I made growing up, and another holds up Jewish 'ornaments" of sorts (a menorah, a yarmulke and a mezuzah, among other things) to pay homage to my Prussian grandfather's love for the faith although he himself was Mormon. We each have favorites (my brother loves the Coke tree, I prefer the vintage ornaments and my sister always goes for the ones we made as children), and it's always a race to see which one of us can grab our favorites and hang it up first." — missmadiejean
5. Have a David Sedaris extravaganza.
"A week or so before christmas, we drive out to St. Paul's Abbey in Newton, NJ to cut down our tree. On the way out, we always listen to David Sedaris' Holidays on Ice, especially 'The Santaland Diaries' and '6-8 Black Men.' There's usually a Santa riding a horse and handing out candy canes, and one year we saw skydivers landing in nearby fields. And more often than not, some snow, even when the rest of the state has none. Getting psyched just thinking about it." — therblig
6. Make 'em hunt for their gifts.
"After eating dinner on Christmas Eve, we would find envelopes that Santa had left in our mailbox. One for each person, containing scraps of paper saying where in the house our presents had been hidden. We'd take turns finding a present and bringing it back to the living room to open. My brother and I always knew that 'Santa' was really our grandfather, and now carry on the tradition ourselves." — tweedc4
7. Eat ice cream cake and drink Slurpees.
"My family ALWAYS had an ice cream log cake on Christmas Eve, WITHOUT fail. Our new thing to do on Christmas Day is to head into NYC for the day and see the tree at Rock Center, and also the decorated windows! Most important, we stop for pizza at the greasiest pizza joint right next to the tree. Also, since we have a lot of family on Long Island we will often be down there for holidays. It is sort of an unwritten rule that we will stop for Slurpees at 7-Eleven on our way home...even if there is snow outside and we have already had dessert. Because the more sugar during the holidays, the better!" — Sam Stryker
8. Exchange Christmas pajamas.
"Our family pulls names out of a hat and then gives that person a pair of Christmas pajamas. That person must wear them to bed that night and for Christmas morning the next day. Santa does projects so no slipping them on in the morning just before heading down to the tree." — markd44201e6fa
9. Have a holiday dog (and cat) pile.
"My two Bernese mountain dogs, my cat, my sister, my parents, and I all cram into my parents' bed and watch 'Elf'." — ambera44060db14
10. Host a family cookie party for the youngest generation.
"My grandmother used to have all the grandkids and great-grandkids over with no other 'adults' to bake cookies all day about a week before Christmas. (I figured out as I grew that became the day all our parents wrapped everything for Christmas). We'd cut out the sugar cookies and frost them but every year would also devolve from a Norman Rockwell picturesque event into a flour fight that left everything and everyone caked in white. We always, among many other photos, took one big posed group picture in front of the tree. Every year we would add the pictures into a photo album known as 'The Cookie Party Book.' About a year before she passed, grandma had me scan all the photos and make a copy of the book for all the adult grandchildren. Our copies go from the early 80s and end with what would be the second-to-last cookie party. It's now a favorite tradition to go through the album every holiday to reminisce and watch us all grow up through the pages." — Michael Kirk Lane, Facebook
11. Make it rain.
"Every Christmas Eve we put hay under my Baba's (grandmother's) table to symbolize the manger Christ laid in when he was born...but then we throw a shit ton of coins in it to symbolize wealth and prosperity for the new year, and my cousins and I fight it out to get the most money. Last year I made $25 dollars from this, no joke! Those nickels really add up." — alexa155
12. Make it rain (with candy).
"It's been a tradition in my family for generations for Santa to throw candy through the roof to the kids when he catches them being good. My Papaw did it for my dad and his brother, and my dad did this for my brother and I. It was always so magical for candy to rain down from no where when were sitting and playing or watching a Christmas movie.
One year my brother started to question that it was actually my dad throwing the candy, so my dad rigged up a catapult on top of the fridge and ran the pull string down in the basement. He waited until my mom had gone and went down in the basement and launched the candy. Since dad was in the basement and mom was at the store, you could not have convinced two kids more that Santa Claus was real. I can't wait for him to throw candy to my kids one day." — Erika Martin, Facebook
13. Make Christmas pizzas.
"Since I have no family on my side to visit for a big Christmas dinner, and my wife's family always gets together on a weekend before or after Christmas, there was no tradition for Christmas Eve. When my daughter was born (and a few years later, my son was born) we started making homemade pizza from scratch, making that our Christmas Eve tradition and leaving the traditional dinner for Christmas Day. Always fun to work together with the kids and make the pizzas. (Leftovers taste good on Christmas morning!)" — ncmacasl
14. Skip the classic Christmas movies in favor of Muppets (and booze).
"Everyone I know does stuff on Christmas Eve, but not us. No way. We don't even have fancy dinner on Christmas eve. Instead, we watch A Muppet Christmas Carol and get way too drunk, then pass out and wake up around 9 a.m. for Christmas. We revolted against my mom one year and refused to watch the 1940 A Christmas Carol and it's been Muppets ever since." — Sarah Smith, Facebook
15. Get yourself a family elf.
"On Christmas Eve, one of Santa's naughty elves named Impy visits us. He makes a mess, normally of cookie crumbs, and hides one present for each of us. Sometimes they're useful gifts, sometimes they're weird gag gifts. Once we all go off looking for our presents, we're not supposed to tell anyone if we find theirs, so it's all quite a big mystery. What a silly elf." — Sami Main
16. Bully your mother.
"A Christmas tradition our family has is maybe also a form of bullying. We always get the obligatory box or two of Quality Street, and my mother has a fondness for the ones with hazelnuts and caramel in them that come in the purple wrapping. Me and my dad are often the first ones to open these boxes so we empty the purple ones out, hide them all except for two, which we save for whenever my mother starts the hunt for them to save them for herself. When she starts to complain there's none in the box we start to unwrap them and act like we have the only two which were in the box, and as by this time she's had a couple of glasses of wine, shall we say her language gets a bit colourful towards us until she realises what we've done and we give her our hoarde. She never seems to catch on though we do this every year." — Julie Mableson, Facebook
17. Beat each other's asses.
"Our favorite Christmas tradition is wrapping paper tube sword fights on Christmas Eve. We save up all the tubes from the rolls of wrapping paper we use and beat the snot out of each other when we gather on Christmas Eve. We've done it since my sister and I were kids and now it's grown to include our spouses and families. No one can remember how it started, but no one wants to stop!!" — Yvonne Brixius LoPresto, Facebook
18. Have yourself a merry little snack ham.
"Snack Ham. It started on Easter but sometimes applies to other holidays on an as-needed basis. It's a spiral sliced ham that's prepared a day or two before the big holiday meal and is meant entirely for snacking. You just rip off a piece as you walk by, eat it in front of the TV, put it on some bread, whatever you want." — Katie Luscombe, Facebook
19. Troll your children and grandchildren.
"On Christmas Eve, my husband's grandfather gives each person in the family a large cardboard box of gifts that are 'from Wonder,' his cat who has been dead for 10+ years. Inside each cardboard box is a large collection of weird gag gifts that he's collected from thrift stores throughout the year. While the gifts ridiculous/random/weird, they are always perfectly-tailored to the recipient. (And are often really embarrassing, like all the books about sex and pregnancy I received the year my husband and I started dating.) Grandpa died last month and I'm hoping my husband will pick up the torch with the Wonder gifts at some point." — Rachel W. Miller