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Christmas dinner ideas--non traditional


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So there's less than a month between T'giving and Xmas. Every year my mom swears she's "never doing this again". (the turkey ham traditional stuff). This year especially since the two holidays are so close together. I'm curious what others do for a non traditional Christmas meal.

I'm considering doing a standing rib roast, but I've never made one before. Just anything except turkey/ham.

I'm also considering just doing hors d'oeuvres/heavy appetizers. 

All I know is our fam needs a change. I need to lighten the load on my mom. 

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standing rib roast (it was fun to do Christmas "crackers" with it).  we've done that several times

lobster/scampi

lamb

and after Christmas - dh and I are going out to our local medieval village restaurant for their Christmas feast.  (weekends only.)  we've done that a couple times - very different.

 

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I know what I would love:

zwieblerostbraten (aka: Viennese roast beef)  it's a german roast with onions.  I had it twice in Austria - and I'd love it again.  I dont' know why it's hideously expensive at the german restaurants around here (if they even make it.)   the ingredients aren't expensive.  dh tried once or twice - but it didn't turn out right.  time to try a new recipe.  I'm not that impressed with his Austrian cookbook.

 

eta: ah, to do it properly, you need to let it marinate for a few days.  but it was *really* good!

Edited by gardenmom5
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We tend to pick something our family really enjoys and make that:
-spinach and feta stuffed chicken breasts wrapped with bacon and served with chili noodles
-tamales, rice, and beans
-steak
-smoked anything, twice baked potatoes, and salad
-homemade Chinese or Thai food

For New Year's Eve we make a ginormous ton of meatballs and add them to the crockpot all day NYE and NYD.  The rule is nobody cooks, so those are eaten as we get hungry as meatball subs.  Cheese & fruit platter in the fridge and chips stay on the counter.

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I've done roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, which would be my choice.  I don't love turkey.

Last year as our gift my dad and step-mom took us to a big buffet at a hotel.  There was beef, turkey, pasta, sushi, you name it.  I can see doing it regularly when the kids are bigger, there were a lot of adult families.

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Our tradition was to do heavy appetizers with my MIL (and anyone else that wanted to join in) on Christmas Eve.

We will likely continue that even though she has passed away.

Tamales are a traditional Mexican Christmas food that we added when I had Hispanic foster boys 

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Since I left my parent's home I have not had turkey for Christmas.  I always thought it was odd to have turkey twice a year, and then only about a month apart.

I usually do roast beef - standing rib roast when I can afford it, a cheaper cut when I can't. On a solo Christmas one year, I cooked my self a lamb chop and roasted potatoes. The year I went to visit my in-laws-to-be at Christmas, my  mom and I had corned beef and cabbage for Christmas a few days before I left. I know lots of people have Chinese food, ordered in. 

To me Christmas food should be special, not an everyday thing. So whatever that means for your family. 

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This year instead of ham and the traditional sides, we're slow cooking bbq ribs in the crock pot. We'll serve them with corn and salad. I'd like a lemon icebox pie and brownies for dessert. I haven't made a pie in years. I don't want a lemon meringue pie. I want the pie made with sweet condensed milk. Yum!

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I think of a traditional Christmas dinner as a nice cut of beef or lamb  (standing rib, prime rib, tenderloin, leg of lamb, rack of lamb) and appropriate sides. Looks like a lot of Hivers here think of it as non-traditional. 

Non traditional for me would be any special, non-everyday meal that wasn’t the above or a turkey dinner. 

I’d love some sort of ethnic feast; Indian, middle eastern, Eastern European, Mexican, or Spanish would all be fun. 

Edited by SamanthaCarter
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We switched to heavy appetizers and lots of cookies 21 years ago. Best decision. Now that the kids are older, it is easy for them to invite friends over at any time and when they were younger we could play with them and not worry about making dinner or cleaning up too much. I do a more formal meal (pork roast) on the 22nd or 23rd depending on schedules and on Christmas Eve I do a brunch. 

