Holiday festivities often revolve around food, but the critical reason we gather every December involves no culinary expertise. Whether or not all of your dishes come out perfectly and on time, God is thankful His children gather together for a birthday feast in His Son’s honor.

Set the dinner table the night before the meal using beautiful centerpiece elements that require no last-minute attention. Sprigs of eucalyptus, copper lanterns and candles look lovely paired with blush napkins and gold-accented glassware

The Main Course

It’s a joy for the family cooks to serve up a show-stopping entrée for the holidays. But make sure you choose one you’re comfortable preparing. This glazed turkey, rich in flavor and enticing in looks, is relatively simple to put on the table.

When choosing what to sip during your holiday meal, think light, festive and easy to prepare. This simple, colorful punch requires no recipe: Just mix one-fourth to three-fourths parts cranberry or pomegranate juice with lemon-lime soda to taste. Garnish with a sprig of fresh rosemary and a few raw cranberries or pomegranate seeds.

Few appetizers impress and satisfy guests more than a thoughtfully crafted charcuterie board. To keep hunger at bay until dinner is served, encourage your guests to snack on a beautifully arranged assortment of freshly sliced deli meats, buttery and nutty specialty cheeses, unusual crackers, crunchy breads, vibrant fresh fruit, a palate-cleansing nut and various tasty pepper jellies and sweet jams. You’ll score points for creativity and color!

Festive Sides

Side dishes become as exciting and memorable as the main entrée when you use colorful ingredients like sweet potatoes, red onions and Brussels sprouts in delectable seasoned blends.

The Grand Finale

Close the holiday meal with a dessert that satisfies the eyes as much as the palate. Fluffy meringue mounds, caramelized to sweetness under the broiler, top a rich and dense chocolate mousse in a flaky, homemade crust. This dessert begs guests to linger a little longer as they share another story and treasure the people they love.

Wise Counsel for the Holidays

The Reason We Gather

For some people decorating the table can be even more painful than preparing a meal for the masses. That’s ok. Keep in mind a stunning centerpiece and intricate place settings are impressive, but they shouldn’t take priority over your own peace and joy. The reason Christians gather is to celebrate god’s ultimate sacrifice and gift to us—his only son, Jesus Christ. We celebrate the birth and death of Jesus and god’s amazing love. Through a holiday gathering, our family and friends share in fellowship, testify of his grace through words and example, and edify the body of Christ. So, design the table and bake to your heart’s content, if you desire, or do something less involved if you don’t. Either way, keep the day focused on god and everyone will leave well fed.

Everything In Its Time

Let’s face it: Hosting a big holiday meal demands a servant’s heart and a king’s budget. And for some of us, even having Henry the Eighth’s dining hall, a few dozen extra chairs and a staff of kitchen help would mean we might not get our makeup on before the first person arrives.

Hosting can be selfless but rewarding work. We know good and worthy things come from gathering our families and friends for a time of peaceful, Christ-centered fellowship and fun.

How do you bring it all together so the special day isn’t filled with stress? Start a couple weeks ahead of time and form a plan. Keep lists and a daily check-off schedule to divide and conquer tasks. Do as much in advance as possible, use conveniences (make-ahead recipes, pre-made or catered grocery store foods, disposable baking or serve ware, etc.) And ask for help.

Remember the Stranger

Jesus often used meals to share his message. His example showed hospitality to the financially and spiritually poor. So, invite people in need, along with family and friends, to your gathering. The Bible advises, “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God” (Romans 15:7 ESV), and “Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels’ unawares” Hebrews 13:1–2.

Be gracious and openhearted, and let everyone who comes to your table see His unconditional love through your actions and words. 1 Peter 4:9 tells us, “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.” So instead of complaining when you must get up early to put the turkey in the oven, offer your labor as a sacrifice to God and praise Him for the opportunity to bless others.

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