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Gathering Around the Table: December Food Traditions  

Last Updated on December 23, 2022

The month of December is a time synonymous with gathering, celebration, and tradition. Whether celebrating a holiday or ringing in the New Year, December is a time to rejoice (and feast!) with family, friends, and loved ones.

In a recent holiday report from ButcherBox, more than 92% of respondents reported that they are planning on celebrating the holidays with friends, immediate family, and extended family this holiday season, a 7% increase from last year’s report. With people eager to celebrate, we caught up with some ButcherBox employees about their favorite December Food traditions, as a part of our continued “Gathering Around the Table” series.  

Festive Food Traditions: New and Old 

Whether it’s your great grandmother’s secret cookie recipe that your family has been making for years, or a recipe that you are trying for the very first time, celebrating old holiday traditions and creating new ones is the perfect way to bring families closer together — past and present.  

“One of my personal favorite new traditions for Christmas is breakfast casseroles-type dishes on Christmas morning. I like to have everything ready on Christmas Eve in foil pans, so all we have to do is turn the oven on and bake while the kids start opening presents.  We’ve tried a lot over the past few years but a few of our favorites are ham, cheese, and egg sliders, a sausage & cream cheese crescent roll bake, and bacon, egg, & cheese enchiladas.” Sara K., logistics cost analyst 

“Every year for as long as I can remember, my family has been going to my Uncle John’s on Christmas Eve, and each year the highlight of the dinner table is his Seafood Newburg. It’s an incredibly rich and creamy dish full of seafood, like Maine lobster claws (my favorite), shrimp, scallops, and of course, butter!  

Last year, I made these marbled shortbread cookies for the first time. It was really fun to learn something new and very cool to see the finished product. They are definitely a conversation starter. I’m hoping this year my kids will want to help me make them.” Tory F., senior marketing strategy manager  

“Growing up we had the tradition that on Christmas Eve night we’d have lobster. Which was still a big deal even living in Maine. I always looked forward to Christmas Eve for that reason (and obviously presents the following day!)” Kelly L., senior graphic designer 

The Holiday (Sugar) Rush 

What is December without some sugary treats!? A sweet tradition for many, holiday baking is an activity that is often at the top of everyone’s December to-do list. Also on that to-do list? Eating!  

“Every December my mom and I take a day to do some holiday baking. What we make changes year-to-year depending on what’s inspiring us. Sometimes we make cut-out sugar cookies, other times we decorate gingerbread houses. This year we decided to make a variety of holiday sweets to arrange cookie boxes for the family. This is a tradition we’ve had since I was young. It’s not just about baking – as much as we love it – it’s about spending time together. We always have on Christmas music or a movie, drink eggnog, and get into the holiday spirit!” Kaitlyn S., senior graphic designer

“My favorite December tradition was baking with my mom and Anne, a woman I consider my second mom. Our house was filled with so many cookies! We would spend hours, and I mean HOURS, making butter cookies, Kourabiedes (which were devoured immediately), mini brown sugar and walnut tarts, chocolate crinkles….I could go on but now I want cookies.” Jeri P., traffic manager

Celebrating Culture: 

Culture goes hand in hand with tradition. The holidays are such a beautiful time to commemorate and honor your family’s cultural heritage through traditional cuisine and celebration. 

“This is very untraditional, but when I think of Christmas I think of Tex-Mex. I was born and raised in Texas, so this food genre isn’t totally off base. Typically, the weekend before Christmas, my family has a game night with our cousins and whomever else wanders in the door. We always have Tex-Mex, which is normally a selection of enchiladas, queso, fajitas, and margaritas. It is truly my favorite part of the holidays, even though it’s not happening on Christmas. The focus of the night is on being together and playing a wide range of games. The night normally ends in a lot of laughter and really full bellies.” Francie G., senior replenishment manager 

“Growing up in the UK, Christmas was THE major winter holiday, and we get the bonus of Boxing Day which is secretly the best holiday – who doesn’t love having the day after Christmas off work every year?!  

Christmas Dinner in the UK is a lot like Thanksgiving dinner in the US – usually turkey with all the trimmings. However, our ‘trimmings’ are somewhat different – the idea of putting a sweet dish (like candied yams) on a plate of savory food is very weird to us! A couple of iconic British items are roast potatoes, and Christmas pudding for dessert. 

For proper roasties, you peel, chop, and parboil the potatoes before draining and ‘chuffing’ them (put back in the pan with the lid on and shake it up really hard). This makes the outside of the potato very fluffy and able to absorb extra fat. You pre-heat the roasting pan with the oil in it – tradition dictates lard or beef tallow – until absolutely boiling hot. Then carefully drop in the potatoes and turn over in the fat to coat all sides, being very careful not to burn yourself on the hot oil. Place into a hot oven until they are a dark golden crisp on the outside, and fluffy on the inside. Serve alongside roasted turkey with loads of veggies, good stuffing, a Yorkshire Pudding (another tradition) and lashings of gravy. YUM. 

Christmas pudding is a sweet, dried fruit pudding that is steamed. Serve with brandy butter for maximum booziness before falling asleep on the couch. 

Our Boxing Day tradition was for my dad to make several curries with the leftovers; he loves to experiment with different Indian and Pakistani dishes each year, so you always get something new!” Rachel G., director of process enablement  

“December is packed full of celebratory holidays for Lillie, including her and her daughter’s birthday! Their favorite birthday meals include: 

“Pernir (Puerto Rican Pork Shoulder), Arroz con Gandules are staples on my Dominican side. Sorrel (drink), and curried goat are major Jamaican staples in my daughter’s culture.” Lillie S., people operations generalist  

“My favorite part of the December holidays is to get together as a family and cook amazing traditional Venezuelan Christmas food! Some of my favorites are Hallacas, Pan de Jamon, Asado Negro (my mom makes the best ever!) and some desserts like Tres Leches. These are recipes that we only do during the holidays, so it’s very special to get all the family together to make them. It makes us feel like home even though we are in a different country that we now call home!” Cristal M., senior efficiency and cost analyst