Erica Chats: Who Loves a Good Holiday Tradition?

Traditions help create lasting memories and also help us celebrate what’s important. They connect generations of families and give us something to look forward to.

Your family may have tons of traditions like cookie swaps, caroling, ugly sweater parties, and so on. Or perhaps you’re a family with just a few cherished traditions. Maybe the holidays have become tough because of a lost loved one. Maybe you’re a newly established family looking to create your own memories.

When you think about it, it’s not gifts you remember most, or what you wore to the company holiday party, but the traditions you have annually. These are the memories that make a lasting impression. Let this be the year to try something new! Here are a few fun ideas:

Ella finds the pickle.

Hide the Pickle for Good Luck

For years, I have hidden a pickle ornament on the Christmas tree for the family to find. The person to find the pickle will be rewarded with good luck for the upcoming year, or $5 at our house. The origins of the Christmas pickle tradition remain iffy, but experts believe it’s a German American tradition with roots in the 1800s. A friend from Germany likes to hide a flask filled with holiday spirits if you want to spice things up.

Holiday Movie Trivia Night

Perfect for your next holiday movie binge night. Select trivia that works best for your family at

Celebrate Individuals in Your Community

Recognize those who have made a difference in your community. Grab a handful of gift baskets filled with goodies to drop at people’s doors to show your appreciation. Handwritten cards can make a big impact too!

Experience a Christmas Tree Lighting

The televised Rockefeller tree lighting is November 30 this year. Be sure to enjoy one of the local tree lightings, too. Downtown Raleigh and surrounding towns will have their annual tree lightings, including the North Hills Annual Tree Lighting on November 19. I’ll be on stage, along with Santa, so please say hello. Don’t forget the Raleigh Christmas Parade is also on November 19 at 9:30 a.m. Make it a full day!

Check Out Holiday Decorations

We always load up the car with family on Christmas Eve and check out our favorite decorated homes. MG’s Vision & lights on Holt Road in Apex is a drive-thru experience and a must. The NC Chinese Lantern Festival will be back at Cary’s Koka Booth Amphitheatre from November 18 to January 8. It’s a walking experience great for all ages.

Easton sends a letter to Santa.

Make a Custom Tree Skirt

Trace your kids’ hands on a flannel tree skirt with fabric paint pens and include their ages. The skirt will be filled with memories over the years, and hopefully one day they can pass this down for the generations to come.

Custom Family Candles

This may be one of my favorite traditions that started for our family in 2016. Every year, my husband gifts me a holiday scented Yankee Candle with our holiday family photo. Pulling these candles out every year is such a joy, and to see how much the kids have grown fills my heart. They’re great to gift, too!

Get in Touch with Santa

A letter to the North Pole is probably the best way to get in touch with St. Nick. But you can also reach out through an app. Portable North Pole allows Santa to send you a personalized video message with Santa visiting your home. And by the way, this is Santa’s phone number: (605) 313-4000. Leave a message and make sure everyone stays on the nice list.

Angus Barn Holiday Dinner

This is a must for many families in the Triangle. It’s tough to get a reservation because it’s so popular, so a little tip … go early! The Wild Turkey Lounge opens at 3 p.m., so grab your spot (first come, first served), eat a great meal, and take a holiday pic in front of their big tree. They keep decorations up for a while if you can’t get in before the holidays.

Angus Barn Tree

Gingerbread House Competition

Nothing like a friendly competition among family and friends. And thanks to social media, the voting process can be widely accessible for all. If you make your way to Asheville this season, the 30th Annual National Gingerbread House Competition will be held on November 21 at The Omni Grove Park Inn. The entries are unbelievable, and you don’t have to be a guest of the hotel to stop in and browse around.

Teach Your Kids to Give Back

Have your child pick out a gently used toy they no longer play with to donate before any extra gifts come in for the holiday. Also, participate in a toy drive. There will be several around this time of year. I will be participating in Stuff-A-Bus at the Cary Walmart the first weekend of December with G105 and the Mako Miracle with Mako Medical, bringing Christmas to families in need. Every little bit helps!

Please stay connected on social @EricaDeLong!

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