9 Holiday Recipes and Decorating Ideas From Around the World
Add global flair to your Christmas celebration with these internationally inspired recipes and decorating ideas.
We all know and love the tried-and-true Christmas traditions of the U.S., like hanging stockings from the mantel or munching on gingerbread cookies and candy canes. But the holiday is celebrated in dozens of countries all over the world in some form or fashion – and every place does it a little bit differently. If you’re looking to mix up your holiday routine this year, try these traditional Christmas recipes (and twists on traditional recipes) from around the world, plus global-inspired Christmas decorations for your home.
Rather than hanging stockings from the mantel, children in France place their shoes in front of the fireplace or under the Christmas tree so Père Noël (or “Father Christmas”) will fill them with gifts. After midnight mass on Christmas Eve, French families gather for a decadent meal called réveillon, often featuring lobster, oysters, foie gras, cheeses, and turkey with chestnuts. The feast ends with bûche de Noël, a sponge cake whimsically decorated to look like a yule log.
Make This: Bûche de Noël Recipe From FoodNetwork.com
In Norway, small, heart-shaped paper baskets called julekurver are hung around the house during the holidays and filled with goodies. In this Scandinavian-inspired holiday scene, designer Laurie March incorporated a graphic, woven paper heart, a modern twist on the traditional julekurver.
Happy Holiday Hearts
Whether you hang them from your tree or tuck them into your tablescape, homemade candy cane hearts are a sweet way to decorate for the holidays. No two are ever the same, and they're adorable, too. Get the step-by-step instructions >>
Scandinavian design is known for its sweet simplicity. Humble craft paper and white ribbon are a charming place to begin. And who needs an Elf on a Shelf when you’ve got a gnome in your home? Get more gift wrapping ideas >>
These Scandinavian snowmen know how to party! Warm cinnamon ornaments give them the support they need to dance on their reclaimed wood stage. Find more Scandinavian-style entertaining ideas >>
Everyone appreciates a fun little surprise. Hanging a wreath from an upcycled picture frame makes the old seem new again. Find clever ideas for storing decorations when the holidays are done >>
Deck the Halls with Yarn
Add a natural element that you can do in any color. These yarn ornaments are easy and inexpensive make, and a fun project to craft with the kids. Get the step-by-step instructions >>
Originally from Milan, panettone is a sweet bread often filled with candied citron, raisins and lemon zest that’s become a holiday staple all over the world. For a new take on the traditional treat, whip up Giada De Laurentiis’ panettone bread pudding with amaretto sauce.
Christmas dinner in the UK usually consists of turkey and roasted vegetables, followed by Christmas pudding. Each person at the table gets a Christmas cracker — or a cardboard tube wrapped in colorful paper — that’s filled with a toy, a party hat or a corny joke. In some families, the crackers are pulled apart by two people (similar to a wishbone), and whoever gets the larger half keeps the prize.
Make This: Flameless Party Crackers
Originally a tasteless bread made with just flour, oats and water, stollen is now a sweet treat enjoyed on Christmas Day in Germany. It’s typically filled with dried fruit, nuts and spices and dusted with powdered sugar just before serving.
Make This: Stollen Recipe From FoodNetwork.com
A piñata filled with sweets is a star of Las Posadas, a series of parties held from Dec. 16 to 24 in Mexico. The piñata typically has a round center with seven conical points, originally representing the seven deadly sins. Make your own piñata for a Mexican-inspired Christmas celebration using floral foam, party hats, crepe paper and silk flowers.
Make This: Flower-Covered Piñata
Cone trees are an easy way to add a Christmas look to a table or mantel without spending a ton of money for a decoration that get used once a year. The center tree was made with snowflake confetti to add a bright punch of color that’s anything but boring. Get the step-by-step instructions >>
What do you get when you cross a piñata with a Christmas tree? A fringed-tissue paper cone tree. This sweet little number is an easy way to add a whimsical Christmas element to your table or mantel for just a few dollars. Get the step-by-step instructions >>
Make dessert time a little spicy by serving a spoonful of cayenne-spiked chocolate with plain cup of hot cocoa. The savory and sweet mix is the perfect way to warm up a cold winter evening. Get three easy recipes >>
Custom Table Runner
If you have an oddly sized table, making a DIY table runner is often the fastest, easiest and least expensive way to add a little color to the table. Felt is an easy fabric to work with because it doesn’t fray. Get the step-by-step instructions >>
Coquito, an eggnog-like alcoholic beverage made with rum, coconut milk, condensed milk, egg yolks and cinnamon, is enjoyed alongside Christmas dinner in Puerto Rico. Serve it chilled and topped with a dash of cinnamon.
