Sometimes, you just need to break the bonds of tradition and let loose a little bit.
Growing up, my mother loved taking breaks from tradition to throw these elaborate themed Christmases. Most years, we would have the traditional Christmas dinner with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, etc. But every few years, the day after Thanksgiving, my mother would announce “This Christmas, we’re doing something different.”
These dinners resulted in some of my fondest memories of Christmas. If you are looking for some ideas, look no further! Here are five of my favorite non-traditional dinners.
1. Homemade Sushi
If you have some of the right gear for it, making sushi (especially California rolls) isn’t that hard. Like homemade pizza, every can help create their own rolls with whatever they want. Somebody doesn’t like avocado? They don’t have to put it in theirs. Somebody want to lather their rolls with Sriracha sauce? Pour away.
If you need other foods to balance out the meal, make a nice miso soup and serve edamame as part of the meal. If you are feeling extremely creative, prepare personalized bento boxes for each member of your family.
Plus, since it’s light finger food, the dinner conversation can stay nice and lively.
2. Healthy Christmas
For a few years, my parents struggled with their weight and went on a year long diet to get back in shape. My brothers and I looked forward to Christmas all year for the chance to eat some real food. When my Mom announce we would have a “healthy Christmas,” we all groaned. That meant no perfectly cooked turkey, carb filled mashed potatoes, and no sugary desserts. With some clever planning though, my Mom was able to make it amazing.
Our Christmas dinner that year was healthy and delicious. Instead of the traditional turkey, there was fresh crab and shrimp for protein and tons of cooked veggies to replace the starchy potatoes. For dessert, we had fresh fruits with just a sprinkle of sugar. It was a fairly simple meal, but very satisfying and filling.
The party didn’t stop there though, oh no. After dinner, we had a “work out” competition to see which son could do the most push ups, sit ups and ,strangely enough, a hula hoop contest. This had to be one of the strangest and most entertaining Christmas dinners we ever had.
3. Movie Themed Dinners
If you’re having a lot of extended family coming for dinner, tell them to bring a dish that represents their favorite Christmas movies. This can lead to a variety of foods that will transform dinner into a full blown feast.
Some of my personal favorites from over the years are:
“Red Ryder cowboy salsa” from The Christmas Story.
“New York Pizza” from Home Alone 2: Lost in New York
“The Roast Beast” from How the Grinch Stole Christmas
“Razzleberry Dressing” from Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol.
4. Hawaiian Luau
Bust out the flowery shirts, lei’s, and flip flops cause your going to Hawaii for Christmas!
Or, if you can’t afford it, bring Hawaii to your home.
My Mom went all out for this one. She got a fake, but realistic looking, palm tree for us to decorate, set up some tiki torches outside, greeted all of our guests with “aloha” and had Hawaiian Christmas music playing to set the mood.
She cooked up honey ham with pineapple, (she tried to get a full pig to roast, but they are quite expensive) and for sides we had poi, glazed shrimp, mangos, coconuts, and a hearty serving of Spam.
You can even combine the Hawaiian Luau with the ultra healthy Christmas idea as Hawaii is considered the healthiest state in the U.S. Just skip the salty ham and focus more on seafood and fruits.
5. Man Feast
If you’re in the same boat as my Mom with a home packed with hungry boys, do a full blown man feast. Have all of your boy’s favorite manly foods like steak, ribs, hot wings, whatever they love. Afterwards, they can do all the manly activities they want, like watching football, chopping firewood, or grooming their beards.
If you are getting a little tired of the traditional meals, change it up this Christmas. Not only will it open you up to new experiences, it will create memories that will be remembered for years to come. All it takes is some preparation, a little bit of creativity, and the support of your family. Because if they don’t want to do it, then doing something different won’t be as fun. Get them onboard and involved to make it entertaining for everybody.