It is officially holiday season and I am about as excited as Buddy the Elf when Santa comes to Gimbels. The holiday season means cheerful music, pretty decorations, fun presents, and lots of classic Christmas foods. Every family has their own holiday meal traditions, but I’m going to focus on the traditional, best Christmas foods the holiday season has to offer. Here's a definitive ranking of Christmas-time favorites. 

10. Fruitcake

Ah, the infamous fruitcake. The gift that is to be re-gifted as many time as it possibly can. I don’t hear of many people buying or baking fruitcakes anymore (and there’s a reason for that), but I think that traditionalists still fight for the cake as a holiday must. Sorry fruitcake, but you’re definitely at the bottom of the list.

9. Candy Canes

candy, chocolate, sweet, holiday, Christmas, peppermint
Jocelyn Hsu

Candy canes are always beautiful and mesmerizing to look at, but at the end of the day, they are simply hard sugar with some peppermint extract. They are sticky and get all over your hands when you eat them. While the exotic-flavored canes sound cool, they taste gross. I would save the candy canes for directions and not consumption.

8. Eggnog

coffee, milk, cappuccino, cream, espresso, sweet, chocolate
Kristine Mahan

I know people have very strong opinions on eggnog, but I am putting it towards the bottom of the list because even if you love eggnog, you can only drink so much of it. It is such a sweet drink that drinking more than half a cup would be sickening. To people who love eggnog, drink away while the season lasts.

7. Ham

Although the holiday meat is technically the main part of the meal, I never find myself getting too excited for it. I get excited for the cookies and the sides like mashed potatoes. Ham serves as the basis for a meal, but that’s pretty much its only purpose.

6. Gingerbread Man Cookies

Gingerbread cookies are always so cute, but they also can be a hit or miss. A soft, chewy cookie is heaven on a plate, but if it is crisp like a ginger snap, it’s not doing its job. It’s supposed to be a gingerbread cookie, not a gingerbread snap. These cute treats are also great to decorate with friends and family. The most important question is, do you eat the head or the legs first?

5. Stuffing

Liz Kaplan

Stuffing can also be a hit or miss. If it’s just dried bread with seasoning, celery, and onions, I find it quite boring and don’t think it adds much to a meal. My favorite stuffing recipe includes sausage and cranberries, which provides the perfect amount of savory and sweet. I could eat stuffing as my main meal if every stuffing was made this way.

4. Cranberry Sauce

jam, sweet, berry, vegetable
Claire Hurley

Cranberry sauce is quite an odd food when you think about it. However, no Christmas dinner would be complete without a huge dish of cranberry sauce to accompany the meat. The nice tartness with a hint of orange complements holiday meats like turkey or ham.

3. Apple Cider

apple, cider, juice, sweet
Susanna Mostaghim

Apple cider is a general fall food, but a warm, spiced cider fits perfectly into a Christmas meal. Cold, hot, or sparkling, it complements all the holiday flavors of cinnamon, allspice, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. Plus, if you’re under the drinking age, sparkling cider in a champagne glass can make you feel like an adult.

2. Mashed Potatoes

rice, cereal, milk, cottage cheese, dairy product, dairy, curd
Lora Maghen

Potatoes are the best vegetable; they are very plain, but so versatile. People have strong opinions on the best form of potatoes, but mashed potatoes will always be at the top for me. A thick, creamy mash with plenty of butter (and cheese in my family recipe) perfectly completes the Christmas meal.

1. Holiday Sugar Cookies

cookie, sweet, gingerbread, candy, pastry, cake, chocolate
Kristine Mahan

Sugar cookies are usually one of my least favorite cookies. I can appreciate simplicity, but I like my cookies with big chunks of chocolate, nuts, or fruit in them. But when sugar cookies are shaped like Santa and decorated with glittering red and green sprinkles, I can’t get enough of them. A thick, soft, chewy cookie is the best kind and immediately puts me in the Christmas spirit. Not to mention that they are great to make with friends and family.

Can we fast forward to Christmas already? There are so many great holiday treats out there, but these are definitely the best Christmas foods in my book. All of these foods get you in the holiday mood and make you feel warm inside. I know I’ll be making and decorating dozens of sugar cookies this season. Just remember to leave some treats for Santa, and to leave the carrots for the reindeers.