With Hanukkah and Christmas around the corner, we sat down with Weekend TODAY’s Sheinelle Jones, Peter Alexander and Dylan Dreyer to find out how they get into the celebratory spirit and savor the holiday season.
For all three hosts, the holidays mean spending quality time with their loved ones, starting new traditions and of course, whipping up delicious recipes for the whole family to enjoy.
Creating new memories
“When I was a little girl, my grandmother, she’d give us maybe $20 or $30 and we would go to Woolworth’s — it’s a five-and-dime store — and we would get a sheet of paper and a pen and a calculator and we would budget what we would spend on our relatives,” says Sheinelle of one of her favorite memories.
“It was something I really looked forward to so maybe I should start that with my kids now. I think they would love it.”
Peter, who grew up celebrating Hanukkah, has also been thinking about looking for new ways to involve his children during the holidays. “We are now just kind of creating traditions. Our girls are 6 and 4 and we just came up with a new tradition. We have an Elf on the Shelf and a Maccabee on the Mantel and every morning when the girls come downstairs to breakfast, they have to find where they are.
“They’ve been sitting at the table waiting for them with their breakfast waiting or trying on their shoes or sitting there with their clothes for the day. It’s so much fun because they come down and gasp, so I hope that one sticks.“
For Dylan, she fondly recalls sitting on the stairs with her brothers, waiting for permission to run down and see if Santa arrived during the night. “I wish we had stairs in our apartment because I would love to start that tradition with Calvin but we’ve started not traveling for Christmas anymore.
"We used to go visit family but I want the kids to be home — the kids! oh my goodness! — I want the kids to be home on Christmas morning and just have that excitement of running to the Christmas tree and seeing what’s waiting there for them.”
Sharing tried-and-true recipes
This year in particular “was a breakthrough year for Sheinelle in the kitchen,” as she herself put it. It was the first time she cooked a full Thanksgiving feast for her husband and three children, which turned out to be “one of the best days.”
The star side dish? Pineapple stuffing! “It’s pineapple, sugar, white bread, like it’s just so healthy,” Sheinelle joked. “You’ll love it! It’s so good!”
This year, the cooking bug also bit Peter, who took the opportunity to pick up a few pointers from his time on set. “One of the best parts about doing Weekend TODAY is the days where we have the chefs here.
“Most people are like, oh yeah, that was cool, have a little food, you guys take off, I take notes, and literally, that night, I’ve been cooking up what they’ve made. So the one that they did recently that I love is the shaved Brussels sprouts with Romano cheese and some toasted walnuts and a little olive oil. It’s good. That’s my new favorite salad at home.“
You can also find Dylan, who's no stranger in the kitchen, cooking and baking her way through the holidays. "My go-to recipe is beef Wellington. We have it every Christmas Day. It’s a very simple version of it. I’ve done it on the show, we’ve posted it on our website. It’s literally just a nice piece of filet wrapped in some Pillsbury crescent rolls.
"I mean, it’s the easiest thing you can make but it looks super fancy and it takes delicious.”
And who can forget dessert? Dylan dishes, “I love to make my aunt Tillie’s cookies. They’re just those nice Italian love knot cookies that have that anise flavor in them. My aunt Tillie made them all the time.
"Calvin loves them. We get a little Christmas music going and Calvin and I just bake cookies together, which I love to do."