The Ultimate Holiday Planner: Recipes, Cocktails, Party Ideas and More...

The Daily Meal's ultimate holiday planner
Staff Writer
Chicken Under a Brick

Marc Forgione

Chicken Under a Brick

Looking to plan a themed-holiday party, family dinner or a cocktail party this season? Instead of searching the web for hours, find everything you could ever need right here, in one place. We have cocktail recipes with blood orange and tequila or a Japanese twist on the classic hot toddy. Need simple roasts, healthy sides, or even breakfast ideas for Christmas morning? We've got that too. Everything from appetizers to desserts and more, with recipes for novice and advanced cooks. And, not to exclude anyone during the holidays, find raw, vegan, gluten-free and vegetarian recipes as well.

It's all here in The Daily Meal's Ultimate Holiday Planner.

Happy Holidays!


Appetizers and Salads


Grilled Radicchio Salad with Gorgonzola and Balsamic Vinaigrette

Sweet balsamic balances the naturally bitter radicchio that softens when grilled. Wonderful as an appetizer salad or served alongside grilled meat.


Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Marcona Almonds and Pecorino

A citrusy vinaigrette coats the shaved, tender pieces of brussels sprouts while the marcona almonds give a buttery crunch to each bite.


Étoile's Crab Beignets with Ravigote Sauce

These light-weight appetizers are a great party snack.


Winter Salsa

An easy salsa from Colman Andrews that's great as a dip or on nachos.


Chris Cosentino’s Beef Heart Tartare

For the more adventurous eater, try this tender tartare with crisp crackers.


Herb Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

A light and refreshing herb salad with a classic French bistro dressing.


Friseé Salad with Duck Liver and Duck Cracklings

Anita Lo's simple salad with crispy duck and hot dressing.


A Medieval Coat of Arms Salad

A great health salad with radicchio, prunes, dates, cabbage, herbs and other dried fruit.


Spicy Shrimp and Arugula Salad

A quick, crowd-pleasing salad for a starter or even a side dish.


Alice Water’s Baked Goat Cheese Salad

A simple and creamy salad from the queen of local fresh food.




Rosemary Lentil Stew (Dairy-Free)

The perfect soup for cold, winter nights that's loaded with vegetables.


Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Apple and Cheddar

Smoky flavors, sweet apple and hard cider make this an ideal winter soup.


Parsnip and Celery Root Soup

Slightly sweet parsnips, pureed with onion, celery root, fennel and thickened with pasta makes a great appetizer or main course with a hearty loaf of bread.


French Lentil Soup with Sweet Potato Croutons

A seasonal soup that uses firm French lentils that won't soften or become mush when cooked.


Vegan Pinto Bean Chili

A vegetable-packed chili recipe that's great for a crowd.


French Onion Soup

Classic French onion soup from a Paris-based cook.


Main dishes


Juniper-Rubbed Pork Loin with Prunes and Savoy Cabbage

As nights get colder, deeply-flavored foods like prunes and bacon blend together beautifully with the bright, piney-flavor of berries. 


A Simple Chuck Roast

A hearty main dish for a holiday dinner served with some of the sides below.


Beer-Braised Pork Chops with Pears and Apples

The dark beer infuses the apples with its bitter-sweetness while the apples and pear add a sweet component that works perfectly with the fatty flavor of the pork chops.


Hedgehog Mushroom and Turkey Pot Pie
A hearty and comforting twist on traditional chicken pot pie.


Char-Baked Tomato, Zucchini and Eggplant

A vegetarian main dish that zucchini and eggplant haters will love.


Marinated and Grilled Butterflied Lamb

Kid-friendly and parent-approved, this dish works well as a weeknight meal or a holiday dinner centerpiece.


Salmon with Sauternes and Olive Oil

An 1874 recipe from The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser that still works today.


Fettucine with Butternut Squash, Arugula, Sage, Parmesan and Pine Nuts

Instead of just roasting butternut squash, turn it into a great vegetarian pasta with these nutty, fresh flavors.


Crusted Salmon with Red Lentils and Herbs

A wonderful and tasty healthy main course from Chef Nikki Cascone.


Coconut-Curry Scallops

Perfect for a large group or holiday party, these well-spiced and silky scallops will be a hit.


Lamb Meatballs with Fresh Herbs

Fresh, fun and perfect for a group dinner.


Marc Forgione’s Chicken Under a Brick

A moist and flavorful roast chicken from the New Iron Chef.


Halibut with Tomato-Jalapeno Salsa

An easy, delicate fish that pairs beautifully with the cooked tomatoes.


Side dishes


Roasted Marrow Bones

Much easier than they look, this rich and creamy dish is perfect with thick, toasted bread.


