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Holiday Traditions and Connections

Inspiring holiday tales and recipes, plus tips for keeping in touch with loved ones this season.

Inspiring Holiday Traditions

Thanksgiving Is a Beast
The trifecta of family, overcrowded rooms, and excesses of food and drink can bring out the insanity in anybody. But as Karen Russell attests, even the craziest holiday—when spent with loved ones—is something to be grateful for.

What Is Your Most Unique Holiday Tradition?
Real Simple readers share the uncostumary customs they celebrate year after year.

Woman lighting candles

Holiday Celebrations Around the World

Rituals from around the globe that you can use to add authentic spice—and meaning—to your season.
Photo: Susie Cushner

The Dos and Don’ts of Sending a Holiday Letter

When a holiday card just won’t cut it, follow these guidelines for a well-written (non-obnoxious) holiday newsletter.
Photo: Wendell T. Webber

7 Authors Share Tales of Thanksgiving Traditions

From vegan tofu pies to bizarre centerpieces, seven acclaimed authors pay tribute to the holiday traditions they treasure most.
Photo: Miki Duisterhof

14 Simple, Beautiful Homemade Holiday Gifts

Learn how to make easy personalized presents, from recipe books to mini gardens.
Photo: Christopher Baker
Woman lighting candles
Holiday greeting cards
Group of friends enjoying a meal together
Chocolate Nut Bark

More Holiday Traditions

Various gift wrap

The Best Holiday and Christmas Wrapping Paper
These pretty, witty papers and complementary frills are a cut above the seasonal standbys.

Yolanda and Alejandra Ramos

Readers’ Recipes From Their Family Kitchens
Six readers pay tribute to their moms and the family recipes they cherish the most.

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Winter Vista Card by Peagreen

Holiday Card Checklist

If you want to navigate the season’s mailing frenzy with less stress, follow these tips to make sure your holiday cards are bought, stamped, and shipped on time.

  • Update your address list. Go through your address book and update any information that’s changed since last year. Fill in any missing information and make sure zip codes are accurate (omitting a zip code is better than including the wrong one). Find ZIP codes or ZIP +4’s at
  • Write a list of the people to whom you will be sending cards. Send them ideas for what kind you’d like to send (photo cards, e-cards, good-old-fashioned paper), where you will purchase them, and the estimated amount each card will cost.

    Related: Your Holiday Etiquette Questions, Answered

  • Shop for cards. Some stores put holiday goods out by Halloween. You’ll get the best selection if you start early. And if you’re ordering cards online, you’ll want to have plenty of time for them to arrive. You can skip a mailing step later by ordering from a site like, which gives you the option of ordering coordinating return-address labels.

    Related: 36 Festive Holiday Cards

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