Preparing for Christmas can be overwhelming: the decorating, the Christmas cards, the baking, the shopping, the wrapping.
Well, to take some stress out of your overly busy holiday season, we've created three distinct shopping lists to keep you on track for your holiday gatherings.
Shopping List for Baking Christmas Cookies
Christmas cookies are a wonderful tradition – and one that you can start well ahead of the big day. Gathering everything you need to get started is easy with our handy list. Check these items off your list, set aside a day or two for marathon baking, and prepare to impress family and friends with your out-of-this-world holiday fare!
baking powder: Oh? You already have some on hand? Check the date and toss if expired. Baking powder has to be fresh to do its job.
- Baking Soda: This is one of those ingredients that you use for everything – from clearing drains to boosting your laundry detergent. Make sure you have enough on hand (a fresh, unopened box is best) to use for baking!
- Butter: Opt for unsalted butter sticks (half-sticks are super-handy) over salted butter or margarine.
- Chocolate: Pick up milk, semisweet, and bittersweet chocolates in bar, morsel, and/or powder. (No snacking until the baking is done!)
- Cream: Let's be more specific… heavy cream. It's the base of a wide array of creams, custards, and icings.
- Eggs: Buy large or extra-large for best results.
- Flour: Most recipes assume you're using all-purpose flour, so stick with that.
- Milk: No matter what type of milk your family drinks, you'll want to pick up some whole milk for baking. Most recipes prefer it over nonfat or almond varieties.
- Nuts: It's a good idea to keep almonds, pecans, and walnuts on hand. A little peanut butter is a good idea, too.
- Spices: Restock your spice rack with fresh cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg. (They make heavenly potpourri, too!)
- Sugar: This is a category of ingredients that includes brown sugar (dark or light), confectioner's sugar (aka powdered sugar), and granulated sugar (the kind you put in your tea). You'll want to stock up on all three!
- Vanilla: We recommend pure vanilla extract. Why would you want to put anything “imitation" in your special cookies?
Shopping List for Christmas Parties and Entertaining
A party for the kids. An adults-only open house. You know your guests better than we do, so this shopping list serves as a more general guideline. You fill in the specific items needed within each category so you'll be prepared to get it all done in one shot!
- Beverages: Offer plenty of options – juices and sodas for the younger set; beer, wine, and liquor for the grown-up crowd; and bottled water for everyone.
- Cleaning Supplies: Stock up on everything you need to prep the party area (including the powder room!) as well as everything you need to clean up afterward.
- Dairy: Serving spiked punch? Don't forget the eggnog ice cubes! Finger foods? Pick up a variety of cheeses and serve as cubes or slices.
- Decorations: You'll likely already be decked out for the holiday, but think about other party-specific items you may need, like place cards, candles, charms for wine glasses…
- Deli: Again, you'll want sliced deli meats if you're doing sandwich trays. Beef sticks are great for cutting up and serving with a variety of mustard. And the deli is where you'll find ready-made dips, too.
- Produce: Everyone loves a holiday-themed fruit and veggie trays. Pair it with one or more of the dips you picked up at the deli.
- Serving Ware: If you have fun Christmas dishes and glasses, by all means use them! Otherwise, save yourself a ton of work by picking up plenty of disposable dishes,cups, and cutlery. Modern options look like the real thing.
- Take-Home Gifts: Considerate guests come bearing gifts of wine and dessert. Considerate hosts send their guests home with a little something to mark the occasion. Keep it simple and inexpensive: mini boxes of butter mints, Christmas shot glasses, a charming ornament.
Shopping List for Christmas Dinner
For this list, we're going with a traditional turkey dinner. Feel free to swap out our suggestions for your family's favorite fare.
- The Main Course: A turkey that's large enough to serve 1 to 1 and 1/2 pounds per person. Check the expiration dates on fresh turkeys. Allow a week (or longer) for a big, frozen turkey to thaw in the refrigerator. Have vegetable oil, salt, and pepper on hand to season the turkey before cooking.
- Stuffing: Decide if you want seasoned croutons or day-old loaves of bread (for cubing). Pick up everything you need to flavor the stuffing - whether you're cooking it inside or outside the turkey - including celery, onions, chestnuts, chicken broth, and spices.
- Gravy: Be sure to have cornstarch or flour for making gravy from drippings. If you're not 100 percent comfortable with your gravy-making skills, sneak in some flavor packets or even some jarred gravy to help.
- Potatoes: Russets are best for mashing (save the salted, boiled water for gravy making!) with butter, milk, and a sprinkle of garlic powder. Fresh sweet potatoes taste great when baked, mashed, or candied. Make a list of the ingredients your favorite version requires.
- Bread: If you're serving stuffing, bread is optional. But most diners enjoy a warm hearty dinner roll with a slathering of regular or apple butter.
- Pie: Your family is either a "we only eat Uncle Joe's homemade pies" or a "hey, the frozen pies are on sale this week" bunch. If you're making your own, write down every ingredient - from the shortening for the crust to the cinnamon for the apples. If you're buying someone else's handiwork, look for holiday bargains not only at the grocery stores but also at local restaurants and bakeries.