Holiday Traditions

The team here at CHEFS is off shopping for our last minute guests. Our test kitchen is closed for a few days, so we thought we would share some of our family traditions with you. I hope you enjoy the stories from all our homes.

We wish you and your family a very special Christmas Eve. We hope the gifts under the tree are exactly what you wanted!


Your Turn:
What are your Christmas and Holiday Traditions?

CHEFS Family Traditions

Ever since my Step Dad passed away on Christmas Eve morning in 2004 we have had lasagna for Christmas Eve dinner in honor of him, since he loved it so much. It’s not really a Christmas Day tradition but it is one that I make sure to do every year, even if I don’t have time for anything else. We also buy all of the children in the family a new ornament each year and my Mom a new nativity scene from a different nationality –Elizabeth, Customer Care

Our family tradition for over 20 years has been taking family, friends and pets (around 20 people) up to the mountains to cut Christmas trees. We always go on the first Saturday of December. Every year, we get up early and head up the hill. Everyone brings coffee, coffee cake, donuts, hot chocolate and an “adult beverage,” upon occasion. We spend hours looking for that perfect tree, but ultimately we always end up with the same old Charlie Brown tree, but you know what, in the end it’s not the product but the adventure and the fellowship. We stand around taking pictures of our wonderful findings; all awhile admiring what we think will look great in our house. After pictures and chit chat we head down the mountain to our favorite restaurant for breakfast. Tired and exhausted we all get home, put up the tree, decorate and take a nap. So it is and has been for more than 20 years.—Mike, Customer Care

I love to wake up early morning with the family and have homemade cookies, and turn on a good Christmas movie, especially Frosty The Snow Man! Then we open our gifts, play with our new toys, take a nap and start cooking — southern ham with collard greens and sweet potato pie… oh, and what is a Christmas dinner without more cookies!!! –Steven, Customer Care

When I was younger, my mom and I would go to my aunt and uncle’s house on Christmas Eve and do a pot luck dinner, open gifts and watch the movie Christmas Vacation. My Mom would make stir fry, rice, and fried won tons, and my aunt would make BBQ chicken and a veggie tray. Then on Christmas Day we all would have dinner at my house – turkey and ham. Now we don’t do that anymore; everyone has moved on in life. The past 3 years I have taken my Mom to the Summit at the Broadmoor for Christmas Eve dinner. And when I have time I will watch old Christmas movies with her like White Christmas.—Jon-Michael, Merchandising

One of my favorite holiday traditions is when my Mom and I would make our Christmas cookies using my great-grandma’s recipe. They are formally called German Pfeffernusse cookies, but my family just calls them anise oil cookies. We always make them in late November because they have to age for about a month. It takes a whole day: we have to wake up early and make the dough, roll it into small snakes, and then refrigerate the snakes for the whole morning so it is easy to cut into small pieces. The cookies taste just like licorice and honey, and we cut them into small, quarter size pieces and then bake them until they are golden brown. Once cool, we place the POUNDS of cookies in a large flour sack and put the sack in a cool dry room. The cookies then age for a whole month in the flour sack, as the licorice smell slowly invades each room of the house. By the time the cookies are ready, the entire house smells like anise oil! I remember when I was little we always kept the hanging flour sack in the closet attached to my room because it was the darkest and coolest room in the house. And I would sneak into the closet every night to steal the cookies! I would only take a couple at a time to try to be really sneaky, and to this day I don’t know if my mom knows that I snuck some. After the cookies age, we would them allocate them out in pretty bags and send them to the entire family. My mom would always note that she thought that we had made more cookies–Clara, Customer Care

My mother’s side of the family has eclectic traditions to say the least, and they host an annual holiday party where the guests include Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Atheists/Agnostics, Buddhists and sundry other –isms. As such, my aunt invented a new all-inclusive holiday for the party called “Rhinoceros Day.” Decorations include an African savannah motif, guests exchange rhinoceros-related gifts, and cream horns are served for dessert. In recent years it has merged with “Festivus” to include the unadorned aluminum pole, feats of strength and the airing of grievances. –Tristan, Customer Care

We keep Santa believable for as long as possible. None of the children saw any of the ”Santa” gifts, not even their siblings. I would use special Santa wrapping paper, very distinct from the other presents, print out To/From tags – so they wouldn’t recognize my handwriting. Presents from Santa didn’t come out from hiding until Christmas Eve, after everyone was asleep. They had their doubts one year and decided to test Santa by asking him to fix a special stuffed animal that our new puppy ripped apart. They left all the pieces and stuffing of “Bulldoggy” on the fireplace with a letter to Santa asking to put him back together. When they saw Bulldoggy Christmas morning, back to his former self, they were believers! My youngest found out Santa wasn’t real Christmas morning when she was 14, when her brother opened a present from Santa that she recognized as something I bought at the mall. She says it is one of her saddest memories. –Bobbi, E-Commerce

