Our Favorite Holiday Traditions


Around this time of year, whether it’s Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, or what-have-you, every family has a tradition unique to them. Here are some of our custom traditions!

Andrea, Managing Director

My favorite Christmas tradition in my family is Christmas Eve. Every year since I can remember, we go out once it gets dark and drive around, listening to Christmas music to see all the lights nearby. As a child this was a spectacular display as some of the homes in my hometown went above and beyond for decorating with lights. Once we return home, we each get to open one gift. Every year, that gift is a new set of pajamas that we then get to wear for the first time that evening and wake up in on Christmas Day. Despite the fact that all of us are now adults, we still do this every year. My husband has also come to love this Christmas Eve tradition.

Laurie, Communications Director

My family has several Christmas traditions but I’ll just mention three of my favorites.

1. When we decorate our tree, the oldest member of the family hides a pickle ornament (this is a Germanic tradition).  On Christmas morning when we open presents, whoever finds the pickle first gets to open their present first.  

2. But more than that, they distribute all the presents to everyone and we go around the room opening one present at a time, so everyone sees the gift, which creates the opportunity for acknowledgement and comments.  That way, the gift-opening lasts a long time and every gift and every person gets its due appreciation. The experience ends up far more meaningful and joyful (let alone civilized) than a free-for-all.

3. I’ve carried on this tradition since childhood: our Christmas Eve dinner is always homemade chicken and dumpling soup (mine is a bit more seasoning-embellished than the one my mom made with just salt and pepper).

Soulmaz, Graphic Designer

I really like Christmas time! Trees, lights, songs, everything. But let me tell you something, I was born and raised in Iran and since I am not Christian we do not celebrate Christmas like you do and like, lots of other Iranians, I thought Christmas trees and Santa Claus (we say Baba Noel in Iran) were part of a New Years tradition. 

One of the Persian celebrations around the same time as Christmas is Yalda Night also known and Cheleh night. It’s the longest night of the year, but it’s a celebration of light since after that, days start getting longer than nights. It is one the most important Persian celebrations. It’s a time that friends and family get together to eat, sing, and wish for better days.

We have a poet named Hafez who has the most beautiful (and hard to read) poems. Iranians love him and sometimes when we have questions we ask him and open his book randomly to get our answer. This is also part of the Yalda Night – everyone make a wish for the future and we open the book to see what Hafez says! This is my favorite tradition of the night especially because Hafez will never disappoint you. He says if your wish is not coming through it’s because better thing will happen to you.

Jeff, Project Manager

Everyone in my family is reasonably broke and thus can’t afford to buy EVERYONE a present. So, to avoid breaking our banks at the end of every year, we decided to start a Secret Santa Grab Bag. Once you reach a certain age, you join the Secret Santa list. This means we no longer consider you a child who deserves a gift from each of us. Whoever you pull from the bag, you must get them one of three gift options previously provided by the person. The spending limit is $50.

This way, we only have to get gifts for kids, elders, and ONE family member. Not only does this help our wallets, it guarantees that everyone will get something they WANT as opposed to a bunch of socks or something. My list has the same three things every year: an Amazon gift card, a Visa gift card, or straight cash.

Dane, Strategy Director

Every Christmas for the last 11 years, on Christmas Eve night we all make our own individual homemade pizza. It’s been cool to see how the kids’ pizzas have evolved over the years to a point where now Morgan’s & Faith’s actually look and taste good. Grace, who’s 5, is still working to perfect her pie.

After that, the kids exchange the gifts they bought each other – real thoughtful stuff with their own money. Plus Over-priced, I mean OBERweis, eggnog.