Open thread: Santa snacks and other holiday food

From Working Mother Nov/Dec 2010
I hope you are having a terrific holiday with your family and loved ones. I’m excited to have all my favorite people in one room. This happens only once a year, if we’re lucky, and my son is so happy being the center of it all.
What special foods are you eating this holiday? What if anything do you leave for Santa? As children, my sister and I left decorated sugar cookies for Santa and a carrot for his reindeer. Oh how I loved seeing what Santa ate the next morning! He always left some crumbs. This year we’re doing stockings, but we didn’t leave a cookie out for Santa.
We’re having a traditional meal for our family: turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, and I’m also going to make a broccoli salad (with bacon and raisins). Happy holidays!
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19 thoughts on “Open thread: Santa snacks and other holiday food

  1. We do a pajama day for Christmas so I make a special breakfast (cinnamon rolls), I make grilled cheese with sourdough and good cheese, and for dinner a lasange. I also make Christmas cookies for everyone to nosh on all day and an eggnog poundcake for the evening.

    And that fruity pebbles star thing-has to be a sign of the apocolaypse, worse than Pop-Tart World in NYC

  2. I heard someone on TV last night mention leaving cookies and carrots for Santa. Thought the "healthy eating" thing had gone too far. Santa eats cookies, not carrots. It's tradition. It never occurred to me until I read this that the carrots were for the reindeer.

  3. Merry Christmas, Mrs. Q! We are having homemade lasagna, locally-baked rolls and a salad made with organic baby spinach, dried cranberries and homemade poppyseed vinaigrette.

    I always left Christmas cookies and milk for Santa and carrots or apples for his reindeer. :o)

  4. Last night my four your old cousin told me he was leaving Santa salad!!! Of course he said this while his own face was stuffed with a cookie, but it's a holiday and that isn't his normal diet. We had a mish mash of food for Xmas dinner last night including pork roast, mac and cheese, chicken enchiladas, roasted veggies and a tofu salad. And yes the 4 year old ate BOTH the veggies and tofu salad (he is a great eater).

    Happy holidays to your family! I'm sure that dinner sounds a lot better then your school lunches!

  5. I was my grandmothers "sous chef" and all around helping hand this year for a traditional Finnish Christmas meal for all of the immediate family (10 people, the only person missing was my sister, whose drug problem is sadly no secret, and she chose not to show up).

    So to get to the food… We started off with glögg, which is a spicy, mulled wine (comes in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions, but since our youngest family member is 16, and European drinking culture thinks it's better to let children try alcohol under supervision in smaller quantities, my youngest brother got to try some).

    The dinner table is set with a myriad of fish dishes for our first course, since my granddad used to be an avid fisherman, and the traditions for fish dishes run deep. The first serving was followed by…

    * Gravlax (seasoned salmon, served raw)
    * Smoked Pike Perch with crème fraiche sauce
    * Pickled herring, I spotted at least two different "Glass master", "Mustard marinade", "Onion herring" and one salt herring jar
    * Liver paté, storebought, made by traditional recipe into a glass jar, snaps to the retailer who held it in stock!
    * Two different kinds of bread, one sweet with molasses, the other a nice, dense wholemeal rye
    * Steamed Potatoes
    * Green Salad
    * Traditional "Rosolli" Beet salad
    * Mushroom salad, (hand-picked wild mushroom preserve, homemade, only ingredient that's storebought in this was the crème fraiche)
    * Lingonberries (hand-picked in summer, frozen and thawed to need in our family)
    * Blackurrant jam (homemade from my andmother's own garden)
    * Pickled vegetables (homemade from homegrown veggies, grandmother's secret recipe, contains green tomatoes, onions, red bell peppers and pumpkin, as far as I can identify)
    * Pickles (homemade from homegrown cucumbers, grandfather's secret recipe)
    * Steamed Carrots
    * Green Peas
    * Two kinds of homemade mustard, made from storebought ingredients
    * Carrot & Rice casserole
    * Rutabaga casserole
    * Sweetened potato casserole (The potato is allowed to ferment overnight, so it's not sugar, it's the starch converting to sugars in the process of preparation)
    * Baked ham. The skin is removed, some of the fat scraped off, due to heart patients in the family, rubbed with a mustard-based glaze, covered in breadcrumbs and decorated with cloves, and then baked a second time before serving to get it all nice and pretty.
    * Turkey breast
    * Two kinds of gravy
    * Plum pudding for dessert

    And I'm 110% sure I forget to mention something!

