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Holiday parties are in full swing. I have four invitations, and that’s just in the next three days. When the big bashes are over, what do you serve the family?

Composer David Lang told a charming story about his house. Maybe you’ll relate:

I live in New York with my wife, Suzanne Bocanegra, and three kids: Ike, Thea and Judah. Ike and Thea are away at college but have come back for the holiday, and the house is very chaotic and full. Since everyone is here, I start the day making French toast for everyone with some leftover challah. The difference between now and when the kids were young is that now no one eats breakfast together, so I made a giant mound of French toast and put it on “warm” in the oven, and people just ate it when they woke up, all day long.

The links below will help you keep the party going for hours. Follow David Lang’s lead and make it once. Don’t even think about running back and forth to fuss over a hot stove. Forget about constantly checking your oven to heat up another round of high maintenance appetizers. Choose your holiday favorites and let people serve themselves (and that includes “seconds” and “thirds”).

Let’s start with the main course. Choose something that can do double duty – a ham or turkey that you can make ahead and use for sandwiches or breakfast the next day.

Next up: sides. Are you ready to leave stuffing and mashed potatoes in your rear view mirror? You can lighten up your table by making dishes like cabbage, apple & raisin slaw or Mediterranean couscous salad loaded with your favorite vegetables. Epicurious has a list of crudite suggestions, complete with four kinds of dip. This is also the perfect chance to use some of your favorite tapas recipes like prosciuotto wrapped goat cheese dates.

And of course you need a sweet finish, and that may include some spiced cider or mulled wine (perfect for your crockpot). It’s the ideal time to snuggle up with your little ones for Christmas reading. C’mon – you know Samurai Santa: A Very Ninja Christmas is begging to be read aloud!

As you put your holiday plans together, keep Chef Jacques Pepin’s advice in mind: “There is something evanescent, temporary and fragile about food. You make it, it goes, and what remains are memories.”

Here’s to many, many happy memories this holiday! Enjoy!


Food Network Easy and Elegant Holiday Appetizers

Cooking Light – 100 Appetizer Ideas

A Colorful Vegetarian Christmas

Betty Crocker Christmas (including Christmas Dinner, Christmas Sides and Christmas Brunch)

12 Days of Cocktails

22 Hot Chocolate Recipes

Food and Wine Warming Drinks

Food Network – 100 Cookie Ideas

Martha Stewart Cookie Swap Favorites