No matter where you celebrate or with whom, there are always unique personal traditions that accompany any holiday. This month, we wanted to share a few of our winter holiday traditions. From our family to yours, best wishes for the season, and we look forward to a bright new year!


The kids and I have a few holiday traditions that have grown up along with them since they were little. First is the gingerbread house competition. I’ve enjoyed seeing their creativity and skills each year. Our other tradition is one to make sure we don’t miss the special things during what is always a busy time of year. Each of us makes a list of 10 things to do during the holiday season. We cross them off as we do them, and it’s a great way to set aside time to watch a movie together or go see the holiday lights in the neighborhood as a family. Some of the items overlap, which isn’t too surprising. It’s always a little exciting to see which ones do and which ones don’t. Sometimes one person’s interest creates a really fun and unexpected holiday memory.


My family’s holiday tradition is that we always play games after our holiday meals at both Thanksgiving and Christmas. We make teams and start with Catch Phrase or Spoons (which usually ends in full contact), then we move on to Pool, Ping Pong, and Darts. As we like to say, if you leave without a bruise, you did not give 100%!


When my older son was a year old, we involved him in lighting the Christmas tree…a brand new model with a remote control. We taught him that the way to light it every morning was to yell “Merry Christmas” at the tree and ‘magically’ the lights would come up. This is our fourth year of the tradition now, and he’s taught his younger brother the method as well. First thing in the morning, they both run down the stairs and yell “Merry Christmas” as loud as they can so the tree will hear them and light up. Good thing Dad is quick with the remote control…


Our family celebrates ‘Hallothanksmas’ in October. It is a combined celebration of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. A few family members go south for the winter, so we celebrate everything at once before they leave. We have lots of treats and exchange gifts. Costumes are optional (my daughter was rocking a ladybug costume this year)!


Every year, my sister and I make and decorate cut-out sugar cookies (from a mix, I’m not usually a baking sort of person) whilst listening to the Nutcracker ballet. We like to keep it local by listening to the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra’s version. When we were kids, we used to go watch the ballet with our grandfather, so it’s a nice way to remember him and get into the holiday spirit!


My partner and I wrap gifts together, waiting until the very last minute…so sometimes Christmas Eve Eve. We open a bottle of sparkly sweet wine and let several annually-watched movies play in the background. We’ve watched this particular selection so many times, we can recite all the lines ahead of the actors. Depending on how long it takes us to wrap up everything, we might make it through Sweeney Todd, Elf, and our must-watch holiday classic, the Mystery Science 3000 episode featuring Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. Hopefully it doesn’t take any longer than that!

Mandy Szewczuk

More about the author: Mandy Szewczuk

Mandy works with advisors as the lead of Evolution Financial Advisor’s virtual assistant program and is part of the marketing and events team.