Festive decorations and fabulous food set the tone for a spirited feast.
Related: 10 Last-Minute Appetizers for Christmas Eve
Christmas Holiday Dinner
It wouldn’t be the holidays without a dining table to decorate, wreaths to make, and a scrumptious menu of treats to prepare for your own personal fan club―the friends and family whom you cherish the most. This year, do things a little differently, and give a fresh twist to familiar ways of preparing the food, decorating the tree, and adorning your table. You’ll find plenty of inspiration, along with the tips, techniques, and terrific recipes you’ll need, right here.
Oh, What a Place Setting
This beautiful, classically furnished dining room possesses luscious coral-colored walls and billowy silk draperies―a warm and welcoming background for staging an unforgettable dinner for eight. To prepare for the special evening, designer Carole Sullivan created a variety of innovative floral accompaniments using various shades of green from pale celadon to deep jade. Consider all of Carole’s creations―including her lush tabletop garland of fresh flowers, the wreaths and napkin rings that she covered in hydrangea blossoms, and the lengths of sheer fabric that she tied to the chair backs―and choose one or more for decorating your home.
Conversation With Carole Sullivan
What’s an easy way to make flower wreaths such as these?
Cut hydrangea blossoms into smaller pieces. Insert the stems into a circular florist foam wreath, covering it completely. To make a square wreath, tape blocks of florist foam to a wooden picture frame, and then insert flowers. For extra color, place ‘Jade’ roses in florist water picks and insert into florist foam.
How do you make the floral napkin rings and candle collars?
Use a craft spray adhesive such as Tack 2000 Super Strength Spray Glue to attach flowers to pieces of 1-inch-wide satin ribbon. Cut the ribbon about 15 inches long for the napkins rings and about 12 inches long for the candle collars.
A Garland for Your Table
To make the base of the garland that runs down the center of the table, Carole cut blocks of florist foam in half lengthwise. Then for added support, she wrapped pieces of chicken wire around the florist foam. She saturated the pieces of florist foam with water and placed them in plastic trays that protect the table surface from moisture.
Carole shortened the flower stems to about 3 inches and inserted them into the florist foam. The green flowers she used include cymbidium and dendrobium orchids, bells-of-Ireland, ‘Kermit’ mums, ‘Jade’ roses, gladiolus, lady’s-mantle, and ‘Lenten’ rose. She also studded the arrangement with hypericum berries and blades of variegated liriope inserted into florist water picks. Carole arranged the flower-covered blocks of foam down the center of the dining table and then added tall square candles and groupings of votives at intervals.
Such a Delectable Dinner
Once they’re seated in the fabulous setting you’ve created, your guests will be thrilled with the menu you’ve chosen. It’s a beautiful balance of delicacies―some to make ahead and others that you can prepare immediately before the meal.
An important holiday deserves fantastic food, and we think this menu absolutely delivers. Many of these are recipes that the Southern Living Food staff turns to time and again for our own celebrations, as do so many readers. Entrées don’t come any grander than beef tenderloin, and the Henry Bain Sauce served with this one is a Kentucky classic. Surround it with top-rated sides, and you have a meal guaranteed to make memories. But the final bite is often the one you remember most, and you chose Cream Cheese-Coconut-Pecan Pound Cake to finish off this spectacular meal. This full-bodied beauty will positively wow your guests. (Best of all, you’ll likely have leftovers to enjoy with a cup of coffee the next day.) We’re betting you’ll find yourself at the table long after the last crumb is devoured, basking in the warm glow of conversation and friendship.
Test Kitchens Know-How
No double oven, no problem. Follow our plan for a low-stress kitchen-to-table strategy.
Heat soup on the cooktop. Bake the tenderloin (30 to 35 minutes at 500°). It needs to stand at least 15 minutes, but longer is fine; it’s what we do. The tenderloin will stand about 45 minutes. Slice while the onion pudding stands and the asparagus broil. Reduce oven temp to 350°, and bake the Sweet Onion Pudding. Remove from oven, and let stand while the asparagus broil. Set the oven to broil. Broil the asparagus 5 1⁄2 inches from heat while the rolls warm on the bottom rack.
Heaped high with a snowy drift of coconut, Cream Cheese-Coconut-Pecan Pound Cake is made all the more merry when trimmed with a wreath of sugared rosemary. For a festive presentation for your table, just follow these easy instructions.
Invert completely cooled pound cake onto a serving plate or cake stand; spoon Powdered Sugar Glaze over cake. Toss together 3⁄4 cup each of coconut chips and sweetened flaked coconut; sprinkle evenly over cake. Sprinkle 2 Tbsp. white cake sparkles over coconut mixture. Arrange Sugared Rosemary, Sugared Cranberries, and pecan halves around bottom edge of cake. Note: Coconut chips can be found in the produce section of many supermarkets or ordered online ($6.99 for 8 oz.) from www.kalustyans.com. White cake sparkles (edible glitter) can be found in stores that carry cake-decorating supplies or ordered online from www.wilton.com
Powdered Sugar Glaze: Stir together 2 cups powdered sugar, 3 to 4 Tbsp. milk, and 1 tsp. vanilla extract until smooth, stirring in up to 1 Tbsp. additional milk, if necessary, for desired consistency. Makes about 1 cup.
Sugared Rosemary: Microwave 1⁄2 cup light corn syrup at HIGH 10 seconds or until warm. Brush 10 to 12 rosemary sprigs lightly with corn syrup; sprinkle with sugar. Arrange in a single layer on wax paper. Use immediately, or let stand at room temperature, uncovered, for up to 24 hours.
Sugared Cranberries: Bring 1 cup fresh cranberries, 1⁄2 cup sugar, and 1⁄2 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring often, over medium-high heat. (Do not overcook―cranberries should swell and just begin to pop.) Remove from heat, and drain well, reserving liquid for another use. Toss cranberries with 1⁄4 cup sugar, and arrange in a single layer on wax paper. Use immediately, or let stand at room temperature, uncovered, up to 24 hours.