The 22 Worst Christmas Traditions

When you need extra-strong eggnog.

The 22 Worst Christmas Traditions

When you need extra-strong eggnog.


As Andy Williams once famously sang, Christmas is “the most wonderful time of the year.” Except, you know, when it’s not. There’s a lot about the holiday season to love: The presents, the lights, the carols, celebrating with friends and family, drinking too much glögg. We’re not Scrooge. But some Christmas traditions need to be retired—and sooner than later.

Here are 22 traditions that people across the country (and sometimes the world) continue to celebrate every December, even when they probably shouldn’t. And for more holiday coverage, here’s Emily Ratajkowski’s Calendar Cover That Kicked Off Christmas Season. 

ugly Christmas sweaters need to end

Ugly sweaters

When did wearing bulky, uncomfortable sweaters become de rigueur for the holidays? We’d rather stick with one of these 10 Amazing Sweaters To Get You Through Winter.

elf on the shelf is a bad xmas tradition

Elf on the Shelf

It wasn’t sinister enough that Santa knows when we’re sleeping and when we’re awake, now he sends an elf to live in our house for a whole month and watch us creepily like some kind of peeping tom? Yeah, no thanks, we’ll pass.

figgy pudding is a bad xmas tradition

Figgy pudding

If “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” is to be believed, figgy pudding is so delicious that carolers demand the dessert at every house they visit and refuse to stop “till we get some.” But have you ever tried figgy pudding? It’s mostly booze. Maybe that’s why the carolers in the song are so aggressively festive. They’re all drunk.

secret santa is a bad xmas tradition

Secret Santa

Never forget the real meaning of Christmas: Spending exactly $20 on a gift, something that doesn’t look too cheap but also doesn’t look too expensive, for a co-worker you barely know. If Secret Santa is unavoidable for you, here are 100 Wow Gifts for The Person Who Has Everything.

non green xmas trees are a bad tradition

Christmas trees that aren’t green

A tree should look like it grew in a forest on planet Earth, not in a Dr. Seuss book.

separates your metals to make security move faster

Holiday airline travel

That song “There’s No Place Like Home For the Holidays” forgets to mention what a monumental pain in the rear it is to fly anywhere this time of year. Huge lines, weather delays, screaming kids, cramped planes.

Wouldn’t we all be happier if the carol was title “There’s No Place Like Skipping the Airport Altogether For the Holidays”? Yes, yes we would. (Get more out of your next trip with these 20 Secrets Your Flight Attendant Won’t Tell You.)

Christmas cards are a bad tradition

The Christmas family newsletter

What is it about Christmas that makes everybody think we want to hear the minutiae of their immediate family? We’re happy that you’re happy, but we don’t have the time or interest in reading a two page, single-spaced essay about how your second cousin lost his job, you got new aluminum siding for the house, and you’re going to be a grandparent again.

inflatable decorations are bad xmas tradition

Inflatable decorations

A Santa or reindeer on your front lawn is weird enough, but if it’s blown up like a Macy’s Thanksgiving parade float, you’ve officially gone too far.

Christmas tv specials are a bad tradition

Any Christmas specials that aren’t A Charlie Brown Christmas or don’t use claymation

We have enough Christmas specials already, thank you very much. (We’re looking at you, Gwen Stefani’s You Make it Feel Like Christmas.)


Over-romanticizing a White Christmas

Snow is pretty, but it’s also a huge pain. Shoveling yourself out of your own home is no way to live. And have we mentioned it’s really, really cold? Spend the holidays somewhere warms with these 7 Best Beach Towns for Celebrating Christmas.

fruit pie is bad xmas tradition


Make a choice. If you want fruit, have some fruit. If you want cake, have a cake. But put those two things together and bake ‘em till they’re the consistency of a brick, and what you’ve got is the worst thing to happen to Christmas since the Grinch.

mall santas are a bad xmas tradition

Mall Santas

If there’s a fat bearded guy at the mall inviting children to sit on his lap, that’s somebody you should be reporting to the authorities, not lining up to visit.

boxers for xmas is a bad tradition

Underwear as a real gift

No. Just not. Not even as a joke. And that includes socks, too. What kind of monster gives socks or underwear as a gift? Everybody buys their own underwear, and if you’re a guy you pick one of these 50 Best New Pairs of Underwear for Men.

fake fireplaces are bad xmas tradition

Fake fireplaces on TV

You’re not fooling anybody. You can’t get a proper Yule Log with a cable subscription. It requires an axe and matches and a real fireplace and possible smoke inhalation.

holiday sales

Never-ending holiday sales events

Do all commercials have to get so screamy during December? We get it, you’re enthusiastic about your holiday sales, and they’re ENDING SOON SO ORDER NOW!! We heard you the first time, and we still don’t believe you. All of December is one big holiday sale. (Speaking of discounts, here are 30 Items You Should Never Pay Full Price For.)

quoting elf is a bad xmas tradition

Excessively quoting from the Will Ferrell movie Elf as if you think you’re the only person who’s seen it

Not that it isn’t hilarious when you start screaming “You sit on a throne of lies!” Or “I am a cotton-headed ninny-muggins!” But please don’t pretend we’re hearing those lines for the first time. Or that we wouldn’t rather be hearing them from Will Ferrell.

tacky nativity scenes are a bad xmas tradition

Tacky Nativity scenes

We’re not claiming to be Bible experts, but we’re pretty sure that Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and Mario & Luigi from the video games weren’t at the original Nativity.

christmas carolers are a bad xmas tradition

Christmas caroling

Call us old-fashioned, but when a large group of strangers knocks on our front door in the middle of the night and demands to serenade us, our first instinct isn’t, “Well we should definitely open the door and say hello.” No, that’s when we turn out all the lights and call the police.

getting dressed up for christmas dinner

Getting dressed up for Christmas dinner

We thought the whole point of a holiday is that you didn’t have to put on a jacket and tie!

Paul McCartney's xmas song is a bad tradition

That Paul McCartney Christmas song

Why does this song keep coming back, year after year? “Wonderful Christmas Time” sounds like the former Beatle recorded it in a hurry, with a Casio keyboard and whatever lyrics came to him off the top of his head. “Simply… having…” ENOUGH OF THIS SONG!

the nutcracker is a bad xmas tradition

Watching The Nutcracker

If you’ve seen the “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” once, you’ve seen it enough for a lifetime.

christmas arguments are a bad xmas tradition

Fighting about whether to say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays.”

Let’s just agree to disagree and get back to the gift-giving, okay?

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