Stocking the holiday pantry

A few essentials that make for easier entertaining!

You know those people who just love everything about Christmas? That’s me. I’m much more about the food, music and decorations than I am about the gifts. I genuinely enjoy opening our home to family and friends, often spontaneously. While making the holidays happy for everyone does require a little bit of advance planning, having a party-ready pantry (including a few items in the fridge and freezer) keeps the season from getting too hectic. Many people have their entertaining staples like crackers & cheese, Asian dumplings or pot stickers, frozen smoked salmon. I like all of those things and here are some more of my must-haves:


Awesome with charcuterie, cheese, crumbled over a salad or stirred into Greek yogurt for a delicious, easy dessert.

Frozen spicy cheddar cookie dough 

The dough can be mixed, shaped into cylinders, then frozen. Unwrap and let thaw briefly then slice (or put into a cookie press) and bake. Delicious on their own or as part of a charcuterie or cheese board.

Crab spread ingredients

I always make sure I have a couple of cans of canned crab meat, some jars of seafood cocktail sauce and tubs of spreadable cream cheese on hand. This layered dip recipe is an oldie but a goodie – spread cream cheese on a plate, pour seafood cocktail sauce over in a thin layer, then top with crab meat (and chopped parsley if you have it on hand; a squeeze of fresh lemon juice is great, too). Serve with crackers.

 Frozen cooked meatballs

Meatballs are super versatile and can form the basis of a quick meal (like this great sweet and sour version) or be served as a fun appetizer like this Russian-inspired recipe.

Frozen cookie dough balls

I shape and freeze cookie dough balls so they can be baked (from frozen) as needed, a dozen or so at a time. I usually have several different varieties in the freezer;  having a vegan option like these peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, is really helpful.

Frozen puff pastry

Sheets of store-bought frozen puff pastry are so versatile for whipping up sweet and savoury items like these speedy cinnamon knots which are great for brunch or a coffee date. You can also make a savoury version with garlic butter.

Non-alcoholic beverages

Instead of juice or plain sparkling water, consider options like Seedlip, a line of distilled non-alcoholic spirits; they’re absolutely delicious mixed with sparkling water or tonic.

By stocking up on some of these entertaining essentials, I always feel more prepared and inclined to invite people over on the spur of the moment, plus I’ve always got a stash of edible hostess gifts for any last-minute invitations we receive. I can’t wait for the holiday season to begin!


Author: Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. If you enjoy this space be sure to check out my Rogers TV Ottawa cooking show, Paula Roy's Favourite Foods, available on local cable, streaming and a dedicated playlist on Rogers TV's YouTube channel.

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