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It seems like I was just doing this for Thanksgiving! I love hosting holidays, but I don’t love being stuck in the kitchen while everyone else is enjoying family time. (Especially since my nephew came along- I’d much rather hang out with him!) To make more time for family I always try to prep my sides (and appetizers & desserts) in advance. It saves so much time and allows me to hang out with my family more. Those are moments I don’t want to miss because I’m stuck in the kitchen!
We’re going to start with three recipes I made in advance for Thanksgiving because they were SO GOOD! (And super easy, which is always a plus.) I am always looking for new, yummy vegetable dishes to make because my daughter is a vegetarian and I try to make sure she’s not eating the same thing over and over again. These first three recipes were a huge hit with everyone!
Christmas Side Dishes
Honey Garlic Butter Carrots
Cafe Delites is one of my go-to’s for recipes. She has amazing recipes for every day and for holidays. I made these honey garlic butter carrots for Thanksgiving and I wish I’d tripled the recipe! The ingredients are so simple (you probably have everything but the carrots on hand) and make one of the most delicious side dishes I’ve ever had.
Garlic Green Beans with Portobello Mushrooms and Parmesan
Up next are these AMAZING green beans with portobello mushrooms. These were so good I have been craving them ever since Thanksgiving! Head over to the Wicked Noodle for the recipe for Garlic Green Beans and Portobellos with Parmesan. With just 4 ingredients, these are easy & delicious! This is one of those side dishes that will stand the test of time and please everyone at your holiday table.
Candied Pecan, Pear & Pomegranate Salad
No holiday dinner is complete without a salad and this salad is so good! I made it for Thanksgiving this year and there was none left- how often do people go for seconds of salad?! This Candied Pecan, Pear & Pomegranate Salad can be made in advance by prepping all of the ingredients individually and making the dressing ahead. And don’t worry about having to pluck arils from a pomegranate, you can buy them already plucked now. 😉 The hardest part about this salad is not eating the candied pecans before they make it onto the salad!
Loaded Mashed Potato Casserole
This loaded mashed potato casserole looks so good, and it is so much easier than making individual twice-baked potatoes. The cost is estimated at less than $8, too, making this a budget friendly- as side dishes should be. You can make this dish in advance, but be sure to allow additional baking time if it’s going from refrigerator to oven. If you have a vegetarian in your group you can either leave the bacon out or put theirs in a separate dish before adding the bacon.
Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Butternut Squash
This one pan recipe for Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Butternut Squash is super simple. Prep everything in advance & pop it in the oven just before dinner.
With just 5 simple ingredients and 5 simple steps, these smashed potatoes are perfect for a weeknight dinner and also for a holiday! If your guests haven’t had smashed potatoes before they will definitely ask for this recipe! Prep it all the way to Step 5 and bake just before dinner time. I make these all.the.time and they are perfectly crispy and delish!
If you’re not familiar with Damn Delicious, it’s time to get to know Chungah. She is another one of my “go-to” food bloggers and I make her recipes all the time. These mashed sweet potatoes are sure to be as amazing as they look. Sweet potatoes are not just for Thanksgiving! Prep everything in advance and reheat just before dinner.
Butternut Squash Gratin
This make ahead butternut squash gratin can be made in advance and looks so good! Don’t let the creme fraiche scare you- if you can’t find it in store it is very easy to make!
Cheesy Sweet Potato Casserole
This is another great twist on the usual sweet potato dish! This Cheesy Sweet Potato Casserole can easily be prepped in advance all the way to step 4. (That’s right- just 4 easy directions!)
Squash Mushroom & Farro Dressing
This looks so festive! The prep is a little involved, but the outcome is this amazing squash, mushroom and farro dressing that would go perfectly with just about any main dish. And, it can be chilled for 24 hours so prep it early and move on to other dishes!
Don’t all of those side dishes look amazing? They all look delicious and so festive- perfect for a holiday meal with friends and family.
Since this post is all about saving time in the kitchen in order to spend more time with friends and family, I thought it would be appropriate to share some time-saving kitchen hacks! Everyone loves a hack, right?
Christmas Cooking Hacks
- Use serving dishes that can go from oven to table to save time & minimize the numb er of dirty dishes you have to contend with.
- Instead of serving salad in a deep bowl, use a round platter instead. Place the dressing in a dish in the center and arrange the salad around the dish. The result? A Christmas salad WREATH!
- Use the lid from an ice cream bucket to keep ingredients in the bowl of your mixer and off of everything else!
- Keep your salad from getting soggy by putting a piece of paper towel on top of the washed (and dried) leaves and covering the bowl tightly with plastic wrap.
- Need more space in your oven? Problem solved. This three tiered oven rack can be used in the oven to create additional baking space or as a countertop cooling rack.
Ready for more holiday inspiration? Check out our Holiday and Seasons section on the blog for more ideas! You’ll find our 10 Christmas Mantles (+bonus decorating hacks!) post and also our Winter decor post – Decor to Last the Whole Season!