12 Items You Should Always Keep In Your Kitchen During The Holiday Season

Stock your kitchen now and you'll never be unprepared during the busy holiday season.

Kitchen Island
Photo: Laurey Glenn

The most wonderful time of year is just around the corner, but it can be one of the most stressful if you are ill-prepared for all the parties, family meals, gifting, and cookie exchanges to come. We've rounded up a few of our favorite pantry essentials and asked a few Southern tastemakers about their kitchen must-haves for all of the exciting events ahead.

01 of 12


Candied Pumpkin Spice Pecans
Greg Dupree; Food Styling: Rishon Hanners; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

Nuts are a holiday season staple as they are incredibly versatile for putting together a savory cocktail snack in minutes, jazzing up a classic Christmas treat, or making a festive brittle to gift teachers and co-workers. Try out one of our favorite candied nut recipes to serve at your next gathering or to keep on hand for last-minute gifts.

02 of 12

A Few Extra Bottles of Wine

Close up of wine bottles

It's never a bad thing to stock up on a few extra bottles on your next trip to your favorite neighborhood wine shop or supermarket. Not only will your stash be important in case you underestimate how much guests would imbibe at your next gathering, but a bottle of wine is always a welcome gift during this time of year.

If you're not sure where to start or are an aficionado that's always on the hunt for the next great conversation-starting bottle, check out Stompy, a new wine delivery service that builds boxes of incredible wines from around the world based on your taste preferences and interests. You can bet your favorite oenophile won't have already been gifted one of their pro picks.

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Local Goodies

Savannah Bee Company Rosemary Honey
Savannah Bee Company

Liz Eichholz, co-founder and creative director of Weezie, is a big fan of keeping her holiday pantry stocked with local goods that make excellent gifts, conversation-starting party snacks, and last-minute meals. Plus, you're also helping support your favorite local businesses during the holiday season which can always use the extra help in light of Amazon Prime and grocery delivery services.

"As a Savannah local, I like to add some rosemary honey from Savannah Bee Company to our charcuterie boards for a sweet twist," she says.

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Plenty of Kitchen Towels


We all tend to use our kitchens more than ever during the last few months of the year, and we likely have more little helpers willing to assist with a batch of cookie dough or grandma's mashed potato recipe than normal. Eichholz routinely checks the pantry to ensure it's well-stocked with clean kitchen towels to help with drying dishes, cleaning up an explosion of powdered sugar, and making the table look beautiful.

Weezie just launched a collection of functional and stylish kitchen towels that can be embroidered for a thoughtful holiday gift. Check out this genius method for kitchen towel storage to keep your pantry well-organized.

05 of 12

Festive Spices

Cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in bowls
Photography: Caitlin Bensel, Food Styling: Torie Cox / Southern Living

Whether you're a seasoned baker or you only break out the rolling pin when Christmas rolls around, our editors believe bakers of all kinds should be well-stocked with festive spices this time of year. Some favorites include classics like cinnamon and vanilla bean, while we also think funkier options like mace and sumac will bring big flavor and cozy aromas to your kitchen. Use them to whip up nostalgic spiced desserts anytime a craving or cookie exchange strikes.

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Beautiful Cocktail Napkins

Tan Cocktail Napkins

It's time to break your favorite linens out of storage and keep them close by in your pantry or a nearby closet. Lyndsey Zorich, Houston-based tastemaker and founder of The Avenue, says a pile of versatile cocktail napkins must always be close by once Halloween rolls around.

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Cookie Cutters

Sur La Table Cookie cutter Set
Sur La Table

Whether you need to make a few extra ornaments or are baking a batch of your famous sugar cookie dough, festive cookie cutters are a must for the holidays and should be easily accessible for the family. Even little ones can participate in this part of the cookie making process, and holiday cutters are a fun way to transform a tube of store-bought dough into something special. Check out this ultimate Christmas cookie cutter set if you need to start your collection or try this 3D Winter Village set for something extra-special.

08 of 12

Hot Chocolate Mix

Hot Chocolate Mix
Annabelle Breakey / Getty Images

Whether you prefer to whip up a batch of homemade hot chocolate mix before the real festivities begin or are a Swiss Miss devotee, this is a great item to keep your pantry stocked with all season long. It's a simple yet satisfying treat for guests and the whole family will love sipping it as you all scout out the best neighborhood Christmas lights. Plus, you'll be the trendiest host in town with a hot chocolate "charcuterie" board at December's book club that can be thrown together in seconds.

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Fancy Olive Oils

Brightland Olive Oil

Eichholz also likes to keep top-notch olive oils in heavy rotation during the holiday season, as they can bring big flavor to salads, appetizers, and just about anything else. She especially loves Brightland's infused olive oils, which she often pairs with a crusty loaf of local bread for an easy and crowd-pleasing snack before a holiday dinner party. Just be warned: once you try these artisanal olive oils, you won't be able to go back.

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Canned Cocktails


"Who doesn't love a last minute get-together?" says Eichholz. "I enjoy playing bartender and keep a variety of Tip Top's canned cocktails on hand so we always have something special to offer our guests."

Strategizing a few canned cocktail picks to pick up on your next grocery store run can be great for guests wanting to enjoy a lower-calorie treat between parties and will turn an impromptu caroling stop into a party in seconds! For those who don't like to bartend, it's an easy way to offer guests a wider variety than your big-batch holiday cocktail without extra hassle.

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Stuffed Olives


Weezie's other co-founder and CEO Lindsey Johnson says that stuffed olives are in heavy rotation during the Christmas season, and she'll never let her pantry live without them. She especially loves Filthy Food Blue Cheese Stuffed Olives, which can serve many purposes at your Christmas cocktail party from garnish to solo snack to charcuterie board addition.

"I love a good martini, and when I have guests over, I like to add a fun twist to the classic garnish," Johnson says. "These blue cheese olives make happy hour feel even more like a special occasion."

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Gourmet Cookies

Henri's Shortbread Cookies

While we'd all like to think that we have plenty of time to prep for the next school holiday party or gift exchange, there's nothing wrong with serving up a plate of store-bought cookies that you can vouch for. Johnson is a big fan of stocking the pantry with a locally adored shortbread that makes its appearance throughout the season.

"For an easy, no-fuss dessert, shortbread cookies from Henri's Bakery are a must!" says Johnson. "Henri's is an Atlanta staple, and next door neighbor to our flagship store that opened this year."

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