1. My grandpa would always get up on the roof about an hour after our bedtime and stomp around on the roof with sleigh bells.
2. Every year my wife and I buy an ornament for our tree that corresponds with something that happened that year. So we have a tree filled with all of these weird wacky ornaments like a tennis ball (we started playing tennis that year), Swedish chef (Europe trip), Ship Captain Nutcracker (our first cruise), amongst many others. It’s such a fun tradition in December to debate what we to get and then finding something. And then reliving them all when we put them up.
3. Every Christmas the kids in the house have wrapping paper put over the entrances to their rooms so they get to rip through it in the morning. It originally started as a way to keep a certain kid in when he kept coming out early and opening presents before everyone was awake.
4. Each year we cut a round off the bottom of our Christmas tree. We label it with the year. Over time it makes a sweet display/reminder of years past.
5. Shaker present. Shake present, ask yes or no questions, and if you figure it out before Christmas, you open it.
6. Everyone makes plates for someone else in the family. No one is allowed to get food and drinks for themselves. It reminds my kids that even little gestures show appreciation for those around you, and to not be selfish when it comes to making others feel loved.
7. We sit in a circle and pass around a bowl of Jelly Belly Bean-Boozle beans. Just to watch each other’s disgusted reactions really.
8. My family has a tradition of leaving riddles on cards and guessing what the gift is before opening.
We go around one by one, reading our hint out loud so everyone can guess, then open it and show the room.
Ends up taking like 5 hours for everyone to get through their gifts, but it’s always a fun time.
9. We have signs all over our house spelling out Leon instead of Noel. It started out as a joke because my dad is dyslexic, but it stuck and we even named our dog Leon and we’ve been doing it since I can remember.
10. We hide a Christmas Spider in our tree and on Christmas morning the kids get to look for the spider. Whoever finds it gets to open the spider’s gift (usually it’s something they can share).
11. Santa puts the stockings on everyone’s bed. This way, the kids can play with the stuff in the stockings and the adults get more sleep.
12. We watch Home Alone every year, know the movie script inside out now.
13. Can’t open gifts in my house until you have a mimosa to drink.
14. We always put an orange or tangerine in the Christmas stocking. I think the tradition started when my Oma was a child in WWII era Germany and fresh produce was hard to come by. She passed away but we will always put oranges in the stocking in memory of her.
15. I always put a train up around my Christmas tree.
16. We have two main traditions. First, on Christmas morning, breakfast is always a pan of cinnamon rolls and orange rolls. And second, on Christmas you can’t get dressed for the day; everyone has to wear pajamas all day, no exceptions.
17. Every year my family buys every other member a gag/joke/small gift, then writes a poem about it, for the recipient to read on Christmas Eve. It’s probably the highlight of the entire season for me, as it’s always filled with laughter at how terrible we all are at poetry. No matter how old we all get, this is a really fun way to bring everyone back to that root joy of spending time together (this year it will be virtual, but still fun).
18. My grandmother gave us a blowup Santa in an outhouse. My family thought it would look weird in our yard, so now we prank friends on Christmas Eve by putting it on the front door and waiting for them to see it.
19. We hide a pickle in the Christmas tree, the person who finds it gets an extra present.
20. The tradition in our house was whatever you got for Christmas, you had to wear to the pub at lunchtime on Christmas Day. I’ve been to the pub in PJs, 4 pairs of socks, running vest and shorts, etc.
21. A tradition we had when I was a child, and one I’ll be continuing with my children when I have them, is the Christmas Eve box. For Christmas Eve, we were given one gift early, and it was a box with Christmas pajamas, a mug, hot chocolate mix, popcorn, and a Christmas movie. We would get to open it around lunchtime, and we’d spend the rest of the evening in our new jammies having cocoa and movies together.
22. We eat rice porridge and hide an almond in it. The person who finds it is the winner, and the price is a marzipan pig.
23. Wife and I order from the same Chinese restaurant every Christmas Eve. We eat from there almost exclusively on Christmas Eve – we don’t do much Chinese through the year regularly. Started one Christmas Eve when we were both feeling lazy and hasn’t stopped… 12+ years now.
24. When we were younger, my parents had a tradition with us. We would always go out into the front yard with my dad to find the “perfect” pine cone. Maybe a week or two before Christmas, we planted the pine cone in a pot and watered it. Then overnight, it would become this magnificent, huge (to my young eyes), and fully decorated Christmas tree. It only worked in December and we were always told it was the Christmas magic.
25. We always have Mcdonald’s on Christmas Eve because we leave our wrapping until the last minute and that’s all we have time for. Sounds sad, but comes with happy nostalgia from wrapping and family.
26. We design and build our own gingerbread “houses” out of homemade gingerbread. And they’ve gotten progressively more advanced. Last year I made Notre Dame cathedral (with candy cane buttresses), this year I made an Avengers Tower.
27. My husband and I celebrate “Bookmas”. On December 26th, we get all of the book money people sent us for Christmas and buy a giant stack of books. Then we go home, change into our PJs, and spend the day reading books, drinking hot chocolate, and eating some of the snacks people gave us for Christmas.
28. Each year for Christmas, instead of writing our real names on the presents, my parents would take a random theme and assign my siblings and I a name based on said theme (for example this year’s theme is liquor and the names are “Scotch,” “Whiskey,” and “Gin”) and we have to guess who is what name. Whoever guesses correctly gets a little homemade Christmas themed “trophy” called the “Christmas smartass award” that they can keep until next Christmas.
29. Leaving whisky and mince pie for Santa and a carrot for Rudolph. Reading The Night Before Christmas all tucked up in bed. Having a chocolate selection box for breakfast on Christmas morning.
30. My brother and I stay at my mother’s house on Christmas Eve with our families every year. We still sit at the top of the stairs on Christmas morning until my mother tells us we can come down to the living room to see what “Santa” left us. We’re both in our 30s and our wives and kids now sit on the stairs as well. It’s getting pretty crowded but I wouldn’t have it any other way!