11 Full Christmas Menus for Every Type of Celebration

Christmas Eve With All The Trimmings
Photo: Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Prop Styling: Karin Olsen; Food Styling: William Smith

The holidays are here, brimming with opportunities to gather around the table with loved ones and enjoy a delicious meal. To get a jumpstart on your holiday planning, check out this selection of creative and appealing holiday menus, where you will find ideas for cozy and casual meals, or formal and fancy traditional spreads. And because we enjoy a celebration meal anytime of day, we have included some holiday menus for breakfast or brunch.

Holidays are busy, so to help you make the most of your time, within the menu ideas you will find helpful tips on which recipes can be made ahead and how to store them until time to bake and serve. We've got a cocktail party menu that will charm all your friends and a traditional Christmas dinner menu that the whole family will adore. Plan a get-together for any occasion with these combinations of our favorite holiday foods. Whether an opulent dinner or a sweet brunch, these Christmas menus are your new textbook for holiday meals.

01 of 11

The Cocktail Party: A Festive Party for 10

Bloody Mary Poached Shrimp
Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer; Prop Styling: Christine Keely

Recipe: Stuffed Okra Poppers

Recipe: Spicy Cheddar Cheese Straws

Recipe: Slow-Cooker Grape Jelly Meatballs

Recipe: Bloody Mary Poached Shrimp

Recipe: Spinach-and-Artichoke Bites

Recipe: Spiced Orange-Bourbon Punch

Recipe: Cranberry Sangría Punch

Recipe: Fizzy Cider Punch

This festive party for 10 features your best friends, sparkly and fun decor, and a menu that's full of finger foods and big-batch drinks. Toast the season with a menu of sophisticated (but easy!) appetizers and crowd-pleasing punches.

02 of 11

A Fun & Festive Cocktail Supper

Perfect Beef Tenderloin
Iain Bagwell

Recipe: Perfect Beef Tenderloin

Recipe: Montgomery Punch

Recipe: Cheese Dreams

Recipe: Lump Crab Mornay

Recipe: Buttery Toasted Pecans

Recipe: Pecan Bourbon Balls

Southern food and entertaining legend Julia Reed created this easy but elegant menu for a cocktail supper throwback that's an ode to her mother and grandmother. "It's the most forgiving of formats— for the guests as well as the hosts. the menu items are designed to be eaten easily and relatively neatly with your hands, which means that the real progress of a party—visiting, drinking, flirting, meeting new people, or making a quick escape—is not hindered by the pesky tasks of fixing a plate, juggling utensils, and finding a place to perch. As the host, your job is simple: keep the bar and the table replenished, and everything else— dancing, impromptu caroling, illicit sessions under real or imagined mistletoe—takes care of itself."

03 of 11

A Merry Make-Ahead Brunch

Pancake Bake with Cinnamon Streusel Recipe
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Prop Styling: Karin Olsen; Food Styling: William Smith

Recipe: Pancake Bake with Cinnamon Streusel

Recipe: Sausage-and-Cheese Grits Quiche

Recipe: Country Ham Hash

Recipe: Sweet-and-Spicy Sheet Pan Bacon

Here's our gift to you: A memorable menu that won't steal any time away from family on December 25. Invite family and friends over to enjoy a "help yourself" buffet of sweet and savory dishes. This entire brunch menu can be made or prepped in advance. Double recipes for a crowd, as needed.

04 of 11

Fresh and Elegant Holiday Dinner

Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake
Jim Franco

Recipe: Cherry-Pecan Brie

Recipe: Pancetta-Wrapped Beef Tenderloin with Whipped Horseradish Cream

Recipe: Smashed Baby Red Potatoes

Recipe: Garlic Parmesan Green Beans

Recipe: Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake

This beef tenderloin menu inspires the creative cook in you while pleasing guests who love a traditional meal. From the start to its grand finish—Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake—this Christmas celebration will be one for the memory book.

05 of 11

Sweet Christmas Brunch Menu

Pomegranate Mimosa
Greg DuPree; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke

Recipe: Pomegranate Mimosas

Recipe: Our Best Ambrosia Ever

Recipe: Cinnamon Roll Strata

Serve a sweet and colorful Christmas brunch that can be made in advance. Here's your Test Kitchen-approved game plan: Two days before brunch, make the yogurt mixture for the ambrosia; cover and chill. The next day, prepare the mimosas (without the sparkling wine) and the strata (through Step 3), and chill. Then, slice the oranges and pineapple, and chill in an airtight container. Done, done, and done!

