30 Worst Holiday Trends of All Time
Don't turn your Christmas cheer into Christmas tears.
Exchanging Secret Santa gifts. Scoring Black Friday deals. Piling your plate so high with turkey and stuffing that you can’t see your family members across the table. There are, without a doubt, a seemingly-endless number of holiday trends to look forward to each year. Unfortunately, for every charming and adorable one—like that reindeer costume your cat begrudgingly agrees to wear, as if he has a say otherwise—there’s a terrible one being lauded in magazines or dubbed the season’s next big thing by a social media influencer.
So, before you torpedo your holiday festivities by inadvertently committing a holiday fashion faux pas or decorating don’t, make sure you’ve perused our list of the worst holiday trends of all time. You wouldn’t want to turn that holiday cheer into holiday tears, after all, right?
“The absolute worst Christmas trend is tinsel,” says Kenny Colvin, founder and creative director at Giant Squid, a branding, design, and consulting studio. “It’s not even from a design perspective that I say that. It’s a practical one. It gets everywhere—and it’s tacky.” And if you think buying antique tinsel makes this trend any more palatable or sophisticated, think again: According to the Wall Street Journal, tinsel produced before the 1970s was frequently made of poisonous lead.
While most bearded men hate nothing more than finding something unexpected in their facial hair, countless beardy fellows have made a point to actively adorn their beards in recent years. Enter: the “jingle beard.”
Decembeard, the yuletide companion to Movember, has spurred the creation of the decorated beard, with thousands of men adorning their faces with tiny ornaments to raise money for bowel cancer. And while this is as good a cause as any for looking absolutely ridiculous, it bears repeating that it makes those engaging in the practice look absolutely ridiculous.
The scent of a fresh-cut Christmas tree just can’t be beat. Unfortunately, 21.6 million fake trees and countless plastic greenery pieces are still being sold each year, to the dismay of holiday purists and environmentalists everywhere. “I can’t stand fake garland, plastic wreaths, or faux Christmas trees,” says interior designer Laurence Carr. “Who doesn’t love the multi-sensory experience of live greenery?”
All white trees
There’s something wonderfully festive about a fresh-cut fir trimmed with brightly-colored baubles. Less festive, however, is the recent trend of adding all-white ornaments and lights to your traditional tree.
“I do not fancy an all-white Christmas tree. It just reminds me of dated trends that try too hard to force associations. I can look at a Christmas tree and think about chilly, romantic snow without being prompted by the color white,” says Carr.
We get it: you think being earnestly into the holidays is dumb and, instead, ironically don the ugliest Christmas sweater you can find. However, no matter little you want others to think you care about the season, you still shelled out $30 for that hideous sweater, and are still wearing it in public, as are all of your ridiculously-dressed friends.
Blow mold reindeer and snowmen can add kitschy holiday cheer to any yard or garden. That 40-foot inflatable Santa in a snow globe? Not so much. “Those neighbors that have a blowup Santa? [It’s] the worst—a tacky look that doesn’t work anymore,” says Charlie Worrall, digital marketing executive at design firm Imaginaire Digital. However, there’s some good news for inflatable-haters: “Like tinsel, the inflatables are dying out too.”
No matter how into the holidays you might be, refrain from dumping a container of craft glitter onto your head. Not only will this absurd-looking trend make it look like you have some kind of scalp disorder, it’s likely to leave an unpleasant trail of sparkles anywhere you go, as well.
Elf of the Shelf
Santa is supposed to be a benevolent kind of guy, but his prying little helper is certainly less so. The Elf on the Shelf—undeniably one of the worst holiday traditions in recent memory—is tasked with doing Santa’s dirty work for him, spying on kids and narcing to Santa when they’ve been naughty.
The latke is a perfect food specimen on its own: carb-rich, fried to a crisp, and topped with some fat-filled dairy or applesauce. However, in recent years, the traditional latke has been turned into something unrecognizable—and arguably worse—thanks to the addition of toppings like caviar and smoked salmon. So, how popular is this trend? Just ask the participants in the Brooklyn-based fancy latke competition now entering its 10th year.
While the idea of wearing matching, or at least complementary, holiday outfits is nothing new, it’s only in recent years that the unfortunate matching pajama trend has really taken off. Donning one’s gay apparel no longer means putting on a plaid dress or red-and-green-striped tie, but willingly going to a local Christmas tree lighting or pancake breakfast in sleepwear that says, “Where my ho ho hos at” on the butt.
Going overboard with decorations
Though a minimalist holiday isn’t everyone’s style, maximalism is hardly a better trend. It’s loud, it’s tacky, and good luck getting that glitter out of your hair by March. “Covering every surface of your home or office with holiday décor, or covering every inch of your lawn with lights and figurines, rarely yields an impressive design,” says Anthony Strasky, managing partner of L Design Group.
Adds Carr, “I also can’t stand when people take the holidays as a chance to put out every decoration they’ve ever owned. The end result always looks like a garage sale.”
