Christmas Eve, the Feast of the Seven Fishes, the Vigil – it’s known by many names, but in any real Italian household it’s mostly known as the biggest family celebration of the year! My house is no exception. I have hosted Christmas Eve for as long as I can remember. As our families grow, so does the guest list! Our night usually begins with Christmas Eve mass followed by the big celebration.
This year we will be celebrating with about 25 “immediate” family members. It is a particularly special year because both my son, Justin, and my daughter, Jillian, will be there with their future spouses! I LOVE CHRISTMAS EVE!! I love the food, I love the drinks, but most importantly, I love the opportunity to have my entire family together to celebrate. We’ve changed a few things over the years but some things have remained the same. We try to find a way to incorporate 7 fishes into the menu, always culminating with stuffed calamari over linguine (made by my soon-to-be 85 year old mom!) Jillian makes her smoked salmon “fish” en croute, and is the bartender for our “candy cane cocktail” (recipe at the bottom of the blog!).
My house does not look like a magazine spread on Christmas Eve. Our tree is decorated with ornaments made by our children and of treasures we have collected from trips over the years. Some are old and tired but we still put them on the tree – it’s the memories that go with them that are important. I try to use dishes and platters that were my grandmother’s and my husband’s mom’s. I make the same cookies every year – just more of them because there seem to be more tins distributed with each passing year. The night is, well, Italian – loud, jovial, and a sometimes a little crazy. We try to have a visit from Santa (gets challenging as the little ones get older!) and by the end of the night, my house looks, well, like a happy mess! Here are some things that remind me of my Christmas Eve and maybe one of them may fit into yours!
Our candy cane cocktail would be right at home in this generous size glass and, of course, there has to be a glass for the red wine! No Italian celebration is complete without a little vino!
It’s always a good idea to have lots of coasters around for your guests to set their drinks down safely! (Inevitably 1 will get toppled over, so just be prepared!)
We usually “cheat” and add tuna and anchovies to our antipasto! That’s 2 fishes!
And the bread basket has to be big. Good wine and good bread are imperative!
What’s an Italian feast without some pasta? We alternate between raviolis and lasagne. This would be a beautiful lasagne dish.
And a fish for the “fish”!
A pasta bowl for the stuffed calamari! I have my grandmother’s that we have used for as long I can remember. Here’s mine, but the Vietri Pesce Large Serving Bowl is a nice substitute!
Add some beautiful charger plates for dessert, and you’re ready to go. Mangia!! And Bon Natale! Merry Christmas! Look below for Jill’s famous candy cane cocktail recipe!
Jill’s Candy Cane Cocktail:
Rim glasses with crushed peppermint
1 part vanilla rum
1 part white chocolate liqueur
1 part peppermint Schnapp’s
Swirl in 1 tsp chocolate syrup with a mini candy cane if desired (For the real chocolate lovers!)