ABC Christmas Specials

ABC has the provided viewers with two perfect Christmas specials with The Great American Baking Show and The Great Christmas Light Fight. For the 4th year, The Great American Baking Show returns, and it’s just gotten sweeter. So, you know I am going to go there right? Yep, and in its 6th season, The Great Christmas Light Fight got even brighter! Sitting down and chatting with one of the hosts from each show, Sherry Yard and Carter Oosterhouse, gave us some insight on the shows and just how much fun it is for them to be part in such fun seasonal shows.

ABC Christmas Specials

The hosts.

Sherry Yard and Carter Oosterhouse
Sherry Yard and Carter Oosterhouse

Carter Oosterhouse

(ABC/Byron Cohen)CARTER OOSTERHOUSE

Carter Oosterhouse is one of America’s most recognized lifestyle experts. He recently helped kick off the “Trading Spaces” reboot earlier this year and has already begun filming Season 2. Oosterhouse provides green-building solutions and design alternatives that conserve energy and reduce environmental waste to each renovation project. He has become a go-to expert for many national outlets including “Rachael Ray,” Men’s Health, “The Today Show,” “The CBS Early Show,” “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” “The View,” “Entertainment Tonight,” “Extra,” USA Today and The Los Angeles Times.

Sherry Yard

Sherry Yard
(Foodnetwork)

Sherry Yard serves as the chief operating officer of iPic Entertainment Group’s restaurant division, where she leads culinary innovation. At iPic, Yard has been credited with redefining what guests eat at the movies, crafting a unique “Dining in the Dark” menu that has revolutionized the typical moviegoing outing with a focus on the sensory experience of a meal. She is responsible for overseeing the iPic Express concession concept for the brand’s luxury movie theaters as well as for independent restaurants and bars, including The Tuck Room Tavern in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles; The Tuck Room gastrolounge, with locations in North Miami Beach, Houston and New York; Tanzy Restaurant in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Boca Raton, Fla.; and City Perch Kitchen + Bar in Bethesda, Md., and Fort Lee, N.J.

ABC’s 25 Days of Christmas

Sometimes during these events, we get gifts, and on this day, Sherry gifted us with some of her chocolate and Disney cookie cutters. Carter didn’t come empty handed as he handed us all Christmas light necklaces.

Sherry: Okay, so, I’m with The Great American Baking Show, so I had to bring you a little something sweet. So, we have four different types of chocolate bars. You’re more than welcome to select whichever you want. The dark chocolate is gingerbread. And then we’ve got milk chocolate, krackel. We’ve got white chocolate, a celebration with sprinkles. And then last but not least: this one has chocolate and berries and pop rocks. So, we’ll just pass ‘em around. You take whatever.

Carter: I did not bring any of that. And I’m so sorry. [LAUGHS] But I have lights.

So, there’s a little package of lights. You can wear them around. Shockingly on the show, everywhere we go, we always see people decorated, literally head to toe, in lights. And I’m always a little ashamed because I feel like I should be decorated in something like that as the judge, but I’m not. They don’t let me do that. So, I’m gonna hand these out to you guys.

So you’re back for another season of The Great Christmas Light Fight, but you can’t wear lights?

Carter: Yeah. No, I stopped. After being on this show, I cannot compete with any of these people, and I feel inadequate to some degree because they are just like, I mean somebody literally designed their space with four million lights. Four million lights. That is just unbelievable, right? I do more like DIY stuff and craft stuff, being a designer-builder-carpenter, that’s where my head is at.

How has technology played a part in the progression of the light displays each year?

Carter: The tech stuff has gotten so much better than it ever was before. And, so, when you see people using these RGB lights that are just so technically advanced and they sync ‘em to like Sia — like her whole Christmas album. And I’m a big music fan, so seeing this kinda stuff, it literally looks like you’re looking at computer screens when you see this stuff.

THE GREAT CHRISTMAS LIGHT FIGHT – As part of ABC’s “25 Days of Christmas,” “The Great Christmas Light Fight” ignites Season 6 with two new episodes, MONDAY, NOV. 26 (8:00-10:00 p.m. EST), on The ABC Television Network. (ABC/Byron Cohen)

It’s just shocking because your mind just is like what am I looking at right now?? You always think that you’re gonna see stuff that’s similar, that’s the same as you saw the city before. I guarantee you — I’m going to Toronto tonight to shoot another episode, and that will — I guarantee that will be brand new — something that I’ve never seen before, but that’s what makes the show so great.

