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Dec 16, 2013 09:45 AM

Your Christmas eve meal traditions

Just canvassing or rather looking to steal good ideas for starting a new Christmas eve meal tradition at our house. When I was growing up our Christmas eve meals tended to include several of cheese fondue or beef fondue, artichokes, something shrimp-based, lobster bisque and a wackload of appetizers depending on the number of attendees. My parents used the opportunity of moving to Canada (from the US) to create their own new thing and leave midnight mass, plum pudding, etc., behind so it was always a smaller and kind of hippy dippy affair. Plus, there was the added bonus of the smell of our neighbours trinidadian curry permeating everything (yum!).

A few years ago when chowlet #2's arrival was imminent we put our foot down and said Christmas eve and Christmas morning would be spent at our own house. Since then we have been adrift looking for new traditions.

There are two complicating factors however. The first is that my mom spends every other Christmas eve with us. While we would probably be happy with a Sushi, Korean, Thai bonanza, not so much for my mom. The second is that chowlet #1 and myself are gfree. Sigh.

Any ideas? Or better yet, do you have any traditions that you just love, love, love that you would be happy taking root in someone else's house?


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  1. You should do what you and your spouse love. That's the thing about starting a tradition--the world is your oyster right now. You can do what YOU want, making sure you graciously have sushi alternatives for your mom-visit years.

    I do the Seven Fishes (actually, it's usually more like 5) on Christmas Eve, but not just because it's traditional--it's because H and I really like it. I omit the stuff he won't eat (eels, salt cod), and go heavy on the stuff he likes (shrimp, mussels, clams).

    What do you love? What says "holiday eve" to you? do it!

    1 Reply
    1. re: pinehurst


      Are there foods you associate with when you first met? Your first Christmas together? Your first as a parent? A type of dining that feels special? What speaks to you?

      Our Christmas Eve dinners have been all about nibbles. We like to have a big fire in the fireplace. Christmas music playing, lights are soft.

      We usually splurge and get a *really* nice bottle of champagne. We have sparkling cider for the boy. We like to roasted shrimp cocktail, assorted cheese and pate, candied nuts, roasted chestnuts. Some time we do meat and cheese fondue.

      Afterwards we might watch a Christmas movie but the night always ends with a reading of the “Night before Christmas” and “A child’s Christmas in Wales” followed by putting out a treat for St Nick.

    2. I usually do a riff on Classic French bistro fare. I love a New York strip with a peppercorn cognac sauce, frites and a green salad. I end the meal with a creme caramel, creme brûlée or floating islands. It is not traditional but oh so good. I ramp it up by frying my potatoes in duck fat...I sometimes will start with seared fois gras on brioche with a sweet component(caramelized onions, fig jam etc)

      1 Reply
      1. Feast of 7 Fishes always. Various preparations using anchovy (pickled white or regular salted) mussels, littlenecks or quahogs (if in chowder), lobster, local bay scallops, shrimp, and a local white fish like cod, haddock, or striped bass. Sound like a ton of food, but we keep it to small tasting and tapas sized portions so as not to spoil the big day.

        1. A seven fishes type seafood soup with lots of veggies in a tomato based broth. Rather than wheat based bread you could go with some gluten free crispy crackers.

          1. Lobster bisque followed by Belgian endives vinaigrette with toasted walnuts & Roquefort. And Veuve Clicquot