As the weather grows colder and the holidays are around the corner, now is the time of year that I enjoy reflecting on my family’s winter traditions. The winter season was always exciting for me as a child. Growing up in the New York City area, most of our winters were spent inside cooking and sharing meals with our family members. When we did venture outside, it was to spend time participating in winter sports and activities together.
Below, I’m sharing my top three favorite winter traditions with you, as well as how you can try these activities with your family. I hope they inspire you to reflect on your traditions or create new ones with your loved ones!
1. Baking homemade cookies.
When I was growing up, Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve mornings were reserved for baking homemade cookies. My older sister would be home from college, my younger cousins would come over, and we would make a mess in my mom’s kitchen! Our holiday menu usually included chocolate chip and butter cookies using a Christmas cookie stamper, macaroons, and my Aunt Elaine’s family-famous cookies.
If you’re trying your hand at homemade Christmas cookie platters, be sure you have a variety of options that are easy to make! Brownies, chocolate chips, and butter cookies are simple enough to make while spending a few hours in the kitchen, but come together to create a sophisticated plate! Aunt Elaine’s are definitely my favorite addition to Christmas cookie platters, and though I can’t share our secret recipe with you, this recipe for Russian teacakes will yield something similar.
2. Family ski trips.
Though I now spend my winters in south Florida, I spent a good part of the season driving to upstate New York or heading west to the Pocono mountains for ski trips. I still remember the feeling of being on the mountain early in the morning while making “pizzas” and “french fries” down the hill in my skis. Below is a picture of me all bundled up in my 90s ski attire when bright solids were trending on the mountain:
To plan the perfect ski trip, first, consider how long it will take you to get to the mountain. My family frequented Camelback Mountain Resort the most for day ski trips, which is about a two-hour drive from New York City. We would head to Gore Mountain in the Adirondacks for a two-day ski session and stop by Lake George, which is breathtaking during any season.
Whether staying overnight or planning a day trip, be sure to get to the mountain early. You will need plenty of time to purchase your lift ticket, secure your rental equipment, change, grab a locker, and eat a well-balanced breakfast before hitting the slopes in the morning. This can get even more complicated with a family in tow, so be sure you are up early and organized for the day!
3. Christmas Eve dinner
Growing up in an Italian-American family, Christmas Eve was always a BIG deal and tops my list of favorite winter traditions. Unlike other families, our Christmas Day was very relaxed after all the cooking and baking that occurred the day before. If you’re unfamiliar with Italian American traditions, Christmas Eve dinner is known as the Feast of the Seven Fishes, when a total of seven different fishes or types of seafood is served at the table. For years, my grandmother would cook calamari, shrimp, and fresh lobster on Christmas Eve, along with our soup, salad, and pasta.
If you are looking to plan the traditional Italian Christmas Eve, do not be intimidated! Fish and shellfish can be incorporated into the soups, salads, pastas, and main courses that are served. An easy way to serve several types of fish at once is in a seafood stew served right before the pasta dish or main course. There are also plenty of online resources that can help you meal prep. I love this guide from Meal Planning Blueprints!
About the Author
Danielle Pierce is a first-grade teacher, adjunct writing professor, and copywriter. She began as an intern for Decocrated during summer 2021. Danielle is an avid equestrian, and when she is not prepping for her classes or writing blogs for Decocrated, you can probably find her at the barn.