What’s Cooking for Christmas

If I was cooking a traditional Christmas dinner at my house this year I’d probably make mashed butternut squash; roasted brussel sprouts with caramelized onions; even a natural version of my mom’s mushroom soup hashbrown casserole. It turns out though that the only event I have to host is a day of meals for my parents the day after a big traditional extended family gathering. Because everyone is going to have heavy bellies after eating turkey and pie the day before, I’ve decided to keep things simple and light(ish) to balance it out.

So I need to plan for:

  • One breakfast, lunch and dinner for four (plus three dogs)
  • A potluck appetizer to feed about 20 adults (plus two kids)

My strategy:

  • Make-ahead dishes to let us prepare ahead of time
  • Homemade bread in our new bread machine
  • Focus on vegetables to balance out the inevitable goodies

Event 1: Extended family potluck

In my extended family, each of my mom and her four brothers rotate hosting responsibilities. The host cooks the meat (usually turkey and/or ham) and the guest families are each required to bring an appetizer, side dish and dessert (I also generally add a vegetarian main dish to the mix). There’s enough variety to try new things and always a back-up if you don’t like something.

This year my mom is bringing a side dish and dessert, while I’ll be contributing an appetizer: cold spring rolls, subbing the more wintery daikon for the summery cucumber. My dipping sauce of choice could either be the homemade peanut sauce (listed with the recipe) or a Japanese sesame dressing (Neil Brothers).

A platter of cold spring rolls

Event 2: Host my parents


Cheater Baked Beans


  • Minestrone soup*
  • Homemade whole wheat bread* (put on with breakfast)


  • Homemade hot chocolate
  • Edamame
  • Clementines


Swiss raclette, which is kind of like a reverse fondue. It’s a communal exercise in cooking, which means there’s less time in the kitchen and more time chatting over the grill, which sits in the centre of the table. On the grill go vegetables and thinly shaved meat; under the grill go slices of silky raclette cheese. As the three food groups cook, you scrape them together and eat on roasted potatoes (traditional) or a slice of bread.

For the veggies, gherkins, pickled onions and potatoes are traditional, but we grill any vegetable that won’t fall apart: red peppers, zucchini, lots of garlic, shallots, broccoli, eggplant…


  • Pomegranate “shots” with real whipped cream
  • Port wine biscuits (recipe from Vegan Cookies Take Over Your Cookie Jar cookbook)*


You can also see the menu on my holiday Pinterest board below.

Making time to socialize

The best part about this menu is that it balances more complicated make-ahead recipes (muffins and cookies) with simple items that need little attention. And that means I can spend more time catching up with family, walking the dogs and finally relaxing. Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and may all your recipes turn out just right!


  1. Hey there! This post couldn’t be written any better!
    Reading through this post reminds me of my previous room mate!
    He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this post to him.

    Fairly certain he will have a good read. Thank you for sharing!

Leave a Reply