A Winter Solstice Celebration

Winter Solstice is December 21st each year and is one of the oldest celebrated holidays. It marks the first official day of winter and is the shortest day of the year. It’s also a period of time when the sun sets and rises in the same part of the sky. In it’s simplest form, it’s a great day to gather with your friends and family, enjoy each others company and celebrate starting a new winter together! Decorate with a pine tree (or Christmas Tree!), pine cones, winter berries, rosemary (was popularly used in these celebrations), etc. The idea is to keep a bit of the outside indoors since theoretically… with winter about, we will all be stuck inside with cabin fever! Historically, candles play a huge role in the celebration as well… with a focus on holding on to light.

I feel it’s such a lovely and significant way to celebrate a new season, something everyone can relate to. This inspired me to celebrate with friends for a party… a perfect way to have fun over some seasonal food, a hot drink, maybe a DIY project too… like making a wreath?! Yes!

I quickly put together these plans and called on some of my girlfriends to attend my Winter Solstice Celebration. It was so deliciously fun and the party favor was a beautiful handmade wreath we created together over some laughs, mulled wine, and tapas, on a cold but sunny day here in New York City.

With the real Winter Solstice day approaching… How will you celebrate?! Find some inspiration below with NEW recipes featuring one from Justine at Pretty in Pistachio blog. TIS THE SEASON!

Winter Solstice Party via Food by Mars

Throwing a Winter Solstice celebration: party Checklist

1. Candles

The shortest day of the year you say? We’ll need some light… extra light! And back in the day that meant burning candles. Whip out your votives and scatter them throughout your tables for a candlelit atmosphere and ode to lighting up your winter with warmth and love with those you care about most.

Winter Solstice Party via Food by Mars

2. A HOT Drink

Traditionally, a “Solstice Wassail” would be served… basically a hot ale with cinnamon, cloves, etc. If you’re drinking alcohol, this is a great option or my preferred drink of choice is a Mulled Wine. If you’re skipping alcohol… try a hot apple cider with the same spices and get yourself WARM! 

Check out these Mulled Wine Recipes:

3. Seasonal Small Plates

Technically the plates don’t need to be small… but my goodness do I love a good spread of tapas with appetizer plates and mini silverware. It’s also great for mingling and letting your guests make their own plates. Invite your friends to bring a dish keeping the theme in mind and use a public spreadsheet like a google doc to keep track of it. Make whatever you can ahead of time so you can spend time decorating and lighting all those candles!

Winter Solstice Party via Food by MarsBlack Bean-Squash Buckwheat Empanadas (Gluten-free & Vegan) Recipe: CLICK HERE.

Winter Solstice Party via Food by Mars


Winter Solstice Party via Food by Mars


Winter Solstice Party via Food by Marsfrom Justine at Pretty in Pistachio

Winter Solstice Party via Food by Mars

Winter Solstice Party via Food by Mars

Winter Solstice Party via Food by Mars4. Festivities

Bring your guests together with a fun activity like decorating a tree, baking cookies, or create your own wreaths! We gathered: pine needles, cedar eucalyptus, winter berries, and boxwood, used wire hangers for our wreaths and everyone got to take their’s home and hang it on their doors to commemorate the season! Since we have apartments here in NYC, we made our wreaths on the smaller side which turned out beautifully! Check out our results and resources we used.

Great resources we used here:

…And if there wasn’t a photo booth, it didn’t happen.

Photo booths were likely not a part of any traditional solstice celebration (#firstworldproblems)… but it will be a part of mine! After a daring pursuit of photo booth backdrops, I found beautiful pine cone garland at Michael’s! I simply hung it on removable wall hooks which worked out perfectly. I then re-purposed the garland for my Christmas tree!

Oh, and yes, those are our wreaths on our heads.

Winter Solstice Party via Food by Mars

Winter Solstice Party via Food by MarsPhotos by NO FOMO

Wishing you a warm and bright, happy and healthy





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  • SamanthaDecember 12, 2014 - 8:49 pm

    So much fun to spend a day inside from the cold weather!! The wreaths came out amazing, mine is hanging on my front door! The neighbors loved it 🙂 Thanks for hosting, I’ll be stealing a few ideas when I host my cookie decorating party on Winter Solstice!! xoxo


  • Tessa Fisher (Salted Plains)December 13, 2014 - 10:36 pm

    Such a fun idea! Looks like it was a big success. I wish I had been part of a winter solstice celebration when I lived in NYC – anything that brightens up the winters there is a bonus! 🙂 Also, those empanadas look amazing, can’t wait to try them!


    • Alison MarrasDecember 14, 2014 - 4:03 pm

      Thanks so much! Yes, winters here are getting crazier… parties help 🙂


  • SharonDecember 7, 2016 - 11:49 pm

    Like your article. By the way, winter solstice is not on a fixed date, December 21. It can occur between theses dates December 20-23. Check out a calendar of when the Soltices and Equinoxes are. http://www.stonesofwonder.com/stones7.htm


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hey thereI'm Alison

I believe your healing journey with real food can be a stress-free lifestyle, filled with joy and flavor.