Christmas Food Competition: Why You Should Try This Tasty Tradition

A Christmas food competition turns a family holiday get-together into an event everyone looks forward to the whole year. With the popularity of shows like Hell’s Kitchen, MasterChef, Guy’s Grocery Games, and Rachael Ray’s Kids Cook-Off, we thought we would bring home the fun and turn our holiday into a cook-off. Little did we know three years ago that our first Christmas food competition would springboard into a family tradition.

Christmas Food Competition: Why You Should Try This Tasty Tradition

For the Christmas food competition, everyone 10 and older makes a homemade dish to share. It can be an appetizer, a main dish, a vegetable, a side dish, or a dessert. So, basically, we transformed a holiday potluck into a competition. Yes, of course, there are prizes.

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Our extended family is up to 16 family members this year ranging in age from 3 months to 74 years old (17 people if you count the girlfriend who will be competing for the first time this year). A potluck is definitely the way to go so no one has to do all of the work for a big family dinner.

Christmas Food Competition: Why You Should Try This Tasty Tradition

It seems each household unofficially brings a main dish, a dessert, and a side or appetizer. So we always have more than plenty. Plenty of food and plenty of laughter. Sometimes we decorate the house according to the theme but usually, it’s just about the food.

How to Host Your Family’s Christmas Food Competition

The first year it’s all about getting your family on board. Keep it simple. It’s a themed potluck with prizes. Then decide who will host the event. It’s fun to rotate family members’ homes each year that way everyone gets a chance to show off their decorations to one another. Send out the invites and set the rules. Remember the No. 1 rule is to have fun.

The Theme Sets the Stage

Christmas Food Competition: Why You Should Try This Tasty Tradition

A Christmas food competition is a great way to not only try new recipes but also learn about the food, people, and celebrations of other cultures and countries. Our themes have ranged from Greek to Hawaiian Luau. This year, we are celebrating our Christmas food competition with Chinese food. The themes that have been discussed that will be used for future years include French, Soul Food, and Mexican. You can pick any style of food or a country and make it a theme. Our plan is not to repeat a theme that way each year is a bit different and fun.

You can pick your favorite food or do a bit of research to learn about Christmas around the world. There are a number of family-friendly websites that offer lessons and recipes. Kids World Travel Guide is a great starting point for the whole family. You can research countries, continents and do trivia.

Describe Your Christmas Food Dish

Christmas Food Competition: Why You Should Try This Tasty Tradition

When it is time to eat, we put all the food on the counter potluck style. Each chef lists the name of their dish and the competition category on a folded piece of paper. Of course, if you want to make fancy name cards, you can. We keep it simple.

Read More: Christmas Traditions from Around the World

Next, we all gather in the kitchen, even the young children, because they get to vote, too. Each cook describes his/her dish with dramatic flair. This is your chance to make sure everyone notices your dish before dinner.

Dinner is Served

Since it’s a competition everyone really takes notice of the food. Compliments fly across the table as everyone, even the 7-year-old, focuses on the flavors, textures, and presentation of the food. It really becomes a meal of appreciation. It’s amazing how everyone is present. Of course, electronic devices are not allowed unless it’s to take photos.

Christmas Food Competition Prizes

Christmas Food Competition: Why You Should Try This Tasty Tradition

After all the food has been sampled – appetizers, dinner, and dessert – we vote by secret ballot for Best Overall Dish, Best Presentation, Best Taste, and Best on Theme. The prizes are homemade traveling trophies. Of course, you could buy “fancy” trophies.

Read More: Celebrate your Holiday: Christmas and Hanukkah through Food, Fun, and Decor

But in our family, the first year of our Christmas food competition, my brother-in-law made “elegant trophies” in various sizes by gluing household items together and wrapping them with aluminum foil. The trophy winner marks his/her name with a sharpie and adds a bit of embezzlement. They are a beautiful addition to the winner’s home for an entire year. Each winner also gets something cute like a pair of socks or spatula provided by that year’s party host. (We rotate homes for the Christmas food competition each year.)


Our Christmas food competition brings us together. We learned it’s never too late to start a family tradition. Fun, family, and food – the perfect ribbon for any holiday celebration.

Photo Credits: Unsplash, Pexels

Want to Read More?

Heading back to the office? Check out a few of our favorite Seven Christmas Traditions Dating to the Middle Ages.

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Carla J. Eskew
Carla J. Eskew is a freelance writer, wife, and mom of two children who are nine years apart. She is a Scout leader with 15 years of experience in Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. She serves as a volunteer at school, church, and with the homeless population. She loves road trips, sightseeing, camping, and pilates. But, her new love is her 1-year-old black standard poodle puppy, Midnight Shadow.

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