This Christmas punch is a festive classic!
There’s nothing more festive than a big bowl of punch! This cranberry orange punch is light and fruity with a spicy note from the ginger beer. It’s the perfect way to make drinks for a group, and this punch recipe is easy, economical and always a huge hit. It’s a non-alcoholic punch but very easy to spike with bourbon, rum, vodka or gin. I’m not kidding about how easy or how popular this punch is, either. We have a huge punch bowl full every year on Christmas Eve and it’s gone before the party’s over! If you’re looking for punch for Christmas, check out this punch recipe, and my tips for keeping it cold.
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Punch for Christmas
You only need four ingredients!
- 65 ounces (two liters) of ginger ale, cold. The punch is fairly sweet, so a drier, spicier ginger ale is best. Canada Dry (best budget option) or Bundabergs are both top notch for this punch recipe. You can also use ginger beer.
- 1 bottle of cranberry juice, cold. You can get creative here and go with a cranberry juice blend, or just stick to straight cranberry. If you opt for a blend, the cran-raspberry is excellent in the punch
- 60 ounces of orange juice, cold. Don’t skimp on the quality of the orange juice. Either squeeze it fresh or buy a high quality bottle. If you squeeze it yourself, be sure to strain it well. For purchased juice, choose a low or no pulp variety.
- 2 whole oranges
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How to make Christmas punch
FIRST – slice the oranges and freeze them in a single layer. The frozen orange slices keep the punch cold and boost the fresh citrus flavor. And they look wonderful floating in the punch bowl.
SECOND – pour the orange and cranberry juices into a large punch bowl. Then add the frozen orange slices. Top with the ginger ale.
That’s all there is to it. It’s basic, simple, inexpensive and delicious. You can fancy this punch up by using fresh squeezed juice or homemade ginger ale or ginger beer if you’d like. But the beauty of this punch is that it’s a hit even if you just use basic ingredients.
A few notes on making punch
- Make sure your punch bowl is large enough to hold all the liquid plus the oranges slices and a ladle. If your bowl is smaller, serve the punch in batches. Just be sure to add the ginger ale last for maximum fizz and minimum mess. Keep in mind that the orange slices and any frozen elements will create some displacement, so you should plan for extra capacity in your punch bowl.
- As written, this punch is non-alcoholic. Personally, I think it’s nice to have a big, festive drink that everyone – young, old, drinker and non-drinker alike, can enjoy. I usually put the punch bowl near the bar set up and let people choose their own spirits. Bourbon, vodka, gin, rum and brandy all mix well with this punch.
- I have made this punch, by request, with diet ginger ale and lower sugar juices and it’s still good. It’s not my preferred preparation, but if you need a lower sugar version, it’s easy to sub in diet or sugar-free options without losing the taste.
How to keep punch cold
The tragedy of a bowl of punch is that it will eventually get warm. The frozen orange slices will help keep it cold but you can also use some reinforcements. Fill a punch ring or large, decorative ice cube molds with a 50-50 mix of orange and cranberry juice. These juice cubes will keep things cool and add a fun element to the punch bowl.
Traditional punch rings used to be very common, since punch was served at weddings and parties so often. These days, they’re harder to find. To get that vintage punch ring vibe, use a flexible Bundt cake pan, like this.
For a large mold that’s reminiscent of a vintage punch ring but with a seasonal feel, use this fantastic mold.
If you use smaller molds, make sure they’re large enough not to melt immediately but not so large it won’t fit in a punch cup. Since these cubes will obviously melt or be scooped into your guests’ cups, it’s a good idea to have a second (or third!) batch in the freezer in case you need to replenish. While there’s something delightful (and practical) about the large, old-school punch ring, the smaller cubes offer a lot of options for adding personality to your punch.
These are some of my particular favorites:
The snowflakes come in two sizes, both are a little too large to fit in a cup immediately but they melt quickly enough to offset that. They look lovely floating in the punch, it’s a really nice seasonal touch. The one-piece mold is also easy to fill and easy to empty. Note that it’s best to support large molds like these on a plate or cutting board before you fill them.
The faceted spheres, frankly, take a lot more work, since they’re a two part mold. But they look amazing in the punch bowl, very dramatic. They work well for any season, too.
All of the small molds I’ve included here work well for this because they’re just the right size. There are lots of other options out there, so you can really let loose and be creative, playful or traditional!
Punch for Christmas
There is absolutely nothing elaborate or intricate about this Christmas punch recipe. I made it for the first time as a poor college student with a borrowed punch bowl. That was over 20 years ago and it’s been part of my Christmas entertaining ever since, though I’ve upgraded the presentation since and have my own silver punch bowl now. It was a hit with my college friends and it’s a hit with my family today. Cheers!
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