    Not featured on the table this year due to its relatively expensive price is lutefisk, also a traditional treat. It's cod that's been treated with lye for preservation, then soaked and finally, when prepared for food, gets a gooey consistency that makes me wonder why it's eaten at all… 😮

    Next year is my first year as a married woman, and there's been a consensus with the in-laws, that my husband and I will be hosting the holidays next year. And I'm already thinking I have to make a combination of US and European traditions, and probably cut the calorie count down by about 75%… Probably easiest to drop some of the pickled fish off the menu, I'm sure they're a little tough on beginners… 🙂

    Also served have been an assortment of pastries, tarts, cookies, ginger thins, dried fruit, nuts and fresh fruit. All in all, we're stuffed for the next few weeks! 😀

  6. Merry Christmas!
    I am newly gluten free, so this Christmas I'm pretty much just bringing my own snacks along wherever I go, but traditionally my family starts Christmas morning with a delicious family recipe coffee cake. We also used to make and eat appetizers all day (spinach dip, mini hot dogs, etc) and then we go to my cousins' house for a big, casual potluck dinner!
    Just an FYI on those Fruity Pebbles– I know they aren't exactly top-notch in the nutrition department, but I read that they are now marking them as gluten free and lowering the sugar content! Since Rice Krispies treats aren't gluten free, you could always make them with Fruity/Chocolate Pebbles as a special treat.

  7. we used to leave cookies for santa and a carrot for reindeer, but we don't any more.

    last night for christmas eve, we had pumpkin soup, a lovely salad, and potato latkes. and pork roast but i'm a vegetarian so i didn't have any of that. and grasshopper pie for dessert.

    today we're going to my grandparents and i don't know what we'll be having there. something delicious i'm sure.

    happy christmas mrs. q! it's been great following you on this school lunch journey!

  8. This year we left peppermint bark for Santa and we make reindeer food out of oats, raisins, and a little glitter so they can see it glistening on the ground. Christmas breakfast was just fruit smoothies to keep things easy and light, lunch is (homemade) Mexican leftovers from last night's feast, and dinner will be prime rib and lamb. Yum!

  9. We baked and decorated sugar cookies for Santa and made "Magic Reindeer Food" out for his reindeer. My 2 year old LOVED making the reindeer food. Who'd have though a bowl of oatmeal and a tube of glitter would bring so much joy.

    For Christmas Eve, we had roast beast with twice baked potatoes and green beans cooked with bacon. French silk pie and pumpkin cheesecake for dessert.

    Christmas morning, I roasted bacon and scrambled eggs and we had fresh blueberries and some ill-fated eggnog pancakes. Our meal tonight was a simple tomato basil sauce over tortalini and fresh peas and roasted carrots.

  10. For Christmas dinner I roasted Cornish hens, cooked veggies and little potatoes and made stuffing with crushed crackers, mushrooms, bacon and green onions. My son had rice instead of potatoes, he's not really into potatoes in any form and we only have them a couple of times a year so he hasn't really grown to like them. This year I had an assortment of little potatoes including some purple ones which were more tasty then regular potaoes, I thought.

    My son knows Santa is just "pretend" so we don't put out food for Santa, make wish lists or tell him his gifts are from Santa. He's 6 but I've always told him his Christmas gifts come from Mommy, Daddy, relatives etc, not from Santa (I honestly do not understand this Santa craze in North America. I grew up knowing that Santa was a fun, pretend character, we would draw him on Christmas cards and so on, but the excitement of Christmas gifts was knowing our parents had bought things that they would keep hidden as surprises until Christmas day. I am puzzled as to why adults go to such lengths to convince kids of Santa's existence, why not take credit for nice presents you give your kids after working hard all year to afford them??!! Anyway, I'm digressing; that's a topic for an earlier post.)

  11. As my parents and I mainly only do organic or pastured chickens and turkeys now, my dad flat out refused to do our traditional turkey dinner twice in a year (they cost so much!), and I don't like ham. So… we settled on stuffed peppers and mashed potatoes. After all, green peppers, red tomato sauce, white potatoes? It's Christmassy!

  12. Just getting to this post now. We left Santa an array of cookies: chocolate mint, rum balls, nut horns. And a cold glass of milk in a nice wine glass.

    I wanted to respond to Lucy's post up there about why adults "go to such lengths" to convince children of Santa's existence. My son is seven, and he still believes in Santa, and it is a wonderful joy to see that he does believe in the existence of this "goodness." He writes his letter, he makes sure that everything is set for Santa – he knows that some people don't believe. But he believes, and I think it's wonderful. Santa only brings him a couple of presents, and the rest are from us. And he's cool with that – because Santa works hard to share so much with everyone all over the world, we, as parents have to help him out.

    Santa is a symbol of generosity. Santa is a representation of what goodness there can be when someone just opens his heart and gives unselfishly. Santa is non-demoninational to kids. He's just a guy who lives in a magical place and spreads his magic to the world once each year.

