Holiday traditions

I put this in the Not Games section as it does not necessarily need to deal with gaming. I am curious what holiday traditions you all have. What special things do you do to celebrate the season.

As mentioned in the Last Played Games thread, one thing my wife and I do is pick 6 games each that we attempt to play during the season. Our 12 Games of Christmas.

This year, I picked Kingdomino, Unmatched, Isle of Skye, Everdell, Hanamikoji, and Disney Villainous: Evil Comes Prepared. She picked Kingdomino, Tokaido, Takenoko, Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu, Dead of Winter, and Lords of Waterdeep. Since we both picked Kingdomino, she graciously let me pick a replacement, which was Lords of Vegas with the Up expansion.

I break out my Christmas albums to listen to in my car, mostly Bing Crosby, although Pandora has entered the rotation. We have two all-Christmas music stations that start sometime in November (earlier and earlier each year, it seems :roll_eyes:), but they play a lot of songs I just don’t care for, so CD’s and Pandora are definitely preferred.

Of course, we decorate our house. Rather sparingly, because our kids are autistic and have a tendency to destroy things. The tree has only been knocked down 5 or 6 times this year. Progress! We also try to watch a bunch of favorite Christmas movies and shows during the days leading up to Christmas.

Christmas Eve, we tend to make a bunch of appetizers for dinner after the kids are in bed and watch Die Hard, one of the ultimate Christmas movies. We then get out all the presents we’ve had stashed away all month and put them under the tree, as once again, kids. No self restraint.

This year, especially after this year of lockdowns and in-home schooling, we’ve been taking the kids on drives around the area to look at Christmas lights. Growing up, there was a neighborhood near me that went all out every year and people came from miles around to drive through it (search “candy cane lane woodland hills” if curious), and I want to have something like that for my kids.

Usually ham for Christmas dinner with a bunch of the fixin’s. If they aren’t up visiting, we often Skype with my parents so they can watch the kids open their presents. Our younger kiddo may actually participate this year, as he actually opened his birthday presents earlier this week. This day is usually when A Muppet Christmas Carol and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation get played on repeat for festive background entertainment.

Another fun thing we’ve been trying to do the past number of years, but which has only happened twice now, is to get together with our usual gaming couple on New Year’s Eve, kid-free, and just play games for hours. Usually only get three or so in, but compared to our usual kid-filled gaming days, it is glorious.

So how about it? What do you all do to celebrate this time of year?


I’ll be spending this festive period trying my “12 Gamedays of Christmas” challenge again. Twelve different games, one per day starting on Christmas Day. This year I have a bigger selection of solo games and may even have some party games with friends on Christmas Day itself, so there might be less fudging by playing two-handed games as both players. I haven’t chosen the playing order or shortlist of games yet as I need to keep some flexibility, plus I may even buy one or two more after Christmas too.


Argue with family?? :wink:

My wife and I work up until the 23rd (practices are open until lunchtime on Xmas Eve but neither of us wants to be there).

Star Wars (A New Hope) is our Christmas Eve film. For some reason we tend to eat Spag Bol on Xmas Eve (I think probably because it’s easy to prepare in advance and everyone eats it!)

We have stockings and the boys have Santa sacks as well. This year when it’s just the 4 of us we all open those presents on our bed. My wife and I do our £10 challenge presents in our stockings.

Downstairs for (more) presents under the tree (and the first coffee of the day). I don’t know what time it’ll be this year but previously it’s been very early. We try to slow the kids down so we can take stock!

This year we’re having waffles with maple syrup for breakfast. Christmas lunch at my in laws this year (more presents). It’ll be sausage rolls and smoked salmon starter (not together). Turkey and all the trimmings. We’ve ordered a cheese platter pudding. The boys will make brownies on Xmas Eve.

