In a year that’s been upside down and inside out, why stick with the same old dishes for Christmas dinner? This season, it’s time to lighten up a bit and bend the rules on what’s appropriate for a holiday feast.
Don’t worry, you can still dust off the good china, but making a meal out of some of your favorite snack foods is a way to bring a little more fun and excitement to your Christmas day, especially if you’re celebrating with a smaller-than-usual group this year.
Whether you are looking for holiday nostalgia, feel too tired to cook or just want to break out of the usual holiday rut, let one of these themed snack menu ideas lead the way.
Overflowing, perfectly styled grazing boards and charcuterie boards are the supermodels of social media these days. But they’re not just photogenic — these snack platters are fantastic for holiday meals because they’re easily customizable to each member of your family’s tastes.
While the typical grazing board includes cured meats, a variety of cheeses, sliced fruits and vegetables, nuts, and crackers or toasted bread for topping, you can build yours with anything you crave.
Make a Mediterranean board with herb salami, baked feta or goat cheese, hummus or roasted red pepper dip, artichoke hearts, olives and figs to feel like you’re on vacation.
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Not ready to take on homemade dough? Grab refrigerated pizza dough from the store or your local pizza shop and turn out a few mini pizzas.
Because the best part of the holidays is rewatching a favorite film for the millionth time, why not go all out with a smorgasbord of homemade snacks by the handful? Take inspiration from “Home Alone”‘s Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin won’t mind) and indulge yourself in “eating junk and watching rubbish” — only you’ll be upgrading both your movies and food.
If the “Mad Men” aesthetic never goes out of style in your house, lean into it with a retro-inspired holiday buffet spread. Shake up ice-cold martinis or Manhattans and set out a spread of classy finger foods that will make you want to break out the cocktail plates and napkins. Cocktail rings and Santa bow ties will also be appreciated!
But if you add a few platters of deviled eggs, puff pastry-wrapped cocktail weenies and brie-stuffed dates, you’ll really have a throwback menu that still satisfies today.
Sheet pan snacking
For the easiest snack meal of all time, the sheet pan comes through once again — just as it does for so many weeknight dinners. Load it up with tortillas and cheese to broil up a family-size serving of sheet pan nachos. (Family size can be one or two people, in case you’re wondering.)
This method works for Irish nachos made with thick and crunchy kettle chips, or totchos made with tater tots. With these options, you can expand your world of toppings to include crispy bacon, a drizzle of barbecue sauce or ranch dressing, or other melty cheeses like Gruyere or Fontina.
Once you’ve tried freestyling festivities this year, who knows? It might be such a hit that you’ll want to make it a tradition for next Christmas.
Casey Barber is a food writer, photographer and illustrator; the author of “Pierogi Love: New Takes on an Old-World Comfort Food” and “Classic Snacks Made from Scratch: 70 Homemade Versions of Your Favorite Brand-Name Treats”; and editor of the website Good. Food. Stories.