How Do Millennials Celebrate Christmas?

Multi ethnic group of friends having new year dinner party

Millennials may feel the Christmas spirit in a different way and opt to celebrate in unique ways that better coincide with their beliefs. While not all Millennials choose to celebrate Christmas differently, many have decided to forge their own traditions.

How Some Millennials Celebrate Christmas

Not all Millennials will choose to celebrate Christmas in the traditional way. Some may opt to forgo all Christmas traditions, while others will incorporate some new customs with old traditions. Noah D. from Los Angeles notes that for him, "Christmas is about being kind to others, not about gift giving or planned family dinners." Around Christmas time Noah and his family spend quality time together or take a trip somewhere new and exciting, "without the pressure of holiday traditions and shoulds getting in the way." On Christmas Eve or day, some Millennials may:

  • Have a relaxed night with friends
  • Order takeout, instead of cooking or attending a family dinner
  • Do a potluck and secret Santa with their friends
  • Take a trip with friends or solo
  • Have a movie night with friends or loved ones
  • Volunteer at a favorite charity instead of attending a Christmas dinner
  • Have a slumber party with some friends instead of staying with family
  • Send out silly holiday GIFs, emails, or texts instead of holiday cards
  • Have a self-care day alone or with loved ones
  • Snuggle up and read or watch a holiday movie

Viewing Christmas Differently

Only about four in 10 Millennials say they celebrate Christmas for religious purposes while the majority of Millennials celebrate for cultural reasons. Many are motivated by the sentiment of family memories, but want to create their own special customs with their loved ones. Others see the holiday as a sweet way to connect with others and show their love and appreciation by gifting thoughtful presents.

Group of friends swimming with Santa hats

Cleo H. from Brooklyn was raised half Christian and half Jewish. She shares that her parents are divorced, so she visits her, "dad in Florida around Christmas time since he loves to celebrate this holiday." Cleo, like many other Millennials, may have parents who have split up so Christmas may be about dividing up holiday visits, or joining the parent that celebrates Christmas if they come from different religious backgrounds.

Millennials May Skip Traditional Christmas Activities

Traditionally around Christmas time, many people, including some Millennials:

  • Put up festive decorations on the exterior and interior of their home and also purchase a Christmas tree to decorate.
  • Celebrate Christmas Eve together as a family and put out stockings and milk and cookies for Santa.
  • Families with older children may opt to honor Santa, but also include other activities like watching movies together after dinner and hanging out by a fire.
  • On Christmas, many families or couples exchange gifts that were placed under the tree and in their stockings.
  • Traditional family Christmas dinners are usually enjoyed with extended family members and friends.

Even when Millennials do participate in traditional activities, they may celebrate by adding their own spin on it or partaking in other's traditions instead of their own.

Creating New Customs

Newly married Millennials may celebrate Christmas with their spouse's family. Marissa J. from Los Angeles notes that celebrating Christmas, "is a fun way to create new traditions with my husband and connect with his family. " Marissa was raised Jewish, but has, "loved incorporating Christmas traditions into [her] life and forging new holiday memories with [her] husband."

Shying Away From Tradition

Some Millennials may live far away from their families and opt to not travel home for the traditional Christmas customs and instead plan to visit another time. Erika D. notes that she, "heads to her hometown a few weeks before Christmas to beat the holiday travel rush and save a bit on airfare." Others may attend a few Christmas festivities with their family and opt to celebrate with friends as well, forgoing some family events. Many families also attend a special Christmas church service, and some Millennials may opt out of going to church, instead viewing Christmas with a cultural lens. Erika D. isn't alone in noting that Christmas, "feels more cultural than religious, especially the older [I] get."

A Generation of New Ideas

Like history has shown, as new generations approach adulthood, they tend to shift their thinking and may veer away from traditional customs. This isn't necessarily a good or bad pattern, but more of a way for the up and coming generation to form their own identities, customs, and practices.

How Do Millennials Celebrate Christmas?