Why is Christmas Eve Dinner so Special?

Christmas Eve Tablescape

Why is Christmas Eve dinner so special in our house? We are going to end our 12 Days of Christmas with a really sweet holiday memory and tradition.

Diane from South House Design and I sure hope you enjoyed our series. We hope you got some ideas and inspiration to start planning and preparing for the holidays. Our goal was to give you plenty of time to be on top of things and have your holidays be as stress-free as possible.

Charlie Brown Holiday Tree

Our Christmas Eve Tradition

Everyone’s family traditions are different but on my side of the family, Christmas Eve was a really big deal. We would always have a beautiful meal that typically included a Roast and of course our Potato Sausage. My Dad would eat Lutefisk which is a very gross piece of cod that my Mom would boil and serve to him over boiled potatoes with white sauce on the top. It’s another Swedish tradition that he could never get anyone else in the family to buy into. My dad passed before Tommy became part of our family and he might have had his ringer! Tommy will eat just about anything. I know my nephew James wants to give it a try again, now that he’s older. Maybe the two of them can carry that tradition on into the future!

I digress! After we had our lovely meal, it was time to open all the presents from our grandparents, parents, and sibling that had been wrapped and under the tree for weeks. The anticipation was palpable. I remember being so anxious I would almost pee my pants!

But my Dad would announce “No presents until after I take a nap and the dishes are done”. He would then head up to the bed and pretend to take a nap. We would follow him up and jump on him, begging for the unwrapping mayhem to begin. He always gave in but this ritual continued for years. He could rile us up even when we were teenagers. He revived this “game” again when the grandchildren came along and I along with my sister and brothers got a great deal of joy watching him tease our children the same way!

christmas tree next to a fireplace with lots of presents under it

After we opened our presents and played with them for a while, we always went to church. It was the candlelight service and we all got to light our candles at the end of the service. It was magical to me.

Then home to bed knowing that Santa would be coming to our house! My brother Scott was up sometimes at 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning. I would go downstairs and see what Santa had brought but then go back to bed.

As we got older and had our own children the strong bond of our parent’s traditions stayed with us. We no longer all live close but we make it a point to stay close, lately by Zoom. Last year my youngest brother and his family came to our home for Christmas Eve. We can’t wait until we can get back to those days again.

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Our Christmas Eve Dinner

Christmas Eve dinner is so special in our house because it connects us. I spend a lot of time thinking about my tablescape for the dinner. I take my cues for my table settings from my tree which is steps away from the dining room table.

The meal is easy because it too is tradition. We choose between beef tenderloin (you can find my recipe HERE) or a beef rib roast. I have the most amazing potato casserole recipe which I’m sharing below. I love it because I can make it the day before and then just pop it in the oven. potato sausage, asparagus, a salad, and french onion soup round out the meal. The way we switch things up is by adding a specialty cocktail.

Cheesy Mashed Potatoes

Prep Time40 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Total Time1 hour 20 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cheesy mashed potatoes, mashed potato casserole
Servings: 18 servings


  • 10 lbs large russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 2 pkg 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup chopped onion
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper


  • Place potatoes in a large saucepot; cover with water. Bring to a boil and cover. Cook for 20-25 minutes or until very tender; drain well – I used a colander
  • In a mixing bowl, mash potatoes. Add remainder of ingredients; beat until fluffy.
  • Transfer to a greased 2-qt., baking dish. Cover and refrigerate at this point if you're not going to bake right away.
  • Bring to room temperature if the potatoes have been refrigerated prior to baking
  • Bake at 350° for 40-45 minutes or until heated through. Sprinkle with additional cheese, if desired.


This is not a low-calorie dish and I only make it for special occasions.

This year is going to be another little quiet Christmas for us as “Handy” is having a hip replaced the week before Christmas. Our kids will be here so while pared down, the traditions will pretty much be the same. I have every hope that next year, we will be able to get back to normal.

12 Days of Christmas Making

12 Days of Christmas Making Header

I hope that you enjoyed our 12 Days of Christmas Making! If you missed any of it here are all the links:

Day 1 – DIY Vintage Lanterns for Mantel Christmas Decor

Day 2 – Christmas Lists & Holiday Organizing Made Simple

Day 3 – How to Hang Christmas Stockings from a Birch Branch

Day 4 – Swedish Potato Sausage – Our Family Christmas Tradition

Day 5 – Best Way to Add Fake Snow to Brighten Your Decor

Day 6 – How to Make the Perfect Holiday Cocktail

Day 7 – How to make a Christmas Sign out of Reclaimed Wood

Day 8 – We Love Our Frame TV

Day 9 – Charming Holiday Decor with Vintage Ice Skates

Day 10 – Casual Holiday Entertaining

Day 11 – Wood Holiday Buoys add Coastal Christmas Decor

It snowed where we live yesterday! It really is beginning to look a lot like Christmas!


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Living Large Podcast

Season 2 of Living Large Podcast is back on the airwaves! Stop by and listen to Emma and I chat about the Holidays in Season 2. Click on the button below!

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