Quickly-Cooked Kale with White Beans

Flavorful and packed full of nutrients, this dish works wonderfully with cooked vegetables and meats.


Creamy Sunchoke Risotto

A warming and filling dish that uses sparkling instead of still for a twist on classic risotto.


Cream-Braised Belgian Endive

A hearty winter dish that's a good alternative to creamed spinach.


Bette’s Braised Red Cabbage with Apple

A perfect winter accompaniment to any meal.


Rose's Baked Artichoke Hearts

An easy side dish that's perfect for the holidays, or year round with roasted chicken or fish.


Wild Rice Pilaf with Pomegranates

A seasonal side brightend with red pomegranate seeds.


Gluten-Free Olive-Rosemary Bread

Gluten-free holiday bread from Elana Amsterdam.




Gluten-Free Pear Crisp

A crunchy and sugary crisp that's great right out of the oven with some cold ice cream on top.


Grand Marnier (Gluten-Free) Pudding

Erin Swing worked hard to develop this delicious gluten-free pudding that's a sweet end to a great meal.


Classic Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

A holiday favorite with thick, creamy frosting from Boston's Flour Bakery + Café.


Toasted Cream Coconut Pie with Lime Whipped Cream

For coconut lovers and key lime pie aficionados, this is the ulitmate dessert.


Cake Pops

Colorful candied-treats on a stick are great for cocktail parties and kids love them.


Frankies’ Red Wine Prunes with Mascarpone

A soothing end to a meal with the densely-rich flavor of prunes contrasted with the sweet, creaminess of mascarpone.


Nutella Cookies

It almost doesn't get better than this: the rich chocolate-hazelnut spread mixed into the cookie batter and baked.


Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake with Marshmallow Frosting

Decadent chocolate cake topped with a childhood favorite: sticky, sweet marshmallows.


Hazelnut Tart with Espresso Cream

A creamy, nutty dessert with crunchy hazelnuts and espresso-infused cream.


Warm Strawberry Cakes with Crème Chantilly

A classic French cake with gently-whipped vanilla-kissed cream and fresh strawberries.


8 Alocholic Milkshakes

The next time you can't decide between dessert and a cocktail, make one of these spiked treats.




Blood Orange, Ginger Beer and Tequila Cocktail

A fizzy sunset-red cocktail that will make your mouth tingle.


Winter Solstice

A bright, invigorating cocktail to snap you out of the winter blues.


Pear Cider

A warm seasonal cocktail that's perfect for this time of year.


Brandy Alexander Cocktail

A sweet, creamy cocktail with brandy and dark crème de cacao


Idillic Cocktail

Inspired by the Cosmopolitan, this refreshing electric-green cocktail has savory dill for an earthy kick.


Mexican Hot Chocolate

A classic hot chocolate is spiced up with cinnamon sticks and vanilla.


Great Pumpkin Cocktail

A seasonal flip from PDT bartender Jim Meehan.


Peruvian Pear Cobbler Cocktail

John deBary used bright elderflower liqueur, bitter amaro and pear-infused Cognac as savory, bittersweet accents in his Peruvian Pisco-based cobbler featuring the seasons’ final fruit. 


Sake Sangria

Always great  for a crowd, this sake version is no exception.


Lavos Piccola Noce

A creamy, peppermint cocktail made with Godiva's chocolate raspberry vodka.


Japanese Courage

The Japanese version of a hot toddy is made with a good-quality sake that warms your insides.


Christmas Morning


Gingerbread Brioche Pain Perdu

A crispy, sweet breakfast from Chef Laurent Tourondel.


Raw Morning, Noon and Night Pancakes

Raw pancakes that can be eaten anytime of day.


Blueberry Scones

A healthier version of buttery blueberry scones.


Egg-White Frittata with Sage-Braised Leeks and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

A light vegetable-filled frittata makes a filling breakfast.


Banana Bread

A perfect way to use your overripe bananas in this delicious breakfast bread.


California Omelette

A simple and filling omelette with creamy California avocados.


Party Ideas


Ugly Christmas Sweater Party

Dig up your red velvet jackets, that itchy, green reindeer sweater and encourage your friends to do the same for this ugly sweater-themed party.


Naughty or Nice?

Make some spicy or sweet treats for you guests, depending on whether they’ve been naughty or nice, while you play a mean game of Dirty Santa (a.ka. Yankee Swap).


12 Days of Christmas

The 12 days Christmas translated into 12 dishes? Sounds like the perfect potluck party.


Top-Chef Inspired Cookie Party

Cut, bake and decorate cookies with your friends, then have a neutral partygoer judge the winner for a special prize!


Happy Holidays!!

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