During the holidays, while the northeast has snow, hot cider, a fire in the fireplace and ice skating, Texas has sweater weather (maybe), music, family, food and – if the playoff gods are in our favor – football.
And that’s the way we like it.
There’s nothing better than getting the whole crazy family together in one place to eat, drink, exchange gifts and gossip about catch up with everyone. And while the rest of the country might feast on more traditional foods, here in the Lone Star State a Christmas Day buffet just wouldn’t be complete without a few uniquely Texas treasures, like a bowl of chili, homemade tamales and an ice-cold Bud Light (brewed in Houston!).
Home for the Holidays: Keeping it Local
While buying “local” is a good idea throughout the year, maybe especially at the holidays it can make the meals you share and the time you spend with family that much more special.
For example, the Anheuser-Busch brewery in Houston has been crafting Texas’ (and America’s) most popular beer for more than 50 years. The employees who work there not only feel like family, many of them are family – parents, spouses, in-laws, sons and daughters.
“Because we’ve been brewing here in Texas for so long,” says Anheuser-Busch brewmaster Jeff Jones, “we do have generations of folks who’ve stayed with us. We’re proud of that, but what’s more important is the Texas pride and dedication that our brewers feel about what they do. I think that comes through in every can, keg and bottle we sell.”
If you’re in Houston for the holidays, make time to take your family (21+) to the Houston Brewery and Tour Center. Approximately 30,000 people tour the facility annually, sampling the 15 beers brewed there. Whether you want the Beermaster Tour, a lesson at Beer School, or to hold your own Special Event at the facility, the folks at the Budweiser Brewery Experience are there to welcome you to the Anheuser-Busch family.
Enjoying the local Bud Light beer (perhaps in the 2017 Budweiser Holiday Beer Stein) is a good start to your Texas-centric holidays, but you need something to go along with it. Maybe a delicious place to start is with the aforementioned homemade tamales.
So where can you find some good ones in your town? There’s Curra’s in Austin, Gussie’s in El Paso, Mariposa’s Latin Kitchen in Fort Worth, Gerardo’s in Houston, La Popular in Dallas, and so, so many in San Antonio but you can find Delicious Tamales easily as they have several locations around town. Or just Google “tamales near me” and pick up a dozen or so for the holidays.
Another Lone Star local favorite for the holidays is a sweet, luscious, nut-filled pecan pie, with a dollop or three of Blue Bell Ice Cream on top. Goode Company Pecan Pie tops many lists as Texas’ best. Berdoll’s is a pecan farm, so you can be darn sure they make a good pie. And anyone who’s been to the Antiques Weekend at Round Top can tell you that Royer’s Pie Haven definitely belongs on this roster. All of these pies – and many others — can be ordered online and shipped right to your door.
Boughs of Holly for the Homestead
Using indigenous or Texas-grown plants, trees and flowers to decorate your home is a great way to celebrate the natural beauty of the state during the holidays. At the very least, you can put a few lights and ornaments on your cactus plants and call it a day.
If you want to choose and cut down your very own Christmas tree, head to a Christmas Tree Farm. A few around the state include Plantation Pines in Tyler, Old Time in Spring, Elgin’s Original in Elgin, and Pipe Creek near Bandera. Most also offer fresh wreaths and garlands as well.
No Clothes for Snow? Perfecto!
While we may get a light snowfall or two in North Texas, the really cold weather usually waits until after the holidays to make an appearance. Which means we don’t have to wear a big down jacket over our Texas-style Christmas duds.
For the casual dresser, Café Press has a whole line of Texas-themed t-shirts to help with your holiday attire.
Need something a bit fancier? Ladies can check out a red faux suede ruffle skirt at Cavender’s while the guys can step up to Christmas-worthy cowboy boots from the Barstow Pro-Rodeo shop in Corsicana.
When you’re ready to wind down and wait for Santa, some poinsettia-print PJs from Texas legend Neiman-Marcus will keep you snug and stylish.
Meander Through the Markets
For local, handmade and homemade gifts, there’s no better place to go than to one of Texas’ many Christmas markets.
Just north of Houston you’ll find Tomball’s German Christmas Market and Festival. Also celebrating its German heritage is New Braunfels with cuckoo clocks, beer steins, books and music at its Christkindlmarkt. A jolly mix of shopping and history, Galveston’s Dickens on the Strand takes you back in time to a 19th-century-era Christmas with everyone in period costume. Enchant, The World’s Largest Christmas Light Maze and Market lasts all December long in Arlington.
If you like local music with your local gift market, check out Austin’s Armadillo Christmas Bazaar, where 11 days of live music from Texas artists accompanies your stroll through dozens of artisans’ booths. And OPEN San Antonio, an initiative to offer local entrepreneurs a no-cost short-term lease in vacant downtown properties, features its OPEN Holiday Market Weekends.
Let “Local” Lead the Way this Holiday Season
While online shopping is easy, fast and offers products from around the world, shopping, eating and drinking “in your own backyard” is a great way to support and celebrate the people you interact with long after the season is done.
Whether it’s local beer, regional foods, area artists or Texas-tinged holiday togs, make this a holiday that celebrates the unique talents of your fellow Texans.