Entrée: Duck Breast with Maple and Plums
Juicy duck breast flavored with maple and fresh rosemary proves that make-ahead doesn't have to mean basic. To make it ahead, toss everything (spicy parsnips, savory shallot, and four servings of duck breast) into the slow cooker the morning of your Christmas dinner. Add the plums at the end so they don't get too soft.
When to make it: Seven hours ahead
Get the recipe: Duck Breast with Maple and Plums
Side Salad: Fresh Citrus and Cranberry Salad
Let winter produce shine in your make-ahead Christmas menu. This palette-perking salad serves up orange slices and cranberries with freshly grated ginger and mint. The longer you let the ingredients chill together, the more dramatic the flavors will be.
When to make it: Two days ahead
Get the recipe: Fresh Citrus and Cranberry Salad
Vegetable Side: Brussels Sprouts Casserole with Pancetta and Asiago Cheese
Every Christmas menu needs a gooey casserole. Thanks to heaps of Asiago cheese, this vegetarian-friendly bake fills the bill. It achieves peak savory goodness with a medley of tender vegetables and salty fried pancetta.
When to make it: Chop the vegetables and chill in an airtight container up to 24 hours ahead of time.
Get the recipe: Brussels Sprouts Casserole with Pancetta and Asiago Cheese
Make-Ahead Herb Buttered Mashed Potatoes
No holiday plate is complete without a steamy spoonful of classic mashed potatoes, and this make-ahead recipe checks all the boxes: herby, buttery, and creamy.
When to make it: Make the Herb Butter at least one day ahead.
Get the recipe: Make-Ahead Herb Buttered Mashed Potatoes
Cocktail: Apple-Cinnamon Winter Sangria
For a simple make-ahead Christmas cocktail, try this one-pot sangria with no stirring or shaking necessary. Thanks to seasonal produce, cinnamon, and bold red wine, one glass warms from the inside out.
When to make it: One day ahead. Store in the fridge.
Get the recipe: Apple-Cinnamon Winter Sangria
Dessert: Peppermint Sugar Cookie Bars
Send guests home with minty memories of these chewy six-ingredient sweets. The festive peppermint topper makes them a cinch to display—just pile them onto an evergreen-color platter!
When to make it: Three days ahead. Store in the fridge.
Get the recipe: Peppermint Sugar Cookie Bars