There are lots of guests and more mouths to feed when Christmas rolls around, so it can be fun to switch things up and add a few festive and holiday-inspired snacks, meals and desserts to your Christmas menu. From candy cane-shaped apps and portioned-out main courses to something sweet and merry for dessert, there’s always a way to bring a little more yuletide cheer into your home. —Jennifer Cox
spinach and artichoke candy cane. Buy store-bought crescent roll dough as well as spinach artichoke dip. Open dough and unroll; press seams together to form a large rectangle. Spoon the dip down the length of the dough leaving an inch of room from the outside edge. Roll up, bend into a candy cane shape and place on a baking sheet. Cut small slits diagonally across the candy cane every 2-3 inches and bake.
christmas tree salad. Using several small heads of Boston lettuce, fashion a triangular tree shape on a cutting board. Add cherry tomatoes (in different colours if you can find them) and cut a star out of yellow pepper. Drizzle with a vinaigrette.
individual portions. Instead of making a large turkey or roast, why not give everyone their own little portion? Instead of chicken or turkey, consider Cornish game hens or individual pot or meat pies. Or present each person at the table with their own roasted fish and an individual shrimp cocktail. All these ideas involve shorter overall cooking times and more celebrating time.
tree-shaped sweets. A sheet pan of brownies can be cut into triangles and decorated with icing and small coloured candies to resemble trees. You can also make tree-shaped cupcakes with a mound of green icing on top or use ornamental frosting to “glue” together stacked star-shaped sugar cookies in varying widths for a beautiful, tapered look.
bark. This might be the easiest (and one of the yummiest) Christmas desserts! All you need is melted chocolate (milk, dark, white, or coloured melting wafers) and a parchment-lined baking sheet to spread it in. Then, add your favourite go-withs (just about anything!): nuts, dried fruit, candies, cut up chocolate bars or cookies, candy canes, pretzels, or mini marshmallows. Once it hardens break it into different shapes and pieces. Bark also makes for great teacher or neighbour gifts!