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Five Must-Haves for Your Christmas Pantry

Unlike Thanksgiving, Christmastime focuses on more than just one meal. Cocktail parties, cookie swaps, work gatherings, school celebrations – December calendars get full fast so having a well-stocked pantry makes juggling easier.

Christmas celebrations are as varied as they come. From all-day pierogi-making to staging a seafood boil, setting up a baked potato bar with bring-your-own toppings or hosting an all-appetizers meal for 20, this time of year is all about fitting in to tradition. Here are my top five pantry picks for making that happen.

"Everything Bagel" Nut and Seed Mix Kale with Honeyed Macadamia Nuts

More Nuts Than You Think You Need

Desserts, snacks or an easy, crunchy topping for soups, salads and sides – nuts manage to work their way in to many holiday dishes. If you have guests with nut allergies, substitute seeds like pumpkin and sunflower for any nut needs.

Mushroom and Spinach Breakfast Puffs Maple and Almond Butter Cookies

Eggs, Lots of Eggs

From a quickie breakfast for early-arriving relatives to simple snacks for rowdy cousins (hard cooked eggs are so easy!), eggs make everything possible around Christmastime. Plus, you’ll need cookies. Plenty of cookies.

Popcorn Shrimp with Clementine-Chipotle Cocktail Sauce Carrot and Horseradish Roasted Cod with Red Potatoes and Lemon

Prepared Horseradish

A bit of a dark horse (no pun intended) I know, but prepared horseradish is surprisingly versatile. The condiment adds serious zing to anything it touches – mashed potatoes, mayo, gravies. Use it as a punchy crust for roasted meats and seafood, too.

Cranberry Molasses Cake Cranberry Barbecue Sauce

Fresh Cranberries

My cranberry infomercial: Forgot to decorate the front hall? Fresh cranberries, popcorn and a little string save the day! Toss chopped up fresh cranberries with a little honey or sugar for an easy and pretty cake topper. Make a fast cranberry sauce for the roast by stewing cranberries with a spoonful or two of orange juice. Blitz cranberries with ketchup in a blender for a fun shrimp cocktail sauce – just add horseradish! (see above). Or consider a cranberry spin on barbecue sauce.

Rosemary-Pear Bellini Apple-Pomegranate Fizz


Something bubbly is very important to have around during this time of year. Sparkling wine, cider or even fizzy water brings a festive feeling to even the simplest gathering. My father-in-law, puts a little splash of cranberry juice into a glass of sparkling water and calls is a “blush.” How fancy is that?

What are some items your Christmas pantry can’t live without? Share your tips and suggestions in the comments section below.

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Jennifer says …

Hey Molly, thanks for the great ideas! I love how your father-in-law called the cranberry juice/sparkling water combination a "blush" :)

Mona says …

Hi, where in OHIO do you have a store/market ?

Brenda Perrott Williamson says …

Don't forget more than one can of pumpkin filling, more than just one bottle of the various types of bubblies (including champagnes AND nonalcoholic Still White Catawba from the John C. Meier Co. in Silverton, Ohio), plenty of sweet onions for yummy deli style sandwiches, cooking onions, ice cream, sweet potatoes,cans of cranberry sauce (as backup at least), Walker shortbread cookies and so on...Buttershots schnapps by DeKuyper's... plenty of garlic and ginger, salad fixings to keep healthy, I'm sure I've forgotten something.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@MONA - We have quite a few stores in Ohio. You can search for the entire list at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/list.