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I've done a standing rib roast, Beef Wellington, and a crown roast for Christmas Days of the past. I've also done the more traditional ham or turkey. (We do a big appetizer dinner on Christmas Eve every year, or we'd probably have done that, too!) If it's something that we don't usually have, I'll consider it. This year, I'm thinking about doing lamb chops, but I haven't really figured it out yet.

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On alternate years, we pick a food theme and go with that. We've done Indian food, carnitas with homemade tortillas, Italian food (different types of lasagnas, good bread, salad). On those years my siblings & I do most of the food prep, and we pick recipes that can be largely done ahead. My only caveat is to not overdo. We did Indian the first year and we were so excited about the whole idea that we made waaaaaay too much food & we picked too many time consuming recipes. It was really yummy though!

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Oh well we almost always do a standing rib roast.  It's the only time I ever do one and it's SO good.  I do that with cheesy potatoes, green salad, some sort of veggie (often asparagus if we can get it), dinner rolls or bread.  I like horseradish.

I actually consider standing rib roast pretty traditional.

We have done homemade pasta as a family.  That was fun and delicious.  We've also done appetizers and fondue.  

Edited by FuzzyCatz
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I grew up eating crown pork roast at Christmas. Before we moved here, we woud usually eat the spiral ham a parishoner gave us every year, for Christmas Eve, then a beef tenerloin we would buy with the gift certificate to the butcher's another friend gave us. 

Last year (and this) we had a Palestinian feast, including "salads" and then a steak main course (I think it was steak).

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One year I got deli meat and cheese, good rolls, chips and Christmas cookies.  This year I'm thinking of brunch of which most can be made the day before and put in the oven to be ready when the kids arrive and make French toast when they get here.  A little work but not traditional Christmas dinner work.

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We do steak for Thanksgiving and it's absolutely fabulous. Sides are potatoes and salad, so everything is quick and easy. 

I think hors d'oeuvres and appetizers would be great as well, and a lot of fun for everyone coming to bring different things. The only thing would be to make sure that not everything needs to be in the oven at once, have some done already plus a few things that don't need heating. Sushi would be a great addition and a 'special' item. I think kids and teens would absolutely love this idea.

A taco bar is fun and it's easy to have a lot of variety and let people pick exactly what they like. 

Chinese food is the traditional non-traditional holiday meal where I live. 

We also have places where you can buy a fried turkey, which is freaking delicious. If you have Popeye's fried chicken near you, they usually do it. You definitely have to order ahead. 

4 hours ago, Lostinabook said:

On alternate years, we pick a food theme and go with that. We've done Indian food, carnitas with homemade tortillas, Italian food 

What a neat tradition! And it could be entirely take-out or a mix. If there are kids in the family, they could make decorations to go with the theme. 

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I forgot to say that I'm only in my 50s and I've been over the big holiday meal for a long time, lol. Probably at least a decade. It's just too much work for not even my favorite foods! You have the prep and the cooking, and then you have to deal with all the leftovers and cleaning up. dh does like turkey, but I pointed out that it doesn't actually have to be Thanksgiving in order to bake a turkey. 

I do like to cook and have special meals. I don't like preparing time-consuming or time-sensitive foods on days that are already busy, it's more enjoyable for me to do that when we all have time and are relaxed. 

Luckily, everyone loves the steak-on-Thanksgiving tradition and I go to a big gathering on Christmas that actually requires me to cook less than I normally would, lol. It's wonderful and I'm so glad for these 'extra' years of having more time at the holidays. If anyone is feeling a bit grumpy about preparing the traditional holiday meal . . . free yourself from those chains! Do what you want to do. Make a new tradition. Own those holidays. 

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10 minutes ago, Thatboyofmine said:

When y’all say you do a roast, what do you mean?   Like pot roast?  

I think of pot roast as an every-day, nonspecial thing, so when I say roast, I mean a standing rib roast, prime rib, or similar.  The past few years a grocery store near me has started selling a "New York strip roast" as a less-expensive option.  Even a top or bottom round roast, as that is not something I make very often. 

