Christmas Menu Ideas
Oh my goodness, Christmas is getting so close! I like to plan my Christmas Eve and Christmas Day menus as early as possible, even going so far as to looking for Christmas menu ideas throughout the year and keeping a list.
There are some foods that stay on the menu rotation for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We always have sausage balls and spinach dip on Christmas Eve. We always have sausage balls (yes, again), sweet potato casserole, and pineapple au gratin on Christmas Day. Most of those things have made the list for the better part of two decades. Sausage balls have been on the list for at least 35 years!!!
This year is a little different because my grandfather wanted to help Christmas Eve. We usually just do lots of appetizers and desserts, but he decided he wanted ham and potato salad, so we are building around that. We’re still having lots of other appetizers and desserts though!
One great thing about my family is that we are all like to cook and we all like to try different things. Our menus have been very diverse through the years. I’ve also learned a few tips and tricks along the way!
Christmas Menu Tips
- Pick favorite recipes. Just like in meal planning, keep a running list of your family’s favorite dishes for Christmas meals and pull from that list. Just don’t be afraid to try something new every now and then!
- Pre-cook. If there are any dishes that can be made ahead of time and frozen or refrigerated, please do that! This is especially important if you have to travel or if your celebration is early in the day. It may not be possible to get everything cooked the day of and there is no sense exhausting yourself!
- Pick a theme. As I said before, we normally do just appetizers and desserts on Christmas Eve, but we have occasionally switched it up with homemade soup and sandwiches. Our Christmas Day dinner is pretty traditional, but we have tried other things besides turkey or ham. My sister and I have decided we want to do a Christmas Day Brunch next year. Beyond that, there are so many theme nights you could do: Christmas Movie Menu (think Elf or a Christmas Story), Pancakes & Pajamas, 12 Days of Christmas…I found all kinds on Pinterest!
- Share the leftovers on Christmas Day. We always put out a few leftovers appetizers to snack on before Christmas dinner. Mostly because it tends to get delayed waiting for the turkey to finish cooking. (I really suck at timing.)
There will probably be 5-7 less people at our Christmas Eve celebration this year because of work and prior commitments, so there may or may not be as much food as usual. It’s okay though, because we always have enough to fix plates for people who couldn’t be there and send leftovers home with everyone anyway!
That One Mom’s Christmas Eve Menu
Nan’s Cheese Ring with Strawberry Preserves (served w/crackers)
Brie with Pepper Jelly (served w/bread)
Veggie Tray with Ranch Dip
Spinach Artichoke Dip
Slider Buns (for the ham)
Fudge, Cookies, Pecan Pie Shortbread, Other Desserts
My mom, aunts, sister, and I always let one another know what appetizers we’ll be bringing for Christmas Eve so that we have a variety. Desserts are another thing altogether though. Everybody just brings what they want!
Like I mentioned before, we all take leftovers home and fix plates for those who couldn’t come, if at all possible. We’ve already planned to use the broccoli salad, slaw, and desserts on Christmas Day. The rest of the leftovers we bring home will be lunch for a few days. It’s rare that anything ever goes to waste when my family cooks!
That One Mom’s Christmas Day Menu
Nan’s Cheese Ring
Sweet Potato Casserole
What To Do With All the Leftovers
This list looks huge, but we will have at least six more guests to feed. Plus, we always extend an invite to any friends who don’t have plans and to any of my husband’s law enforcement friends who are working and need a bite to eat. Our son will take a plate to work and maybe some extra for whoever his work partner will be that shift. And obviously, we will be sending leftovers home with everyone else.
However, there will be some things left and we don’t want them to go to waste!
- If you have a ham, freeze the bone and some bits of meat. Sadly, I won’t have a hambone this year, but I may go to Aldi after Christmas and see if they have any hams left. I use the bone when I make pinto beans or white beans and it is fabulous. I like to put little bits of ham in the beans, because it gives them a ton of flavor. You can also use the ham in a stir fry if you only have small pieces. A little goes a long way!
- Turkey bones are used to make broth. I freeze part of it and use the rest to make turkey and noodles. I also put pieces of leftover turkey in the turkey and noodles. If there is a lot left, we make turkey sandwiches for lunch. I’ve also made the “leftover muffins” where you put turkey and dressing in a muffin tin with a little bit of gravy to hold them together and bake them. So yummy! There is actually a turkey leftover post on Plain Chicken that has some great recipes. If there’s a lot of turkey left, I’ll definitely be trying one of these!
- Dressing, rolls, and gravy can all be frozen if you have excess, but I tend to like to use it in the week following Christmas just so that I don’t have to cook as much!
- If you have a lot of meat leftover, freeze it in individual bags or containers. I freeze small pieces of ham with the ham bone and portion out chunks or slices for stir fry, soups, and/or breakfast (fry it in butter and serve with biscuits). Turkey goes in noodles or soup. Pork tenderloin makes great BBQ, taco, or nachos.
- Use raw vegetables from a veggie tray for soup, stir fry, or fried rice. One of my favorite ways to use them is to chop them up and stir fry them in oil, then add rice noodles and pieces of ham. Top that with some peanut sauce, cilantro, and chopped green onion. (My mouth is watering just thinking about that!)
- Raw vegetables and fruit (if you have a fruit or vegetable tray) make great dippers for homemade fondues!
- Eat leftovers for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snacks until they are gone! (This rarely takes more than three days and everyone eats what they want when they want. It’s a nice break for me!)
There is no doubt that I (and my family) am very blessed. We may not always have a lot of money or extravagant things, but we have never lacked for food or fellowship! Christmas is one of my favorite times of year because there are so many opportunities to be with my extended family. After losing my grandmother, we are all making an effort to appreciate one another more and spend more time together.
Christmas menus don’t have to be difficult. And they absolutely don’t have to be as extensive as ours are! What is most important is being with people you love. If you happen to prepare a Christmas Menu that sparks a memory or creates joy, all the better!!