• Ruben Contreras

The stay-at-home Tropical Christmas survival guide in 10 easy steps

Surrendering to & trusting the process of transitioning from one version of family to another


Photo: Rubén Contreras

I’d like to start by saying that, on behalf of the Paraiso Tropical Latin Market team, I’m writing this wishing you joy, peace and good health this holiday season. I don’t know where to start, there's so much I'd like to tell you, but since Mrs. Claus and yourself must be VERY busy, I'll keep it simple.


In the face of a country-wide shutdown, we saw major disruptions in the economy of most countries around the world and a host of negative impacts to many industries. Our entire world was pushed into unchartered territory in unprecedented ways. But we now realize that there's always been a hidden light burning from within us. It’s greater than the sum of anything and everything we experienced this year: our people – us!


In short, we shared so many moments with either our family, our friends, strangers, or by ourselves. And maybe, it was meant to be this way. We were so excited and had the coolest time ever with our Rebrand BBQ!! Going out of our way to join forces with people we’ve both known for a long time to those we've never met for the greater good speaks to character. Having plenty of time to be together alone made us creative, whether it's been becoming better cooks or giving us the time to learn that language or mathematics course that we've been always wanting to do, and the list doesn’t stop here.


Anyways, time’s up – I know, I know, I said straightforward (hahaha), so this is it! I guess all I'm trying to say is that while this holiday season is going to, again, involve staying at home, nevertheless, this time will be a different story, because we notice we get to choose how to spend it at home or wherever we happen to be. The magic of human fragility!

Photo: Rubén Contreras

By the way, if for some reason, it turns out you're without work this year – you know, after all it is 2020 – and have to scrap your travel plans, here are some ways that we at Paraiso Tropical – North and South eh!? – have come up with to share and repurpose the holiday spirit at home, making the most out of this beautiful time of the year!

  • “Santas from the Caribbean”: each family member draws a piece of paper from a hat of what, at the end, will be “the Christmas Treasure map” when “connecting” them all together. The point is to have all family members look everywhere in your place for the “treasure”, with each person looking for the clues on their own that the parents would’ve previously spread all around and, of course, at the end, finding the “treasure”: sweets & treats, preferably from the Caribbean or Latin America, such as Ramo Chocoramo chocolate pound cake from Colombia; or panetón, a sweet bread traditionally made for this season, from Brazil or Peru). Or even an e-gift card for the adults in your house (make a note for them to check their email). Place the goodies inside of a white bag or anything that you have at hand that might be fit; if you have none of the above, just use fruits with a specific holiday season “disguise” or vibe! It can actually be less than $25 in total for the fruits and/or sweets.

Photo: Yazmin Juarez
  • Put together a make-ahead breakfast: by the time you’re all finished opening all the presents, your energy will probably drop. That’s when the delicious chilaquiles (fried corn tortillas chips with red or green salsa topped with cheese, such as queso fresco) – quite fast, low-cost, and straightforward to make – fall into place! You can prep them the same morning and have them ready to eat within ten minutes of opening the presents.


  • What's Christmas without chocolate? Warm yourselves up with some nice, hot cocoa! You can grab some ready-to-make hot chocolate from our store or buy some spices to make your own spiced version Latin-style! You can boil a cinnamon stick, star anise, and all-spice in water or milk before adding your choice of chocolate para mesa (table chocolate) – for example, Ibarra from Mexico. When the chocolate has melted, whisk the mixture with cane sugar – piloncillo or panela – and then add a dash of cayenne pepper to spice it up when the sugar has melted.

Photo: Kristina de Guzman
  • How about getting creative and making a Christmas photo album using pictures of past events or gatherings? Remember the props you got for Halloween, your birthday, Canada Day, or your hockey or soccer team from years past until today? Hopefully, looking through the album will remind you how fun it was when your hyper-energetic little brother had a bit too much Mexican Coca Cola while he danced to “baby shark” for ten minutes non-stop! You get the idea. Now is the moment to immortalize the family gallery with a stay-at-home photoshoot. Or create a personalized photo memory book for each of your siblings, parents, and/or friends.