I cook it rare and serve with horseradish sauce. it's very different from a long-cooked pot roast, which, now that I'm thinking of it, is usually braised, not roasted, isn't it? 🙂

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We almost always do lasagna- I spend the money to make it from scratch except I buy fresh lasagna noodles. Garlic bread, salad, dessert. I make it a day ahead (sauce usually a week or so ahead and freeze it) so it’s super easy to pop in the oven. 

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One year most of my siblings were traveling for Christmas, so our usually 25+ gathering was 10.  We decided to do everything differently so we weren't tempted to sulk about it.  That's the year we went full Ralphy and ordered Chinese food for Christmas dinner.  We didn't get a "Chinese Turkey" because duck isn't something most of us especially like, but we ordered Chinese and had piles of fireworks, something we had never done before.  If was fun and easy.

Some years we do Costco platters because 25+ people is quite a crowd. You just need fridge space for it, so let your local family know so they can make room for some of it until the big day. I suggest a Valium before going into Costco on the 23rd.

Other years we have a chili cook off, complete with judge (Grandad was judge when he was still alive) and rankings.  Chili is easy, so are boxed cornbread and bagged salads. 

We've also had Mexican because it's obligatory in the desert SW to eat Mexican food for Christmas at least several times a decade.  Homemade or catered, either was is acceptable. They give you the order with your AZ car registration and 30 year driver's license.

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That's why my sister started making a couple pans of lasagna and bringing it to my mom's house.  Mom could still pick/make sides, but it wasn't a strain on her that day.  More time for all of us to visit and play cards.  🙂

 

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On 11/22/2019 at 12:55 PM, Annie G said:

We almost always do lasagna- I spend the money to make it from scratch except I buy fresh lasagna noodles. Garlic bread, salad, dessert. I make it a day ahead (sauce usually a week or so ahead and freeze it) so it’s super easy to pop in the oven. 

Us too. I really enjoy the traditional Thanksgiving meal--once a year. I have no desire to repeat it a month later. We started doing lasagna our first Christmas we were unable to go "home". Most of our married life we've lived far from family. I rarely make lasagna any other time, so it's special, but the meal isn't too much work for me to put together on my own. Christmas Eve we have lasagna, salad, homemade bread, and then for dessert, we have ice cream and a special cookie bar I only make at Christmas. Christmas morning, we have monkey bread, and bacon or sausage and eggs. The rest of the day we lounge around and have leftover lasagna and snacks, such as cheese ball and crackers, etc.

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We traditionally (lol) do a non-traditional Thanksgiving meal  -- baked pasta dish; bread; salad; dessert. But, we do the traditional turkey dinner before/after the big day with relatives/friends, so we're doing a small at-home meal on the day of Thanksgiving. This year, I'm thinking of just picking it all up from Macaroni Grill the day before and reheating. (I'd be eating left-overs, since I can't do wheat and cheese any more.)

For Christmas night with company over, several times in the past I've gone non-traditional. One year, I bought and steamed up tamales and served with rice, beans and fixings for doing taco salads. Most everything was prepped the day before, so not much work but re-heating for dinner.

Another year, I made big pots of 2 different soups earlier in the week, and then served the 2 soups for people to choose from, along with a basket of choices of a variety of breads and rolls (bought from the bakery a day or two in advance), a big bag of salad and fruit bowl from Costco, and then for dessert, a big platter of cookies and candies we had been making the week before Christmas to give as gifts and to enjoy at Christmas.

Edited by Lori D.
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On 11/22/2019 at 8:34 AM, MercyA said:

We switched to ordering Pizza Hut at our extended family gathering, and everyone loves it! People bring sides and desserts. So much easier on my grandma. 🙂 

I think this is what my MIL is doing  this year. That way she spends less time prepping food and more time visiting (we drive 4 hours there to spend about 5 hours before driving back home).

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10 minutes ago, alisoncooks said:

I think this is what my MIL is doing  this year. That way she spends less time prepping food and more time visiting (we drive 4 hours there to spend about 5 hours before driving back home).

 

I would love to do this but most of my family doesn't like pizza.  Sounds perfect to me - so easy!  And how do people not like pizza?