In the evening we’ll come home, hopefully for Star Wars Unlock


We start the traditions with 1st Advent which is the fourth Sunday before Christmas.
I bake Christmas cookies and normally we would go to the Weihnachtsmarkt to have some Schupfnudeln, Langos and Glühwein but this year the Christmas Markets were all closed and we haven’t had a single Glühwein (warm wine with sugar and spices, usually red but white variants have cropped up in recent years). We eat Magenbrot which is a type of Lebkuchen mostly sold in the Southwest of German speaking areas (this includes Switzerland).

Our tree gets put up a week or so before Christmas and stays until January 6th (Dreikönig–holiday celebrating the arrival of the three kings).

On the 24th we usually drive over to my dad’s around noon, then we visit my mom’s grave (she died on Dec 23rd many years ago, and on the very same day our friends’ daughter was born).

Around 5pm we have dinner at our place with all the local family, in recent years this has been a traditional Swiss raclette (like half a cheese, scraping off the melted parts). It used to be a meat fondue since I can remember but I cannot eat so much meat anymore and Raclette is even easier to do. This year we’ll be going to stay with my dad for 1 night (meaning we quarantine from Tuesday and haven’t met with anyone privately since last Monday). We exchange whatever presents there are on the 24th after dinner–except we don’t do personal presents anymore. I just make my photo calendars, we buy some fancy chocolates for everyone to share and my dad gives everyone a bunch of walnuts from his tree and my MiL has jams and cookies for everyone. It makes things much less stressful with the shopping. The niece and nephew are obviously exempted from this–but presents for children are much easier than for adults.

The big Christmas dinner is on 25th. Goose with Knödel and red cabbage is the most traditional. This is usually cooked by MiL so we go to their place for the 25th with BiL making a fancy desert. This year all of that is a little different… we’re not even sure yet what is going on, because they are just now changing all the rules for who can meet with who during Christmas.

A few years ago, we found out that none of us are able to eat so much food for three days straight so we cut short the family celebrations after 2 days and my partner and I have the day to ourselves, unless family from further away is in town then we do another dinner together.

We call the time of the 28th to the 31st the “time between the years” and it is usually a calm time where we mostly stay home or meet friends. A good friend has her birthday on the 29th and so we would usually have a marathon of parties after Christmas: 29th birthday party, Silvester Party (new year’s eve), BBQ with the neighbors on Jan 1st and on the 6th our friends would come to our place to celebrate the end of the season with another BBQ. This is the real tradition. I have no idea yet if we do some virtual events instead…

We have no particular boardgame traditions for Christmas except that we usually play some games but nothing formal. When I proposed the 12 games of Christmas to my partner this morning he mumbled something about Gloomhaven…


C and I have long had a custom of a substantial holiday meal on Christmas Eve, usually roast beef. This evolved partly out of seeing her family of origin on Christmas day, but now both her parents are dead and her siblings are hundreds of miles away; I don’t know if we’re going to change the timing this year.

For the past couple of years, we’ve listened to The Messiah, all the way through. We’re going to do that again this year.

When we were in California, we attended a friend’s Cthulhumas party, on one of the weekends before Christmas; but this year we’re again much too far away and she’s not holding it, for obvious reasons. Attending parties via video isn’t very rewarding anyway, so we probably wouldn’t participate even if there were no epidemiological issues. But I’m going to miss seeing people.


It’s pretty common around where I live to start decorating for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving. It’s so ingrained in me to put up your (artificial) Christmas tree on Black Friday that it really strikes me as odd when I hear of others’ tradition of sometime in December. When I was younger and still living with my mom, we would get a real tree… and the timing of that was necessarily some time in December… so we would put up a smaller artificial tree in the meantime, only to move it to the other room when it was time to get the real one.

In years past, we’ve been pretty crowded for space in, first, our apartment and then our old house; so we were quite happy to have a very narrow (less than a meter across at the widest), 7 foot-tall tree. This year, our house is much bigger and it very way too small for the space… so that tree is now in our foyer (where it fits quite nicely) and we bought a new 8 foot artificial tree that is very wide, at least 1.5m across at the bottom.