Photo: Paraiso Tropical album
  • Plan special Christmas movie nights or a Christmas movie marathon. Go over your favourite Christmas films or holiday episodes of great shows, make a list and create movie nights spanning a couple of days prior to Christmas Day. Maybe even get trivia printouts on the actors, directors, and crew to quiz your family. Or how about a marathon of Christmas movies or holiday episodes of great shows to watch all day long on December 25th while having great snacks? Don’t worry, this holiday season, we’ll make your pocket smile: check out the bottom of this blog post to find our Tropical Christmas In-Store Specials for drinks and snacks at both our North and South locations!

Photo: Bruna Campos Gonzalez
  • Christmas masks: Paper plates are all you’ll need to have fun while making Christmas crafts. Imagine a lucha libre Christmas-themed mask?!


  • Christmas-themed karaoke night: the talent show is on! What do you feel like singing?


  • Get cozy, if possible, around the chimney and dive deep into why Christmas is celebrated in such a way: it would be great to understand the very reason why we celebrate Christmas or whatever makes this part of the year this meaningful.


  • Come up with ideas or experiment with simple affordable Latin American desserts, such as banana pie a la cajeta (Mexican caramel) or arroz con leche (rice milk pudding) that we shared previously; or if you have a bit more time, try Colombian natilla Christmas custard or Peruvian leche asada (milk pudding) aside that we shared previously: there's nothing like the enjoyable, unique flavours of Latin American sweets for the spirit of the season: ¡Muy bueno! By the way, if you wanna try making natilla, we have the ready-made mixes: Natilla Colombiana (with or without panela), as well as Maizena Natilla.


Photo: Kristina de Guzman
  • Read holiday books: Choose a specific time to spend with your family each night and read short classics like Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas!, Clement Moore’s The Night Before Christmas, and all the ones you know you have in mind but never had the time to share with each other.


Good times! The Paraiso Tropical team offers our warmest wishes and we hope this list of activities helps to make long-lasting memories for years to come. But remember, it's all about having fun, enjoying quality time with each other, and sharing a good laugh, hugs, and kisses (even if they are virtual). Also, very important: don't forget that this is the time of the year when we have lots of treats, special deals for this season, and more!


You can either drop by and get our special in-store promos, pick your favourite products up or perhaps better, receive those genuine products right at your doorstep ¡a pedir de boca (very roughly, "ask & you will receive")!



Tropical Christmas In-Store Specials

During December, we have your favourite snacks and drinks discounted (even combos) for your upcoming Christmas spirit-filled movie nights/marathon or Santas from the Caribbean! ¡Feliz Navidad y Feliz Año Nuevo, amigos!

  • Kolashampan pop (2L or 355mL) & Diana Duo Pack: get the pop size you want with one salty, sweet or tangy Diana snack of your choice

  • Kolashampan (2L or 355mL) – purchase 24 units or 6 units

  • Pony Malta pop (6-pack or 24 units) & Chocoramo pound cake (5-pack) Duo Deal

  • Mexican 7-Up (355mL) – purchase of 24 units or 6 units

  • Mexican Coca Cola (355mL) – purchase 24 units or 6 units

  • Malta Polar pop (355 mL or 209 mL) – purchase of 24 units or 6 units

  • Pony Malta pop (355 mL) – purchase of 24 units or 6 units

  • Valentina (1 L) & Valentina (355 mL) Duo Pack

  • Christmas panettones – any kind

  • Forno de Mina Pão de Queijo (Brazilian cheese bread) – purchase 3 bags

Photo: Rubén Contreras; Graphic: Gela Cabrera Loa

Please note the following store hours over Christmas & New Year's:


Thursday, December 24th (Christmas Eve): 9:30am-5:30pm

Friday, December 25th (Christmas Day): Closed

Thursday, December 31st (New Year's Eve): 9:30am-5:30pm

Friday, January 1st (New Years' Day): Closed

*All other days, Paraiso will have regular business hours: 9:30am-7:00pm


For delivery service for market items (guidelines/pautas) & Cyber Tropical Tuesdays orders over the holidays, delivery days will be on Wednesdays & Saturdays (instead of Fridays).


Want to share your great cooking or baking skills? Our Tropical Foodie Photo Contest deadline has been extended until New Years' Eve (December 31st)! Make a meal, take a photo (or two), post on our Facebook or Instagram, and tag us for a chance to win a special prize & also have your food creation shared on one of our future blog posts! For more details, read here.

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