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55 minutes ago, Kassia said:

 

I would love to do this but most of my family doesn't like pizza.  Sounds perfect to me - so easy!  And how do people not like pizza?

My oldest has refused pizza for years. We finally narrowed it down that she didn't like pizza sauce, lol. Come to think of it, I don't really either. So now we order a separate pizza, just cheese and pepperoni --no sauce-- for us. 😄

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When I had tiny kids we lived far from family and were often invited somewhere for an evening Christmas meal, but I wanted something special but quick for our lunch.  That evolved into what has now become our Christmas meal and is a favorite for my kids and inlaws.  I looked for things that I could mostly do ahead of time or that were quick.  We wound up with salmon for the meat.  Several of the sides - a layered salad, a red jello dish - can be made ahead of time.  The made-fresh sides - usually brown sugar-mustard or horseradish carrots and some sort of bean or pea - are quick if I slice the carrots ahead of time or start with frozen sliced.  I make a fresh bread, but it's either refrigerator rolls that only need the final rise at the last minute or else Sally Lunn bread that rises in the baking pan so it doesn't dirty a lot of extra dishes.  My in-laws are coming up before Christmas this year due to scheduling issues, and my kids have asked that I make basically  this menu twice-  once when they come and once on Christmas Day.  Depending on how many I'm feeding and how time works out, I sometimes add rice or deviled eggs - anything that fits the 'made ahead of time' or 'quick at the last minute' cretiera.  

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10 hours ago, alisoncooks said:

My oldest has refused pizza for years. We finally narrowed it down that she didn't like pizza sauce, lol. Come to think of it, I don't really either. So now we order a separate pizza, just cheese and pepperoni --no sauce-- for us. 😄

 

DD and I pretty much only like cheesy bread - no sauce, no meat.  I have one son who is vegan and the other two just don't care for pizza at all.  

For Christmas Eve, I usually make a baked pasta dish, garlic rolls, cranberry sauce, and salad.  We have frosted sugar cookies and pie for dessert.  For Christmas morning, my guys like bagel sandwiches with eggs, cheese, and sausage.  My son's girlfriend will be here for the first time for Christmas this year so I need to find out what foods she likes.  I'm really stressed over that.  

Christmas dinner is at my in-laws'.  Ham, brisket, rolls, potatoes, and some kind of vegetable.  Lots of snacks and dessert (my favorite part).  

Edited by Kassia
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When my kids were young we were basically having Christmas dinner twice - once on Christmas Eve and then again at inlaws on Christmas Day.  I switched up Christmas Eve to our traditional roast beef sandwiches, plus appetizers.  I can make the roast beef up ahead of time--even freeze it if I have time. For appetizers we don't do a lot of advanced planning. I ask all the kids to choose one they'd really like to have and go from there. It's usually a combination of homemade and store bought. It's much easier than putting together a full meal and it's lower key. I haven't looked back. 

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Since it’s just DH and me, I’ll do a few appetizers after our Christmas Eve service. Our new tradition for Christmas Day is to go downtown, see the National Christmas Tree and walk the Mall, if it’s not too cold. Dinner is a soup and bread with a special dessert, we get from Wegmans. I have to admit, Christmas is so much more relaxing now.🎄

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On 11/22/2019 at 1:12 AM, popmom said:

So there's less than a month between T'giving and Xmas. Every year my mom swears she's "never doing this again". (the turkey ham traditional stuff). This year especially since the two holidays are so close together. I'm curious what others do for a non traditional Christmas meal.

I'm considering doing a standing rib roast, but I've never made one before. Just anything except turkey/ham.

I'm also considering just doing hors d'oeuvres/heavy appetizers. 

All I know is our fam needs a change. I need to lighten the load on my mom. 

 

One year we did a steady stream of appetizers throughout the day.  Another year, when our mothers weren't looking we did breakfast for dinner for Thanksgiving with my BIL.  That was so much fun.  We had mimosas, pumpkin pancakes, and all sorts of fancy-but-hearty breakfast foods.  The kids talk about those dinners more than any others combined.  I've also ordered Boston Market a few times and just cooked a few favorites to go with it.

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