    We read a variety of "Christmas" themed stories throughout the month of December at bedtime. For the first time I read this to my son:

    "DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
    "Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
    "Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.'
    "Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?


    VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

    Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

    Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

    You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

    No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

  13. We don't do Santa at our house, but DH likes the look of stockings, so those become "Instant Breakfast"–the whole family descends upon the produce and bulk section of our favorite grocery, and we get treats there that become breakfast for Christmas morning. Each child chooses any fruit they want to try (pomegranates, star fruit, grapefruit, oranges, etc), then we hit the bulk bins for nuts, dried fruits I normally don't buy (like papaya slices), and ingredients for homemade granola. This year, I also did some homemade candy. It's still sugar, but no artificial ingredients or extra chemicals.

    Our Christmas foods tend toward "heavy appetizers"–spinach dip, cheese, crackers, loads of raw veggies, homemade potstickers or any of a variety of chicken wing styles… it's all made from scratch, and often quite a bit ahead of time, so the actual holiday is very low-key.

  14. Season's Greetings to you Mrs. Q., family, and fellow bloggers!
    Our teenage children are past the Santa stage at this point, but we used to leave homemade cookies and enjoyed eating them while up late putting together bicycles, wrapping presents, etc. We did not place too much emphasis on Santa, putting most gifts under the tree early, but saved a couple of special "Santa" surprises for Christmas morning.
    This year the kids brought home friends for dinner so we had a house full. Friday night I made a terrific lasagna soup. Tastes just like lasagna but much easier and faster. It simmered on the stove all afternoon and was ready to eat when we were.
    Following the Italian theme (part of my heritage) I made spaghetti with homemade sauce for Christmas Day. Once again, the kitchen smelled delicious all afternoon, stayed warm, and garlic permeated the air. Did you know that even garlic VAPOR can kill germs at a distance of up to 20cm? As a gift, I divulged my ancient family secret recipe, you can find it by clicking on the "recipe card" at
    Step into my kitchen and see it all happen on "Kitchen Nutrition" by going here:
    Last night Grandma took over KP duty and made her famous tacos.
    We have black-eyed peas and greens for New Year… it is said to bring good luck and prosperity when eaten on Jan. 1.
    My recipe for "Cowboy Black-eyed Peas" is on the recipe card as well.

  15. a bit non-traditional, but my mom used to leave Santa pretzels and beer. My Dad told us that Santa preferred that so the tradition continued in our house.

    Christmas day we had ham, candied sweet potatoes, and green beans. Some years we do a more Thanksgiving like meal. Depends on which relatives were able to be together for different holidays.

  16. I'm sorry, but that Fruity Pebbles tree looks disgusting … Seriously, would anybody eat that? Even kids??

  17. we had barley soup, bread & frankfurters for Christmas Eve dinner – easiest make ahead and nice and warm for the cold after we come back from church. For Christmas day, i made a Breakfast casserole (eggs, bread, cheese, milk) that bakes while we are opening gifts. For dinner, this year was a german theme, Leberkase, speatzle, and green bean casserole. Lemon cake for dessert. It was very quite this year and yet one of the best Christmas' ever. Happy New Year

  18. We had homemade cinnamon rolls (my grandma's recipe) and two types of quiche for breakfast with my parents. It was delicious! Then for dinner we took my husband's mom out for dinner instead of making a big dinner so she could just relax. It was very nice!

    We have a 5-month-old, so we're not doing Santa just yet. But I don't think there's much I'm more excited about when it comes to watching my boy grow up. I love Christmas, and I can't wait to pretend to be Santa and leave presents out. The excitement of knowing that Santa is coming and wondering what he's going to bring, and the joy of running out to the tree super early in the morning to see what you got is one of my fondest memories as a child, and not something I would ever dream of depriving my son of.

    We have a couple of friends who had a baby a couple months after us, and she doesn't plan to do Santa because her parents didn't and she apparently doesn't know what she missed out on. I would like to thank The New Me for posting what I don't think I'd be able to put into words, and will use to hopefully convince our friends that Santa is something every child should be able to experience (he does want to do it, so I hope it won't be too hard). Because if their kid ruins Santa for my kid, I think it may be the end of the friendship. That's how important it is to me that my son have that experience.

    Lucy, you can still buy your kid tons of presents and let them know they're from you. My parents always just got us one "big" present that was from Santa (and the stockings, of course), but everything else was from them. So we were still able to appreciate the hard work my parents did all year to provide us with an awesome Christmas. But we were also able to experience the joy and fun of believing in something that you can only believe in as a child, before you grow up and cynicism takes over. I feel deep sadness for anyone who didn't get to have that experience, because there's really nothing like it.

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