One of the many joys that come from growing your family is the opportunity to start new holiday traditions together. 

When you transition to a new life with your partner or child, holiday traditions can become a point of contention. Do you open presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? Do you celebrate Christmas at all? Do you watch the ball drop in Times Square on New Year’s Eve or do you go to bed early? Although strong feelings can form about what “should” happen around the holidays, blending traditions and starting new ones can be a sweet experience for all.

We can’t always be with our families during the holidays –this year, that’s especially true– but there are still ways to celebrate virtually and keep the traditions alive. If you normally drink champagne at midnight, pop bottles together over Zoom; or if you make Christmas cookies together, have a virtual decorating contest.

Here at Kinedu, our international team celebrates the holidays in a variety of ways. Here are a few of our favorite traditions:

We’ve adopted the Christmas tradition of hiding a pickle in our Christmas tree. Not a real pickle, a pickle ornament! Our parents hide the pickle and whoever finds it first gets to open the first gift. –Riley

In my family, we have a tradition of putting up the Christmas tree together. We make it a family event: we all dress up with Christmas clothes or costumes, put on Christmas music, and enjoy churros and hot chocolate while everybody hangs ornaments. –Sofia

In my family, we have the New Year’s Eve tradition of trying to eat 12 grapes in the 12 seconds right before the clock hits 12:00 am (one grape per second). We know it’s impossible, but we still try it every year. –Caro

In Germany, we have a couple special Christmas traditions. My favorite one would be the advent calendar, a special calendar used to count the days of Advent in anticipation of Christmas. Advent calendars can be bought in a store or be given to you by a friend or loved one and include candy, chocolate, toys, or other small items. From December 1st to 24th, you open one little gift or “door” of your calendar every day. Another tradition is celebrating St. Nicholas Day, which is on December 6th. The evening before St. Nicholas Day, children clean and polish one of their winter boots and put it outside the front door. The next morning, they find their boot to be filled with little items. Kids get super excited to hunt for the biggest boot in the house! St. Nicholas always fills it up, so the bigger the boot, the more stuff you can get! –Nadine

Every year at Christmas, we watch the movie Elf. We’ve seen it one million times, but it’s still fun to keep that tradition alive! — Karen

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My paternal family is huge and super goofy. Each year, my father’s youngest brother and his wife organize funny and sometimes embarrassing Christmas games we can all play together, regardless of age. We always have a blast. –Inés 

We have been on the Santa Claus staff for 5 years, and we love it! We have the tradition of doing a treasure hunt for our daughter Mara Lucia. It begins on December 15th with a letter from Santa, where he gives us challenges, activities, and songs to learn (the presentation is at the Christmas Eve dinner). Of course, the journey ends on the 25th in the morning on Christmas morning. –Luz Ma

At the end of the year, my partner and I develop the film from disposable cameras we’ve used throughout the year. We love looking back on all of the places we’ve been, and the moments we’d forgotten about. –Alex C.

This is something Brazilian people do (not only in my family) for New Year: we jump over 7 waves while making 7 wishes for the upcoming year. –Larissa

My family tradition is to put all the Christmas decorations up at the beginning of December. My mom makes her traditional cinnamon tea with guava and the whole house smells like Christmas. We buy some churros and drink tea. My mom puts my favorite Christmas playlist since I was a little kid, and my brother and I start putting the lights on the Christmas tree, while my mom only takes pictures. Once we’re finished, we like to lay beneath the tree to appreciate the magical lights from the bottom to the top.  –Laila

A couple years ago my father came up with a new tradition in which we exchange words instead of gifts. The point is to give compliments or mention something you like or admire about the person you get. After Christmas dinner, we all write our names on pieces of paper and put them in a bowl, and then everyone takes a random piece of paper. We have to come up with something on the spot, so sometimes really funny stuff comes up, but most times we end up saying really candid and beautiful things that we might have never said to each other. It’s kind of a new tradition, but it’s quickly becoming a family favorite that ends up in a lot of hugs and happy tears! –Laura G. 

What are some of your favorite holiday traditions? Leave us a comment below!