Holidays have always been about celebrating and gathering with family and friends. Still, there’s something special about the perfect holiday meal. Whether it’s an intimate dinner or a dinner party with a few dozen guests, the food makes it memorable.
The art of creating a spectacular holiday meal need not be stressful. With preparation and effort, it can be achieved.
How to Prep for the Perfect Holiday Meal
If we’re like most people, our holiday meal is usually something we either rush or put together quickly. But making a special meal doesn’t have to be complicated – and it can even be fun! Here are some tips for creating a festive feast:
- Start with an easy centerpiece. A simple platter of fruit or cookies will do the trick.
- Make a festive drink. Hot cocoa or eggnog are perfect winters warmer drinks.
- Serve warm dishes first. This will help keep guests warm while they wait for their main courses.
- Make sure the food is delicious and fresh-looking. If able, try to source locally-grown ingredients to support small businesses.
- Give guests plenty of time to enjoy their meal and conversation. A relaxing holiday meal is perfect for celebrating with friends and family!
All-Time Favorite Holiday Recipes
There are many things to consider when picking food for a holiday meal. Here are some guidelines to follow whether we’re cooking for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, or any other celebration.
Turkey is the traditional dish, but there are many others we can try, such as mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans with bacon or ham, pumpkin pie, and cranberry sauce.
Roasted turkey is always a hit, but we can also make dishes like ham with pineapple glaze or stuffing made with sweet potatoes and aromatic herbs. There are many dessert options, too, like mince pies, gingerbread houses, or eggnog lattes.
Menus might include latkes (potato pancakes), sufganiyot (sweet doughnuts), baked goods such as pastries and pies, or festive cocktails like eggnog latte spiked with vodka.
In the traditional African-American holiday, meals might include savory dishes like curried chicken or fish and sweet treats like banana pudding or mandarin oranges with honey. Remember, it’s always a good idea to consult a recipe or ask a friend for their favorite holiday dish to get started. Then, we can tailor our menu to fit the specific occasion!
Don’t Be Afraid to Mix It Up
Here are five ideas for mixing up the usual holiday fare:
- Add a festive spin on traditional roast turkey. Try stuffing it with savory ingredients like garlic and herbs or serving it with a gravy made from roasted chestnuts and chicken stock.
- Get creative with our sides. A traditional mashed potato dish can be jazzed up by adding fresh herbs, chopped onions, or shredded cheese.
- Swap out the standard cranberry sauce for something more assertive -try using chili pepper jelly or Sriracha as a tart sauce for our Christmas ham.
- Forgo the traditional bread pudding and try something new, like apple crostata topped with candied pecans and cinnamon-sugar syrup.
- Finally, let’s don’t forget the dessert! Try roasting some fruit (either in the oven or on the stovetop) and whipping up a simple sugar cookie or cake recipe to serve alongside it. There’s no wrong way to celebrate the holidays -mix it up a little!
Tips for Making A Holiday Meal
When planning our holiday meal, keep in mind the following tips:
- Involve everyone in the process. Everyone will appreciate a festive meal that they helped put together.
- Create a theme or signature dish. This will help tie all ingredients together and create an overall festive atmosphere.
- Consider using seasonal ingredients. Some of the best ingredients for a holiday meal are in seasons, such as cranberries or chestnuts.
- Utilize leftovers to their fullest potential. Leftover food can be used as a stuffing recipe or add it to a savory casserole dish for added flavor and texture.
- Serve family-friendly dishes that all household members can easily share. Roasted potatoes, Brussels sprouts with bacon, and pumpkin pie are all great options that everyone will love!
Making Holiday Meals Fun and Enjoyable for Everyone
There are a few things to remember when cooking our holiday meals:
- Make sure to plan and have all of the ingredients ready to go. This will make cooking much simpler and less hectic.
- Be creative with the cooking methods. Try new recipes or old favorites that we haven’t tried in a while.
- Don’t be afraid to experiment with flavors and spices.
The holidays are an excellent opportunity to try something new and exciting!