Written by Palmetto Bluff
Jan 02, 2019
This season will mark the 48th appearance of my mom’s holiday punch at our family holiday party. This tradition was born of her newlywed need to create a cocktail that cost little and went far. Prior to her generation, the men in her family sipped on beer and whiskey and the women fancied high balls and whiskey sours. As the new host of Christmas Eve Dinner, she couldn’t afford the tastes of her forefathers and mothers.
I presume her punch recipe has withstood the test of time because it is so simple to make, but more so because it is tradition. It is what we do. We make the punch.
So, when I asked Mom for the recipe (I’ve never made it), she chuckled and texted me a picture of her Better Homes and Garden Cook Book that she said “every bride received in the 1960s and 70s.” Okay, so it isn’t a family recipe. But, we own it like it is. We make the punch.
Growing up in our house, Christmas Eve was much anticipated. This was the day our entire family—grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins—would gather to celebrate. Each year, the festivities were hosted by a different family unit, but everyone came. Whether a 30-minute drive or a three-hour drive, you didn’t miss Christmas Eve.
The punch was necessary, you see, because Santa would visit our little celebration each Christmas Eve. And, in order to get your first gift, you had to sing for the big guy. This was especially fun when a new significant other was introduced to the family. There’s nothing better than public humiliation to separate the wheat from the chaff, but we lost quite a few good prospects over the years.
So, each year as the Christmas decorations came down from the attic, so did the songbooks. My sister, Sharon, and I would pore over the books to make our selection for the “big show.” For years and years (and decades before we were born), we placated Santa with musical mumblings of “Jingle Bells,” “O Christmas Tree,” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”
But one year it all changed.
Maybe it was the punch.
Maybe it was the festive green Jell-O mold decorated with maraschino cherries.
Whatever it was, my great-uncle Al and great-aunt Madeleine upped the ante. That year, Santa didn’t just get lyrics. He got a choreographed routine to the tune of “Away in the Manger” that would have put the Von Trapp children to shame—hand gestures, fancy footwork, and a little miming to boot. Uncle Al and Aunt Madeleine stole the show and the competition was on.
After that year, it became each family unit’s mission to outsing and outdance the others. We added background music, dance steps, lip-synchs, and song parodies. This was serious business. And, it became a new tradition. One that we still continue today since my “branch” of the family tree migrated south.
My branch will celebrate its 13th Lowcountry Christmas this year. We will sing and we will drink punch.
12–14 four-ounce servings
¾ cup water
¾ cup sugar
6-inch cinnamon stick
1 tsp cloves (whole)
Dash of salt
2 cups Zinfandel wine (chilled)
1 qt cranberry apple juice
In a saucepan, combine water, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Strain the spices and chill the liquid. Combine chilled mixture with wine and cranberry apple juice. This recipe makes 12–14 four-ounce servings. If your family is anything like mine, quadruple the recipe.
Kick it up a notch?
Just because it’s a mulled wine doesn’t mean the cheapest red you can find will do. (Really, Mom, we can use a nicer bottle. And maybe ditch the box?) Try a Zinfandel from the Sonoma Coast, as these reds have a naturally sweet quality, use oak, but feature vanilla and spice tones.
Behind the Design with Jason Kimes & Leighann Markalunas In the heart of the Lowcountry, where the gentle sway of Spanish moss-laden trees meets the tranquil embrace of the coast, lies a unique community: Palmetto Bluff. Their approach to home design capt...
Your Pine-ness Cocktail Recipe Before delving into the ingredients and recipe for Buffalos’ delectable Ricotta Meatballs and Sauce, it is imperative that the chef has an excellent cocktail for cooking. Pairing the sweetness of pineapple with the woody flavo...
Coastal Palmetto Bluff Neighborhoods Palmetto Bluff, a private community nestled along the South Carolina coastline, presents a harmonious blend of luxurious living, recreational spaces, and a vibrant atmosphere. The meticulously designed Palmetto Bluff neigh...
Meet Captain Tom of Palmetto Bluff’s Wilson Landing In the tranquil embrace of Bluffton's Lowcountry, where rivers wind their way through nature's masterpiece, an extraordinary tale unfolds at Wilson Landing of Palmetto Bluff. The story belongs to Captain Th...
Your Guide to a Luxury Kitchen Design The kitchen has long been the heart of the home, where cherished memories are cooked up and shared. When it comes to Lowcountry living, a well-designed kitchen is not just a place to prepare meals but a space that encapsu...
10 Activities You Have to Cross Off Your Summer Bucket List While the days are long and the sun hangs high in the sky, summer offers a golden opportunity to create lasting memories and partake in a variety of thrilling activities. Before the cooler breeze of ...
Palmetto Bluff is an ecological wonderland, with its maritime forest and tidal rivers, its salt marsh and abundant wildlife. But perhaps one of the most unique features of this wedge of Lowcountry is the impressive inland waterway that wends through the landsc...
Plein Air Painting and Our August Artist in Residence Palmetto Bluff is a paradise for art enthusiasts and nature lovers alike with its breathtaking landscapes, diverse ecosystems, and serene atmosphere. With that being said, the Bluff is the perfect canvas f...
5 Health Benefits of Coastal Living Did you know that life by the coast is not only the most idyllic way to live, but it also improves your health? All in all, coastal living is a rejuvenating experience for the mind, body, and soul. From the cool, salty bree...
Discover the Charm of the South Carolina Lowcountry Where history and nature intertwine with effortless grace, the South Carolina Lowcountry is a region that allures visitors and residents alike with its timeless beauty, enchanting landscapes, and diverse cul...