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When it comes to holiday menus — whether it’s just a dinner menu or you have family from out of town staying with you and you need to plan for the whole day — it really doesn’t have to be stressful.
With a little bit of planning ahead you can plan the whole day Christmas menu in advance, so that on Christmas day you won’t be breaking a sweat. I’m here to help you plan your holiday menu with Christmas ideas and recipes from breakfast, to appetizers, main dishes, desserts and cocktails, with many that can be made ahead.
Choose Your Breakfast or Brunch Dish
Of course, any great Christmas day starts with a hearty breakfast or brunch, so here are a few ideas for recipes that are fit to feed a crowd.
- This Christmas Morning Wife Saver is the ideal casserole for Christmas morning because it’s prepared the day before and all you have to do on Christmas day is wake up, bake it and enjoy it with friends and family.
- This Berry Brioche Bread Pudding is perfect for those with more of a sweet tooth early in the morning, but it’s also great because you can prepare it ahead.
- This Crescent Bacon Breakfast Ring is more for the breakfast traditionalists who prefer a bacon and eggs type of breakfast. Prepare the bacon and eggs the day before and store them in an airtight container, so that all you have to do on Christmas morning is assemble the ring with store bought crescent dough and bake.
- This Spinach Ricotta Brunch Bake can also be prepared ahead and baked on Christmas morning. Layers of ricotta cheese, bacon, cheddar cheese and spinach all wrapped up in puff pastry, makes this a crowd pleaser.
- This Sausage Potato Breakfast Casserole is also a great make ahead option. Loaded wth sausage, lots of veggies, eggs and hash browns, this casserole is easy to prepare the day before, wrap with foil and refrigerate overnight until ready to bake.
- Nothing can be easier than this Cranberry Quick Bread. You can bake this a couple days before and it will still be moist and delicious. Perfect on Christmas morning with a cup of coffee or tea.
- For some there’s nothing better on Christmas morning than these incredible Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls. Prepare these the day before and store them in the fridge with plastic wrap until the morning when you’re ready to bake them. You can also prepare the icing the day before and keep it in the fridge. Once the rolls come out of the oven nice and hot, just spread the cream cheese icing over them. A holiday favorite and a crowd pleaser.
- These Strawberry Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing are always a favorite for breakfast or brunch. Filled with fresh strawberries and strawberry jam, then iced with a cream cheese icing, these sweet rolls are incredibly delicious.
Choose Your Snack or Appetizer
Throughout the day you and your guests will want to be munching on something, so here’s a collection of easy snacks or appetizers that can easily be prepared ahead so say goodbye to longer hours in the kitchen or complicated recipes on Christmas day!
- These Asian Pork Rolls are the perfect party treat or snack. Prepare these the day before, place them on a baking sheet, cover them with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to bake.
- This Easy Sausage-Pesto Ring is perfect for feeding a crowd. Take country biscuit dough, fill it with Italian sausage, pesto and load it with cheese and butter. Absolutely delicious!
- These Sweet Chicken Bacon Bites are always a hit. We’re talking perfectly seasoned chicken pieces, wrapped in glorious bacon, then rolled in brown sugar and baked to golden perfection. These can also be prepared ahead, and frozen until ready to bake.
- Try these Vegetarian Stuffed Mushrooms for a healthier snack or appetizer. These can also be prepared a day or two ahead and refrigerated until ready to be baked.
- These Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Meatballs with Blue Cheese Dressing are spicy and delicious! They’re great for your Christmas day because you can prepare them in your slow cooker, freeing up your stovetop or oven.
- For those that love pizza on any occasion, this Skillet Pizza Dip is ideal because it’s easy to prep and you save lots of time by using frozen bread rolls.
- If your crockpot came with a mini crockpot inside, then this Crockpot Bacon Queso Blanco Dip is for you! Just dump all the ingredients in the mini crockpot and forget about it while you enjoy your time with friends and family.
- These Guacamole Deviled Eggs are always a holiday favorite! Make these a day or two ahead and store them in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to serve.
Choose Your Main Dish
Perhaps choosing a main dish is the most stressful of all, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact with a little bit of planning you can start preparing your main dish up to two days ahead.
- Your Christmas dinner can be effortlessly festive with this super easy to prepare Crockpot Honey Mustard Glazed Ham.
- Another Christmas dinner favorite is ham, and nothing is easier than this Crockpot Brown Sugar Cola Glazed Ham. 5 minutes of prep time is all you need.
- There’s nothing more traditional than Roasted Turkey served with this Cranberry Sauce for Christmas dinner, at least in our family. Remember to thaw out your turkey in time, take it out a couple days before cooking from the freezer, since it can take a few hours to thaw.
- This scrumptious Rosemary Garlic Pork Roast is the highlight of any meal, plus it’s simple and quick to prepare, allowing you more time with friends and family.
- These Crockpot Cabbage Rolls or Traditional Cabbage Rolls have been present at every Christmas that I can remember. If your family is like mine, these cabbage rolls are a must. Prepare them a day or two before and store them in your crockpot in your fridge until Christmas day.
- These Maple Mustard Roasted Turkey Thighs are super juice, delicious and a great alternative for roasting a whole turkey.
- If you still want to serve turkey on the big day, but don’t want to spend hours on it, then this Instant Pot Turkey Breast is for you. This turkey breast is ready in just 1 hour and you’ll end up with the juiciest turkey breast ever.
