Have you ever heard of the Latino Christmas tradition of the aguinaldo? An aguinaldo is a gift that was traditionally given to kids, young people, and neighbors when they would knock on people's doors to carroll during Christmas time. The gifts were sweet treats, drinks, and even packed food.

That holiday tradition that we inherited from Spain, was still practiced in many parts of Puerto Rico when I was growing up. Every year, my mother prepared homemade desserts to give to all our neighbors: coconut dulce, papaya dessert, arroz con leche, tembleque.

My father put together bags full of candy and dried fruits to give to the neighborhood children on Three Kings Day. All those little presents we call aguinaldos.

Today, when Puerto Ricans--and many Latinos--say "aguinaldo," we're referring to the musical genre by taht same name. In Mexico and other parts of Latin America, an aguinaldo is a bonus that workers receive during Christmas.

Some people to this day still preserve the aguinaldo tradition. Check below for some of the most traditinoal and typically Latino of all aguinaldos, Christmas gifts made with love in your own kitchen!

Alfajores 1


Forget gingerbread cookies! Alfajores are the most typical cookies of our Latino Christmas! I learned to love these little cookies during Christmas when I lived in Spain. They're also very popular in Latin American countries, like Argentina.

Alfajores are made differently in each country, but I have never tasted an alfajor I didn't love. My favorites are made with dulce de leche. I'd love it if someone would give them to me this Christmas because I'm don't really know how to make them. If you want to make them yourself, it's not that hard!


Dulce de leche 2

Dulce de leche

I fell in love with dulce de leche when a Colombian friend gave me a jar of arequipe for Christmas a few years ago. It's easy to make and you can prepare it with ingredients that you have in your kitchen right now, like milk, sugar, and vanilla.


Dulce de coco 3

Dulce de coco

We can't deny that a Latino Christmas is flavored with coconut! Dulce de coco is made in many Latin American countries many different ways, but it almost always has--aside from coconut, of course!--spices like vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Dulce de coco is a delicious gift that you can share with everyone. If you make it soft, you can place in jars, and if it's hard, you can place in a canister to gift. Check out a simple recipe to make soft Colombian-style dulce de coco here.

Coquito 4


Coquito is a delicious gift that is perfect for those who like to celebrate Christmas with a little potent potable! This drink si easy to make if you use canned coconut milk, not milk directly from a fresh coconut, like my mom used to make it! You can make it with or without rum, and you can even experiment using pineapple or mango juice. Check out some simple recipes here.