We can’t travel. No one outside of our pods should come over. We’re grieving all of the people lost to COVID. Money is tight. The general feeling is: “This year f**king sucks.” But we’ve gotten this far; we can definitely make it from here to New Year’s. Not sure what to do? Here’s our game plan:
1. Watch Movies
Yes, we’ve been bingeing every TV show we can get our hands on since March, but there are some old (and new) favorites we love to watch this time of year:
- Christmas Vacation: One word: “Squirrel!”
- The Best Man Holiday. Also known as The Best Looking Christmas Movie Cast
- Home for Christmas: This is a fantastic little Norwegian series that’s imminently bingeable. AND Season 2 was just released last Friday so catch up!
- Die Hard: Every year the longstanding feud reignites between the “Die Hard is definitely a Christmas movie” faction and the “No, it’s not!” coalition. (It’s so obviously a Christmas movie.)
- We watched the new Kristin Stewart LGBTQ rom-com Happiest Season — and well, it’s either a hate watch (per Roxane Gay) or a love watch depending on who you ask. But you’ll enjoy the eye-rolling fun.
- A Christmas Story: All Ralphie wants for Christmas is a Red Ryder BB gun.
- Love Actually: Classic Christmas-themed rom-com
- The Last Holiday: She’s got a month to live, so she’s going out in style.
- Trading Places The 80s version of The Prince and the Pauper where hilarity ensues.
- Scrooged Bill Murray meets A Christmas Carol. Brilliant.
- A Charlie Brown Christmas: Hands down, the best Christmas movie ever. (*This endorsement may have some bias behind it.)
2. Eat Your Fave Holiday Foods
You may not be going home for the holidays but you can still celebrate with your favorite treats and traditions. Here’s a few from TueNighters’ families:
🇸🇪 Swedish Christmas Eve Rice Pudding
“I’m named for my grandmother Margit whose parents came from Sweden. My Mom has kept a few of the Swedish holiday traditions in our family from meatballs for dinner and pancakes with lingonberries for breakfast. Here is Christmas Eve dessert, rice pudding. We have it every year and my Mom always hides an almond in the rice pudding. Diners each compose and recite a short poem before they are served rice pudding. And the person who gets the almond has good luck in the coming year.” — Margit, Founder
3/4 cup short-grained rice
4 cups milk
2 cups half & half
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 egg whites
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
One blanched almond
Bring 1 1/2 cups water and 1/8 teaspoon salt to boil in a 4-quart pot. Stir in 3/4 cup short-grained rice. Cover and simmer until water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Stir in milk, half & half, and sugar. Stir continuously until steamy, then reduce to low heat, cover, until mixture looks like thick soup, about 1 hour. Whisk eggs and egg whites with vanilla and salt in a separate bowl, then add to the rice mixture. Do not let boil; stir about 1-2 minutes on low heat so temperature reaches 160-170 degrees. Add one blanched almond. Remove from heat. Place pudding into a heat-proof container and cover surface (contact) with plastic wrap to prevent thickened surface. Cool for about 1 hour. Sprinkle with cinnamon if desired. Makes enough for 8 adults and 4 kids. Let kids help stir and add the almond.
🍤 Ceviche Mixto
“My dad is from Peru and ceviche is a holiday staple for my family. My cousin and I have been competing for years to see who makes it best — since I can’t seem to beat her traditional recipe, I like to experiment a bit with different flavors and textures.” — Jen, Project Manager
1 lb. each octopus, squid, and shrimp (or firm white fish like tilapia cut into small cubes)
1 small red onion, diced
1 habanero or jalapeno pepper, seeded
2-3 cloves garlic (optional)
1 orange bell pepper, chopped
Salt to taste
In a large bowl or pan, mix sliced octopus and squid with your raw fish and/or shrimp. Squeeze fresh limes over the seafood; add diced red onion, whole chile pepper, plus salt and cayenne pepper to taste. Add chopped or whole garlic (if using) and orange bell pepper. Mix well and make sure the seafood is covered by the lime juice. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight (even better!), mixing occasionally to make sure everything “cooks” properly in the citrus. The shrimp will turn nice and pink just like when you cook them on the stove, but will not shrink as much.
☕ Nannie’s Sour Cream Coffee Cake
“Every Christmas, my beloved Nannie would make a sour cream coffee cake for each of her children’s families. Mine was always special because she left out those icky walnuts. Since she passed 13 years ago, I’ve taken up the mantle and I make those cakes and deliver them on Christmas Eve.” — Heather, Story Editor
1/4 lb butter (1 stick)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 pint sour cream (1 cup)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
For topping, mix together
1 cup sugar
1/2 chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, vanilla, and sour cream, mix well. Add remaining ingredients to batter and mix well. Pour 1/2 of batter into a buttered Bundt pan. Sprinkle on half the topping mixture. Add remaining batter and sprinkle with remaining topping mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on rack for about 15 minutes and then transfer to a plate.
🍞 Creme Brulee French Toast
A favorite of our Social Media Editor Brooke Hubbard and her family. Perfect for early morning couch lounging. Recipe from Delish.com
🍲 Mashed Potatoes and Green Peas
As told by Margaret Crandall, Newsletter Editor: Step 1: Make mashed potatoes. Step 2: Put green peas on top.
3. Make Yourself a Drink 🍸
Happy hour is every hour when you’re home all. damn. day.
- Mulled Wine The easy way
- Mulled Apple Cider Alcohol-free
- White Christmas Margaritas Fully loaded
- Jingle Juice If only for the name!
- Hot Cocoa This ain’t no Swiss Miss, this ain’t no foolin’ around
- Lazy Lime Rickey Without or without gin
- Virgin Cocktail Cooler For adults or kiddos
4. Host a Virtual Gift Exchange
Some of us are delighted that staying home means saving money on presents. But some of us will miss gift-giving the most. In that case, create a Secret Santa list on Elfster.com. We’ve tried it; it’s legit.
5. Get on a Group Zoom Call
OK, fine. We’re all a little sick of being on video calls, but if you’re missing friends and family (or they’re missing you), have a virtual meet up. You don’t even have to pretend you’re wearing pants!
6. Write a Gratitude List
No one thinks this year hasn’t sucked, harder for some than others. But, if you can take a moment to find the positives in your life to focus on, the negative things can take a little holiday.
7. Do Something for Someone Else
- Bring a box of non-perishables to your local food pantry — they’re in need more than ever right now.
- Get your craft on: Knit or crochet a variety of wares to help children and adults with cancer, veterans, and the homeless. Treehugger.com and Better Homes & Gardens pulled together a list of organizations that need your help.
- Donate to your favorite charity — not doubt they are struggling to meet their 2020 fundraising goals.
Enjoy the season TueNighters! We’ll be under blankets drinking glug.