Weekly Top Five: Get in the Holiday Spirit!

Weekly Top Five: Get in the Holiday Spirit!

When I think of the holiday season, the first word that comes to mind is tradition. Regardless of which holiday you adhere to celebrating (there are a whopping FOURTEEN religious holidays celebrated in December), the season is one that harnesses joy, giving, and that special feeling inside oneself that often has the power to turn even the most grinchiest of folks into softies (just until Jan 1st, of course).  

But somehow, every January, I often find myself reflecting on all of those seasonal activities I love...that I somehow missed throughout the holiday rush.  So, to help even the best of us remember all there is to do this season, we’ve compiled a Weekly Top 5 to help you get in the spirit (and stay there!).


1. Movies with the Seasonal Feels

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  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

  • A Christmas Story

  • Elf

  • Love, Actually

  • Planes, Trains and Automobiles

  • Sleepless in Seattle

  • The Christmas Shoes

  • The Santa Clause

2. Lights, Lights, and more Lights (please?!)

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  • Gaylord Opryland’s “A Country Christmas”: November 9 - January 1

    • Check out the whopping 3 MILLION lights for free or pay and enjoy carriage rides, SoundWaves (opening December 1!!), snow tubing, ice skating, gingerbread decorating center, cirque dreams Holidaze, etc)

    • Also...the boasted 2 million pounds of the cold frozen stuff returns again
      this year with ICE! featuring Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

  • Drive-Through Dancing Lights of Christmas: November 16 - December 31

    • The 9th annual Dancing Lights of Christmas returns to Wilson County’s James E Ward Agriculture Center (home of the Wilson County Fair)

  • Holiday LIGHTS at Cheekwood: November 23 - December 30 from 5-10pm

3. Skate your heart out at Ascend Amphitheater’s Smashville Holiday Festival

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  • Non-holiday skate from November 16 - December 20 & January 7th - January 21st

  • Or join their festive holiday skate from December 21st - January 6th

Note: They also offer pond 3-on-3 hockey every Monday and Wednesday — sign up here!

4. Traditional Holiday To Do’s

And Don’t Forget...

5.  What the Holidays Mean to Our Taste Buds

  • Italian Spiedinis

    • Tara’s dad always has spiedinis on the menu for Christmas. “It’s a classic Italian dish with thin steak rolled around mozzarella cheese and tomato and then grilled. Yummy!”

  • Cinnamon Roasted Almonds

    • Jordan’s go-to for the season (and a great gift to any host / hostess!!) is a batch of Cinnamon Roasted Almonds — made in a CrockPot!  These make your house smell of cinnamon-sugar goodness. Find a great recipe for them here.

  • Eggnog

    • At Maddie’s house, it’s all about the eggnog: her husband begs her to make a batch before the season has even technically started:

“We hadn’t even celebrated Thanksgiving when my husband began his yearly petition for a batch of my homemade eggnog. “Eggnog is a Christmas treat,” I told him. “I can’t make it before Thanksgiving! That’s wrong.” He implored, “But I want it for my birthday!” So I made my first batch on November 23rd: the day exactly after Thanksgiving and, coincidentally, also his birthday. The recipe, which I got from my mother some time ago, is one that she has used for as long as I can remember. Every December she whipped up this thick and creamy concoction, and every December I would turn up my nose in disgust, revolted by the prospect of drinking liquid eggs. It was around age 22 when I finally tasted the stuff, and my tune changed within an instant. Since then, I’ve been whipping up big batches of 'nog every time December strikes. Whether it’s served as a nightcap after dinner, or given as a gift to dear friends, My Mom’s Eggnog always stimulates the season!” - Maddie Adams

RECIPE: My Mom's Eggnog

Recipe by Maddie Adams | Makes about 2 quarts or 30 servings

  • 6 eggs, separated

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 2 cups bourbon or whiskey

  • 1/2 cup brandy

  • 1 quart half + half (or you could use 2 cups milk, 2 cups whole cream)

  • Nutmeg, for garnish

  1. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat egg yolks until lemon-colored; about 5 minutes. Gradually add in sugar and beat until a ribbon forms when poured from a spoon.

  2. Add 1 cup bourbon and mix on low speed until combined. Let stand, covered, at room temperature for 1 hour.

  3. Mix in remaining 1 cup bourbon, brandy, and half and half (or milk and cream). Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or until ready to serve.

  4. In a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites until they form stiff peaks. In a large bowl, fold whites* into eggnog mixture.

  5. Ladle eggnog into your favorite festive glass and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg and an orange peel, if desired. (I usually just do nutmeg)

*Note: Often times when the whites are first folded into the eggnog mixture, they tend to float on top instead of fully assimilating. This means you’ll often end up with a whole lot of whites and not a lot of eggnog mixture in your glass when you ladle. I like to let the eggnog sit in the bowl in the fridge overnight and allow the whites to settle a bit. Then, I’ll mix the whites back in again, usually with more success. If you store the drink into a quart container or something with a lid, you can give it a couple turns to mix before pouring into a glass. This tends to lead to a thick, creamy eggnog as opposed to a creamy eggnog with thick whites on top.

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Matt Moore: Chef, Author and Our Favorite Holiday Host

Matt Moore: Chef, Author and Our Favorite Holiday Host