Since we’ve been (living) together, we’ve had a tradition of buying each other a Christmas tree ornament each year to remember a significant event of that year; Hallmark is headquartered here in Kansas City, and they definitely cater to this practice, so it’s not hard to find an ornament to commemorate our new home or that we bought a new clothes washer and dryer set, or the birth of our children. Having two trees now means we have half a chance of getting all of our sentimental ornaments hung up (and high enough that tiny hands don’t pull them down). This year, I’ll be looking for a minivan ornament, as we just traded away my 4-door sedan for our first minivan.

Traditionally, in years past, we would go with my in-laws to church on Christmas Eve so my partner can enjoy the singing that she missing from when she regularly attended church as a child (it also makes me in-laws happy that we join them. The attendance by my partner’s siblings and their spouses is pretty hit-and-miss). We would then unwrap presents at home on Christmas morning and then head over to my in-laws on Christmas afternoon for lunch and more presents. The weekend that follows Christmas is typically when we would get together with my dad’s family. Historically, my mom’s family gathers to celebrate Christmas around mid-January (because of the size and conflicts of the family), but we haven’t been invited to that Christmas for a long time.

Before our current tradition, that started when our first child was born, we would instead spend Christmas morning at my mom’s house, eat breakfast, open presents and then head straight to my in-laws. I had made a deal with my mom years ago that until I had children of my own, I would be at her house every Christmas morning – then, after I had children of my own, she would be at mine… I missed one year due to heavy snow… and she’s not made it to my house once (it is a complicated situation… but only because she insists on it being complicated)

The only other big tradition to discuss (other than the meal that we would typically have when my dad’s family gets together, which is basically what I talked about when I posted in the other thread about Thanksgiving Dinner), is that my partner and I wrap up all our Christmas movies each year before we put them away (sometime in January) which is both a good way to use up scraps of wrapping paper that are left over or lying around, and also a fun way to spend December. Each night, we unwrap a Christmas moving and sit down and watch it, never knowing exactly what’s on deck for that night until we rip open the paper.

We usually fall behind early in the month and then have to play catch-up later, as we have close to 20 different movies to go through. So far, we’ve unwrapped several that were are not able to watch quite yet, as we still haven’t connected our DVD player after we moved. But we’ve managed to watch It’s a Wonderful Life, The Santa Clause, and Holiday Inn (1942, which ever year becomes even more cringey… but it reminds me so much of my childhood, I look past that). I think we’ve unwrapped 5 that we haven’t been able to watch, including The Bishop’s Wife, Bells of St. Marys, Miser Brothers’ Christmas, and Claymation Christmas… the last one being a guilty pleasure for both of us, so we will definitely need to get the DVD player connected.


Wrapping up your Christmas movies? What a cute idea!

We watched Holiday Inn for the first time last year, and wow, yeah, there is some cringe in there. We will stick with White Christmas instead for our holiday Bing viewing. And we are planning on watching It’s a Wonderful Life this year, also for the first time.


Oh, is that supposed to be reserved for the holidays? Silly me, I have been doing it year round!


Last Sunday was the candlelight choir event at my alma mater and I got to enjoy that remotely.

My daughter and my parents and I made the family Christmas cookies last week. Full recipe this year so 9 dozen cookies.

I assembled a gingerbread house with my daughter today.

This year will get odder from here on since daughter will be with her mother Christmas Eve and Christmas morning.

I still need to watch Child’s Christmas in Wales. It’s about the favorite family Christmas film.

Other than that it’s been almost all Star Wars all the time since Star Wars feels like Christmas to the kid I continue to be.


We normally don’t put up the Christmas tree till well into December. When I was a kid in Spain, you got presents on the 6th of January from the Three Wise Men (Los Reyes Magos, the Magician Kings) so the tree and Belen (Bethelem figures) stayed till at least the 7th, hence it didn’t make sense to set anything up before December was well in.

Through the years Santa started taking over on the children’s toys, mainly so the kids had plenty more time to enjoy their new toys through the holidays, and these days the 6th you mainly get socks and “useful” presents, and toys, games and fun articles come on the 25th.