Tonight? For this season?

Carter: We started shooting a year in advance. So, last year was the first year we did it. We were always filming that same year, which is freakin’ intense because the travel schedule’s crazy. It still is crazy, but last year we shot two seasons back to back. So, it was a lot and pretty intense. But, yeah, and so now we’re shooting for the following year. So, now we’re shooting for 2019 right now, but it’s great because it’s closer to Christmas because when you have to shoot it in like September, that’s not the easiest thing to do.


Is there any place in the country that either of you feels is more like Christmas spirit- oriented?Arecontestants from this area are way more like exuberant when it comes to holiday stuff than other people?

Sherry: Well, we shot in London. So, I found personalities from different regions as it came out with the food. So, whether it was with spice, we had some folks from California that had some exotic ingredients. Then we had more Midwesterners who stuck to some more traditional things.  So, it was kinda of regional baking, which is interesting to see as well. And you can’t compare — it’s like apples to oranges, because they’re equally delicious.

So, how do you compare? I mean it’s you’re a job how do you prepare for all that tasting and which is best?

Sherry: Okay, I will lose about ten pounds first [LAUGHS], ’cause I’m gonna gain about 15 pounds. That’s the first preparation. It’s a professional job. Someone has to do it. [LAUGHS]

Did you find that there was a baked good that was more of a challenge for the contestants?

Sherry: The signature challenge, which is just such a genius challenge, we give the contestants something that we think will — at their level they should know, and we increase the difficulty throughout the show. The beauty of it is is that they don’t really get every detail of the recipe.So, what happens is they have to use their own instincts in baking to be able to create this dish. And it’s fun because it’s something that I love and a recipe that I cherish or Paul cherish. Paul — let’s talk about [my fellow judge] Paul [Hollywood] for a second.

THE GREAT AMERICAN BAKING SHOW: HOLIDAY EDITION – Back for a fourth season on The ABC Television Network, “The Great American Baking Show: Holiday Edition,” based on the hit U.K. series “The Great British Bake Off,” returns THURSDAY, DEC. 6 (9:00 – 11:00 p.m. EST). (ABC/Mark Bourdillion) PAUL HOLLYWOOD, SHERRY YARD

He comes off a little like the mean guy, but he has this incredible passion for baking as well and love for people, and he truly, like myself, wants to be a cheerleader for each and every one of them. And just like in sports, you have a good day, and you have a bad day. And you can have the most incredible baker, and they can just have a bad day of baking or make one choice that’s different because baking is a science. So, all you need is your time, your temperature to be off just 30 seconds and you could completely change your outcome.

You said you’ve seen a lot of surprising, unique things. Is there anything in particular that sticks out in all the episodes you’ve done?

Carter: Yeah. So, for me, I like kinda the weird stuff. Like, I feel like when it’s different. And what I mean by weird is like when it’s different than what you would expect Christmas to be. So, when you see lights and blow molds and stuff like that, it’s kind of traditional. But when you see stuff that is — where they can mix in like dinosaurs, or they can mix in stuff that you would be like, wait, what?? How did this — you have a helicopter that you figured out how to decorate. And why do you have a helicopter? [CHUCKLES]

THE GREAT CHRISTMAS LIGHT FIGHT – “The Great Christmas Light Fight” features families and neighborhoods from across America decorating their homes to the extreme for Christmas with a total of $300,000 in prizes ($50,000 per episode) up for grabs. (ABC/Donald Rager)

And, again, going back to your part– like different parts of the country, your question. Different parts of the country definitely have different design taste. All of them are unique to their own, and they’re all the same Christmas spirit, which is fantastic. But they’re all unique in the way that they sort of share the way they experience Christmas. But the cool thing about is you think like we all sit around this table. We all have our Christmas memories and nostalgia of Christmas — but you think, like, these people are specifically creating those memories for those people in that community.

Those people in Wisconsin are helping those people in that area. And those people in North Carolina are doing it for those people in that [area] — it’s really a beautiful thing because all the kids that are there — there’s always so many kids that are at each shoot. And the experience with these kids — and I love kids, and I love being around them and I lost just enjoying their spirit. You realize just that when they see stuff like they see a helicopter and they see a dinosaur, they’re like, yeah, why shouldn’t a dinosaur be decorated and have Christmas too. And that’s really fun because that wasn’t really what I grew up with where dinosaurs get decorated. So, for me that’s what I really, as a judge, that’s what I really look towards is the unique creativity level.