One of my favorite traditions is tracking Santa with my little siblings, pretending I still believe in Santa, too. Then we wake up at 4am to open the gifts in our pajamas. –Kaleigh, Customer Care

Each year my children receive a new Christmas ornament to add to the tree. They are always excited to have a new addition to their personal ornament collection.—Michelle, Customer Care

My favorite tradition is on Christmas Eve when we all fill to-go cups with hot chocolate (plus peppermint schnapps for some of us) and load-up in our cars to drive around town looking at the Christmas lights and decorations. It is a nice time to visit with family, take a break from the cooking/wrapping/cleaning duties and, most of all, just enjoy the season and the fact that we have each other to share it with.—Rosie, Merchandising

My favorite tradition is decorating the tree. I get to see the ornaments from all stages of my life and remember those who gave them to me. There’s Snoopy and Woodstock and my Little Kiddle Santa Claus from childhood. Our “First Christmas Together” ornaments—now 35 years old. Ornaments from our parents, our friends and family, from vacations and others’ travels, too. There are the tacky mass-produced and the lovingly hand-crafted, but each one has its own story and memories.—Betsy, Administration

One Christmas tradition of mine is starting out the day with a slice of my mom’s banana bread. Growing up, I had a slice while I sat on the floor anxiously waiting to open Christmas presents. In college, I loved when I came home at the end of the semester and my mom had filled the house with the smell of the baking bread. Now if I’m not home for the holidays, I make my own banana bread for my husband and I because it just wouldn’t be Christmas morning without it.—Beth, Merchandising

When my brothers and I were kids, in the 70s-80s, my parents would hide a cassette player in the tree before Christmas morning and tape record us opening our gifts, naturally without us knowing we were being documented. I can still pull out pictures from Christmas when I was 2 years old, and at the same time, hear myself going crazy-excited over a Fisher Price kitchen! It makes an interesting collage of memories for our family.—Amber, Quality Control

I contribute code to a different free, open-source project every day, like an advent calendar with code. –Drew, IT

I first met my in-laws over Christmas, and my mother in-law prepared this fabulous stew Christmas Eve. When I asked what it was, I was told Reindeer Stew. I got the whole story, Rudolph fell off the roof last night and, well, you know how it goes. Turns out those reindeers really had trouble with my in-laws roof and I’ve had reindeer stew every Christmas since – going on 22 years. Now I make it for my children and they enjoy the delicious Reindeer stew (really beef stroganoff) as much as I do.—Mona, E-Commerce

My family goes through the neighborhoods looking at Holiday lights, and we make “Christmas Light Awards” that we put in mailboxes of our favorite displays. My boys are now 19, 17 and 15 and they still love to make the awards (glitter all over the kitchen table) and deliver them. We started this over 15 years ago! –Dana, Customer Care

My family back in Florida they all get together (around 20 people) and cook 3 whole pigs. The men get up at 4:30am and start to cook those whole pigs on 7ft poles. Then around 8am the women start to cook a big feast dinner. My family is Puerto Rican, so anything Spanish they cook. After dinner, my family starts to play Hispanic instruments and sing Spanish Christmas songs, while the kids and teenagers make the dessert—usually cookies, cupcakes, and cakes. That way ever one in the family gets to do some of the cooking. And throughout the whole day we blast music and dance and sing and just have a good time. –Maria, Customer Care

We have two holiday traditions at our house that I love. One is our Christmas countdown. We have a long string of decorated boxes (think small Chinese take-out style) with the numbers 1-25 on them. Each day of the month, beginning on December 1, my kids get to open a box. They just have simple treats in them or small gifts occasionally. On day 25, there is a poem in the box which is actually a treasure hunt where they eventually discover a larger gift that is one that they share. Last year it was a Wii game that they played all day long. It makes the whole month of December fun and exciting for them, and a small fun moment we share each day. Our second tradition is we get together on Christmas Eve and open gag gifts that we give to each other. It makes for a hilarious evening and gives the kids something they can open before Christmas. I love these two family traditions because they are so fun and create such great memories every year.—Kimberly, Marketing

For the past five years, my daughter and son have prepared a ham for the dinner meal. I showed them the first year and now I just assist.—Ramiro, Merchandising

We have a Cadburys Chocolate Advent Calendar from Great Britain for our children. Each window/ day of December has a different chocolate and quote / saying. We let the boys open their window after dinner each night, as their treat. They each have a calendar. Hard to explain why there are no more after Christmas though.—Daniel, Product Development

The eldest son in the family gets up real early. His job is to arrange the Christmas presents for the younger siblings. The 2nd oldest gets up and gets the stockings ready for opening. The youngest gets to watch and learn. Then our parents wake up AND WE BEING THE SHREDDING FEST!—Carilyn, Customer Care

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