Full and Festive: Your Guide to Boston This Holiday Season

There’s no better time than the holidays. If you’re like me, the second it becomes socially acceptable to string lights, watch The Grinch on repeat, and burn holiday scented candles, you’re on it.

Thankfully, that time is now.

I created this guide in partnership with Citizens Bank to share tips and tricks on where to dine, entertain relatives, and experience Boston this holiday season. Whether you’re hosting distant relatives twice removed, drinking a bit too much spiked eggnog, or keeping things small and intimate, I guarantee you’ll find something on my list that fits the bill (no pun intended).

Quick tip: To get the most bang for your buck, consider using a cash back rewards card to help stretch your budget this holiday season. Your stomach will thank you…

As you go through this guide, you can refer to this key:

$ – under ten dollars, $$ – over ten dollars

Distraction at its finest. | Modern Pastry

Question:How do you avoid the oh-so-typical “Well, why aren’t you engaged yet?” or “When do I get another grandbaby?” questions from your great Nonna this holiday season?

Answer: Bring Modern Pastry to the party.

Every local knows Modern Pastry as the iconic, old-school staple that it is. Located right in the heart of the North End, the family-owned and operated hub has been in business for over 70 years, offering up every Italian pastry you could imagine: Sfogliatella, Panettone, Petti Four Rainbow cookies, and traditional cannolis, to name a few. Haul a pound of their delicious pignoli cookies (for just around $20) to your holiday party this year and they’ll definitely steal the show.

The only thing Nonna loves more than your personal life is delicious Italian pignolis. You can thank me later.

Take in your takeout. | Southern Proper

Did you volunteer — with much regret — to host a family dinner this holiday season? Are you one of those people who can barely boil a pot of water, and just the thought of cooking a turkey gives you straight-up nightmares? Well, you’re not alone (I feel you) and you’re certainly not out of luck! Southern Proper in Boston’s South End offers all the fixings of a holiday dinner to go with their online delivery and catering service, from turkey and fried chicken to mac and cheese and buttermilk biscuits.

All you have to do is order, receive, and reheat. That microwave’s got nothing on you…

Tasty treats to end the party. | Pikalo Empanadas

It’s 9:00 p.m. The family dinner is over, and you and your cousins went a little too crazy on the spiked eggnog. Now, you find yourself hungry again. Sound familiar?

I’ve got just the solution for you: order Pikalo Empanadas (available via all food delivery services). Pikalo is a family-owned and operated restaurant specializing in Dominican fare with locations in both Lawrence and, most recently, Jamaica Plain. They’re best known for their generously sized, delicious empanadas, priced at $3-$4 a pop. With multiple options like beef, chicken, ham and cheese, and other traditional fillings, everyone will find something they like without breaking the bank.

Something for everyone. | Happy Lamb Hot Pot

Hot pot — an experiential shared cooking method from Eastern Asia — is the perfect way to warm your soul on a cold winter night and satisfy even the pickiest of family members. At Happy Lamb Hot Pot in Chinatown, there’s truly something for everyone.

Your options include a variety of meats (spring lamb, Angus beef, and Kurobuta pork, to name a few), seafood, vegetables, and noodles, all for you to cook yourself in a delicious pot of steaming marrow and/or tomato broth. The entire experience is fun, interactive, authentic, and oh — did I mention affordable? For a family of four, you can definitely keep your bill under $50.

Whoever said love don’t cost a thing was right.