10 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.

France

Photo by: Matt Armendariz

Matt Armendariz

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.

Norway

CI-Laurie-March_Scandanavian-Christmas-ornaments-garland_h

CI-Laurie-March_Scandanavian-Christmas-ornaments-garland_h

©Marc Kelly

Marc Kelly

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.

Scandinavian-Inspired Christmas Decorations

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Sweet and Casual

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Natural Materials

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Salt Dough Ornaments

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Spice Tree

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Handcrafted Accents

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Blend Textiles

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Wood Wreath

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Wall of Wreaths

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Woven Star

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Upcycle For the Unexpected

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Happy Holiday Hearts

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Just a Touch of Bling

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Gnome Decorating

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Sweet Snowmen

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Bunting

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Frame It

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A Touch of Whimsy

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Deck the Halls with Yarn

©Marc Kelly

Italy

Photo by: Matt Armendariz

Matt Armendariz

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.

United Kingdom

Christmas Time

Christmas Time

Photo by: Marilyn Barbone

Marilyn Barbone

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.

Germany

Stollen Recipe

Stollen Recipe

Photo by: Marshall Troy Photography

Marshall Troy Photography

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.

China

Chinese Christmas Lanterns on Trees

Chinese Christmas Lanterns on Trees

Photo by: DK - A Greener Christmas © 2008 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - A Greener Christmas, 2008 Dorling Kindersley Limited

While Christmas isn’t widely celebrated in China, the holiday is growing in popularity in large cities. Christmas trees (typically artificial) are decorated in paper chains, paper flowers and paper lanterns. For a natural spin on this look, make these delicate yet vibrant ornaments from Chinese lantern plants. 

Mexico

DIY Flower Pinatas

DIY Flower Pinatas

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.

Mexican-Style Christmas Decorations

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Bright and Happy Holidays

Line the Walls

Easy Centerpieces

Fringed Tree

Multicolored Tableware

Sugar Skull Place Cards

Sangria Garnish

Mixed Materials

Shake It Up

Chocolate Spoons

Custom Table Runner

Burlap Placemats

Puerto Rico

Photo by: Armando Rafael Moutela

Armando Rafael Moutela

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.

28 Holiday Cocktails

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Ginger Bell Cocktail

Pumpkin Pie Martini

Sangria

Cocoa Raspberry Heaven

Spiced Chai Tea

Spiked Apple Cider Cocktail

Rosario's Rumpope (Ecuadorian Holiday Eggnog)

Hot Peppermint Rod

Rose Lemon Champagne Punch

Hot Buttered Rum

Liam's Midnight Toast

Cranberry Hot Toddy

Holiday Citrus Spritzer

Heath Bar Cocktail

Sake Sangrini

Warm Apple Pie Cocktail

Homemade Eggnog

Zuzu's Peach Sparkler

Mulled Wine

Caramel Apple Pie Cocktail

Uncle Billy's Holiday Treat

Appleberry Pie Cocktail

Whiskey Buck Cocktail

Rose and Mint Champagne Cocktail

Pom-Berry Bellini

Spiced Cappucini Cocktail

Reindeer Bubbles Cocktail

Sparkling Grapefruit Cocktail

Argentina

Snowball Garland

Snowball Garland

Photo by: Brian Patrick Flynn

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.

New Zealand

MIXED_BERRY_PAVLOVA

MIXED_BERRY_PAVLOVA

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.

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