This post is a part of the Christmas Around The World series, in which bloggers from across the globe will be telling us all about Christmas in their home country. Today we have Jess from Used York City, sharing an insight into the holiday season in the USA.

Why don’t you start by introducing yourself?

Hi! I'm Jess from Used York City, a little piece of the internet that features the best of New York, as used by New Yorkers. I've lived in New York City for over nine years, but hail from the southern part of the States, with family in Virginia and North Carolina. That's where I always return to for the Christmas holidays.

What does a typical Christmas day look like in the USA?

A typical Christmas day in the USA consists of family; waking up early in the morning, gathering around the tree with cups of steamy cocoa, and taking turns opening stockings and gifts, while carols of the season play in the background.

After the morning ritual, the rest of the day is spent dressing up in your new Christmas clothes and visiting extended family or friends, eating plenty of cookies and drinking plenty of egg nog at every stop along the way. By nighttime you can expect to be tuckered out and stuffed.

What are the essential activities in the run up to Christmas?

Christmas in the States has a reputation of starting earlier and earlier each year; this year we actually saw stores putting out Christmas decor before Halloween at the end of October.

That being said, it's typically considered 'appropriate' to start the real Christmasy activities the day after Thanksgiving, which we in the States call 'Black Friday'. This is the biggest shopping day of the year and people are notoriously known to line up hours before stores open to score a 'good deal' on gifts for the season; it's quite a bit of madness, actually!

Along with shopping, decorating the house with a Christmas tree, stockings, and even twinkle lights on the exterior are quite common activities you'll find taking place in the home of anyone that celebrates the holiday.

Americans are all about the entertaining aspect of Christmas too, so you will find no shortage of Christmas concerts and shows, carolling opportunities, lines in malls across the country of children waiting to sit on Santa's lap for their annual photo; it's really quite a special time of year!

Shopping and entertainment aside, it's important to note that many Americans choose to give back to their communities at this time of year, helping those less fortunate by volunteering at soup kitchens, homeless shelters, or animal shelters. Americans of the Christian religion have a saying that goes, 'Remember the reason for the season', which would be the birth of Christ.

What are the most popular Christmas books and movies?

A classic book every child knows is Twas the Night Before Christmas. I'm pretty sure I can still recite a big chunk of it! Charles Dickens' Christmas Carol is another book that has been made and remade into countless films and plays over the years. And we can't forget Dr. Seuss's legendary story, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, known and loved by children from New York to California!

A personal favourite Christmas movie of mine is Love Actually. Even though it takes place in London, it was a huge hit among us sentimental saps in the States, and I watch it on repeat every holiday season!

What unusual Christmas traditions does your family have?

In my family we have a little tradition of getting matching pajamas as a gift on Christmas Eve that we wear to bed that night, so when we wake up in the morning we're all matching for Christmas photos.

We also do 'Secret Santa', where you draw a family member's name out of a hat on Thanksgiving, and then keep it 'secret' for the entire month. You are responsible for getting that person a gift to go under the tree, so come Christmas morning we're all supposed to be surprised as to who got who. The funny part is, I don't think we've ever actually kept this 'secret'...everyone finds out rather quickly!

Have you ever spent Christmas in a different country? How did that differ from being at home?

Yes! Last Christmas my husband and I were in Cambodia for our honeymoon, so it was a completely different experience; alone on the beach sipping fruity beverages in 85 degree weather, rather than being home in the states with our boots and jackets on, facing snow and sipping hot cocoa with hordes of family members! It was quite magical though and everyone went out of their way to say Merry Christmas to us, even though it's not a holiday that is typically celebrated there.

We also attended a party and performance that the resort was hosting on Christmas Eve, and watched a local artist create a large painting of the performance that was taking place. We were so excited on Christmas morning to find that we had won the painting through a silent auction, and now it's hanging in our home back in NYC; a beautiful reminder of the Christmas we spent in Cambodia.

Thanks Jess! Are there any other American readers out there? What does your Christmas look like?