The holiday season often stirs up cherished recollections. It could be relishing a beloved holiday film, preparing a family recipe, or embellishing the tree – many of us treasure memories from bygone holidays, which are not only stored on our phone’s camera roll. In that essence, we desire to commemorate some of the distinct ’90s holiday customs that numerous individuals reminisce from their own childhoods before the demand to craft decorations worthy of Instagram or capture moments suitable for TikTok. So, let’s journey back to simpler times and honor the era that gave us Kevin McCallister and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You.” Here, our editors are divulging some of their treasured childhood ’90s holiday traditions.
Embracing Vibrant Holiday Ornaments
Kathy, Editor: “Despite adhering to a specific color palette for my holiday adornments, I can’t part with one tradition from my childhood−the vibrant Christmas stockings hand-crafted by my mom. They may not align with my decor but carry sentimental significance.”
Embarking on a Christmas Lights Cruise
Kathy, Editor: “We used to roam around the locality delighting in the Christmas lights. It was a delightful ’90s tradition that brought us jubilation.”
Marking Desired Items in a Catalog
Children today can still relish this custom with paper catalogs from various retailers.
Perusing Classic Christmas Literature
Abi, Social Media Assistant: “One of our cherished Christmas customs is our yearly perusal of The Night Before Christmas. It’s a fixture in our household.”
Viewing ’90s Holiday Films
Katherine, Editorial Intern: “Watching Home Alone 1 and 2 is an indispensable ’90s holiday practice for me. These films inspired enjoyable activities with my family.”
Sporting “Unattractive” Christmas Jumpers
Unattractive Christmas jumpers were a sought-after holiday attire for mothers in the ’80s and ’90s.
Parties have been fashionable for many years now. With the ’90s aesthetic making a significant return, it appears to be the perfect time to embrace them as acceptable wardrobe selections for the holidays.
Whether your father used to don a striped “Cosby Sweater” or your mother flaunted a festive 3D knit Christmas sweater, ponder giving their vintage pieces an additional opportunity this season. If you’re seeking to establish your own holiday wardrobe customs, there are numerous festive holiday clothing options accessible that your children might eventually wear to retro-themed celebrations when they mature.
Capturing Unrehearsed Christmas Morning Videos
“My mom recently had our family home movies transformed into digital copies where we stumbled upon a Christmas clip none of us recollected: My 1-year-old brother obtaining candy cigarettes in his stocking. It doesn’t get much more ’90s parenting than that!” —Kathy, Editor
If your parent positioned the camcorder on Christmas morning, you likely have some dusty VHS tapes with invaluable moments captured on film too. Take a leaf out of the ’90s parenting manual and position your phone on a tripod to record the unscripted moments on Christmas morning. They might not be flawlessly framed, but you’ll get to be more present, and you might actually feature in some of the family videos.
Attending the Kids’ Holiday Concert
“One of my favorite ’90s holiday customs growing up was going to church with my family on Christmas Eve. The petite rural church we attended was as picturesque as can be−a proud white building nestled amidst pine trees, perpetually blanketed by a copious quilt of Wisconsin snow this time of year. As a child, I particularly relished that the church would stage a play every Christmas Eve, and one year I even landed a part as a sheep! When I wasn’t adorned in a lamb costume, it was an enjoyable tradition to dress up in our holiday finest before returning home and snuggling up in our PJs. Though we no longer reside near that church, I still cherish the delightful memories we were able to craft together way back when.” —Brett, Editorial Assistant
If you partake in the Christian Christmas custom, few things are more precious than the yearly children’s Mass, where you can witness sweet little voices singing Christmas carols or adorable little ones dressed up as angels, stable animals, and (if you saw this endearing viral video) even door holders in a live nativity play.
Adopting Your Family’s Unique Holiday Customs
Naturally, every family has their own unique customs that may not be affiliated with any particular era but still evoke nostalgia. Lean into the ones that hold unique significance to your family. Like these holiday customs from our editors below:
Christmas Tree Practices
“During my upbringing, my family routinely visited a Christmas tree farm to choose and cut down our own tree. My younger sister and I adored the 1966 How the Grinch Stole Christmas! TV special and initiated a family practice where we all clasped hands and sang the ‘Fahwho foraze, dahwho doraze’ song once we discovered the suitable tree (albeit we never truly knew the right lyrics). That practice still endures today, even though we are now grown-ups−when my spouse and I erect and embellish our synthetic tree, we sing the song to ‘welcome Christmas’ and commence the holiday season.” —Julia, Senior Managing Editor
The Christmas PJ Fairy
“For as long as I can recall, my mother has allowed us to unwrap a solitary gift on Christmas Eve: a set of pajamas from the ‘PJ Fairy.’ She’d pick out new sets each year, and they always match (or at least coordinate). We then don those pajamas to slumber in on Christmas Eve and keep them on for Christmas morning. Even now that my siblings and I are in our 20s and 30s, we still can’t wait to see what pajamas the PJ Fairy bestows upon us on Christmas Eve.” —Jess, Commerce Editor
Annual Christmas Competitions
“My family’s motto for Christmas has always been: Go big or go home. It’s an annual tradition for us to dress up according to a specific theme that we vote on a month in advance (last year’s theme was Western). And following our potluck style feast, that’s when my favorite Christmas tradition takes place. We splinter into teams, devise team appellations, and engage in an intense series of minute-to-win-it games vying for first place. While we have the propensity to get a tad raucous and competitive, it genuinely is the highlight of my Christmas each year. Irrespective of how mature we’ve all become, this Christmas tradition makes me feel like a little kid again. Additionally, after every Christmas Eve, we’re left with numerous photographs, videos, and memories that will endure a lifetime.” —Gianna, Commerce Intern
Observing Dia de los Reyes
“Dia de los Reyes is a festivity Puerto Ricans (and other Latin countries) mark on January 6. It’s a more religious observance grounded in the biblical tale of the Three Wise Kings who visited baby Jesus subsequent to his birth and presented gifts. On the night of January 5, children fill a box with ‘hay’ to nourish the camels of the three kings, stow it beneath their beds, and upon awakening, they’ll discover a gift from the three kings. For my children, we simplify it significantly. We converse with them more about the cultural significance of Three Kings Day by perusing children’s books about the tradition and the island itself. They still cram a box with grass, but we leave it beneath the tree, and they wake up to a couple of small gifts. Nevertheless, they comprehend that mom and dad orchestrated the gifting.” —Steph, Branded Content Editor
New Years Eve Good Fortune Customs
“New Year’s Eve holds great significance for Brazilians. We are highly superstitious, so any opportunity for customs that usher in good fortune, we capitalize on−including wearing white on NYE to welcome peace and sporting new undergarments at midnight: the color signifies what you desire for in the new year (pink denotes love, yellow for money, blue for friendship, white for peace), leaping over seven waves at midnight, and presenting an offering to Iemanjá.” —Robi, Editor-in-Chief