06 of 11

Savory Christmas Brunch Menu

Eggs Benedict Casserole
Greg DuPree; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke

Recipe: Bourbon Bloody Marys

Recipe: Arugula Salad with Bacony Croutons and Sherry Vinaigrette

Recipe: Eggs Benedict Casserole

If you always order savory at brunch, we've made a Christmas brunch menu you'll love. We recreated classic eggs Benedict to a big-batch form for the whole family. Plus, hollandaise sauce has never been easier than with this recipe. To make this menu ahead, follow our Test Kitchen's plan: The day before brunch, assemble and chill the casserole (do not bake) and Bloody Mary mixer (without bourbon). Then, prepare the bacon and vinaigrette for the salad, and chill in separate airtight containers. Make the croutons, and store in an airtight container. Enjoy!

07 of 11

Classic Christmas Brunch

Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing
Photo: Luca Trovato

Recipe: Creamy Egg Strata

Recipe: Citrus Salad

Recipe: Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing

Recipe: Bakeshop Blueberry Muffins

Recipe: Big-Batch Mulled Cider

This fun brunch spread finds the perfect balance of sweet and savory. A tip straight from Test Kitchen Professional Pam Lolley: "The butter you spread on the rolled-out cinnamon roll dough should be very soft so that the dough won't tear. Resist the temptation to soften butter in the microwave—it can melt too quickly and unevenly. The best way to soften butter is to let it sit at room temperature."

08 of 11

A Festive Feast

Peppercorn-Crusted Standing Rib Roast with Roasted Vegetables
Laurey W. Glenn

Recipe: Sparkling Pomegranate Punch

Recipe: Stuffed Endive with Herbed Goat Cheese

Recipe: Baked Brie Bites

Recipe: Peppercorn-Crusted Standing Rib Roast with Roasted Vegetables

Recipe: Sautéed Mustard Greens with Garlic and Lemon

Recipe: Baby Hasselback Potatoes with Blue Cheese and Bacon

Recipe: Cornmeal Popovers

The best part about this gorgeous dinner is that every aspect can be prepped in advance. You won't find a more impressive way to feed a crowd during the holidays than this standing rib roast. Start with a fizzy, fruity cocktail in a pretty punch bowl and end by sopping everything up with featherlight popovers.

09 of 11

Carolina Christmas

Grits and Greens with Brown Butter Hot Sauce
Iain Bagwell

Recipe: Sausage-Stuffed Honey Buns

Recipe: Grits and Greens with Brown Butter Hot Sauce

Recipe: Ambrosia Breakfast

North Carolina Chef Vivian Howard invited us to her family farmhouse for a holiday brunch feast that will satisfy those craving something sweet or savory. Sticky buns, a not-your-mama's ambrosia recipe, and classic grits and greens star in this meal.

10 of 11

The Baker's Brunch

Blueberry-Citrus Rolls with Orange Glaze
Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

Recipe: Christmas Morning Cinnamon Rolls

Recipe: Smoky Sausage-and-Grits Casserole

Recipe: Blueberry-Citrus Rolls with Orange Glaze

Recipe: Cream Cheese Pastries

Recipe: Mini Chocolate Chess Tarts

Our Test Kitchen baking extraordinaire Pam Lolley has been making Christmas brunches for decades, so you can trust that each of these recipes will become family traditions. Pam started her make-ahead Christmas brunch tradition when she was pregnant with her third child and wanted a stress-free way to feed a crowd. Today, she preps all of it in advance—except for the cinnamon rolls, which she saves as a special activity to share with her grandkids. "Cooking with them during the holidays is my Christmas present."

11 of 11

Christmas Eve With All The Trimmings

Christmas Eve With All The Trimmings
Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Prop Styling: Karin Olsen; Food Styling: William Smith

Recipe: Stuffed Beef Tenderloin with Burgundy-Mushroom Sauce

Recipe: Honey-Glazed Spiced Carrots

Recipe: Herbed Potato Stacks

Recipe: Balsamic Green Beans with Pearl Onions

Recipe: Beet, Fennel, and Apple Salad
Recipe: Buttery Yeast Rolls

This elegant sit-down dinner is everything you want in a celebratory meal—and it's easy on the cook too. This sophisticated menu is satisfying without being too heavy. Bring together close family to enjoy beef tenderloin and seasonal sides.

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