Low Stress (But Fancy) Holiday Recipes

Originally Published on December 1, 2021. Last Updated on August 18, 2022.

There’s one thing we all know about the holiday season: there is a LOT to do and not a lot of time to get it all done. Here’s another thing we know: the holidays are all about food. After all, it’s one of the ways we show love and express ourselves, especially at this time of year. We’re sharing our favorite easy-to-make holiday recipes that look like you spent hours in the kitchen. 


A Charcuterie Board (or Cheercuterie since it’s the holidays — you’re welcome)

All it takes to make this showstopper is a trip to the store and some assembly – and boom, you’ve created a praise-worthy appetizer. Artfully arrange a variety of meats, cheeses, some crackers, toasted nuts, and sliced fruit on a large serving platter and that’s it. Then sit back and watch as your guests “ooh” and “aah” over your handiwork. What’s also great about charcuterie boards is that they provide a lot of options for your guests. Maybe you have a friend who’s a picky eater, or another who’s vegetarian… you can satisfy everyone with this easy appetizer.

Appetizers boards with assorted cheese, meat, grape and nuts. Charcuterie and cheese platter.

Boursin Cheese with Caramelized Onions & Bacon

This appetizer requires a few minutes over the stovetop but it’s totally worth it. The recipe name itself made us do a double-take when we found it on PureWow.com because Boursin + bacon = yes, please. The smell alone of the caramelized onions mingled with sizzling bacon will impress your guests as soon as they walk through your door. 

Boursin Cheese with Caramelized Onions & Bacon easy christmas holiday recipe


Holiday Mai Tai

This holiday mai tai is one of the easiest Christmas drink recipes that we found, and it will have you and your guests feeling very merry indeed. All you do is pour rum, amaretto, pineapple juice, and orange juice into a pitcher, stir it up, and serve over ice. Christmas drinks like this hold a very special place in our hearts because they do exactly what we want them to do: look good, taste good, serve a crowd, and the prep doesn’t stress anyone out. Recipe courtesy of Julie Blanner.

holiday mai tai cocktail recipe
Photo by by Julie Blanner

Mulled Red Wine Sangria

A slow cooker Christmas drink recipe for the win! Tried and tested from the Cooking Channel, this hot Christmas drink requires just a few easy-to-find ingredients that you simply heat up in a slow cooker and the results are not only delicious, but they will also leave your house smelling AMAZING. It’s mulled red wine sangria, my friends, and it serves a crowd. If you’re entertaining outside, you can plug the slow cooker into an extension cord and place it on an outdoor table so guests can refill their mugs at their leisure and relax around your fire pit table — where they also have a spot to rest their mugs. 

Delicious hot mulled wine on wooden table easy holiday cocktail recipe


Cheesy Pull-Apart Christmas Tree

Impress your guests with an appetizer that’s cute, Christmassy, and full of cheese. Made with pizza dough, mozzarella sticks, and a variety of spices, this pull-apart Christmas tree is so delicious that it’ll have your guests begging for the recipe. You can even get creative and use pepperoni slices, green and red bell peppers, and red pepper flakes as edible “ornaments” on your tasty tree.

easy christmas tree pull apart bread appetizer recipe
Photo by Ethan Calabrese from Delish

Five-Minute Bean Salad

You probably have most (if not all) of the ingredients sitting in your pantry for this easy side dish. In addition to being quick to make, this side dish from PureWow.com is also heart-healthy. 

simple short recipe bean salad
Photo by Heidi Swanson from PureWow

Orange-Glazed Beets

This recipe is a bit off the beeten path, as far as Christmas dinner sides go, but trust us when we say that this side dish from Taste of Home is not only pretty, but it’s also tasty and very easy to make. 

orange glazed beets in bowls easy holiday recipe

Potatoes au Gratin

Christmas isn’t Christmas without a potato making an appearance. Admittedly, you need to do some prep work to get this Christmas dinner side dish together, but you can make it ahead of time and then pop it in your oven whenever you’re ready. We found this recipe on RecipeTinEats.com.

Cheesy scalloped potatoes with thyme and parmesan

Main Dishes 

Maple Glazed Ham

Surprise! We found a holiday ham recipe that’s as easy as it is impressive. Prep is easy, but the ham does spend a lot of time hanging out in the oven, so make sure you factor that in to your day of cooking.

Christmas ham brown sugar glazed spiral cut

Vegetarian Lasagna

Full of flavor yet free of meat, this Christmas lasagna recipe can’t be beat. Loaded with mozzarella, ricotta, and marinara, this vegetarian holiday dish is so tasty that even the carnivores in your family will make room on their plate for some lasagna. Courtesy of Delish

vegan lasagna with lentils and green peas in a baking sheet on a table with a blue linen tablecloth. healthy Italian cuisine for the whole family, party or restaurant and red wine in glasses


4-Ingredient Easy Vegan Brownies

If you’re looking for easy Christmas desserts that are vegan-friendly, it doesn’t get much simpler than this four-ingredient brownie recipe. Made with dates, peanut butter, cocoa powder, and coconut oil, these vegan brownies are just as rich and satisfying as the real deal. Courtesy of Minimalist Baker.

Chocolate brownie squares with walnuts on cutting board, top view, horizontal composition. Flat lay food

No-Bake Oatmeal Cookies

Need a break from baking? We understand. Try this no-bake dessert recipe that we found on Delish.com. It’s got chocolate and peanut butter in it, and no baking is required (but you do need a stovetop, just an FYI). Get the kids making these no-bake cookies alongside you so they can get into the holiday spirit. 

Flourless no bake peanut butter and oatmeal chocolate cookies on a parchment, horizontal

So go forth and express yourself without stressing yourself with these easy yet fancy holiday recipes. Take a few Instagram-worthy pics and use the tag #loveyouroutdoors so the POLYWOOD team can share your culinary creations.

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