Fun holiday facts to share at your next party

Did you know that December 15th (or the Friday closest to it) is the most popular date for company holiday parties? Or that Coca-Cola created the modern Santa Claus, Charlie Brown ended the reign of aluminum trees and Mariah Carey is a genius (okay, that last one you probably knew)?

Whatever date you choose to make merry on, keep your guests entertained and the conversation flowing with these interesting holiday factoids.

Holiday music

🎵 Carey and Walter Afanasieff wrote “All I Want for" Christmas Is You” in 15 minutes. Proof that sometimes, you really don’t need to overthink things.

🎵 "Silver Bells” was originally called “Tinkle Bells.” Yeah. Luckily, the composer’s wife stepped in and put a stop to that. Good luck forgetting this fact next time you hear the song!

🎵 “Wonderful Christmastime” generates $400,000 to $600,000 in royalties for Paul McCartney every year. He makes nearly as much from this one song as he does from the entire Beatles catalog!

🎵 You know the song “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” right? Play it in your head for a moment. Okay, how old do you think the singer, Brenda Lee, was when she recorded this. Give up? 13. THIRTEEN.

🎵 Have you ever thought how odd it is that there aren’t many Thanksgiving songs? Oh, but wait, there’s a big one you’re forgetting: “Jingle Bells.” That’s right—one of the most iconic holiday songs of all time was originally written for Thanksgiving. After a few small tweaks to the lyrics, it became the classic holiday tune we all know today.

Holiday movies

🎥 “The Nightmare Before Christmas” took three years to make. Mariah Carey could have written 105,120 Christmas songs in that amount of time. Alas, she didn’t.

🎥 “It’s a Wonderful Life” completely bombed when it was first released. It wasn’t until the copyright holders failed to extend the copyright in the ‘70s that the film became the beloved classic it is today. Distributors jumped on the chance to show the movie for free, allowing new generations to watch and appreciate it.

🎥 Aluminum Christmas trees used to be all the rage (they were admittedly pretty awesome in a shiny sort-of way) until Charlie Brown defied Lucy and brought back the only real tree on the lot in “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Afterward, the aluminum tree lost its sparkle, and genuine trees were the go-to, making Charlie Brown the original influencer.

🎥 What’s the highest-grossing holiday film of all time? Okay, there’s some conflicting info out there, but in an article from January 2021, “Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch” (2018) came out on top. Now, it doesn’t say if inflation is a factor, so this may account for it overtaking “Home Alone” as the top film, but regardless, they’re both great films.

Gifting

🎁 You aren’t imagining it—men actually do wait to do their shopping. Approximately 25% of men do all of their shopping on Christmas Eve and not necessarily because they were procrastinating. A lot of the reasoning behind it is that they want to make sure that they give the perfect gift and spend a lot of time trying to think of what that is. This little bit of info is sure to prompt a conversation at your party!

🎁 Americans spend, on average, almost $1000 on gifts, decorations and more during the holiday season. That’s approximately 50 Chia Pets, which seems like a lot but also somehow not a lot.

🎁 28 LEGO® sets are sold every SECOND during the holiday season. How is the world not entirely constructed from plastic bricks by now?

🎁 “Yankee Swap” and “Dirty Santa” parties are common, but most of us call these parties by their other name, “White Elephant.” The legend says that this name came about when the King of Siam (now Thailand) gave actual white elephants to people he didn’t like. These elephants were considered to be valuable but useless gifts thanks to being expensive to care for but too precious to put to work. It makes sense that the term “white elephant” would be adopted for this kind of party, but it’s most likely not true. The name has certainly stuck though!

🎁 Holiday gifting isn’t just for family and friends—it’s also for others who go without extras (or even everyday essentials) for much of the year and who could use that extra boost of joy this season. Toys for Tots was started in 1947 when the wife of a Marine Corps Reserve Major asked him to deliver some dolls to an agency that could give them to children in need. When it transpired that no such agency existed, she told him to start one! So, much like the composer of “Silver Bells,” he listened to his wife and Toys for Tots was born.

🎁 What do Tickle Me Elmo, Tamogatchi, Furby, NES consoles and Care Bears have in common? They were all the most popular holiday gifts of the year at one point! How many of these did you dream of owning?

Santa

🎅 Who decided that St. Nick should be rosy-cheeked, rocking an impossibly perfect white beard and styled out in a bright red suit? Coca-Cola! Before they started featuring him in their holiday advertising, he was rather scary-looking by today’s standards. Another fun fact: at one point Coca-Cola had a holiday character named “Sprite Boy”. And this was before the Sprite drink was invented. Foreshadowing, perhaps?

🎅 While many Christmas traditions are relatively new, leaving cookies and milk out for Santa likely comes from ancient Norse mythology. Children would leave food out for the god Odin and his eight-legged horse (and you thought Rudolph’s red nose was weird), Sleipner, in the hopes that Odin would leave them a fun gift.

🎅 You’ve likely heard of the NORAD Santa Tracker, but do you know how it started? It all began when a child accidentally called CONAD in 1955, believing they were calling Mr. Claus. The commander on duty that night went along with it and assured the anxious little one that they would make sure that Santa had a safe journey, thus creating a new tradition. NORAD took over this responsibility from CONAD three years later. Best wrong number story ever.

Food

🍬 Turkey? Ham? Goose? Nope, what people really want to feast upon during the holidays is…potatoes? YES. Roasted potatoes take the top spot for the most popular Christmas dish, followed by mashed potatoes.

🍬 The humble candy cane is undeniably a Christmas staple. Created to keep a choir in Germany quiet in between songs (really), these sweet treats were introduced to the U.S. in the 1800s. But they really took off in the 1950s when Bob McCormack and Gregory Keller figured out how to automate the candy cane production, reducing the processing time and cost.

🍬 Did you know that eating KFC for Christmas is a big thing in Japan? It all started with a dream—literally. The manager of the first KFC in Japan dreamt of a Christmas “party barrel” of fried chicken and made it happen! Now, people in Japan must place their orders for the Colonel’s delicious poultry two months before Christmas or risk missing out.

Decoration

🎄 Thomas Edison not only invented the first practical light bulb, but he also invented Christmas tree lights! It took some time for people to trust them (they felt more comfortable with actual lit candles on their trees vs. that newfangled electricity), but of course, electric lights eventually became the norm.

🎄 The Christmas tree is probably the most well-known piece of holiday decor. Martin Luther is credited with starting the whole “let’s put candles on an evergreen tree” trend. But it was Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, who truly made Christmas trees fashionable both in England and the U.S.

Miscellaneous merriment

❄️ Tim Burton was NOT the first person to dabble in both Halloween and Christmas storytelling. Washington Irving, author of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” adored Saint Nicholas and wrote short stories about the yuletide. Much of the way we celebrate Christmas now is thanks to his influence.

❄️ The most popular day to get engaged? December 25th (aka, Christmas)! Most popular conception date? December 24th (aka, Christmas Eve). Guess there is something to mistletoe after all!


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