Creating Holiday Meal Memories with Darden RestaurantsWhen I think of the holidays, I think of enjoying great meals with my family. Christmas Day was always spent at my grandparent’s house. Every year, my grandmother made her special Dough Ball soup, my favorite food in the whole world. It’s an Italian soup that is similar to the wedding soup, but totally different. It’s really hard to explain, but the best part is the hundreds of hand-rolled dough balls that make up the bulk of the soup. I remember one year when I was in Japan and didn’t get my soup, my little brother sent a picture of himself eating a big spoonful! I got back at him years later when he was living in Florida! Besides, my grandmother made an exception to her “Christmas time only” rule with the soup and made me a small batch when I came home to visit that summer. My grandparents are gone now, but my mom carries on the tradition.

Another tradition we used to have was our Christmas Eve meal out. Back when it was just me, my mom, and my brother on Christmas Eve, we used to pick a restaurant and go out together. In those days, my town didn’t have any of the Darden family of restaurants. In the last few years, however, we added an Olive Garden, Red Lobster, and LongHorn Steakhouse to our selection of places to eat. I can’t even tell you how thrilled I was when I found out we were getting an Olive Garden!I haven’t had a chance to eat there on Christmas Eve yet, but I did spend a wonderful Mother’s Day there last year!

Olive Garden really treats you like family!

Creating Holiday Meal Memories with Darden Restaurants

While we’re talking about Olive Garden, I have to tell you a story. Some of you recall how I was without power for  8 days last month. It was awful! Well, on the last night, my brother gave us a gift card to Olive Garden so we could get a hot meal. We were running out of money because of keeping the generator going and eating the least expensive meals possible just so Jacob could at least have something hot at least once a day.

When we arrived at Olive Garden, my mom checked with the manager to make sure they accepted e-gift cards. They did, of course. While asking, she explained how my brother sent us the card so we could have a hot meal, and how we were still without power. We were among the last in my county to get the power restored. At the end of our meal, our server came to tell us that the entire meal was on the house because we still didn’t have power. I’m pretty sure I cried, I was such a wreck. Olive Garden really stands behind their slogan of “When you’re here, you’re family.” I was so touched by their generosity, and even though it technically wasn’t the holidays yet, I think it really goes along with the holiday spirit.

Family Meal Time During the Holidays

Whether you’re heading to a favorite restaurant on Christmas Eve, or gathering at your grandparents’ house for Christmas Day dinner, eating together as a family during the holiday is such a great tradition. We all lead such busy lives, and the only time we all eat around the table in my family is during a holiday of some sort. It’s important for everyone to just take a day to sit together and talk rather than scatter all over the house.

Gift cards are great during the holidays because it gives the entire family a chance to sit in one place together and enjoy a meal. If your family is like mine, when you do big dinners together, the main cook is always getting up to check on this or that. Going out together ensures that no one misses out!

Darden Gift Cards Special

For a limited time this holiday season, you can receive a $5 bonus coupon for every $25 gift card purchased at Olive Garden, Red Lobster or LongHorn Steakhouse restaurants. Just visit the Darden Gift Card website for more information and to purchase your gift cards.

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Darden. I received a promotional item as a thank-you for participating