Happy December 2nd! Wow, that sounds way less celebratory than December 1st but it took me longer than expected to compile this list of American Christmas celebrations. Sorry, international readers, most of these apply to North Americans.
Let’s just jump right into this because it’s going to be a long one—13 Christmas traditions, to be exact, ranked from worst to best.
#13. Door-to-door caroling
Ummmm I can think of nothing worse than a group of strangers knocking on your door with some bullshit song about Jesus on Christmas. Can you tell I’m an atheist? Door-to-door carolers are the Jehovah’s Witness of the holiday season. Take your intrusive behaviors elsewhere.
#12. Elf on a shelf
I can’t speak on the quality of the children’s book (because I never read it), but why would I want a creepy elf toy staring at me all month long? The look on its face is downright eerie. The toy itself is so small that I’d worry about my dog or possible future children choking on it.
#11. Writing Santa a letter
Wow, thanks mom for assigning me homework on Christmas Eve. She told me that Santa needed my present wishlist in writing in order to be official, which I’m now realizing was just an excuse to keep me quiet in my room. We shouldn’t have to worry about spelling and grammar on Christmas.
#10. White Elephant gifts
Save your money because most White Elephant presents wind up in the trash. A few years ago, a coworker gifted me a pair of clown paperweights. Like, the clown’s face is the paperweight. I laughed, thanked him, and threw them away immediately after our group dinner. #wasteoftimeandmoney
#9. Your city’s tree-lighting ceremony
Unless you have a front-row view at Rockefeller Center in New York, tree lighting ceremonies in your city’s downtown courtyard are ridiculously boring and anticlimactic. You can light your own damn tree at home. In the warmth. Away from hundreds of strangers elbowing you to get a better picture.
#8. Christmas tree shopping
They all look the same, for fuck’s sake. Pick a tree and bring it home so we can get to the fun part of decorating. Instagram has me convinced that Christmas tree shopping is reserved for influencers to dress up and pose with an evergreen. It’s all a charade. I see right through you.
#7. Candy Cane Lane or other neighborhood displays
This tradition falls in the middle of the list as it all depends on the neighborhood. Some put on an impressive display of Christmas lights and decorations, while others clearly have only one foot in the door. If one house on the block bails, it’s all over. The lack of enthusiasm is contagious.
#6. The advent calendar
Listen here, Mr. Calendar, if I want a piece of chocolate, I’m getting a piece of chocolate regardless of what day it is. And if I want two pieces of chocolate in one day, that’s exactly what I’m going to do. Did anyone ever successfully finish an advent calendar without skipping ahead? Doubt it.
#5. Building a gingerbread house
Anything that involves food will always rank higher on the traditions list. Even though these damn houses never manage to stay upright, you still get the simple pleasure of licking icing off your fingers and snacking on graham crackers and gumdrops. Your house may look a mess but at least it’s yummy.
#4. Christmas movie marathons
Okay, now we’re starting to get into the *fun* stuff! I could watch Elf one hundred times in a row, followed by Home Alone, followed by Love, Actually, followed by The Nightmare Before Christmas. As a hardcore homebody, I love nothing more than movies paired with red wine and endless snacks.
#3. Decorating the tree
There’s something so soothing and calming about a decorated Christmas tree in the corner of your living room all lit up in lights. Many of us have memories attached to each and every ornament, which makes decorating that much more sentimental and emotional. Some ornaments we keep from childhood!
#2. Planning a cookie swap
Yep, more food. COVID stifled a lot of Christmas celebrations this year but a cookie swap doesn't have to be one of them. Bake a batch of gingerbread cookies at home and drop them at the front door of your friend’s house for a contactless way to spread holiday cheer—not COVID.
#1. Local Christmas markets
I live for an annual Christmas market mainly for the food and alcohol stations. Spiced cocktails, mulled wine, seasonal beers—ugh, so good. It seems the only time it’s lawfully acceptable to drink on the street in America (with the exception of New Orleans) is at an outdoor Christmas market.