The holidays are all about friendship, familial love, and, for some people participating in one of the worst holiday trends of all time, a little indecent exposure. Across the country, holiday revelers have taken to cutting a hole in their winter sweaters and adorning their chest with googly eyes, antlers, and other accoutrements to make it look like a reindeer. And make no mistake: the result, while eye-catching, is overwhelmingly terrible.
Using too much glitter
A little sparkle can liven up any holiday display. Making every surface in your house the site for a glitter explosion, however, is a trend few people would be sorry to see go. “Sparkly decor should add a hint of shine without leaving a train of glitter that’ll last until Valentine’s Day,” says Strasky.
Remaking The Grinch
Countless children love The Grinch, the classic Dr. Seuss character intent on ruining Christmas for the Christmas-loving celebrants in Whoville. And charming as his tale may be, The Grinch simply doesn’t need to be continually remade on stage and screen, as has been done in 1966, 1982, 1996, 2000, 2006, 2007, and 2018.
Red and green everything
Sure, red and green may be the traditional Christmas color scheme, but sticking exclusively to these hues is a trend that could—and should—be replaced. “Obligatory schemes—like bright red and green, or red and gold—do not appeal to me,” says Carr. A hint of silver, some shimmery blue, or even a deep jewel-toned purple are a lot more interesting than your average red and blue décor, anyway.
The Polar Plunge
What is it about social media that makes people so intent to prove their toughness through brushes with hypothermia? Unfortunately, taking an ice-cold dip in a lake on Christmas or New Year’s Day has become a rite of passage for many people who care more about views than the retention of feeling in their extremities.
Brown paper wrapping
Just because “My Favorite Things” talks of “brown paper packages tied up with strings” doesn’t mean that this is a quaint of charming way of packaging your presents. It wasn’t an aesthetic choice for Maria and the von Trapps—there was a war going on, folks.
Getting gifts is great. Getting gifts that were not specifically selected for you, which is done in the party game of white elephant, and that come with a bunch of rules—including ones that allow your friends or coworkers to steal the present you’ve just been handed—is not.
While the upside-down tree trend reportedly started in Eastern Europe, where locals would hang their Christmas trees from the ceiling, this terrible trend has taken the fake tree industry by storm in the States, as well. Today, you can easily spend up to $1000 on a plastic tree with its trunk in the air—the only question is: why would you?
Ah, the most rustic of Christmas trends. Who needs shiny wrapping paper and glittery bows when you can wrap and tie your presents in a fabric so rough it can take the skin off your palms?
Celebrity Christmas albums
While “All I Want for Christmas is You” is arguably the greatest modern Christmas song, the trend of celebrities creating Christmas albums is an overwhelmingly bad one. After all, was there anyone out there actually clamoring for Jessica Simpson’s rendition of “What Child Is This?” or NSYNC’s “The First Noel”?
Why have a Christmas tree inside your home when you can have one that appears to have sprung through your shingles and broken your roof? There are plenty of good ways to decorate your home’s exterior that are less likely to land you in the hospital.
Hateful portmanteau aside, shelfies—literally just a photo of a shelf decorated for the holidays—are about as ridiculous a holiday trend as they come. Is tossing a wreath and a nutcracker on your bookcase really the source of that much pride for any rational person?
Hawaiian Christmas shirts
Even if you think Bing Crosby’s “Mele Kalikimaka” is the absolute pinnacle of holiday songwriting, the idea that you’d translate your admiration for Hawaiian Christmases into your wardrobe is silly, at best. Unless you’re actually spending Christmas on the beach in Maui, you should probably keep that Hawaiian Christmas shirt where it belongs: the trash.
Decorated beards aren’t the only unfortunate holiday facial hair trend out there. Unfortunately, some evil genius decided that creating eyebrows adorned with glitter and gems were not just a great way to blind yourself, but a fun holiday tradition, too.
The Christmas pickle
The Christmas pickle—a bumpy pickle ornament hidden on a Christmas tree—is supposed to be good luck to anyone who finds it. In fact, in some homes, the ornament even gets the person who finds it an additional present, painfully highlighting what the holiday is really about for some people: a potent mix of excess sodium and unbridled consumerism.
Sure, those sprigs of mistletoe over your doorways may look cute, but in practice, the trend of hanging mistletoe is pretty creepy. Sometimes, a person just wants to hang out in a doorway without getting kissed by a stranger. Is that so much to ask?
While Santacon attendees may tell you that their participation in the costumed bar crawl is all about their love for the holiday, ask anyone who’s ever had to ride public transportation with them, and they’ll tell you: it definitely has a lot more to do with their love of doing Jägerbombs before noon.
Ugly, distracting, and a great way to make one of the more expensive things you own look instantly trashy, car costumes are, without a doubt, one of the more perplexing—and absurd—holiday trends out there.
Christmas in July
Why enjoy the stress and expense of dressing up, buying gifts, and cooking a feast just once a year? That must be the reasoning behind Christmas in July, a ridiculous rehashing of the holiday during the year’s hotter, more humid months. Nothing says “holiday cheer” like sweating in a Santa suit, after all. And if you want to make your holidays a bit merrier this year, try these 23 Gorgeous DIY Decorations That Will Wow Your Family.
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