7 Christmas rituals you can start this year

ituals are the glue that hold us together. We like doing certain things at certain times of the year. We pass down traditions from Gramma to kidlet. And Christmas is the perfect time to have some food-based rituals.

I recently married a wonderful man who had no Christmas traditions. No special meals, baking, or tree decorating rituals. Last year, I introduced him to some of my Christmas routines.


Spicy Orange Gingersnaps

Here are 7 of my food rituals that you can share with your family this year:

1. Have a tree trimming party. I always get my tree the same day each year (December 15th, because I get a live tree). My favourite dinner for the first night we set up the tree is fish chowder and blender drinks (like frozen

margaritas). Maybe you set up your artificial tree on December 1st, or right after American Thanksgiving… it doesn’t matter. You can celebrate by having the first eggnog of the year.

2. Bake cookies to give away as gifts. Choose something you enjoy, that you can easily accomplish (such as Recipe 1.3 for Spicy Orange Gingersnaps or Easy Bar Shortbread Cookies with green sprinkles). Wrap up a dozen cookies in a small cardboard box from the Dollar Store, and give them as gifts. You probably have four people near you who’d love to have something homemade … your landlord, Uncle Don, your child’s teacher, the lady who cleans the office, your elderly neighbour. You can make cookies for your spouse to take to work to share with co-workers. Don’t overdo it. Pick one or two types, and send a dozen. Too much effort smells like you’re trying too hard, and anyway it makes you exhausted which takes the fun out of everything.

3. Have some baking or special meals that you only eat during the holidays. As a child, we only had Cherry Surprises in December, never in the summer. When I first made this childhood favourite for my new husband, I had to explain that they were a once-yearly event. He didn’t really understand why. If they’re so good, why not eat them year-round? But let me tell you, this year, starting in November, he’s asking “are we having Cherry Surprises this year?” The answer surely is yes. Maybe you make ham on Boxing Day (like I do), or Sherri’s bread stuffing (I only make this once a year for Christmas Day dinner), or trifle for New Year’s Eve. Pick a couple of things and save them for time of year.

4. Try one new recipe each year and drop one thing you don’t like from your list. Food traditions aren’t supposed to be stressful, they’re supposed to bring comfort and happiness. If making four kinds of tarts the night before your office party is too much, then skip it this year. Make orange gingersnaps in November (they freeze well) and defrost them the night before. Simplify as much as necessary. Try a new recipe this year, maybe chicken liver pรขtรฉ from scratch, but if it’s not absolutely fabulous then go back to buying it from the deli. Don’t add extra work for no reason. Make this your new rule: If it’s not fabulous, I’m not doing it. Try something new. Rid yourself of routines you’re tired of, or that aren’t working for you anymore.

5. Decorate cookies with children during the holiday season. If you don’t have kids of your own, you can borrow some. Make sugar cookies covered with different coloured sparkles, silver balls, chocolate jimmies, squirts of icing. Or decorate gingerbread men with Smarties and vanilla icing. You don’t have to make the cookies from scratch if that’s too much work — you can decorate whatever you buy from the grocery store. The point is to have a yearly tradition with your kids, grandkids, nieces, or neighbours.

6. Buy yourself a food treat each year and try something new. I like to buy myself weird little cans of juice (guava?) or imported mints, and then I put them in my own stocking to open Christmas morning. It’s an opportunity to explore. You can have a tiny food adventure for under $5. Or invite your friends to share the tradition with you. One year Karen sent me sour watermelon candies which I ate one after the other until they were gone-gone-gone. I also like the mints we bought in Paris last year. Next time I go to Europe, I’ll get two bags and hide them in the house for next Christmas. I’ll get some for you too, if you like ๐Ÿ™‚

7. Plan a super easy breakfast for Christmas morning. Mash up some frozen strawberries and mix with orange juice. Add champagne if you don’t have to drive. Buy part-baked croissants and put them in the oven to have with your juice. Serve with homemade strawberry-rhubarb jam, a gift from Auntie Shelley. Christmas brunch on the west coast wouldn’t be complete without Japanese mandarin oranges. On the east coast, it’s clementines. In Montreal, we have fresh pineapple from somewhere down-under.

As always, I’d love to hear your feedback. If you have any favourite Christmas food rituals, drop me a line or post a comment to the blog ๐Ÿ™‚

You can always reach me at shelley@oneroastchicken.com.

Thanks and bon appetit!

Shelley MacDonald Beaulieu, Owner & Head Chef
www.oneroastchicken.com

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4 responses to “7 Christmas rituals you can start this year

  1. Good suggestions.

    I’m far to control-freaky to let my friends decorate my tree, but I will let them put up lights and such. There’s a marvelous old French custom of the 13 desserts of Christmas, and I always have a dessert party; everyone seems to like that, and they all bring sparkling wine and liqueurs.

  2. A dessert party? That’s a good idea raincoaster. I like the cookies idea or try gingerbread santas.

    My suggestion is to go out on xmas day. Get out of the house, go for a walk, find a park. Many people just stay in or walk to the car then to someone’s house. I like to walk in the forest or along the beach, just get out of the house and remember you’re alive and that this day is to be thankful for all that, not just for presents but for each others company and the Earth and the trees kinda thing. Sounds a bit daft but I like to get out of the house and take my children away from food and presents to just.. be. Then we come home and pig out ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I think that a dessert party sounds like a great take on the old idea of a potluck where everyone brings something to share. Well, in that case, I’d like to have a champagne party and everyone can bring bubbly. And we’ll talk about cooking, and Christmas, and we’ll all need cabs to get home!

  4. I love Christmas traditions! I’m 16 and for me, Christmas is such a fantastic time for families. Each year, my brother and I both buy a christmas ornament for our tree that symbolyses somthing that happened or was important in the past year. When we put our tree up, we have to remember what we got before we can put it up. Its a fantastic was to remember teh big events. We always make the Christmas pudding together and ‘stir in a wish’ before its cooked. And Christmas day? I leant very early on that there must be light in teh sky and coffee on to brew before I even THOUGHT of waking my parents :). Such a great time of year…

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