Make This: Coquito Recipe From FoodNetwork.com
Pumpkin Pie Martini
Pumpkin pie is one of the most beloved desserts of the holiday season. Recreate the classic pie in a martini glass with vanilla vodka, pumpkin spice liqueur, Kahlua, butterscotch schnapps and half-and-half. Garnish with the perfect "crust": crushed graham crackers. Get the recipe>>
Keep holiday guests smiling with this flavor-filled, spiced pear sangria with a champagne twist. Prepare the spiced pear mixture the night before to let the flavors soak into the fruit. Then top it off with a bit of bubbly right before the party. Get the recipe>>
Cocoa Raspberry Heaven
The name says it all — you'll be swooning over this raspberry-infused hot chocolate. Mix raspberry liqueur and creme de cacao with hot chocolate, then top with fresh whipped cream and a fresh berry. It's the perfect beverage for a cozy holiday gathering, or a great nightcap at the end of a holiday cocktail party. Get the recipe>>
Spiced Chai Tea
Whether or not you decide to put bourbon in this homemade chai tea recipe, it'll be sure to warm up your guests. Serve it from a teapot to keep it warm throughout your party. Get the recipe>>
Rosario's Rumpope (Ecuadorian Holiday Eggnog)
No holiday is complete without this traditional Ecuadorian family recipe for eggnog. Rumpope, pronounced "rom-poe-pay," uses eggs, condensed milk, peaches, vanilla extract and cinnamon to create a sweet, silky beverage that's perfect for cool winter nights. Add rum for an adults-only gathering, or serve it on the side so guests of all ages can enjoy this holiday treat. Get the recipe>>
Hot Peppermint Rod
This peppermint-infused drink will warm you up, thanks to hot water and a healthy helping of vodka. The peppermint stick and dollop of whipped cream make this easy drink dressy enough for a holiday or party cocktail. Get the recipe>>
Rose Lemon Champagne Punch
Using both sparkling white wine and rose champagne, this refreshing drink is perfect to toast with. Serve in shot glasses or champagne flutes with fresh berries at the bottom. Get the recipe>>
Hot Buttered Rum
Gather your friends around the fireplace for this truly traditional winter favorite. Heat brown sugar, hot milk and rich, dark rum, then float butter on top for a decadent cocktail. Garnish with a pinch of ground nutmeg. Get the recipe>>
Cranberry Hot Toddy
Cranberry harvest season is in full swing during December, just in time for cranberry relishes, cakes and muffins to grace holiday tables. Use the berries in juice form for a twist on classic mulled apple cider: Heat cranberry juice with cranberry vodka, lemon juice, honey, bitters and cinnamon for a festive warm-me-up drink. Get the recipe>>
Heath Bar Cocktail
This grown-up take on a candy bar features a sweet mix of Irish cream, cognac and coffee and hazelnut liqueur. Top it off with freshly shaved chocolate for a sweet holiday treat. Get the recipe>>
Say "sayonara" to typical sangria: This take on the classic fruit-and-wine concoction is infused with sake and a splash of sour mix. Garnished with an orange twist, it's the perfect signature drink for a winter cocktail party. Get the recipe>>
Zuzu's Peach Sparkler
Greet party guests with this beautiful, fruity cocktail, made with cognac, peach schnapps, simple syrup and crushed fresh peaches, lemon and orange. Served over crushed ice, the drink seems to sparkle. Garnish with a mint sprig and a peach slice. Get the recipe>>
Made with pomegranate juice and blueberry jam, you can top this drink with non-alcoholic champagne or cider. Drop a few blueberries in each glass to create a beautiful color contrast. Get the recipe>>
Reindeer Bubbles Cocktail
Add pomegranate seeds to the bottom of this champagne drink to resemble Rudolph the Reindeer. A green-sugared rim adds extra color that will fit right into your festive holiday party. Get the recipe>>
Create a snowball garland for a kid's room with string, white pompoms and a variety of white buttons. First, thread the string onto a needle, then weave the needle through the pompoms and button holes.
Brian Patrick Flynn
Since temperatures are high on Christmas in Argentina, some people decorate their Christmas trees with cotton balls to represent snow. If you, too, celebrate the holiday in a warm climate, make this easy garland using cotton balls and buttons, as designer Brian Patrick Flynn did here. Drape it around your tree or over the mantel.
Named after Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, this meringue cake is a popular Christmas sweet in New Zealand and neighboring Australia. (The two countries have a running debate on who invented the dessert.) It's typically topped with whipped cream, strawberries, kiwi and passionfruit.