We are likely to have our friends over for Christmas, still not sure if the 25th or Christmas Eve. My partner and the wife of my friend being Lithuanian, we are likely to have a Christmas Eve dinner in their style, where they have and initial prayer, there is no meat, they need to have 12 meals on the table (tapas style) and they cannot consume any alcohol until midnight Unlikely we will stay up that late).

My own preferred Christmas movie is Die Hard; to me, it is not Yule until I don’t see Hans Grueber fall off Nakatomi Plaza. Quite likely, I will use it again as an excuse to get the children sleeping so I can pause it towards the end and put the presents under the tree.

Other than that, and the usual stuffing your face with loads of food that then you will regret in January when clothing gets tighter (and it will be summer here, double trouble, nowhere to hide it under jumpers), I just have taken the 6th of January off to stay with the kids that morning. But those Twelve Games of Christmas are really growing on me…


My Christmas traditions, such as they are, are all long stories filled with sighs.

Suffice it to say that Christmas is usually a miserable time, often an extremely miserable time, and the last few years (where I work until 3pm on December 24th, get two days off, and am back at work on the 27th) have not made that better.

I have purchased Ghosts of Tsushima this year, and with any luck on the 25th I will make pancakes for me and my partner, she’ll cross-stitch, I’ll play that game until my eyes refuse to stay open longer, and that will be that.


The single most important holiday tradition in my family since I was a kid has always been Christmas morning cinnamon rolls. We make them from frozen bread loaves that have to rise twice so the loaves have to be set out the night of the 23rd to rise for the first time. Sometime late afternoon or in the evening on Christmas Eve we actually prep the cinnamon rolls (roll out the loaves; cover in butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon; roll back up into a giant cinnamon roll log then cut into individual rolls), and leave them out for the dough to rise again over night. Christmas morning we cover them with heavy whipping cream then they bake and cool while we open presents and we have breakfast after gifts.

This year I won’t be going home to spend Christmas with my family for the first time (thanks, Covid) so I’ll probably be making my own batch here for my husband (he’s spent Christmas with my family so had them before) and his parents (their first time having them) while my mom makes a batch back home for my parents and my sister and her family.


Nice! Do you have a particular favourite recording?

The version we own is by the London Symphony Orchestra, Sir Colin Davis, and various vocalists.

Holiday traditions seem to be so much more complicated now that I’m an adult (are the kids staying with us? Who’s family are we visiting? Are we going anywhere?). When I was a child it was stockings in the morning, then church, then lunch, then washing up (very important), then presents. We used to have our big family gathering at New Year.

More recently, my sister and I have started making advent calendars for each other, and I have started collecting weird Christmas ornaments.


Definitely. I’ve come to look forward to the prep-time being over. Family has such high expectations for these events… and I feel like I am responsible to make it work. I usually enjoy the actual holidays but I couldn’t care less for all the work around it.

Our original plan this year was to skip out to visit my sister in France but… that didn’t work out.

We’ve skipped out before. One of my most memorable Christmas days was sitting by the side of a road in Thailand, eating dusty chicken cooked to death with very tasty side dishes and some grilled fish… as trucks drove by. The entire trip was epic and includes more examples of how traveling goes when you don’t plan ahead very much.


You have to hit the shops on January, you can get amazing deals for Christmas ornaments. That’s how we got probably three quarters of our decorations (the other quarter probably being the plastic tree itself)


I put up the tree yesterday (Secret Santa gift seen on the side…)

We’ve had the same ornaments (more or less) since we moved into this place, occasionally buying a few more pieces. The orange LED lights are particularly traditional–for us. It was an accidental buy but by now we’re used to the tree looking a bit garish.

In any case, I forgot one important tradition. Whoever visits while the tree is up, if they in any way praise the tree the host has to offer them a Schnaps (or whiskey or whatever…). So praising Christmas trees is a thing!


I gave away my first Schnaps for that yesterday but our tree deserved all the praise it got :slight_smile:


That is a mighty fine tree!