- This Roast Turkey Breast with Saucy Cranberry Sauce is your answer to stress free holiday and a great alternative to cooking a whole turkey, especially when cooking for only 2 to 4 people.
Choose Your Side Dish
Skip the holiday stress this year with these super easy side dishes, many of which can be prepared ahead.
- These Mashed Potatoes are a must on your holiday table. Make these the day before, refrigerate in an airtight container, then simply heat up before dinner in the microwave.
- If you love Italian flavors, then these Italian Roasted Mushrooms and Veggies are a must on your holiday table. Prepare the veggies the night before and refrigerate until ready to bake.
- These Cheesy Mashed Potatoes with Bacon and Chives are loaded with 3 different kinds of cheese, bacon and chives. Prepare everything up to and including step 5, cover with foil and refrigerate until ready to bake.
- Scrumptious Brandy-Glazed Carrots in a delicious light brandy sauce. Ready in just 20 minutes.
- This Sage Sausage Stuffing is a classic that’s super easy to prepare, delicious and a total crowd pleaser.
- For a more comforting side dish, these Loaded Scalloped Potatoes are a must. They’re loaded with bacon and cheddar cheese and can be prepared in only 15 minutes.
- For a super quick side dish, try these Garlic Parmesan Roasted Brussels Sprouts, they’re ready in only 20 minutes from start to finish.
- The Ultimate Parmesan Roasted Broccoli truly is the best roasted broccoli you will ever have. Prepare the broccoli florets the day before and arrange in the baking pan with the rest of the ingredients. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to bake.
Choose Your Dessert
Holidays are a time for traditions and sometimes a few surprises too. Here I have a list of classic Christmas cookies and a few desserts with some delicious twists.
- This Red Velour Cake takes your classic Red Velvet cake and brings it to the next level of elegance and deliciousness. It’s beautiful and sophisticated and perfect for your holiday dessert table. This cake can be made a couple days in advance and stored in the fridge until ready to serve.
- Let these Chocolate Cheesecake Santa Hats take you on a taste bud adventure of rich and decadent double chocolate cheesecake bites topped with whipped cream and strawberries. Your guests will love them!
- For a more Italian twist, try these Mini Tiramisu Cheesecakes with the classic flavors of Italian tiramisu!
- If you can’t decide between a pecan pie or a cheesecake, then this Pecan Pie Cheesecake is for you. This cheesecake is everything a cheesecake should be, decadent, luscious and delicious. This cheesecake will last about a week in the fridge so it can be prepared a couple days before serving.
- These Classic Shortbread Cookies are my most popular recipe at Christmas and it’s because they’re simple to make, only 3 ingredients required and they’re so delicious, they simply melt in your mouth. Make these weeks ahead and store in an airtight container in the freezer until the day before serving.
- Another classic I grew up with are these Cherry Pecan Rugelach cookies. They’re super buttery, they have a very flaky crust and are filled with cherry jam and pecans. They can be made ahead and frozen until ready to serve.
- I make these Chocolate Sugar Cookies every single year for Christmas. They’re simple to make, delicious and always a favorite with everyone.
- These Chocolate Fudge Cherry Cookies are so festive and adorable. They also freeze well, so they can be made weeks in advance and frozen in airtight container.
Other cookies you might enjoy: Pretzel Turtles, Yuletide Coconut Cherry Cookies, Poppy Seed Rugelach, Chocolate Orange Crackles, Lime Meltaways, Chocolate Pecan Snowballs, Chocolate Pecan Thumbprint Cookies, Checkerboard Cookies, Thumbprint Cookies, and Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies
Choose Your Cocktail
The last thing you want to do on Christmas day is play bartender and fix drinks all day long. Set up an easy-to-make cocktail bar with precut garnishes, fruits such as pomegranates, orange or grapfruit slices, and cocktail recipes so that your guests can help themselves.
- This Grenadine Sunrise is a gorgeous and festive cocktail, made with Prosecco, Grand Marnier, brandy and Grenadine. Precut the orange peel before and print out the recipe card so that your guests can make this cocktail themselves.
- It wouldn’t be Christmas without Homemade Eggnog! Spike it with your favorite bourbon, rum, whiskey, cognac, or brandy. This recipe is easy to modify to make it your own! You can, of course, leave the liquor out all together to make your eggnog family-friendly.
- These Pomegranate Elderflower Spritzers make for a sparkling and refreshing cocktail that’s perfect to kick start any holiday celebration.
- This Mulled Wine is as traditional as you can get when it comes to winter cocktails.
- These Red Grapefruit and Basil Mimosas require only 4 ingredients. Precut the grapefruit and the basil before, so that your guests can make their own cocktail.
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Easy Whole Day Christmas Menu
- 2 or 3 days before the big day, make a list of what needs to be made and prepped and when. Complete all your last minute grocery shopping, so that you’re not running around on Christmas day looking for ingredients.
- If you’re decorating tables, decide on them a few days before, but think small. Save the much needed space for food by displaying low arrangements of flowers.
- Prepare as much of the food that you can one or two days before Christmas. Cookies for example, can be made weeks in advance, and frozen until the day before. Many appetizers and casseroles can be made one or two days in advance. Prepare as much as you can the day before so that on Christmas day all you have to do is bake/cook.
- Prepare a separate area or station in another room for drinks/cocktails. Stock it up with both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, napkins and glassware. Precut all your garnishes and fruits.