We Asked, You Answered: What Is Your Favorite Holiday Tradition?

by Katie Cloyd
Ten holiday candles
The Good Brigade/Getty

For those of us who love the holiday season, carrying on our favorite traditions can make this time of the year feel nostalgic and magical.

Scary Mommy asked, “What’s your favorite holiday tradition?” and you delivered! Here are twenty of our favorites to warm your holiday-loving heart.

Not surprisingly, lots of us cherish holiday traditions that include yummy meals with our loved ones.

Growing up, we’d do the unwrapping gifts and eating candy from our stockings after getting up entirely too early. Then around 10am, my daddy would always cook a big country breakfast. Eggs, bacon, country ham, grits, biscuits … the whole shebang. Mama would set the table with her pretty Christmas dishes. Now that my brother and I are grown up with our own families, we still go home for Christmas brunch. I look forward to it all year! — MaryKate H.

My mom’s family is Italian-American, and we celebrate Christmas Eve with the Feast of the Seven Fishes. We make seafood dishes, some traditional and some modern, and eat until we are stuffed. Over the years, we have hosted our friends, their extended families, and even a few neighbors who wandered in when they heard the festivities. — Jeanne S.

Two Words: Meat. Pie. My French-Canadian family gets together in mid-December to make meat pies together and we freeze them for Christmas Eve. I like eating them, but I like making them with my family even more. — Genie W.

What’s a holiday without some gift giving?

My family does the “hide the pickle” thing. My mom puts a green glass pickle ornament on the tree and whoever finds it first gets $100. I’m the reigning champ, so I’m not allowed to play this year. Nobody can win two pickles in a row. — Will H.When I was about three years old, my parents asked me what I wanted for Christmas, and I answered, “A lipstick set!” My toddler lisp made it come out as “lipthtick thet.” My dad was so tickled that he bought me a lipstick set — and he has every single year since. I’m 37, and I know that I will be getting makeup for Christmas, and my daddy has good taste! I always get the best gift sets from Ulta or Sephora. Nothing like the love of a good dad. — Muffy G.

I was one of many children in my family and money was always tight. Instead of stockings, my mom would spend the whole year filling homemade Christmas pillowcases with little trinkets for us. We rarely got big gifts, but it took us a long time to wade through our stockings, and we always loved it. One thing she always included was summer sausage with crackers. We are grown now and the tradition has died. We live far away from my parents, and rarely see them on holidays. My wife knows how much those stocking meant to me as a kid, so she always buys a simple stocking and fills it with meats, cheese and crackers. She even makes a matching stocking for my brother so he can relive some holiday magic, too. –Scott C.

Our Hanukkah-celebrating friends cherish the season.

We celebrate two holidays, Hanukkah and Christmas. I love dressing my kids in matching Hanukkah pajamas and taking a picture of them in front of the Christmas tree! — Cara L.

My family celebrates Hanukkah, but all of our friends do Christmas. Every year we spend one night with each of our closest friends sharing our traditions and exchanging gifts with their families. Some of our friends’ little ones have been lighting the with us menorah since birth. — Emily D.

We celebrate Hanukkah, and every year we pick one of the eight nights for our kids to go shopping and buy gifts for a toy drive instead of receiving a gift that night. — Renee T.

There’s nothing like a good Christmas movie to make it feel like the holidays.

Every year, my husband and I watch “Love, Actually” and wrap presents after the kids go to bed on Christmas Eve. I know a lot of people hate that movie, but we saw it in the theatre the first Christmas we were together, and we have never missed a year. — Katie C.

My grandfather served in WWII with Jimmy Stewart, so he was always really keen on watching “It’s A Wonderful Life” with us grandkids. He’s been gone for many years, but every Christmas season, I make sure that I turn it on, even if it just plays in the background while I do something else. It reminds me of my sweet Pop-Pop. — Katy G.

Some of the best holiday traditions are the ones we have kept from our own childhoods!

My parents always wrapped our doors after we went to bed (probably so we couldn’t peek at the presents!) They went all out with Christmas paper and big bows, and it was always so much fun to break through in the morning. I do the same for my kids now. –MJ F.

At my house, Santa brings gifts wrapped in Santa paper, and mom and dad wrap gifts in paper that reflects each kid’s interest that year. We also get each kid an ornament that reflects something about their year. My parents did the same. — Caroline Q.

Santa Mouse has a little stocking on our tree and every couple of days after Thanksgiving and leading up to Christmas he leaves a small gift in the stocking for our son. Just little things like tasty chocolate or a small Starbucks gift card or a little toy … sometimes when our son was little Santa Mouse would leave little notes with the gifts, too. Our son is 15 now, but he still loves Santa Mouse’s little surprises, which makes my heart all warm and Christmassy! — Ingrid J.

Oodles of us listed spending quality time slowing down with the people we love as our favorite holiday tradition.

On Christmas Eve we get mani/pedis, then go to Sugarplum afternoon tea at the Washington Duke Inn, have an easy dinner, and open presents from family that night. It’s blissful! — Lisa C.

Our little town always puts on a Christmas parade, and we always go. It’s hokey and probably not the best parade in the country, but it’s ours and we love it. — Stephanie G.

We never miss the chance to drive around with cups of hot chocolate and look at Christmas lights. One year we rented a limo with friends and took a guided tour, but most of the time, we just pile into the car and go look for houses that have gone all out. –Mandy P.

The holidays are the perfect time to take care of your fellow humans.

Our family can’t afford to sponsor a child or family’s entire Christmas on our own, but we can when we call in reinforcements! Every year, I call on my parents, in-laws, aunts and uncles and anyone else who wants to participate, and we work with a local organization to provide a beautiful Christmas for a child or family who needs a little holiday miracle. — Addy W.

I always buy two of whatever toy my son requests from Santa — one for my child, and one that I give away. I list it on a local page for free for anyone who is struggling at Christmas, and someone always picks it up in minutes. I guess I can’t really be sure that the people who take them really need it, but I like to think that another child with similar interests to my son has a better Christmas because of us. — Melissa W.

My husband gets a small bonus each year around Christmas, and we are lucky and privileged enough to not truly need it most of the time. When we first got married, he had the idea to cash the check in small bills and give them away. We took the money and tucked it under groceries on the shelves all over our grocery store. We haven’t done it every year, but we have done it several more times, and I love the idea that someone will eat better or a shelf-stocker will find a little surprise because of us. — Jess J.

And then there’s this beautiful story from a loving stepmom who asked to remain completely anonymous.

I honestly used to hate Christmas. I completely ignored Christmas for a decade once I hit adulthood. Then I became a stepmom to the raddest, happiest tween girl alive, and she melted my Grinch heart. She invited me to bake Christmas cookies with her and her mom the first year I knew her, oblivious to how awkward that might be. We did it for her. She’s sixteen now, and we have never missed a year. I don’t have any other children, and she doesn’t call me Mom, but she’s given me the chance to be the mom I never had in a lot of ways. She saved Christmas.

Are you crying like I’m crying!? The holidays can be tough and stressful, but they also carry so much love and tradition and memories for a lot of us, and it’s nice to reflect on the beauty.