12 Old-Fashioned Christmas Traditions That Deserve a Comeback

Figgy pudding, need not apply.

This season, think beyond holiday movie marathons and reintroduce Christmas traditions from years gone by that are bound to make this season extra merry and bright. Whether it's a retro decoration or a traditional recipe, there's familiar comfort in bringing these throwbacks back to your holiday celebrations. Here, 12 old-fashioned Christmas traditions are just begging for a holly jolly comeback.

Vintage Christmas Ornaments
Getty/Michael Greenwood

Tinsel Trees

While we love a fragrant Douglas fir, opt for a festive and retro aluminum Christmas tree to change things up. Introduced in the late 1950s as the first manufactured artificial Christmas tree, this midcentury must-have soared into popularity through the 1960s. Rumor has it that the 1965 airing of A Charlie Brown Christmas sparked the trend for real trees. But decades later, aluminum trees are making a return thanks to their modern flair and minimum upkeep. Psst: No watering required!

Citrus Treats

Dating back to the Great Depression, when special treats were few and far between, citrus—a special and scarce fruit—was placed in stockings for a sweet surprise on Christmas morning. (Fans of the Civil War-based novel Little Women might recall the youngest sister Amy's obsession with highly coveted limes.) Carry on this sweet tradition with your family by slipping some citrus into their stockings. Fresh orange juice, anyone?

Christmas Crackers

Make meals and memories around the table this year with a fun and festive tradition: Christmas crackers. Dating back to England in the 1800s, this old Christmas tradition consists of placing brightly colored tubes on every place setting. When opened with a festive-sounding "crack!" you'll discover a small toy, paper crown, or cheerful token inside. These are sure to be crowd pleasers, both for the young and young at heart.

Madcap Cottage Design Flocked Christmas Tree
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Design: John Loecke and Jason Oliver Nixon; Styling: Kendra Surface

Flocked Spruces

This year, deck your tree with artificial snow, better known as flocking. In the 1800s, people would douse their trees with flour, but the trend as we know it today really took flight in the '50s and '60s, especially in snow-deprived Southern states who could only dream of a white Christmas. Flocking means dusting your tree with a white synthetic powder to create a snowy scene. You can purchase a tree flocked or do it yourself. Regardless, get ready for a winter wonderland.

Yule Logs

While we all love milk and cookies and, for a few discerning palates, fruit cake, try another Christmas favorite: a Yule Log. Yule Logs are heavily steeped in centuries of Christmas lore. Originating as the crackling log you burn in the hearth of the home, this folklore favorite has trickled into the best room of the house: the kitchen. The Yule Log cake is originally a French custom that emerged in the 1800s. Made of sponge cake to resemble an actual Yule log, this delectable dessert is similar to a Swiss roll on the inside to resemble the rings of a tree. Bake one this year for your merrymakers, but warning: There will be no leftovers.

Homemade Candy

When you think of Christmas, no doubt visions of sweets dance through your head. And Christmastime treats are in a category of sweets all to themselves. Whether you try making old-fashioned divinity, buttermints, or another decadent treat, the once-a-year indulgence will be worth the effort.

Christmas Goose

While turkey or ham may be traditional these days, a whole roasted goose on your grandmother's beloved china platter conjures images of a Norman Rockwell Christmas. Plan your sides and start a new tradition for the family meal this year. And enjoy the rendered fat on almost anything after the holiday meal. You'll be glad you did.

Vintage Ornaments

Whether your tree is flocked, aluminum, real, or faux, vintage ornaments will help create that step back in time you are looking for. Find authentic vintage balls and bulbs at antique stores, or opt for the retro look with newer versions found in discount stores. Those ornaments from your childhood? They're probably vintage now too. Hang them up and enjoy the memories they bring.

Make Pomanders
Photo: Ralph Anderson


Nothing says old-fashioned Christmas like a bowl of clove-studded oranges. Not only are these bright decorations pretty to look at (and fun to make), but they also smell like the holidays. Arranged in a bowl on a side table or as the star of your centerpiece, pomanders are easy to make. Prick holes in the rind of your citrus and insert cloves. Year after year, this tradition will smell like Christmas at home.

Homemade Decorations

Get out the popcorn and string the garland. An old-fashioned tree won't be complete without handmade touches. Spend an evening as a family making your own ornaments and decorating the tree. Not only is this a chance for everyone to let their creativity show, but it's a holiday bonding session you'll appreciate once the holiday season gets busy.

Grandma's Desserts

If your childhood holiday traditions included baking with Memaw, you know her comforting dishes have that charm you want to replicate. Recipes handed down through generations are the ones that help make events like Christmas special. So pull out those stained recipe cards and have fun making the cracker toffee that never lasted long on the Christmas dessert buffet. Or try something that's new to you, like those gelatin molds you've always been curious about.


If you've never had a mug of creamy eggnog, it's time to put this traditional drink in your holiday rotation. The time to drink this festive beverage only comes once a year. Why not get out your punch bowl and mix up a dreamy batch? Or pour in store-bought—we won't tell. It will feel like the holidays in no time.


From cookies to cakes to houses, making gingerbread needs to be on your holiday to-do list. A pan of old-fashioned gingerbread will scent your home and satisfy you with warming spices. Try a new twist every year with cakes, muffins, cookies, or even martinis. There's a reason this flavor has been a long-standing Christmas tradition.

While we'll always have a soft spot for all of the old-fashioned Christmas traditions we grew up with, sometimes making new memories and experiences can be just as special. Don't be afraid to branch out and try something new this go-around—who knows, maybe it will stick around for years to come.

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