Holiday dinners don’t have to be exactly the same from year to year. By adding a theme to your big holiday meal, you can add even more excitement for your children and your guests.
Building family traditions doesn’t have to mean repeating exactly the same decorations, activities, and meals every year. We all look forward to some of our favorites, but the anticipation of seeing what will be new can be fun.
If everyone really craves a big turkey, you could keep the food the same and change the colors and decorations. If the family likes to travel—or wishes they could travel—you might want to eat holiday foods from elsewhere in the world.
In my family, we always have Christmas crackers because that is what my children love about Christmas with their grandparents in England. We always make the Swiss cookies that my grandmother used to make and all of my cousins still make. We generally use the nice china and silverware as well. But, that is all that is consistent. We like to eat foods from other places in the world.
The year of Hurricane Katrina, we had a Louisiana meal in solidarity with all of those who were still recovering. We had gumbo, which fits well with the green and red decorations, dirty rice, and other Cajun favorites then pecan desserts. One year, we couldn’t decide on turkey or goose, so we decided on a theme of Christmas is for the Birds. We started one night with Cornish game hens, the next with duck and goose in a kind of homemade Peking duck, then finally the more traditional turkey dinner. My English husband has a Finnish name, so we played on that another year with the theme I’m Finnish with Christmas. We had traditional Finnish soups and breads that we had not made before. I probably wouldn’t do any of them twice, but we love the brainstorming and planning as well as the meal itself. This year, I’m pushing for a medieval Viking meal with the theme Deck the Valhalls.
If you are looking for a way to add fun to your holiday traditions, consider what you want to stay the consistent year to year and what you might play with to surprise your children or guests at your big holiday meal. Did you travel recently? Do you remember what your grandmother used to make for holidays when you were young? Would you like to see if you really can have an entirely blue meal for a Blue Christmas? (You can! We have.) Look through the ideas that intrigue you, and include your children in the planning. Pulling together the big meal is one of the activities we enjoy the most about the holidays.
Happy Holidays, and eat well!