What to take for family Christmas gathering? Need ideas!

Probably 40 or so people. Some bring appetizers, some dessert. Staples like veg/dip and chips/dip provided, dinner provided.

I was thinking something savory. Things I know will be there already: shrimp, hot bean/cheese dip, cocktail weiners in sauce, pickles wrapped in beef/cream cheese, venison sausage, crab/cream cheese and crackers. These are things people bring every year.

So I wanna do something new. Something that will hopefully disappear along with the other stuff on the above list so I don’t have to take it back home!

Historically I’ve brought pita chips with artichoke/spinach dip from Whole Foods, which I can make a meal out of all by myself so don’t care if I have to pack it up and take it back home, but it’s disappointing when others don’t share my love for the stuff.

I will have zero time Christmas Day for any prep, and it will need to travel easily between carrying 2 blocks to the car and driving to two locations before being offered (about 4 hours after I leave my house). I will have all day Christmas Eve to make anything and refrigerate.

I would consider a dessert, but it would have to be spectacular so everyone will want some and I really don’t have to take that home!

Jello shots in Christmassy colors.

If it were a different family, I would totally do this! We’re not teetotalers, but drinking’s not much part of our gatherings unless you’re staying the night. Responsible bunch, we are. The gathering this year is in Volo (what I call BFE) and it’s a decent drive for nearly everyone.

Something for the kids (assuming there are)?

We’re taking eggplant parmigiana because it’s yummy and seasonally colorful, but I don’t think that would do well as a make ahead thing.

Wanna do something surprisingly savory? Bacon Jam can be made the day ahead, and just bring along a nice crusty baguette to slice there. It’s new and everyone will have to try it because…bacon jam, so you won’t be stuck with leftovers.

I have a recipe similar to this for cheese and phyllo triangles that I’ve been wanting to try. As noted, they can be made days ahead and frozen, and cooked on the day of. Phyllo / filo isn’t always easy to find, but Trader Joe’s and some other supermarkets have it in the frozen food section.

My new family dinner staple is eclair cake made with pudding, cool whip, graham crackers, and chocolate frosting. It’s sweet, not savory, but incredibly easy to make. And delicious.

I’m a big fan of trifle for such things. Very English maybe. You can get away with store bought stuff and do little cooking mostly refrigerating and it just ends up one big bowl of stuff. I remember once making a huge one for a meal at my place. There was so much leftover I ate nothing but trifle for the next two days. And didn’t regret it at all.

How about Tortilla Wraps?

I spread cream cheese on large flour tortillas, lay on deli pastrami, chopped black olives, diced green chilis and a little salt. Roll them and refrigerate for a few hours before slicing.

They disappear quickly and you can change up the meat or add cheese, etc.

Bacon wrapped water chestnuts. You can make them ahead of time and have them in a covered baking dish ready to pop in the oven. They should be OK for a few hours out of the fridge.

I made this dip for Thanksgiving (my sister gave me the recipe and said “make this”).

I know many people are horrified right now, but it’s like crack.

1 8 oz brick cream cheese
1 8 oz can drained crushed pineapple
2 TBS green onions
1/2 cup minced almonds or pecans or walnuts (optional, I didn’t use the nuts)
3/4-1 tsp Lawry’s seasoning salt

Mix together. Form in a ball or leave in a bowl. Chill for a bit. Crazy good. Serve with anything dippable.

Or super easy little candy snacks:

These got the most votes, I’m down to deciding over an Italian version similar to the one above, or Buffalo chicken wraps.

Thanks for the suggestions! The bacon jam and cream cheese pineapple dip have been saved/bookmarked for future use for sure. Possibly both to be used for a gathering at my place next month.

Funny how cream cheese comes up for party food quite a bit, eh?

Crudite with a California dip. Here is the classic recipe for the California dip and here a fancy from scratch version.
I like Crudite to have many colors of bell peppers but it can be made up of almost any kind of veggies you want.

I’d take two Xanax.

No need! We all get along, no one drinks too much, no one fights, we’re happy to see each other. It’s a long day, but nice.

Jello-pretzel salad. Sounds disgusting, yes. But it isn’t. It’s not quite sweet enough to be a dessert, but it seems an odd side dish. My family likes it & it’s what my sister-in-law requested I bring this year.

It’s made in a 9" X 12" pan, so enough for a crowd. The “crust” consists of broken or crushed pretzel sticks baked with butter, topped with a sweetened cream cheese-Cool Whip layer, topped with a strawberries & strawberry Jell-O made with pineapple juice layer. The crust tastes reminiscent of graham crackers. Trust me on this. You must try it before you judge.

Just google “jello pretzel salad.” Sorry, I’m at work & don’t have the recipe handy.

For our potluck at work, I bring the drink. You can spike it if needed.

Orange juice, cranberry juice, apple cider, a few scoops of brown sugar, and the secret ingredient, a box of Red Hots.

Dump it all into a crock pot and stir occasionally until the candy is melted.

I’ve always enjoyed tortilla wraps. Good choice! For next time, perhaps, bacon wrapped dates. Everyone seems to love them. Super easy. Just remember to buy toothpicks to hold them together.