Lifestyle News

Lifestyle News

What are your family's favorite Christmas traditions? Holiday lights? Baking cookies? Trimming the tree? (Photo by ronstik/iStock via Getty Images)

It used to be that we’d all start decorating, shopping, baking, and wrapping presents for Christmas when the calendar turned to December. But over the past 20 years or so, the kick-off to the holiday season has gotten earlier and earlier. It’s not such a bad thing, though. It just means we can enjoy our Christmas traditions longer.

First, it was Thanksgiving that was encroached upon. Now you see stores putting out the artificial Christmas trees, lights, and baubles before Halloween. The aisles become a bizarre mash-up of the macabre and the merry. Heck, because of the chillier-than-usual fall weather we’ve had this year, I still have a healthy-looking pumpkin on my front stoop next to an illuminated snowman. Go figure!

Here in the U.S., we definitely begin celebrating Christmas earlier than most other countries. No matter when we start, we have very specific holiday activities and we do them all in a big way. While door-to-door caroling may not be so much of a thing anymore, we have plenty of other things to keep us busy and feeling festive from October through the end of the year.

What are your family’s favorite Christmas traditions? I assume you love listening to Christmas music or you wouldn’t be here. That’s a given so it doesn’t even need to go on the list. Just as Santa has eight tiny reindeer pulling his sleigh, here are eight Christmas traditions that pull Americans through the holiday season every year.

America’s Favorite Christmas Traditions

  • 8. Building a gingerbread house

    Gingerbread is one of those things you only see during the holiday season. It makes a great cookie and is also a reliable building material. You can certainly make your own gingerbread house from scratch, but most people opt for the easier route with a store-bought kit. Either way, it’s a fun Christmas activity, especially if the weather is keeping you inside.

    Close up of gingerbread house

    (Photo by Tom Merton/OJO Images via Getty Images)

  • 7. Writing letters and leaving cookies for Santa Claus

    If there’s something you want Santa Claus to bring for you as he makes his flight around the world on Christmas Eve, you had better let him know. Old fashioned snail mail to the North Pole is the way to do it and Operation Santa can help. It also wouldn’t hurt to leave out a snack for the big fella either!

    The hand of Santa Claus takes cookies from a plate with a Christmas tree in the background.

    (Photo by Irina Gutyryak/iStock via Getty Images)

  • 6. Baking Christmas cookies

    If you’re going to leave some cookies out for Santa, you’d better warm up the oven. Every family I know has its favorite Christmas cookies that must be made each holiday season. It’s as important as putting a tree in the living room. In my family, we always have some classic sugar cookies, peanut butter blossoms with the Hershey kisses, and almond-y Jan Hagel cookies.

    Young woman making shaped cookies with cutter for Christmas. Living room decorated with Christmas tree in the background.

    (Photo by jacoblund/iStock via Getty Images)

  • 5. Watching Christmas movies

    What’s better on a cold night than getting the fireplace going and settling in on the couch with one of your favorite holiday movies? Will it be a heartwarming Hollywood classic like It’s A Wonderful Life or Miracle on 34th Street? How about a Christmas comedy like Elf or A Christmas Story? Or maybe you’re in the mood from something schmaltzier on Lifetime. Hey, we don’t judge. Here’s a list of America’s most beloved Christmas movies to help you decide!

    Couple watching tv and eating popcorn at home, covered with blanket during Christmas season.

    (Photo by Prostock-Studio/iStock via Getty Images)

  • 4. Christmas lights and decorations

    Speaking of holiday movies, Clark Griswold’s house in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is still the standard by which all displays of residential exterior illumination are measured. You can do it yourself and put Christmas lights on your house, or  go see what the pros have done at places like Speedway Christmas, DSBG’s Holidays at the Garden, or McAdenville, a.k.a. Christmas Town USA. Either way, it’s always a Merry Christmas for the power company!

    Christmas lights and reindeer

    (Photo by Nicola Colombo/iStock via Getty Images)

  • 3. Trimming the tree

    According to a poll from, 39% of Americans prefer a real Christmas tree, 45% are happier with a reusable artificial Christmas tree, and the rest just aren’t sure. No matter which camp you fall into, the tree is the thing that brings Christmas into your home. Many families have ornaments that hold some special meaning and putting them on the tree in an important holiday tradition.

    Close up of Christmas Tree decorated with antique glass baubles and colored lights in kitsch retro 70s style

    (Photo by PoppyPixels/iStock via Getty Images)

  • 2. Giving and getting presents

    Christmas presents are your whole reason for living when you’re a kid, but it’s still nice to be surprised by something new under the tree or in your stocking at any age. And it can be downright hilarious if you take part in a “Secret Santa” or “White Elephant” gift exchange at work or school.

    Shocked little boy looking at Christmas gift at home in the living room

    (Photo by Wavebreakmedia/iStock via Getty Images)

  • 1. Spending time with family and friends

    This is what it’s all about! Whether your family is religious or not, we can all agree that Christmas is when loved ones should get together, even if it’s only once a year. And it doesn’t matter who those people are! They could be your immediate family, other relatives, friends from childhood, college roommates, or your favorite co-workers. The holiday season is a time to appreciate one another, reminisce about the past, and make new memories.

    Two women hugging in room with Christmas tree

    (Photo by LuckyBusiness/iStock via Getty Images)

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