Tradition makes the holidays exciting, nostalgic, and helps us build strong connections with family and friends. Here are the top five American Christmas traditions to add to your list this year.

1. Decorate Your House and Yard With Christmas Lights

Decorating houses and trees with lights dates back to when candles provided light for Christmas trees and shined on mantles for symbolic religious reasons. With the invention of electricity came modern miniature bulbs and the twinkling of a hundred lights reminds all Americans of cozy Christmas nights.

2. Pick Out a Christmas Tree

A classic American Christmas tradition is the trip to the tree lot to select your family Christmas tree. Typically, a family affair, this outing is an exciting event that precedes the holidays each year for many American households.

3. Build a Gingerbread House

Families gathering around the kitchen table with freshly baked gingerbread pieces, a white icing tube, and bowls of candies are synonymous with Christmas tradition in the United States.

4. Watching Home Alone

This classic American Christmas movie, created by John Hughes and starring a young Macaulay Culkin, is beloved across the United States. This series of films began in 1990 and ’90s kids grew up watching them annually, forming a new age tradition.

5. Countdown to Christmas with an Advent Calendar

Though not steeped in religion today, the advent calendar got its name from the Christian period called Advent, consisting of the four weeks preceding Christmas Day. Traditionally a time used to prepare for baptism.

Today, advent calendars make this a celebratory time even for those who are not religious. The first advent calendars are traceable back to the early 1900s when they were simply 24 pictures on a paper piece, later modified to include doors.