Many of us are facing an unusually quiet Christmas this year, with many (if not all) social events and travel plans canceled or postponed. For us, the Christmas holidays look like they’re shaping up to be a cozy at-home time. Instead of thinking about all we’re missing out on this year, I want to make this Christmas a cheery one, remembered for years to come as a special time and not just of pandemic-related loss.
Besides, I love gathering new ideas and recipes (can I call it a hobby? 😀 ), and Christmas is always a great time to try something new. Of course, bringing the ideas to completion doesn’t always happen, but hey, at least dreaming is free and fun!
My ever-efficient daughter already has the Christmas recipes printed and stapled together, ready for those sugar and flour-dusted baking days. Fingers crossed we’ll get a good ways down the list.
Anyway, I’m sure you’ve got wonderful lists of your own (which I’d love to see–hint, hint), but if you need some ideas in the meantime, here’s an inspiration list:
BREAKFASTS AND BRUNCHES:
- Make Ahead Breakfast Enchiladas
- Waffles (try chocolate or cornbread waffles for something different)
- Make a breakfast toast bar with a variety of loaves and topping options such as apple- or honey-butter, Nutella, goat cheese or cream cheese, strawberries, almond butter, bananas, cinnamon, avocado, hummus, cucumber, garlic butter, cinnamon butter, etc.)
QUICK, SIMPLE MEALS:
We all need some quick and simple meals to keep the family happy on those afternoons when everyone gets carried away decorating gingerbread cookies (or cleaning house, doing dishes, folding laundry and wrapping gifts):
- Taco, Southwest or Caesar Chicken Salad
- Cheese and meat tray with crackers and fruit
- Sandwiches and a veggie tray (why not include one or two vegetables you don’t usually buy)
- Burgers with a specialty topping: blue or old cheese, mushrooms, French fried or carmelized onions, bacon, or whatever suits your family’s fancy. (How about ranch and jalapenos or Dorito chips?)
- Pizza Stuffed Buns (easy if you made them last week and somehow got some in the freezer!)
- Ham and Potato Corn Chowder with Red Loster Biscuits
- Hot Ham and Cheese Sandwiches (take it to the next level with homemade honey mustard, bacon and carmelized onions. And here’s something I haven’t done–yet, but it looks like a great way to improve store-bought buns. I think I’d opt to add poppyseed and a light sprinkling of salt and garlic powder.)
- Dominican Hot Dogs. Basic idea: besides the usual weiner with ketchup and Miracle Whip, make a very simple ‘chili’ with hamburger, tomato soup and chili powder. Perhaps most important–the cabbage topping. I’ve seen recipes that just say to add shredded cabbage but my sister’s authentic recipe says to boil it a couple minutes and that’s the one I always follow. I’m not a huge fan of hotdogs, but they can be improved with cabbage! Or certainly onions and baked beans. 😉
- Pizza, Bread Sticks and Caesar Salad (if you’ve got the time, have each person assemble their own mini pizza)
- Brisket, Baked Potatoes with Potato Topping, This Lettuce Salad, Christmas Jell-O (or just regular finger Jell-O–because it’s always the chilluns’ favorite), Caramel Apple Pie and Ice Cream
- Steak, Fried Mushrooms, Brazilian Grilled Pineapple, Potato Wedges (our favorite recipe), Flan
- Consider a menu consisting of the foods Jesus would have eaten.
