Your home is sparkling with decorations, the gifts are beautifully wrapped under the tree, and you've even picked out a festive outfit for Christmas. What's left to accomplish but finalize your holiday feast?
Our traditional holiday dinner menu features a standing rib roast with all the trimmings, and easily serves eight guests at the table.
Hot beverages are a welcome offering on cold winter nights, and nothing fills the house with a festive aroma faster than a pot of mulled apple cider simmering on the top of a stove.
Mulling spices can be made from any combination of your favorite flavors -- some of the classic choices are nutmeg, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, allspice, lemon peel, and ginger. The recipe that follows is one that I've been making for years, and it couldn't be simpler. Mulling cider is especially fun if you have children in the house, because they can help by studding the apples with cloves.
In a large saucepan, combine one gallon of apple cider, freshly pressed if it's available, with eight 3-inch cinnamon sticks, four apples studded with cloves, and 10 whole allspice. Simmer the cider for at least 30 minutes. Serve hot right from the stove or from a large earthenware bowl, using a ladle to fill cups. If you'd like to make a spiked version for a grown-up party, add a 1/2 cup light rum.
After all the holiday gifts are unwrapped on Christmas morning, pass the discarded paper through your document shredder and use it inside boxes, rather than outside. The colorful, julienned strips can provide extra (and festive) cushioning for mailed gifts and other fragile items -- newspaper also does the trick. Store any leftovers in a plastic bin to use in packages throughout the year.
1. Buy nonperishables for the holiday meal early in the week.
2. Buy and wrap last-minute gifts.
3. Make centerpieces and arrangements.
4. Buy perishables such as greens, fresh bread, and seafood on Christmas Eve morning.
5. Leave cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve.
6. Stuff stockings.
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