Can you share some memorable moments?

Carter: Oh, absolutely. I mean I think now more and more we get these heartfelt stories, not on all of them but unique stories as well where the families have something to give and why they do it. For instance, in a segment that we just shot, they only spoke Spanish. That was unique to me, ’cause I don’t speak Spanish. So, I had to understand, but at the end of the day, we all could understand love and holiday and cheer and Christmas. And that was pretty sweet and special.

So, I think they will always stick with me. But then families that do have those heartwarming stories, maybe it was a negative at one point in their lives because of some emotional moment that they’ve turned into such a positive, and that’s why they do it. And you hear them relating stories from their family and the cast and why they’re doing what they’re doing, and you don’t know it until you get into it.

And as a judge, they don’t tell me anything. I don’t know who I’m meeting. And sometimes I’ve walked up to the wrong person, because there’s a crowd of like 500 people and I’ve been like, hey, what’s — oh, am I supposed to talk to you? I walk up just completely blind and have to figure it all out on my own, which it makes it more fun and special too. So, that sticks with me.

THE GREAT CHRISTMAS LIGHT FIGHT – As part of ABC’s “25 Days of Christmas,” “The Great Christmas Light Fight” ignites Season 6 with two new episodes, MONDAY, NOV. 26 (8:00-10:00 p.m. EST), on The ABC Television Network. (ABC/Byron Cohen)


And how about the experience of shooting for you Sherry?

Sherry: Do you know I was saying that this is without a doubt the most civilized competition I’ve ever worked with in my career, and that — there are surprises — there are tons of surprises, but when they bring their first dish up, it’s their own version of what they think is best for that challenge.

So, they give them an apartment with a kitchen. And they allow them to bake and practice some of the recipes they wanna work on there. That said, there are others — when they walk in, I give them a recipe. They have no idea they had to do it, and that’s the one where they turn their backs — they’re not looking at us, but all their pictures are in front of us and we can’t see who made what. So, and as far as the judging is concerned, each one of those three challenges has a one to ten, and you could be number one on the first one. You could be at the bottom on the next one.

Paul and I had to like do the math because we didn’t even know who was gonna win. You could kinda guess a little bit, but as you start to get down with the numbers. But it was really a civilized way of baking and working together for the end result of really the greatest baker.

ABC Christmas Specials: The Great Christmas Light Fight and The Great American Baking Show: Holiday Edition

The Great American Baking Show: Holiday Edition

On your marks, get set, bake! It’s a double dose of spice this holiday season when the most festive and friendliest competition on television returns with new host, Emma Bunton (Spice Girls), Anthony “Spice” Adams, veteran judge Paul Hollywood (“The Great British Bake Off”) and new judge, three-time James Beard Award-winning pastry chef Sherry Yard, when Season 4 of “The Great American Baking Show: Holiday Edition” premieres with slices of cake, and sweet and savory pastries, Thursday at 8|7c on ABC.

The Great American Baking Show: Holiday Edition

Season 6 of “The Great Christmas Light Fight” showcases the wildest and most spectacular Christmas displays in America. In each one-hour episode, four families from all around the country decorate their homes to the extreme in the hopes of winning the coveted Light Fight trophy and a $50,000 prize, with a total of $300,000 given away for the season. This season, as the temperature cools down, the competition heats up when families invite us from out of the snow inside their homes to witness their fantastic Christmas décor for the very first time. In addition to all of the stunning inside/outside displays, the first ever “Heavyweights” episode will showcase light shows that have grown too large for any home. Returns December 6th.

Toys for Tots

This holiday season, Disney|ABC Television are teaming up with Disney store, ShopDisney.com and Toys for Tots. Fans and families can celebrate 25 Days of Christmas by dropping off a new, unwrapped toy at a U.S. Disney store or on shopDisney.com until December 15th and Disney store will contribute $5 per toy to Toys for Tots, up to $1 Million! For more information on Toys for Tots, go to ToysForTots.org. 
To watch your favorite holiday content go to 25DaysOfChristmas.com. 
Post a selfie with your toy on social media using the hashtag #25DaysOfChristmas.

The ABC Television Network can be watched live, streaming or on demand.

I was invited by Disney to the  #MaryPoppinsReturns Event, all opinions are my own.

Trippin with Tara

Tara began her blog in 2012 becoming an Influencer of the things she shares online. Trippin' with Tara is a lifestyle blog with heavy entertainment and travel coverage, but don't be surprised by some great food and product reviews in the mix.
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