Friends….hosting Christmas is sooo much easier than Thanksgiving. Trust me. On Christmas Day, faith, family and, let’s face it, gifts take center stage, rather than the menu. On Christmas Eve or Christmas evening, guests simply want something cozy and sort of special to fill their bellies.
If you are hosting this traditional winter feast and are not required to follow a familial tradition, here are some easy yet fully festive ideas to try.
Prime Rib Roast: I always think prime rib is to Christmas what turkey is to Thanksgiving. It is such a treat and beloved by all carnivores. You basically throw most of your holiday dinner budget at this big, beautiful beef and can scrimp on all other dishes. Jen Tilley of How to Simplify’s prime rib recipe is the bee’s knees and oh-so-simple to follow.
Grilled Moroccan Lamp Chops: Succulent cuts of lamb with exotic spices make it look like you slaved and slaved, when really you were reading your new book by the tree all day. Jamie Oliver’s strategy for the baby sheep is a winner.
Osso Buco: This veal dish is classic Italian feast food and has a richness perfect for Christmas. As usual, Giada breaks down the old school Italian classics for the kitchen cook.
Wild Mushroom and Port Brioche: Make your vegetarian family or friend feel special with their very own brioche, stuffed with fragrant veggies. You can even modify this for vegans.
Brussels Sprouts with Bacon: Skip over all those other Brussels recipes and go with Rachael Ray’s easy, excellent dish.
Perfect Roast Potatoes: Every time I make Nigella Lawson’s truly perfect roast potatoes I find grownups and kids at the fridge later, devouring them from the Tupperware…on the off chance any make it to leftovers. These are waaaaay easier than mashed potatoes, although if you need to have those with your roast you can always make them ahead.
Christmas Soup: This one dish stew has sausage, kale and potatoes, making it a heavy side or first course, or a perfectly casual main course meal. It is the easiest Alton Brown recipe I have made but it tastes complex.
Creamy Parmesan Grits: Minimal ingredients, maximum comfort food! This pairs perfectly with a meat main course.
Campari and Blood Orange Cocktail: I love a signature cocktail at Christmas. It tempts those who only drink on special occasions with something worthy, and reminds everyone else to keep it classy.
Herb Coated Goat Cheese: Fresh herbs and cheesy goodness combine for the perfect savory delight. After lots of fudge and sugar around the holidays, this non-sweet treat will hit the spot. Serve as an app or after dinner (a cheese course is so chic, no?)
Buche de Noel Yule Log Cake: I do not often bake, but when I do I lean on Andrea’s Recipes for her clear directions and incredible-tasting confections! Her take on the Christmas table classic, the Yule Log Cake, is pure heaven.
Monster Cookies: You can find lots of fiddly, finicky, complicated Christmas cookies elsewhere. When you are pressed for time but nothing but fresh-baked Christmas cookies will do, Monster Cookies do the trick. Christy Jordan of Southern Plate’s recipe is almost identical to the one my grandma gave me.