Holiday Traditions for People Who Love Food
Hot chocolate, afternoon tea, and cookies galore
Follow food editors Ellen and Maya as they share what they’re eating, drinking, and cooking each week. Subscribe to The Sunset Pantry newsletter.
Since adding two small children to my life, the holidays have become a totally different ball game. That is, it’s become SO much more fun than my less-than-inspiring Christmases in my 20s, when my mother’s tree was still the only one that mattered. Now I’m reliving all the wonder through their eyes and my Grinch-y adult self is all the better for it (and so is my exponentially growing ornament collection). One of my favorite traditions is taking them to a posh holiday tea at one of San Francisco’s gorgeous hotel lobbies (Palace Hotel and the Fairmont truly bring their A-game to the holidays). Tiny sandwiches and pastries, sparkling cider for them and sparkling wine for me, and the opportunity to dress them in all the festive red plaid makes for a lovely afternoon in December. Attending a performance of the SF Ballet’s Nutcracker on Christmas Eve and lunch at Hayes Street Grill are the cherry on top before we settle in for hot chocolate, cookies, and a visit from Santa. Cheers and happy holidays!
—Ellen Fort, food editor
The Lazy Person’s Guide to Holiday Cookie Decorating
The week leading up to Christmas always includes a dedicated night to cookie decorating at my parents’ house. Every year, my siblings and I sit around our old kitchen table with mounds of sugar cookie dough stationed between us, containers of random sprinkles, and music about a very famous snowman and notorious reindeer playing on the radio (an actual radio station, not Spotify!).
My usual batch of designs always leans towards any cookie shape completely covered in rainbow sprinkles (blame it on laziness or nostalgia, or both), but I also take inspiration from these DIY holiday cookie decoration ideas that prove a minimalistic wreath or snow-covered matcha Christmas tree is actually doable. This year I’m excited to add new additions to my sprinkle collection: Supernatural’s “Great Big Blizzard” made with miniature blue and white snowflakes and “Into the Woods” made with dark green pine tree-shaped sprinkles and white snowballs. They’re beautiful, and made without artificial dyes or gnarly preservatives, so go forth and decorate.
—Maya Wong, assistant editor
Lock Down Your Holiday Menu
Whether you’re hosting or being hosted, here are the recipes for amazing sides, appetizers, entrees, food gifts, cookie recipes, and more.
- Gifts from the Kitchen
- 26 Easy Party Appetizers
- Standout Christmas Dinner Side Dishes
- Easy Side Dishes
- Festive Dishes for a Vegetarian Christmas Dinner
- Hanukkah Recipes and Ideas
- Delicious Holiday Drinks
- Favorite Cookie Recipes
More to read this week:
- IT’S FINALLY CRAB SEASON! After a month-long delay, the moment we’ve all been waiting for kicks off with tons of plump crustaceans.
- La Croix, the sparkling water everyone in your office can’t stop talking about, plans to debut two new flavors inspired by “European finesse” in 2020.
- Spam sales are breaking records this year thanks to a rise in Hawaiian cuisine.
- Massive Italian food emporium Eataly heads to Silicon Valley to open its second California location in 2021.
- Here are the bubbly cocktails we’re definitely drinking this holiday, because nothing says “the most joyous time of the year” like a sparkling wine drink in hand.
- Get inspired for this year’s Christmas cookies with these 12 adorable DIY holiday designs. No professional baking skills required.
- Eating Chinese food on Christmas Eve: It’s a Jewish tradition. Feast at one of these Chinese restaurants open on Dec. 24, or stay in and make these takeout-style sesame noodles.
Looking for more inspiration? Head over to Sunset Recipes for our winter cooking highlights.