The stakes are high, and so is the pressure -- but it doesn't need to feel this way. With our thoughtful planning and prep (and these crowd-pleasing recipes), you can pull off an impressive feast without getting stuck in the kitchen during all the fun. Here's how to orchestrate a seamless evening, from first bites to sweet endings.
What to Pour
Food is the focus of the holiday meal, so don’t overthink drinks:
Put it in a pitcher: To play host instead of bartender, make a nonalcoholic punch and set out spirits so adults can spike it, if desired. If your group loves cocktails, designate a house mixologist to mix up these recipes.
Serve both red and white: Give guests their choice by placing one food-friendly bottle of each (say, a crisp Sauvignon Blanc and a robust Malbec or Merlot) on the dinner table.
End on an herbal note: Finish with a bittersweet digestif, such as amaro. We like Averna and Fernet.
Crown Roast of Lamb with Pilaf Stuffing
This traditional dish is the undisputed star of the dining table. Ask your butcher to french the bones for a clean lollipop look, and -- if you’re willing to pay a bit more per pound -- to truss the ribs together. (Step one, done.) In the pilaf, bulgur replaces the usual vermicelli, adding a satisfying chewy texture.
Eggnog Semifreddo Genoise Cake with Meringue Frosting
This knockout is not for the novice, but imagine the standing ovation you’ll get when you slice into it. To create the vertically striped interior, nutmeg-and-rum-scented semifreddo is spread onto the cake layers. Then one layer is rolled and set on its side in the center of a plate, and more layers are wrapped around it.