Photo: Thinkstcok

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Myth 4: Traditions Must Be Followed

O staffers tell tradition to buzz off.

"My family got tired of eating the traditional holiday menu every year. So we experiment with new recipes together, and there's no pressure for the meal to be perfect. The key to being creative with confidence is having the number for a takeout place that stays open on Christmas." 
Senior copy editor Susanne Ruppert

"Every Thanksgiving my family goes out to eat. The first time we did it we were embarrassed, and we skulked into a neighborhood spot only to find it packed with other families. Now we use the holiday as an excuse to try a new fancy restaurant." 
Executive beauty editor Jenny Bailly

"Years ago my family decided that the nicest Christmas present we could give each other was no present—eliminating a major source of holiday stress. Instead, we put our gift energy into birthdays, and have made Thanksgiving our family holiday." 
Deputy editor Sudie Redmond 

"At holiday time, my family celebrates our mix of cultures. Our get-together has become a blend of foods, from Chinese (my mom's stewed pork) to Italian (my brother-in-law's pasta) to British (my husband's bread pudding). It's actually as American a tradition as you can get." 
Executive fashion editor Jasmine Chang

"Missing Christmas is generally grounds for disownment in my family, but last year my husband and I passed the holiday in his native Germany, and spent a weekend with my parents in mid-January. There were no huge meals, no receiving line of second cousins, just quiet quality time opening presents and trading stories. It was so civilized and relaxing that in the end I think even my folks were convinced it's the way to go." 
Senior editor Lauren Iannotti