Holiday Traditions to Start and Begin with Spirits

Holiday Traditions to Start and Begin with Spirits

By Halle Cook Published October 2020

2020 has made a lot of things look and feel different, but we know two things that do not have to change—your holiday spirit and holiday spirits. We may be bias, but our favorite way to get into the festive mood is with an adult beverage or two. End this year on a high note by instituting some new activities with your friends and family. Not only do many of these traditions fit the 2020 guidelines, they also allow you to include those near and far. Make these a part of your new traditions this year and keep them going for years to come.

Wine Swap

Do you have a bottle of wine sitting on your wine rack that’s just not what you normally drink? Gather a group of friends and set up a wine swap. There are multiple ways to begin one. If your wine swap involves some long-distance friendships, collect every participant’s name and use a random pairing generator to decide who sends a bottle to whom. This eliminates the hassle of excluding anyone or worrying that someone gets two bottles. For an in-person swap, gather your group and have everyone bring two identical bottles. We recommend choices from our Sourced & Certified Collection. Set aside one of each and uncork the others. Host a casual tasting so that everyone can taste the options. Place the name of your guests in a hat and draw names one by one to decide who chooses. If someone wants to “steal” a bottle that has already been selected, they may. However, we suggest setting a limit on how many steals are allowed per bottle. If you’re participating on a budget, check out our wines under $15 which are full of flavor for a modest price.

Octopoda Napa Cabernet Sauvignon for wine swap.

Recipe Exchange

If your group is full of master chefs rather than aspiring sommeliers, consider a boozy recipe swap. The holiday season is full of events enhanced by tasty dishes and if you’re looking to spice up your menu, this is the perfect way. First, invite your friends and family to cook up their favorite, most delectable dish to bring to your gathering. Request that everyone bring two printed copies of their recipe per guest (if there are six guests, all participants would bring twelve copies). Half of their copies will be placed in a pile next to their dish, while the other half will be carried around with them. Once all the fantastic food has been laid out, it’s time to do a taste test. Allow your guests to work their way around the room trying each of the options. If an individual chooses to take a copy of a recipe, they must replace it with one of theirs. Your guests will leave the gathering with full stomachs, smiling faces and a bunch of new recipes to try.

If you are looking to host a recipe exchange with people who are socially distanced from you, confer with your group and gather everyone’s emails or phone numbers. Next, create a mass email chain, group message, or word document that is accessible to everyone. Finally, begin by inputting your recipe and send it on its way. Everyone will have the opportunity to input their recipe (or recipes) for all to see.

Looking for some suggestions on where to start? ABC has plenty of delicious, boozy food recipes that are sure to be a hit. How could anyone say no to a bourbon glazed ham or pumpkin dessert for their Christmas dinner? If your loved ones are the competitive type, turn it into a competition. Set a time limit for people to try the recipes and have each individual vote on who they think provided the best one (no, you probably shouldn’t vote for yourself). Agree on a prize, like a fan favorite bottle of sparkling wine, and the person with the most votes wins.

Bourbon glazed ham for recipe swap .

Christmas Eve Cling Wrap Tradition

This intense game is full of laughter, competition and treasures. It only requires four simple things to play: plastic wrap, a single die, prizes and a group of family and friends. It’s the perfect way to dole out fun little gifts, like minis, wine stoppers and small bar accessories. These smaller prizes are fun to collect as you gradually work your way through the cling wrap ball; but the biggest and grandest object will be in the middle. Gather all the participants in a circle around a table to begin. This game can get rowdy, so we suggest standing.

How to make the cling wrap ball: Start with the best gift, like an ABC gift card, and encase it in a few individual layers of plastic wrap to get the ball started. Roll each layer of wrap in different directions to keep things interesting during the game. As you build on the ball, smooth the wrap down to keep your layers close and maintain the ball-like shape. Once you’ve wrapped the main gift, begin to add your other prizes between multiple individual layers of wrap.

