holiday meals

Eliminate your holiday meal stress!

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Hosting a Christmas meal can be exhausting and expensive. A lot of preparation goes into planning a menu, buying the ingredients, and putting each dish together the day of. Then, there is always a home to clean, a table to set, and beverages to be put together as well! This makes the holidays tiring and stressful, and doesn’t let the host enjoy the meal with family and friends.

Planning early or making a schedule only goes so far – a lot of work must still be done the day of, and a lot of the stress cannot be avoided. However, if you’re hosting a holiday meal, consider lightening your load by assigning others to bring a dish!

Just because you are hosting the meal, doesn’t mean you should be afraid to ask for help. Side dishes like casseroles or vegetables are easy for others to bring and quickly heat once they arrive. You can also ask some of your guests to bring one or more desserts. If your aunt makes the best green bean casserole, or your sister has time to make a dessert, don’t be afraid to ask them to contribute to the meal. Beverages or appetizer dishes are also easy to assign to others.

Allow yourself to enjoy the meal by taking some of the load off of your feet. Many of your guests will be happy to help and contribute to the meal. To prevent people from bringing the same item, or bringing a dish that doesn’t fit with the meal, consider delegating a specific dish or giving each guests a couple of options to choose from. This way, you will still have control over the menu and dishes, but won’t have to prepare everything yourself. You can also stay more organized the day of by confirming with each guests a couple of days before whether or not they will need to heat anything in the oven or microwave, so you can plan your own cooking.

Make the holidays more enjoyable this year, and spend time with your family and friends. Too often, hosts spend most of their time organizing menus, shopping for ingredients, and preparing turkeys, and don’t get to visit with their loved ones. There is only so much organizing you can do beforehand – the only way to really cut down on stress is to eliminate some of the tasks that need to be done for the meal. Get your guests to help and bring a dish of their own, or even dessert – anything to help you enjoy the meal with them!

This year, have a relaxing an enjoyable holiday!

Holiday food (and drink) recipes

Whether you're just having dinner with friends and relatives, or hosting a large holiday party, it can be tough to try and find the right dishes to serve and the right drinks to mix for your guests. To help you out during this busy time, we've found a recipe for a drink, side dish, and dessert that will work for whoever you're entertaining this year. Happy holidays!

Christmas Sangria (with white wine) from Food Fanatic:


  • 2 750 ml bottles your favorite white wine, like riesling
  • 1 pomegranate
  • 2 oranges, sliced thin
  • 6 ounces cranberries, about 1 1/2 cups
  • 1 cup pomegranate juice
  • 2 cups ginger ale, or club soda for a less sweet version


  1. In a large pitcher, combine the white wine, pomegranate arils, orange slices, cranberries and pomegranate juice.
  2. Chill for at least one hour.
  3. Stir in the ginger ale and serve.

Sabrina's suggestion: Freeze the cranberries and any other fruit you add to the sangria to help keep the sangria cool. This way, you won't have to use ice and water down the sangria!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Cinnamon Butternut Squash, Pecans, and Cranberries from Julia's Album:

Roasted Brussels Sprouts:

  • 3 cups Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed, yellow leaves removed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt, to taste

Roasted Butternut Squash:

  • 1 and ½ pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed into 1-inch cubes (Yields about 4 cups of uncooked cubed butternut squash)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Other Ingredients:

  • 2 cups pecan halves
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 2-4 tablespoons maple syrup (optional)


Roasted Brussel Sprouts:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Lightly grease the foil-lined baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
  2. Make sure Brussels sprouts have trimmed ends and yellow leaves are removed. Then, slice all Brussels sprouts in half. In a medium bowl, combine halved Brussels sprouts, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt (to taste), and toss to combine. Place onto a foil-lined baking sheet, cut side down, and roast in the oven at 400 F for about 20-25 minutes. During the last 5-10 minutes of roasting, turn them over for even browning, the cut sides should be nicely and partially charred but not blackened (see my photos).

Roasted Butternut Squash:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Lightly grease the foil-lined baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine cubed butternut squash (peeled and seeded),1 tablespoon of olive oil, maple syrup, and cinnamon, and toss to mix.
  3. Place butternut squash in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning once half-way through baking, until softened.
  4. Note: You can roast both Brussels sprouts and butternut squash on 2 separate baking sheets at the same time, on the same rack in the oven – that’s what I did.


  1. In a large bowl, combine roasted Brussels sprouts, roasted butternut squash, pecans, and cranberries, and mix to combine. (OPTIONAL): For more sweetness, add 2 or 4 tablespoons of maple syrup, if desired – do not add all maple syrup at once, start with 2 tablespoons, then add more, if desired, and toss with the salad ingredients to combine.

Sugar Cookies from Taste of Home: 


  • I cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons 2% milk
  • Food coloring of your choice, optional
  • Colored sugar, edible glitter, nonpareils or frosting of your choice, optional


  • In a large bowl, cream butter and confectioners' sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and extracts. Combine flour and salt; add to creamed mixture and mix well. Chill for 1-2 hours.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/8-in. thickness. Cut with 2-1/2-in. flour-dipped cookie cutters. Place on greased baking sheets. Bake at 375 degrees for 7-9 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove wire racks to cool. 
  • For frosting, in a small bowl, combine the butter, sugar, vanilla and enough milk to achieve a spreading consistency. Tint with food coloring if desired. Frost cookies; decorate as desired. Yield 6-7 dozen.

Sabrina's suggestion: For extra flavour, consider adding peppermint or lemon extract to the frosting or even the sugar cookie batter itself.

Mom’s Old-Fashioned Gingerbread from Valerie's Kitchen:

Servings: 9


  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup unsulphured molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2-1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Powdered sugar and whipped cream, for topping


1.     Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Coat a 8" or 9" square baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

2.     Use an electric mixer to cream together the sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl. Add molasses and egg and beat until well combined.

3.     In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and salt. Use a spoon to blend the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Add hot water and stir until well incorporated and batter is smooth. Pour into the prepared pan.

4.     Bake at 325 degrees F for 45 to 50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.

5.     It is delicious served slightly warm, topped with powdered sugar and whipped cream!


For a large sheet cake, recipe can be doubled and baked in a large rimmed baking sheet (approximately 16" x 12"). Follow exactly as directed but reduce baking time to approximately 28 to 30 minutes.

Karen’s suggestion: Serve this gingerbread cake with ice cream, pear or apple slices sautéed in butter, rum, and caramel sauce. The benefits of this dessert is that you can make it ahead of time and freeze the cake – no need to ice or frost it!