A Very French Christmas

We’re spending Christmas in Ottawa this year which means the bf will experience his very first Réveillon this evening. My family has been celebrating this tradition for generations and I’m looking forward to sharing a little piece of my heritage with him. The night typically includes staying up well past midnight, eating rich and delicious foods, and drinking copious amounts of wine, champagne and spiced eggnog.

If you haven’t experienced a Réveillon yet I suggest you do one of two things; either marry a Frenchie immediately, or throw your own version of the Christmas Eve soirée! To help, I’m sharing my top 5 Réveillon must-haves.

1. A Relaxed, Carefree Atmosphere
Set the tone for the evening by creating a magical Christmas atmosphere. Start by lighting a fire or a few candles, dimming your household lights and playing some Christmas music. I’m a big fan of classic Christmas tunes mixed in with a few modern ones. Much to my dismay, my father sets up a karaoke Christmas station each year – a sure way to break the ice and get the booze flowing!

2. Finger Foods
If nothing else, food is the key to a successful Réveillon. Every family has their favourite finger foods, and mine is no exception. We’re big on the traditional Québec tourtière, fine cheeses and bread, crustless egg salad sandwiches, date squares, sugar cookies, and sucre à la crème.

3. Open Bar
I’m a big fan of open bars when entertaining. Call me selfish, but I’d rather not be checking everyone’s drink all night. Dress a table with glasses for wine, champagne and mixed drinks. Keep the champagne in a chilled container, the wine and spirits on the table. Include garnishes like lime and lemon wedges, sprigs of rosemary, cherries, ground nutmeg, cranberries, and place them in pretty mismatched bowls. Don’t forget stir sticks and ice – nothing’s worse then a warm drink! Martha Stewart has a slew of eggnog recipes sure to please even the toughest critic.

4. Bûche de Noël
It wouldn’t be a proper Réveillon without a classic Bûche de Noël for dessert. It can be made many ways, including a kid-friendly ice cream version, but I’m dying to try Mimi Thorisson’s recipe. Hers is made with chestnut cream and is covered in whipped cream – yes, please!

5. Entertainment
Let’s be honest, it’s not always so easy to stay up past midnight when you’ve been baking and entertaining all day. Keep the night young by encouraging guests to play old fashioned games like Chess, Crib, Charades or Scrabble. My family loves playing Apples to Apples when we’re all together, it’s easy to play for everyone including grandma!

Tips aside, remember there’s no right or wrong way to host a Réveillon, in the end it’s all about the company you keep! Txo

[Photograph by Mimi Thorisson]

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