How to Plan a Classic Christmas

Holiday striped thigh highs

There’s nothing better than a classic Christmas. Some people like to mix up their holiday celebrations, spice them up with new traditions or test out a new style, but having a classic Christmas, especially if you are inviting a new person into your family or starting a family of your own, can be a great way to celebrate this holiday.

But what does a classic Christmas consist of? There is the tree, the xmas decorations, the meal, the presents, and the traditions. While you don’t necessarily have to stick to this list, you can find some great inspiration here for the ultimate in Christmas-y Christmases. Take these traditions and give them your own twist!

The Tree

While an artificial Christmas tree may save money, it can lack that necessary life that a real tree can bring into the room. Half the fun of putting up a tree is getting to go to the tree yard—or even out to the forest—and picking out the tree that you want. There is no specific breed that is particularly synonymous with Christmas, but the standard is a green, full tree that is about seven feet tall.

Of course, there are many variations of this tree, ranging from the very tall and lush, to the short and wispy, a la A Charlie Brown Christmas. Find the tree that best matches your decorations and your idea of the right Christmas tree. Some prefer a blue spruce, while others like a more classic color and scent.

Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

If you have room for a larger tree, there is something grand about a towering tree, though it may be difficult to decorate without a ladder. In smaller spaces, a short, squat tree can be just as charming, especially if it matches the scale of the room.

Living in an apartment or in a small house, you may simply not have room for a Christmas tree, whether it is fake or real. In this instance, you can get a little creative with your tree decorations, including make a life-sized paper tree to hang on your wall and surround with presents, or stringing green-wired twinkle lights in a tree shape, to the same effect.

The Meal

Christmas foods will vary from region to region (and certainly from country to country). Planning the perfect classic Christmas dinner may depend heavily on your family’s traditions from the past and the region where you live. For example, crab is considered a classic part of the Christmas meal in California, while the case is quite the opposite, here on the east coast. Tamales are classic in the Southwest, but are rarely part of the traditional Christmas meal outside of this region.

Some of the most ubiquitous and classic items you might want to add to your Christmas meal are as follows:

• Apple cider
• Eggnog (come on, who has Christmas without eggnog?)
• Fruitcake – though maybe just for show, not actually for eating
• Gingerbread (for houses and for eating)
• Ham
• Mashed potatoes
• Pecan pie
• Apple pie
• Plum pudding
• Stuffing
• Turkey

Make the meal your own by choosing your favorite dishes from this list. Things like turkeys and hams are popular because they can roast in the oven for hours with needing much attention. Choosing smaller cuts of meat may be easier to cook, especially if you are not cooking a feast for a horde, but rather a small meal for a few close friends or family members.

The Decorations

Christmas decorations are one of the most important and most fun parts of Christmas. This is really where you get to show off your style and holiday spirit. What better way than with lights and garlands and all manner of Christmas accoutrements? Putting lights up outside is a great way to participate in your neighborhood’s show of good cheer. Even stringing a single strand of lights around the eaves of your house will brighten it! If you prefer to go all-out, you can always add more lights and even yard decorations like lighted reindeer or snowmen.

Decorating the tree is a highlight of every year’s celebrations. This is usually a family affair, with everyone helping to trim the tree. Some families use a range of ornaments that have sentimental value, while other choose a theme for their tree and stick to it. For example, you might choose red and silver to compliment the natural green of your tree. Gold is also a popular choice, but these days you can find ornaments and lights in any color. Top it off with a star or an angel and you’re done!

Christmas is a great time to deck the halls with garlands and wreaths. You can often buy real garlands and wreaths, made from leftover bows at tree yards, or fake ones (that will leave fewer needles behind) in just about any store during the season.

The Traditions

There are plenty of holiday traditions you can engage in for your classic Christmas. Caroling is one of the most fun, even if you are not exactly Bing Crosby. Bundle up with a group of your friends, take some hot chocolate and grab some sheet music for your favorite Christmas tunes. The people you drop in on will love the extra bit of cheer and you will have fun shuffling through the snow, singing holiday favorites.

Another tradition is taking a tour of Christmas lights in your neighborhood. If you live in a neighborhood that makes a display out of the Christmas season, it can be fun to drive around in your warm car and look at the lights. Many people go above and beyond, even putting music to their light show or building elaborate displays in their front yards. It may sound cheesy, but it’s actually really fun!