As the holiday season comes at us full swing, we want to share with you our favorite holiday flavors and the reason behind that favoritism. From cookies to peach schnapps, we each have our own traditions that make the holidays merry and bright. What are yours?
Peach Schnapps: My husband’s family started a random tradition years ago. Every Christmas Eve, we drink Peach Schnapps out of these tiny little ugly Christmas-decorated ceramic mugs. No matter if we are together on the holidays or hundreds of miles apart, we all have a set of the mugs and will toast with our Peach Schnapps and send pictures to each other. It’s so silly and simple but it’s one of my favorite traditions. It just wouldn’t be Christmas for the Taakes without Peach Schnapps. – Natalie Taake
Cinnamon & Spiced Orange: Growing up, my mother filled the house with these smells during the winter season. From candles, to cinnamon dough Christmas ornaments, to the cider she used to mull while Dad and I were putting up Christmas lights on the house – she made this combination the true smell of the season for me. To this day, I also fill my house with cinnamon orange and I see my mother everywhere I look and in everything I do. She’s twice the woman I will ever be and I hope to have a good, loving, baking-filled home just like she has to this day. – Ashley Stier
Grandma’s Punch: Christmas Eve, by far, is one of my favorite days of the year. My huge, crazy family gets together to spend one night playing games, telling stories, and, my favorite part, enjoying family recipes. It is impossible not to over eat with an abounding spread of goodies from honey baked ham to traditional Christmas cookies. Despite all of the amazing food, what I look forward to the most is a punch my Grandma used to make. Upon first glance, this is not something you would naturally gravitate toward. It looks weird. Most people have no idea what it is. Chances are it fits better at a Halloween party than at a Christmas celebration. But despite its mysterious appearance, this punch is to die for. Vanilla ice cream, lime sherbet and sprite mix together to create a sweet, creamy, slightly tangy, bright green cup of goodness. I have to actively stop myself from consuming an entire days worth of calories from this punch alone. The kids love it, the adults love it, and it is a way to remember my Grandma. – Elaine Schomaker
Beef Vegetable Soup: Strange I know, but my wife’s family has a traditional holiday meal consisting of beef vegetable soup and fresh, fried potato pancakes. You wake up to the smell of seared beef, the soup cooks all day, then fried potatoes in the evening. It’s like waiting for Christmas all over again. With warm, hearty, savory-rich, and crispy fried notes, this culinary carol is one of my all time favorites. – Alex Brasey
Christmas Cookies: Christmas Cookie is my favorite flavor. Holiday/honey ham is a close second as my mom always makes this with potatoes au gratin and green bean casserole, but growing up I always made Christmas cookies with my mom’s mom and now my daughter does it with her (and soon my younger daughter will join). Classic homemade recipe, homemade frosting and plenty of sprinkles and colored sugar. Dozens will be eaten this year in my household, with the first batch coming this weekend and will roll through New Year’s. – John Rathje
Warm Winter Spices: Warm winter spices are one of my favorite flavors because they bring back nostalgic memories of oranges and spices filling the air as they simmered on the stove while my sister and I prepare for holiday festivities. Drinks like chai tea and mulled wine bring these memories back to life for me in a way that makes me wish I was about to start a wrapping party with her. – Tess Sansbury
Winter Sangria & Sweet Meatballs: My favorite wintertime beverage would be a winter sangria. The cinnamon stick, orange, and pomegranate add such a wonderful winter twist. I make these every year for “winter slam” (this is the self-given name for our extended family Christmas gathering), where we drink and play euchre until about 2 in the morning. This, as well as my grandma’s sweet meatballs are my absolute favorite! Every year when I was little we used to drive up to Toledo, Ohio and my grandma used to make the most amazing, melt-in-your-mouth, sweet and rich meatballs. I used to sneak into the living room for fourths and fifths, and every year I try to recreate them but, just as with everything from grandma and mom, they are never the same. – Savannah Turner
What makes your holiday special? Is there a particular flavor, aroma or experience that you look forward to every year when Home Alone or Elf starts playing again? We wanted to wish you all a wonderful time over the holidays. Hopefully, it is full of many warm spices and delicious homemade cookies!