- Christmas Stars (similar to Finnish Christmas Stars, but made with raspberry or cherry pie filling and drizzled with icing)
- Sugar Cut-Out Cookies or Gingerbread Cookies
- Christmas Wreath Cookies
- Orange Cranberry Muffins or bread
- Cranberry Christmas Cake with Butter Sauce
- Maple Twists
- Pumpkin Spiced Puppy Chow
- Pretzel Rolos
- Shreddies Gingerbread Snack Mix
- Peppermint Hot Cocoa Rice Krispie Treats
- Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
- Marshmallow Dream Bars or Peanut Butter Marshmallow Squares
- Moose Munch Popcorn
- Coconut Cream Truffles
SNACK IDEAS (besides all those goodies you just made, of course):
- Red pepper jelly with cream cheese and crackers
- Hot cocoa bar. Try Nutella, mint or salted caramel hot chocolate. Some ideas for what to include: toffee bits, coarse sea salt, salted caramel, butterscotch or mini chocolate chips, crushed peppermints, Whoppers, whipped cream, chocolate and/or caramel syrup, sprinkles, cinnamon, Ovation chocolate sticks, mini chocolate eggs, chopped nuts, and of course, marshmallows (try Peeps). Use pirouette cookies, candy canes or chocolate spoons as stir sticks. Dip cookies, pretzels rods or shortbread.
- Popcorn. Pop some on the stove and try a new seasoning flavor. While you’re at it, pop some extra for a garland or to feed the birds.
- Hard-boiled or deviled eggs
- Chips with guacamole, Texas caviar or fresh salsa
- Bacon Cheese Ball
- Make a dried orange or popcorn garland.
- Have a family cookie-decorating party while listening to a Christmas story.
- Make and decorate a gingerbread house or nativity.
- Make cinnamon ornaments.
- Make orange pomanders.
- Take a drive to look at Christmas lights. Call it a pajama party and surprise the kiddos by jumping in the car at bedtime! Bring hot drinks, a snack or two and a wonderful Christmas story. See how many streets or small local towns you can get to during the holidays.
- Make paper snowflakes and paper stars. (My daughter made these stars with her class and they are beautiful, simple and big!)
- Do a Christmas-themed scavenger hunt, indoors or out. My children are also hoping for a treasure hunt–I just may have to recycle those plastic Easter eggs for the Christmas season.
- Make bird feeders and popcorn garlands. Decorate a tree outside for the birds.
- Go skating, tubing, and/or sledding. Don’t forget the hot cocoa and bonfire.
- Play minute-to-win-it games.
- Decorate the children’s bedrooms with Christmas lights and decor.
- If you have a fireplace, make s’mores around it. If you don’t, make mini s’mores using tea light candles, toothpicks, mini marshmallows, chocolate chips and Golden Grahams.
- Read and listen to as many Christmas stories as possible! Consider exchanging books with friends if your city’s library is closed.
- Collect things from around the yard to use for Christmas decor or crafts.
- Read the Christmas story by candle light. Consider dressing up in costumes and making your own manger scene.
- Make a birthday cake for Jesus.
- Let the children set up nativity scenes and mini Christmas villages. Choose a place at their eye level.
- Count down to Christmas by moving the shepherds (or angel, in our case, since we didn’t yet have shepherds when we began) closer to the stable every day. Set up the nativity without the shepherds. The shepherds begin their journey at a room in the house far from the nativity scene. Each day, they travel a little closer until they finally arrive at the manger at Christmas. At our house, this has turned into a bit of a hide-and-seek game with everyone wanting to take turns hiding the angel. 😉
- Use your Christmas cards and letters as a reminder to pray for your loved ones.
- Count down to Christmas by making a paper chain and removing one link each day.
- Share hot food or a homemade pie with co-workers, either your own or your husband’s.
- Send Christmas flowers to someone.
- Email personal Christmas wishes to your librarian and other community workers.
- Leave a nice note or card on someone’s windshield, in a library book or at a restaurant.
- Write an enthusiastic, positive review for a local business you enjoy.
- Call your parents.
- Pay for the order of the person behind you in line at the drive-through.
- Give someone a book you enjoyed with a note to pass it on when they’re done.
- Deliver a homemade card and make-your-own word-search puzzle to someone in a nursing home. Consider including a gift. If you need ideas, here’s a good place to start–and here’s a huge gift list.
- Call your grandparents.
- Donate to your local food bank the next time you’re in the grocery store.
- Adopt a child through World Vision.
WAYS TO SPREAD CHRISTMAS CHEER BEYOND HOME:
Now, it’s your turn! Share your favorite recipes and tell me how you’re planning to make these holidays special–pretty please? 😉