With this list, you’re always ready for holiday guests

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Entertaining guests and family is one of the most fun parts of the holidays. Sometimes, guests come over when you’re not expecting it. And sometimes, when you do! 🙂  It’s nice to be ready, right?

And if they don’t come over, you’ll have some nice treats to enjoy yourself or with your family, maybe while decorating the tree or watching Rudolph.

Here are some favorites I like to have on hand in my refrigerator and pantry. These aren’t expensive or complicated, but guests seems to appreciate them.

Depending on the time of day and their preferences, I might offer some cold drinks, crackers and cheese, and nuts or olives.

Alternatively, I offer hot tea, hot chocolate, or spiced apple cider, and one or two sweets.

Then light some candles, play some Christmas music and relax and enjoy your company.


  • Cold drinks: ginger ale, cranberry cocktail, seltzer, mineral water, fresh lemon and lime, and a jar of maraschino cherries. I like the small-size, single-serving cans of ginger ale because they stay fizzier longer than the large bottles and don’t take up a lot of space.
  • Apple cider or juice, plus cinnamon sticks, whole cloves and nutmeg to heat on a stove.
  • Hot chocolate mix, a variety pack of herb tea, whipped cream, Hershey’s syrup.
  • Silk Nog. It’s made with soy milk. It’s only 70 calories a cup. It doesn’t have all those fillers that the leading almond milk brand does. It’s yummy and a good option for the lactose-intolerant.
  • A box of Bob’s peppermint candy canes, for stirring into cocoa or mocha. Accept no substitutes! Bob’s are made in the USA and they are the best, and worth looking for. They look pretty on the kitchen counter in a little glass.
  • Trays of ice cubes in the freezer, unless you have an ice maker.

Cheese and crackers

  • A box of Pepperidge Farm Trio crackers. They are great with everything. Triscuits and Wheat Thins are good, too.
  • A package of cream cheese, the brick kind. Top with red pepper jelly or green pepper jelly and serve with crackers. The Braswell’s brand of red pepper jelly is reasonable (about $3 as opposed to $7 for a competing brand) and delicious.
  • If you don’t like the jelly, salsa is also good on cream cheese.
  • A package of Cabot white cheddar cheese, pre-sliced. This cheese is lactose-free which is good news for your friends and relatives who are sensitive to lactose. It will also keep for 4 to 6 months in the refrigerator, so it’s a great back-up item to have.
  • If you have time to run out and get it, red grapes are delicious with cheese. So are apples, or pears. If not, you could put out some dried figs or apricots, if you have them.
  • A can or jar of mixed nuts, roasted almonds or peanuts.
  • A jar of pimento-stuffed, green olives.
  • Utz pretzels.


  • Stollen. You can pick up stollen at Aldi or the German Gourmet. It has a fruit cake taste but it’s yummier than fruit cake and has more of the texture of a thick, rich Danish pastry. It’s not something everyone has tried but I find that they really like it. The Aldi stollen is vegan, by the way. $2.99.
  • Lebkuchen are these amazing gingerbread cookies, sometimes dipped in chocolate. I’ve bought those at the German Gourmet in Falls Church and they are so worth the drive and effort (about $4.39 a package). They also have them at Aldi ($1.99 for 7 large cookies) with just marginally less quality. People love them because they are tasty and different, so don’t just get one package! Note: they do contain finely chopped nuts, unlike American-style gingerbread.
  • If you don’t like lebkuchen or can’t find it, maybe a package of Pepperidge Farm ginger man cookies would be good to have on hand. Nice with hot tea.
  • Little Debbie Gingerman cookies are to die for, seriously. $2 box/8 soft cookies.
  • A tin of Danish butter cookies. Inexpensive and delicious with coffee or tea.
  • A small dish of Hershey’s kisses or other candy. I can always pick up a small bag of Kisses or other candy at Dollar Tree for a $1.

Nice to have…

  • A CD or mix CD of Christmas music to play.
  • Scented or unscented candles.
  • A holiday platter for cheese or appetizers. Pick one up at Dollar Tree for a dollar!
  • A package of cocktail napkins and small paper plates with holiday print, also very inexpensive at the grocery store or Dollar Tree and they look so festive.
  • Don’t forget extra toilet tissue, hand soap and guest towels for the bathroom.


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