10 of the best Christmas traditions

There is just no denying it – Christmas is the best time of the year. With epic gifts, food and movie marathons to look forward to over the coming fortnight, we've compiled a list of the best Christmas traditions to get you even more excited for the celebrations.

1. Decorating the house

Multi-coloured tinsel? Check. Gaudy baubles? Check. Tacky LED Santa? Double check. Despite the annual struggle to get the garland to stay up, decorating the tree and house is the most exciting part of the Christmas preparations, and the first sign that the festive season has begun. Throw on the Christmas tunes and have a hot port while you're at it, and you might as well be in the North Pole.

2. Watching the lights turn on

It doesn't matter what age you are, there's something so timelessly magical about watching the lights get turned on in the city. It's the first sign that Christmas is on its way, and the festive cheer in the air is infectious. Only downside? So many street selfies.

3. The work Christmas party

The one time of the year where it's almost acceptable (yet always so regrettable) to get drunk and overshare around your bosses. Inappropriate comments and a sneaky hook-up under the mistletoe are par for the course, as are ridiculous Christmas jumpers.

4. Secret Santa

It's hard enough trying to buy for your family, so trying to keep to a €10 budget on a gift for a person you've barely said more than hello to is a definite challenge. As stressful as Secret Santa may prove each year however, it's a lovely way to bond with your work crew. Also, it's always fun trying to figure out who gave that one completely awful gift. Fun times!

5. Going to mass with the family

Once you get over the initial guilt that goes with the realisation that it's been a year since you set foot in a church, Christmas mass is a lovely way to bring the real meaning of the holiday home. Even if you are just there to keep the parents happy, hearing the hymns and the story of the nativity, and seeing the excitement of the little children around is very special.

6. Binging on chocolate and turkey sandwiches

So food is probably at the top of the list of things we most look forward to at Christmas. We spend weeks preparing for the feast of chocolates, desserts, whopper dinners and mince pies that mum has stashed away in the cupboards, and gladly take the opportunity to gorge ourselves to the point of illness.

7. Reuniting with friends who have moved away

They spend their lives on Facebook sharing photos and statuses of how fabulous Australia/ America/ China is, but when it comes right down to it, there's nowhere on Earth they would rather be at Christmastime than at home. Even if it's just for a few hours, Christmas is a great time to catch up with your buddies who have moved away, to reminisce on the good old days and swap scandal.

8. Hitting the pub on St Stephens Day

If there's one day that you always manage to make it out for over the festive season, it's St Stephens Day. It's the one night of the year when absolutely everyone is out – from friends to relatives and all the local talent – and the craic and feel-good atmosphere cannot be beaten.

9. Watching Christmas movies

This is probably the only time of the year where the family won't fight over the remote. Whether it's just that good old Christmas cheer or the fact that everyone is too full to move, no one will protest to a little Harry Potter marathon, and even the most hard-hearted among us will melt at It's A Wonderful Life and The Polar Express.

10. Hitting the sales

While the mere thought of leaving your hibernation spot on the couch to face crowds of bargain hunters is a terrifying one, we can never resist a trip into the sales. Best case, you'll find that amazing coat you had your eye on reduced to a steal; worst case, you can look on at the sad faces of the sales assistants and thank god it's not you having to put up with that angry mob.