How to play: Have everyone take a turn rolling the die, the person with the highest roll will go first. That person will begin with the cling wrap ball and will roll again. As soon as they roll, they will start unwrapping the cling ball while the person to their right takes the die and attempts to match the previous number rolled. The first player will continue unwrapping and collecting prizes until the roll is matched, then they will pass the ball to the roller and the die will be rolled again to determine the next number. This process will continue until the cling wrap is entirely unrolled and all the prizes have been claimed. You get to keep the treasures you unwrap along the way and remember; the best gift is in the middle of the ball.

ABC team member, Courtney plays this fun game with her family every year and recommends, “if your family is as competitive as mine, cue up a fun music playlist in the background to cut through the intensity (or just plain excitement, if you’re normal) that inevitably grows as each layer gets peeled away.” For more prize ideas, check out our collection of fun accessories.

White Elephant

A classic and fan favorite holiday tradition is a white elephant gift exchange. Turn yours into an adult-only game by encouraging everyone to bring boozy gifts like a bottle of tequila or a set of wine glasses. To help narrow down the options, check out our holiday gift guides to find the perfect gift. To begin, decide on a spending limit and have everyone bring their wrapped gifts to one location. Make sure your gathering includes fun libations like holiday cocktails or seasonal beers. Once all the presents are been placed in the same location, have everyone sit around the pile. Write down a number for each of the participants and put them in a hat. Everyone will pick a number to determine the player order. Number 1 gets to go first and chooses any of the gifts in the pile. They then unwrap the gift in front of all the players to reveal what they’ve received. The person who drew number 2 then has two options: They may pick a present from the pile or steal the first player’s choice. If they decide to steal, the person who was stolen from gets to grab a new gift. This pattern continues until everyone has a present in their hands. Each player gets the choice to steal from anyone who has gone, but remember, you can’t steal something back. At the end of the game, the person who went first gets to swap their gift with anyone in the room.

If you want to include friends from all over, turn this into more of a Secret Santa set up. Draw names for your participants to decide who is gifting whom (have someone else pick who is gifting you so it remains a surprise) and collect addresses so gifts can be mailed. Once all the gifts are received, host a virtual present opening party and watch as everyone guesses who their Secret Santa is.

Gifts under the Christmas tree for White Elephant.

Dreidel Tournament

If you want to put the “ha” in your Hannukah celebrations, host some friends and family for a rousing dreidel tournament. The classic spinning top game is often played with Hannukah gelt or other chocolate pieces, so the most important part is to incorporate a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon or Riesling to create a delicious pairing. If you’re looking to keep your event traditional, check out our collection of Kosher wines. The second most important aspect is creating a set of rules; you can play 1v1 where the winner takes on the next opponent, or as a group where when a player loses all their pieces, they are out.

How to play: To begin, all players will sit around a flat surface. Hannukah gelt or chocolate pieces will be divided equally between participants and the spinning order goes from oldest to youngest. Before the oldest player spins the dreidel, everyone will ante up a piece of their chocolate into the middle. This will begin the pot. The dreidel has four sides to it, each with a different Hebrew letter. These letters all play a critical role in the game. You will see: ג “gimel,” ה “hey,” נ “nun” and שׁ “shin.” When you spin the dreidel and it lands on a letter, that letter will dictate how you take your turn. “Gimel” lets you know to take the entire pot, “hey” allows you to take half of the pot, “nun” gets none and nothing happens, and “shin” requires you to sacrifice another piece of chocolate to the middle. Once these rules are understood and there is chocolate from every player in the pot, the oldest player will spin the “dreidel, dreidel, dreidel.” Player 1 will respond to the letter that is face up, everyone will ante up again, and the dreidel will be passed to the next oldest participant. If you lose all your chocolate pieces, you are out and the game will continue until one person has all the chocolate.

We recommend using non-glass cups while playing because if your dreidel tournament ends up being anything like my family’s, there may be some competitive, flying game components. Remember, dreidel is all about the luck of the spin, so if you keep landing on “shin” and have to put one in, take a sip of wine or maybe a swig of gin.

Holiday planning can be tough and overwhelming. Now that you have some tradition ideas, check out our other tips on creating a memorable holiday season.

Pricing, selection and vintages may vary by location.

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