Trinity Christmas Recipes and Traditions

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! And for many of us, that means breaking out family recipes and favorite traditions! We asked some our Trinity faculty and staff for some of their favorite recipes and traditions to inspire you this Christmas season!

Mr. Gaines: Charles Dickens Punch (aka Hot, Spiced Apple Cider)

“This is, of course, not a “nutrition drink,” but more of a “winter treat beverage.” For those abiding by strict diets, forgo the brown sugar!”


Apple cider
Peach tea
Cinnamon sticks
Orange slices
Brown sugar
Lemon peel


  1. Fill 3/4 of a pot with apple cider 
  2. Top it off with peach tea (this adds some nice citrus flavor)
  3. Add spices
  4. Let simmer a couple hours, minimum in crockpot. 

Miss Hugel: YL Big Cookie and Candy Cane Coffee Cake

“Have you ever heard of the Young Life “big cookie”? It’s the cookie that is famously served in the dining hall at Young Life camp, and you literally don’t need any other recipe than that one! I also love this recipe for candy cane coffee cake. It’s more like a danish than anything and has zero peppermint, so I don’t know why it’s called candy cane coffee cake… but it’s the best.”

YL Big Cookie


7/8 cup butter (Almost 2 sticks)
7/8 cup light brown sugar
5/8 cup sugar
1 egg
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
5/8 teaspoon salt
5/8 teaspoon baking soda
2 7/8 cups flour
1 5/8 cups chocolate chips


  1. Combine butter, brown sugar, sugar, egg and vanilla in a mixing bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine salt, baking soda, and flour. Slowly mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients. You may need to mix with your hands once all ingredients are combined. It will seem a little dry, but that’s okay.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees in a deep-dish pizza pan or in 2- 9” cake pans for 10-15 minutes, checking occasionally.

Candy Cane Coffee Cakes Recipe photo by Taste of Home

Candy Cane Coffee Cake


8 oz. Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoon sugar
¼ cup sliced almonds
1 teaspoon almond extract
¼ cup maraschino cherries, drained and chopped
1 egg, slightly beaten (set aside for egg wash on pastry)
½ cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoon milk
Additional maraschino cherries cut in half & additional almonds.


  1. Preheat oven to 375 – grease a cookie sheet.
  2. In a small bowl, combine cream cheese and sugar, beat until fluffy.
  3. Stir in almond extract, almonds and cherries.
  4. On greased cookie sheet, unroll dough into a rectangle and seal creases.
  5. Spoon cream cheese mixture down the center 1/3 of the rectangle. 
  6. Cut sides into 1-inch slits.
  7. Fold sides over alternately to form a braid over the top. Seal ends.
  8. Brush top with one beaten egg.
  9. Bake at 375 for 18 – 22 minutes. Cool completely.
  10. In small bowl, make a glaze by mixing ½ cup powdered sugar with 2 teaspoon milk. 
  11. Drizzle glaze over the cane and decorate with additional cherries and sliced almonds.

Several days ahead:

  1. Drain cherries
  2. Chop or ¼ cherries for filling and place in plastic bag
  3. Cut in half the decorating cherries and place in a plastic bag
  4. Measure out powdered sugar

Day ahead:

Mix filling together with the exception of the almonds. Those can be added the day these are baked.

(Recipe from Anne Bender, Portsmouth, VA – 1993)

Mrs. Caudill: My Favorite Tradition

“Every year, on Christmas Eve, my extended family dressed in our Christmas best and would dine out for lunch. After pictures with every combination of family members possible, we would head back to my grandma’s house, play with cousins, and relax until dinner, which was always a Honey-Baked Ham. Then we would all freshen up, get back into our Christmas best, and head downstairs. All of the gifts were now under the decorated tree (nearly swallowing the tree with gifts for all), but before any gift was unwrapped, the lights were dimmed, and the candles on the tree were lit (significant fire hazard, I know). We would stand around the tree and sing Silent Night, first in English and then in German. We always took a moment to remember loved ones who were no longer with us and then hugged every single family member one at a time and wished them Merry Christmas.”

Mrs. Kate Copeland: Gas Station Stockings

“On our drive home from church on Christmas Eve (our first one together as husband and wife), my husband and I realized that we didn’t get anything for our stockings! All the presents had been wrapped and were ready to put under the tree, but we both had completely forgotten that we needed to fill one another's stockings. 

 Being a young married couple, the budget was very tight, and now we faced the dilemma that all the stores were closed too! So, the idea was born out of limited options and a small budget. We gave one another $10, and we stopped at the nearest gas station with a convenience store. We took turns going “shopping” while the other waited in the car. The only stipulation was that we could not go over $10. 

The next morning, we had a good laugh at the things we purchased for one another. Now, after 20 years of marriage, we stop every Christmas Eve on our way home from church and go “shopping” for one another’s stockings, and on Christmas morning we enjoy a good chuckle as we open our stockings! It is one of our favorite Christmas traditions!”

Mrs. Fletcher: Indiana Meatballs

“This is a favorite Christmas afternoon snack at our house!”


1 jar of Heinz Chili Sauce
1 can of sauerkraut (drained)
1 can of whole cranberry sauce
1 cup of brown sugar 
1 cup of water
1 package of frozen meatballs


  1. Heat the first five ingredients in a saucepan until combined
  2. Pour over the meatballs in a crockpot.  Let sit overnight.
  3. Turn your crockpot on low in the morning and they’ll be ready by afternoon!

Mrs. Hewlett: Ritz Cracker Toffee

“This is a treat!! Not only is this the easiest recipe (and I mean literally you cannot mess this up), but it’s also one of the yummiest too!”


40 Ritz crackers
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
12 oz bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
Holiday sprinkles


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  3. Place Ritz crackers on the sheet and spread out into rows
  4. In a pan, bring butter and brown sugar to a boil
  5. Boil, stirring constantly, for 2 – 3 minutes, until thickened
  6. Pour over Ritz crackers and spread out evenly with a rubber spoon or spatula
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 3 – 5 minutes, until the edges start to brown and bubble
  8. Remove from oven and sprinkle immediately with the chocolate chips over the top
  9. Allow chocolate chips to set and melt for around 5 minutes, then use the back of a spoon or spatula to spread the chocolate out evenly
  10. Top with sprinkles or toppings of your choice
  11. Place Ritz Toffee in the fridge or freezer for 30 minutes, or until set
  12. Once hardened, use your hands to break the toffee into pieces
  13. Store leftover Ritz Toffee in an airtight Ziploc bag in the freezer

(Recipe from Life on Cedar Lane/Andrea Denes)

About the Author

Jo Wilbur is a Marketing and Communications Specialist at TCS and proud JMU grad who loves writing, shopping, and making new friends. She and her husband live in Paeonian Springs and spend time together cooking plant-based meals, singing worship songs, and volunteering as Young Life leaders in their community.

About Trinity Christian School

Pursuing Excellence for Mind and Heart

K-12 Independent Christian School in Northern Virginia

Located just over 20 miles southwest from Washington, D.C., 10 miles south of Route 66 in Fairfax, and 10 miles west of the Capital Beltway

Educating students to the glory of God by pursuing excellence for mind and heart since 1987



A 2019 National Blue Ribbon School