How to Host a Small Christmas This Year

Planning for a small Christmas celebration? We're sharing small-scale recipes and holiday activity ideas the whole family will love.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but chances are, the holiday season will look a little different in 2020. If a large gathering is typical for your family during the Christmas season, you may be wondering how to make sure the holidays are just as merry and bright with a smaller crowd.

From delicious dinner recipes and exceptional desserts to fun (and tasty!) activities for Christmas Day, there’s no reason to skimp on the celebration. With a few adjustments, you’ll have a plan to create special moments to remember for years to come.

Small-Batch Christmas Recipes

Herb-crusted prime ribTaste of Home

If you traditionally host a huge dinner for the holidays, chances are, not as many people will be dining around the table with you this year. But that doesn’t mean those show-stopping recipes need to be tucked away. You can certainly prepare a mouthwatering meal for four, or even for two, and make it just as beautiful.

Christmas Day Breakfast

Why not kick the day off with something extra sweet? Prep this Pumpkin French Toast Casserole the night before so it’s ready to pop in the oven for Christmas morning. If you’re more interested in a savory start to the day, opt for a quick dish of homemade Biscuits and Sausage Gravy, or start the day off on an impressive high note with a Ham ‘n’ Cheese Omelet Roll.

Christmas Day Dinner

Traditional main dishes for Christmas Day dinners certainly vary, whether you opt for turkey, chicken or beef. If beef is on the menu, consider making Herb-Crusted Prime Rib the star of the show. Hoping for comfort food instead? Short Rib Cobbler or Great-Grandma’s Italian Meatballs will satisfy any craving.

Pair your main dish with plenty of delicious sides to bring in the flavors of the season and embrace tradition. A pan of scalloped potatoes is sure to please, paired with roasted Brussels sprouts. And don’t forget the dinner rolls!

Christmas Day Desserts

With fewer mouths to feed, and probably less time spent prepping the main meal, it might mean there’s more time to focus on creating a beautiful dessert. Go all out with festive flavors of the season by making Peppermint Lava Cakes, or try your hand at these beautiful Red Wine & Cranberry Poached Pears.

Christmas Day Drinks

Of course, it wouldn’t be the holiday season without a few sips of eggnog. If you want to make your own batch for the big day, it’s easier than you think. If you’re planning a trek in the snow or a walk through the neighborhood to view the twinkling lights, whip up a batch of mulled cider to warm you up once you’re back inside.

How to Celebrate Christmas Virtually

Young woman celebrating New Year at home with her dog. Dog is wearing costume, she is smiling and enjoy in holiday. Woman using laptop for online shoppingsvetikd/Getty Images

A smaller Christmas gathering may mean less family around the tree. Luckily, gathering virtually is still an option, and adding a few activities to your video call may make it all the more special.

Plan for everyone on the call to get dressed up. Get in the holiday spirit with an ugly sweater theme, or ask everyone to dress to the nines in their Christmas best to do a virtual photo together. If you usually open presents with your extended family, plan a time to do this over video call as well. Allow everyone to take turns to show off their latest and greatest gift for the year.

Want to spend more time with the family virtually to celebrate the day? Put together a festive activity. Plan to have everyone decorate sugar cookies from the comfort of their own kitchens, or play a game such as holiday bingo.

How to Celebrate Christmas at Home

Mother and Children making Gingerbread cookies for Christmas.They enjoy in Christmas moments.MilosStankovic/Getty Images

If you typically travel for the holiday season, it may feel a bit different to be at home this year. But there are still so many ways to make it feel special with a few jolly activities planned throughout the day.

  • Make Sweet Treats: Want to try your hand at making some extraordinary holiday treats? Choose a few Christmas candy recipes to make with the family. Or, plan to tackle making a gingerbread house from scratch. The more elaborate the decor, the better!
  • Play Outside: Enjoy the crisp fresh air of the season. Bundle up and go dashing through the snow on a winter hike, or take a walk through the neighborhood to enjoy all of the festive decorations and lights.
  • Plan Sweet Activities for the Kids: Keep the kids entertained with a candy cane scavenger hunt in the backyard. Hide an array of candy canes, and set the kids loose to find their festive sweets. As a reward for a game well played, you might add homemade snow cones to the menu. Make your own snow cone syrup, and then pair it with clean, fresh snow for a sweet surprise.
  • Cozy up With Hot Chocolate: End the day with tidings of comfort and joy by putting together a hot cocoa bar. Mix up mugs of homemade hot chocolate, and put out a platter of toppings such as crushed peppermints, chocolate chips, marshmallows and whipped cream for everyone to dress up their perfect drink.

It may be a holiday that looks a bit different for the 2020 season, but it can still be filled with just as much joy with a few special touches and a little bit of magic. Don’t miss all our ideas for celebrating Christmas this year!

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Molly Allen
Molly Allen is a previous bakery owner and former event planner. Now, a freelance writer and editor focused on food and beverage, lifestyle, travel and parties, she brings her years of experience and industry knowledge to readers across a variety of platforms.