Texas Living

Holly-Jolly Texas Holiday Guide

By Abi Grise Morgan 12.1.23

’Tis the season of festive frenzy! Across the state, Texans are preparing for the joyful invasion of family and friends, decking the halls and tinkering away to transform their homes into winter wonderlands. Perhaps you are making your gift list and checking it twice or looking for family-fun activities to make the most of the respite from work or school. There are lights to hang. A chimney to sweep. Cards to write. Labors of love that set the stage for a joyful holiday with loved ones.

The most wonderful time of the year can be a lot. This holiday guide is here to help. We’ve accumulated our most clever holiday articles to help you slay the season. Learn how to host a holiday party and actually enjoy it yourself, outdo your neighbors’ holiday lights, throw down a gorgeous holiday dinner, get the fam out of the house to shake off cabin fever, and more.

So, dive into the holiday spirit, and let this be your compass to a joyful and stress-free holiday season.

preparing for guests


Hosting for the holidays can feel like diving into a vat of tinsel madness. You may be in a flurry, cleaning the house from top to bottom and stocking the pantry before out-of-town guests descend upon your home. Then, you’re dragging out boxes of holiday décor from the attic to deck the halls and cleaning out your chimney for the season. Fear not! Our holiday guide for hosting has all the basics, from hosting a dinner that accommodates different dietary needs and preferences to creating a cozy, inviting (and safe) atmosphere and childproofing the house for guests.

Holiday Eats

Feeding a crowd can be a humbling experience. It takes a lot of thought to plan an extensive menu, from holiday party canapés to satisfy guests arriving hungry to a showstopping main event meal. And there are so many ways to feed a crowd. Some Texans love a holiday ham. Others deep-fry a turkey. True cowboys and cowgirls break out the rib-eye while Tex-Mex fans make traditional Christmas Eve tamales. Whatever your holiday flavor, there’s a Texas Christmas table for you and your lot.

Don’t underestimate the importance of drink stations for holiday meals. This allows you to stay in the moment during holiday parties instead of flitting around the party to refill empty glasses. Try a big batch punch or DIY hot chocolate bar to keep guests’ glasses full. Make a batch of eggnog for a nightcap, leaving out an assortment of garnishes for guests to help themselves.



Some people are naturally gifted at gift-giving. The rest of us break out into a cold sweat at our empty shopping lists. Take the guesswork out of gifting by shopping our ultimate Texas holiday gift guide, which features locally-made goods perfect for every kind of Texan. Then, get extra points for presentation and eco-friendliness with DIY gift wrap. Don’t forget to insure big-ticket gifts, like cars or expensive jewelry.

While difficult to wrap, one of the most meaningful gifts you can give to your family — especially grandchildren — is life insurance. A policy can provide them both a safety net and peace of mind as they’re just getting their footing in adulthood.


Decorating your home for the holidays is a wonderful way to usher in the festive spirit. Light the season with fragrant homemade holiday candles or luminarias, which only require a paper bag, sand, and a votive candle. Learn the ins and outs of decorating with winter greenery, including how to decorate an elegant, themed holiday table. Make your home a DIY haven with homemade holiday décor, like dried citrus garlands and pom-pom pine cones. Or help your family and friends brighten the season with homemade holiday crafts that double as gifts, like snow globes and decorative snowballs.

Want the most holly-jolly house on the block? Embrace your inner Griswold by decorating your home’s exterior, from a showstopping front door to a magical winter garden. Just make sure to stay safe while decorating for the holidays — especially when climbing ladders and hanging string lights — and keep your lawn in good shape by opting for landscaping-friendly holiday décor. Lastly, ensure your holiday décor isn’t endangering or irritating your neighbors, which tends to elicit “bah-humbug” feelings. (Keep your spot on the nice list!)

Photo by Imani Chet Lytle


It’s just not the holidays without something yummy baking in the oven. Holiday treats double as both a family-fun activity and a fantastic gifting opportunity for neighbors, coworkers, and friends. Get the whole gang together to make a snowy Yule log cake or adorable melting snowman cookies. This showstopping holiday trifle recipe in a glass bowl makes for a gorgeous centerpiece for a holiday party.

Speaking of parties, gingerbread houses are a sweet, no-bake holiday party activity for kids and creative adults, and these four Texas gingerbread houses (including a barn, the Texas State Capitol, and the Alamo) are both clever and good to the last gumdrop.


With time off work and the kids out of school, you may be itching to get out of the house for some fresh air together. Braving the chill is highly worthwhile with wintertime activities that get your blood pumping, like gliding around an old-fashioned ice-skating rink, strolling through one of the many glitzy, dazzling light displays across the state, or taking a trip back in time to Victorian Texas at Dickens on The Strand.

Other notable outdoor Texas activities include chopping down your own tree, donning your best/worst holiday sweater at one of Texas’ Christmas festivals, or sipping hot cocoa under the stars and showers of brilliant holiday fireworks shows. All these cabin fever cures and more can be found in our Texas holiday guide. Just remember to have a winter driving essentials kit before heading out the door on your next road trip or getaway in case of emergencies.

holiday mental health

Put Your Sanity First

There’s a lot of pressure around the holidays to make life look like a Christmas card. The truth is, no holiday season is without its foibles. Whatever is on your holiday to-do list, make self-care a top priority. Even if that sounds like a luxury, remember that you can’t get much else done when you’re having a panic attack. Ornaments will fall off the tree. Cookies will crumble. Accidents happen, and the best we can do is try to enjoy the moments we have with family and friends, who will probably still love you even though the turkey’s overcooked.

The holidays are prime time for thieves and scam artists. Take these steps to protect your smart home.

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