In a year of rapid change, one thing we can still cling to is our holiday traditions. Designzillas is known for some kooky rituals throughout the year but we’d like to share some of our heart-warming holiday traditions with you. Check out these special traditions and perhaps you’ll be inspired to add a little something new to your repertoire.

A Look Back: Holidays With the Zillas

The holidays often include traveling to visit friends and family. Last year, our Director of Production, Gina Lockwood, skipped a few time zones and celebrated in Japan. Meanwhile, our Web Team Lead, Kirk Finley took his annual family road trip to Michigan and Senior Front-End Developer, Marc Garcia, headed west to meet up with family for skiing in Colorado. 

This year the “where” may look a little different, but the traditions will continue on.

As a company, we’ve been doing Zilla Christmas for 13 years! This includes a daytime Secret Santa gift exchange, holiday games and one smorgasbord of a potluck. Once we’ve eaten our fill of some delicious food, we get dolled up for a special awards night to recognize each team member on their incredible contributions over the past year and reflect on the incredible things we were able to accomplish together as a team. 

In addition to our Core Values awards for Integrity, Excellence, Passion, Partnership & Creativity, as well as some other specialty awards (like our Rookie of the Year award) our Chief Zilla, Johnny Hughes, surprises us all with "the Zillies" — personalized and dramatically themed awards given to every Zilla, created purely for laughs.

Michael Scott at the Dundie Awards with caption "You have won a tiny Dundie."

Fröhliche Weihnachten (Merry Christmas!)

Christmas is celebrated all over the world, and one thing you might not know is that St. Nicholas Day is celebrated before the 25th in Germany! St. Nicholas Day recognizes the saint that would later be commonly known and celebrated as Santa Claus. And one of our very own Zillas celebrates St. Nicholas Day.

“Growing up, we had a German family tradition celebrating St. Nicholas Day. On the eve of St. Nick Day, December 5, we’d put our shoe by the front door with our list to Santa inside of it. We would wake up on December 6th and find our list was taken and replaced with little goodies and gifts inside! My three brothers and I are now adults, but my mom still keeps the tradition alive and makes us put lists in our shoes.” 

— Maddie Miranda, Team Lead

Beyond Germany and St. Nicholas Day, many holidays around the world kick off celebrations with food — and Christmas is no different.

Colorful photo of Grinch cookies on a baking sheet

UX Designer, Leisy Vidal, has one of the longest-standing culinary family traditions! With 20 years of decorating Christmas cookies with her family, she’s pretty much a piping queen.

“I enjoy baking homemade apple pie every year with my mom while listening to Christmas music. The quality time spent with family and the aroma that fills the house is just heavenly.” 

— Danielle Irigoyen, Marketing Lead

Photo of freshly baked apple pie sitting on a tablecloth.

In our Brand Strategist, Tina Fleming’s family kitchen, they make Linzer Cookies and arrange a super-sized charcuterie board. But the most fun is playing a game called Hide the Pickle in the Tree

Close-up photo of a Pickle Rick ornament in a Christmas tree

This fun game goes back to the 1880s, when department stores had just started selling ornaments from Germany, many of which were vegetables. It was said that the Christmas Pickle was to be the last ornament hung on the Christmas tree and whoever was the first child to find it got an extra present. Holiday marketing tactic or not, it worked and households across the globe are still hiding pickles in trees, even a hundred years later!

The Full Enchilada

Our Operations Manager, Lisette Ortiz, goes big on the Eve. She celebrates Nochebuena (Christmas Eve) with a big family dinner at her parents’ house followed by a cookie-decorating contest. Then, they all gather around the tree and open presents while listening to Christmas music. As it gets close to midnight, they get ready and go to midnight Mass to celebrate the start of Christmas Day.

The Season of Giving

Demonstrating generosity is also a tradition for many fortunate families. Teaching the act of giving is important in the home of our Strategy Consultant Chris Archer. His daughter, Raina, fills a box of toys to share with those less fortunate before a new supply shows up on Christmas morning.

In lieu of our Secret Santa gift exchange this year, Designzillas decided to donate toys to local organizations here in Orlando, including The Orange County Mayor’s Toy Drive and Nathaniel’s Hope. We’ll also be trying out our first digital awards night this year. As digital warriors, we’re thinking it’s going to still be pretty fierce!

Festival of Lights

For some Zillas, getting lit is their favorite way to celebrate the holidays (and by "getting lit", we mean celebrating eight spirited nights honoring the beautiful celebration of Hanukkah, of course)! Senior Front-End Developer, Jordan Pakrosnis, will be celebrating with family via Zoom and also using this time to refresh his batteries on the smoke alarm (safety first).

Festive Flicks & Festivities

Kat and Johnny Hughes watch “Home Alone” and “Home Alone 2” every year, all while eating a giant cheesy pizza and reciting every line word for word, “Keep the change, ya filthy animal!”

“Every year my family and I watch A Christmas Story on Christmas Day,” says our Digital Marketing Specialist, Kristen Tally.

And she’s not alone. While so many new movies and TV series have launched this year, there are a few Christmas stories that never get old for us (and it's no surprise based on what’s topping the charts!) Check out our top picks for holiday films:

  • A Christmas Story
  • Home Alone 
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas
  • It’s a Wonderful Life
  • Klaus
  • Love Actually

There are so many fun holiday activities that take place each December in Central Florida — many of which have adjusted how they operate this year to create a safer experience for guests. Here are some of our favorite local hometown traditions:

Happy Holidays, from Designzillas

2020 has certainly been a year with its fair share of challenges and change. We wish each and every one of you a safe and healthy holiday season. Let’s use this time to reflect on the strengths we’ve gained that will allow us to continue growing and serving one another.

Stay ferocious, and have a merry and bright holiday season!

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blog author


Kat Hughes

Director of Client Partnerships at Designzillas, Kat develops dynamic user experience strategies that allow businesses to be more effective with engaging with their customers online!

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