Simple Tips for an Easy Christmas Dinner

Nicole McLaughlin, aka NicoleMcmom, shares her menu for a perfect Christmas dinner that's "sure to impress without all the stress," complete with recipe suggestions and prep tips.

We love Nicole's no-fuss approach to making a Christmas dinner that feels festive without being complicated or time-consuming. Because wouldn't you love to spend more time enjoying the holiday and less time in the kitchen? Here is her complete easy Christmas menu, from appetizers to dessert, with loads of how-to tips along the way.

Holiday Happy Hour

Set the tone for the festivities with holiday-themed cocktails — or mocktails for the kids — along with a couple of easy-to-make appetizers.


Pour cranberry juice mixed with sparking wine for the adults and sparkling cider for the kids, garnished with fresh cranberries and slices of lime to celebrate the classic red and green colors of Christmas.


puff pastry shaped like Christmas tree
Diana Moutsopoulos
  • Classic Savory Deviled Eggs garnished with smoked salmon, capers, and fresh dill are an easy-to-make starter. If you're serving kids, you can leave off the garnishes on their deviled eggs.
  • Savory Puff Pastry Christmas Tree. This show-stopping appetizer looks fancy, but it's deceptively simple to make with frozen puff pastry filled with cheese and sun-dried tomato pesto. In the video up top, Nicole shows you how to cut out the tree, fill the pastry, and form the branches.

Main Course

Chef John's Perfect Prime Rib sliced on a cutting board

Nicole is opting for a special-occasion roast that yes, is a little pricier up front, but when you factor in the simple ingredients and the ease of preparation, it's worth the splurge for this once-a-year holiday meal.

  • Chef John's Perfect Prime Rib is a 5-star favorite that uses only five basic ingredients (and two of them are salt and pepper!) with the easiest cooking technique. Ever! With the help of this recipe, you'll never be intimidated by making prime rib again. To make cooking and serving even easier, Nicole suggests you ask your butcher to remove the bones but tie them back onto the roast so you don't lose any of that flavor while making the roast easy to carve. BONUS: Watch the video up top to get Nicole's recipe for her simple horseradish sauce to serve with the prime rib.
  • If turkey is your Christmas meal of choice, Nicole has all the recipes and tips you need in Turkey 101 and Make-Ahead Side Dishes.
  • Another great holiday choice is Honey-Glazed Ham. It tastes just like the famous store-bought version, but it's much cheaper to make it yourself.

Side Dishes

Ultimate Twice Baked Potatoes
Allrecipes Magazine

Since your oven will be in use for the main dish, it's a good idea to choose side dishes that can be prepared on your stovetop, or in a slow cooker or Instant Pot. Another smart move is to make side dishes ahead of time. You can even pick premade side dishes from the grocery store to cut kitchen time even more. In her video, Nicole has a tip for making store-bought mashed potatoes look and taste like homemade.


Chocolate Trifle

To end your Christmas dinner on a sweet note, Nicole suggests easy but impressive-looking desserts.

  • Chocolate Trifle features chocolate brownies layered with creamy chocolate pudding and whipped topping. The recipe calls for a base of homemade brownies, but you can use store-bought brownies as a super-convenient shortcut. BONUS: You can make this a day in advance!
  • Ice cream served with fruit sauce or chocolate sauce is about as easy as it gets. If you want to go a step further, you can make Affogato — which is simply ice cream served with a shot of espresso. Nicole likes to add a little Kahlua to hers for a cheery finish.

More Christmas Ideas:

You can connect with Nicole as NicoleMcmom on Allrecipes and on Instagram @nicolemcmom.

More tips and tricks from Nicole:

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