Planning a Christmas Dinner for Your Extended Family
It used to be that Christmas dinners were standard in homes across the globe. While Thanksgiving is still an occasion to feast, it seems that a big family Christmas dinner isn’t in the cards for more and more families these days. Christmas is becoming more commercial with each passing year. A family Christmas dinner is a tradition well worth reinstating, but how do you go about planning such a big meal for the entire extended family?
Christmas Dinner Can Bring the Family Together
The first step in creating a big family Christmas dinner like the ones portrayed in classics like It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol is to sit down with family members and explain your reasoning. Some might complain that Christmas is already busy enough without having to worry about preparing an extravagant meal as well. It may take some time to persuade everyone to get on board, but explaining your desire to bring the family together is a good first step.
Tell the family that you are worried that the kids are missing the true spirit of Christmas by focusing on toys and gadgets. Explain that having a big meal together on Christmas is a way of reminding everyone to be grateful and that family is the best present of all.
Once you’ve convinced everyone that a big family Christmas dinner is a good idea, figure out the logistics. Should the dinner happen on Christmas Day or Christmas Eve? Would a Christmas breakfast or brunch fit family needs better? Does the family want to include religious services or messages as part of the event? Of course, you’ll also need to determine who will be responsible for cooking, baking, and hosting. Remember that the most important thing is the participation of the family members, not the food. Decide ahead of time what type of food will be served and how each person can contribute.
Christmas Dinner Ideas
Celebrate Family Heritage
One fun way to bring the family together for a Christmas dinner is to celebrate the family roots. Do a little research to determine where your family’s ancestors came from and work from there. Serve traditional dishes from the family’s country or countries of origin. Get children involved by having them dress in traditional costumes or telling folk stories from the theme country. If you have a historian in the family, assign him or her the task of uncovering and sharing family stories. Many countries have unique holiday traditions. Learn some and include them as part of your big family Christmas dinner.
Religious Christmas Dinner
For traditional Christians, Christmas is more than a time to exchange presents. Create a special dinner by focusing on the religious aspects of the holidays. Have the children make simple costumes and act out the Christmas story from the New Testament. Serve family favorites alongside biblical foods that would have been served during the time of Christ. Sing religious Christmas songs together and invite someone to share appropriate biblical verses.
Family Spotlight Christmas Dinner
For this Christmas dinner, each family is responsible for bringing a favorite family dish. If Aunt Sally is famous for her macaroni and cheese, have her make a big batch to share. Encourage families to decide together what to bring, and make sure there is someone to coordinate dishes so there are no repeats. Along with the meal items, have each family prepare a small talent to share in front of everyone else. One group might sing a Christmas song while another performs a short skit. Don’t forget less common talents like telling jokes, doing gymnastics, training a dog, or sharing artwork.