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The winter holiday season is a time I can only remember being filled with laughter, nostalgic old music, and the warm twinkle of lights. With this holiday master post, I’ll cover all the best Christmas Dinner Ideas for holiday prep, so you can make sure your holidays are warm and fun, not chaotic and stressful!
Christmas Dinner Recipes
If you’ve seen my Easy Thanksgiving Dinner guide, you know that I’m only too familiar with how chaotic the holidays can be! It’s so easy to get caught up in the activities that making dinner completely falls by the wayside.
Don’t worry, I’ve been there! This guide is here to make sure that family Christmas dinner is easy and stress-free, with lots of ideas for recipes, as well as some exciting alternatives to the classic dinner.
Plus, read on to find heartwarming ideas for making the holidays special, no matter what your family arrangement is. There’s no wrong way to celebrate, so gather up your friends, family, or beloved pet, and see out the year with love and joy!
Ideas for Christmas Dinner
Planning the holidays means more than just dinner planning: it means planning on movies, ice skating, gift-giving, and decorating! It’s hard enough to keep track without also needing to plan a menu. Make it easy by communicating with your family and splitting up the work.
- The winter holidays are busy days! There are so many fun activities to fit into only a few days together. Ask everyone what they’re most interested in doing, and make a schedule.
- Take into account when you want to enjoy activities when you’re deciding on the menu. If the evening is time for watching classic movie favorites, then a Christmas lunch and a holiday charcuterie board for dinner could be the perfect change of pace!
- If visiting guests are close enough to bring their own food, get everyone to bring one dish and make it a potluck. This vastly cuts down on the work you’ll need to do!
- If your family loves turkey for Christmas dinner, buy and thaw it early. Check out my handy Turkey Thawing Guide to make sure the bird is ready for dinner! Ham recipes take very little time, in comparison.
- Big dinners mean big leftovers, and what’s better than sending family home with a goodie bag of gifts and food? Save up old takeout containers to ferry food home. Even better, wrap a little ribbon around them for a cute touch!
Christmas Dinner Ideas
There’s no wrong way to make Christmas dinner, and everyone has their favorites! It can be a drag to cook all day when you want to be enjoying family time, so here are some great tips and tricks for making dinner easy and fun for everyone.
- If there’s a family favorite recipe, try trading off who makes it each year! Getting everyone in on it can make for great stories and less cooking for you!
- Winter holidays tend to feature a dinner similar to Thanksgiving, meaning four main courses: A protein, a vegetable side, a dressing or gravy, and dessert.
- Try out the idea of a charcuterie board dinner! Have each guest bring one cheese, meat, and cracker, plus any additional sides like jams, dried fruit, nuts, or olives. Arranging them is fast and easy, plus a ton of fun. With so many options, there will be something for everyone!
- Try out a more involved food that takes everyone’s help to make! I have friends who spend the entire day cooking tamales as a family, which serves the double purpose of making dinner and providing a perfect time for storytelling and reconnecting. My own family loves making Portuguese Shrimp Empanadas together for the holidays – I grew up eating these every holiday!
- Or, try out a meal of finger foods like Tapas, and take turns making the next round of snacks. Between old movies and chatter with the family, plus plates upon plates of easy finger foods, you might not even need a classic Christmas dinner!
Okay, you’ve made a menu and you’re all set and ready to cook. But the holidays can be exhausting with all the fun going on – with so many events, it might get hard to organize it all. Here are my tips!
- Make sure you know what recipes use what appliances, if they can be made ahead, and how long each dish takes to prepare. If you’re making turkey or prime rib, for example, you likely won’t have access to the oven all day. But if you’re making ham, it’ll be done in under an hour!
- Casserole and soup are classics for holiday suppers, and are fantastic for making ahead! For the casserole, fully assemble it and then refrigerate it, so it can be baked right before it’s served. Most soups made without dairy are completely safe to freeze, so they can be made weeks ahead and just reheated!
- Make sure to have some easy, delicious drinks on hand throughout the day! I highly recommend mulled cider or mulled wine for the adults in attendance. It’s so easy- just heat up wine with your favorite spices. Even better, it’s better with cheap wine! The high sugar content in cheap wine is perfect for mulling.
- For kids or those who would rather not consume alcohol, try my Pumpkin Juice Recipe, or a non-alcoholic cider!
- Stock up on cookies early by organizing a cookie day with friends! I used to make cookies with a family friend every week before Christmas, which meant the desserts were done early and I made amazing memories every year. Even better when they’re themed – like my Reindeer Cookies!
Easy Christmas Day Recipe Set-up
With dinner all set, it’s time to embrace arguably the most important part of the holidays: having fun with your friends and family! It can feel so easy to lose touch with the fun of Christmas, but here are some ideas from my own friends and family to spark new joy in a wonderful time of year.
- Make Christmas Eve special by looking up where to see the best Christmas lights in the area! Pack up some warm drinks like hot cocoa or your favorite warm and spicy tea, then take a walk or drive down to see all the prettiest lights together.
- Start gift-giving early with a holiday ornament exchange. For more fun, have everyone vote on a theme for the ornaments, and try to find the most outrageous ones! There’s nothing like decorating with ornaments that make you laugh!
- Give everyone a pre-Christmas gift of a set of cozy matching pajamas and get to bed extra comfy. It might help the little ones sleep, and everyone loves family pictures in festive PJs!
- To get the kids excited (and give them something to keep busy with), let them open one present each, and let them pick the present! My parents would do this every year and I’d agonize for an hour over what was the perfect one to open first.
Christmas Dinner Ideas
Prime Rib Recipes for Christmas
Ham Recipes for Christmas
Turkey Recipes for Christmas
Looking for more? Scroll on to find an all-time favorite Baked Ham recipe I keep coming back to year after year! It’s so juicy and delicious, it’ll shock you how easy it is to make!
Holiday Side Dishes
Holiday Dessert Recipes
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Christmas Dinner Ideas – Baked Ham Recipe
- Roasting pan
- 10 lb. Bone-in spiral sliced ham or whole ham fully cooked
- 1 cup honey
- ½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp. garlic powder
- ½ Tbsp. freshly cracked black pepper
For Baking Ham
- 1 cup chicken broth for basting; see notes
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Place ham cut-side down on a roasting pan and tent with foil. Bake for 1 hour. Prepare your glaze while it bakes.
- Melt butter for glaze in 30 second intervals in the microwave or in a saucepan on the stovetop until fully melted. Add all glaze ingredients to a small mixing bowl. Add the melted butter and thoroughly mix until fully combined.
- Carefully remove roasting pan from oven after baking an hour. Leave the oven on. Remove foil. Brush the outside of the ham with honey brown sugar glaze.
- Separate slices and brush the inside of each slice with the honey ham glaze.
- Pour 1 cup of chicken broth into the bottom of the roasting pan. This will keep it moist and allows you to baste if necessary.Return roasting pan back to oven. Do not cover it. Bake for an additional 30 minutes. Serve, and enjoy!