Your Frequently Asked Holiday Questions, Answered

From turkey to baking substitutions, we've got your back

holiday table

skynesher / Getty Images

Once that cool breeze of fall season hits, the kitchen gets a little more hectic with holiday preparations. That said, you're bound to run into some roadblocks where you need expert tips and tricks. Take a deep breath, sip on that eggnog, and let us help you on your holiday cooking journey. We've broken down the major parts of the season with our best guides on cooking survival.

Hosting

Holiday Hosting Tips — Nate Berkus
Jenna Peffley

Here you will find what to prep when, how to scale recipes depending on your group size, how to set up your home depending on the function, and all the little things you're most likely forgetting about.

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Substitutions & Storage

Ingredients for gluten free German cake

The Spruce / Emily Hawkes

Between diet restrictions and just simply forgetting to pick up specific spices at the market, we have all the ways you can substitute one item for another. Additionally, you're probably wondering how long certain items keep or how to organize your fridge in advance of entertaining—we can help with that too.

Common Cooking & Baking Substitutes

Food Storage

Turkey

How to Cook a Turkey

The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

There's a lot to consider when preparing a turkey even if it's not your first rodeo. Between choosing the size, fresh vs. frozen, brining, equipment, and more, cooking a whole turkey can seem like a daunting task. These are valuable and informative pieces for even the most seasoned cooks.

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Ham

honey ham hero shot

The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

Most likely, if you're not team turkey, you're team ham. Ham is one of the go-to dishes for big family celebrations, but there are a number of varieties and preparations. Here's what you need to know before you get started.

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Cranberry Sauce & Gravy

Instant Pot Cranberry Sauce

The Spruce / Julia Estrada

Is the table really complete without a side of cranberry sauce and gravy? But before you dive into a recipe, get a few tips under your belt so you can make the best version for you and your guests.

Recipes

Bread

Super easy bread for beginners recipe

The Spruce / Cara Cormack

Few things are more comforting than the smell of freshly-baked bread coming from your kitchen. Except maybe, breaking bread with the ones you love and smothering it in butter, gravy, and all the fixings at the table. Don’t be intimidated—baking bread is easy when you know the basics.

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Pie

Buttery Flaky Pie Crust

The Spruce / Cara Cormack

There's a lot to consider when diving into pies. What style crust? When to par-bake or blind bake? What makes the filling liquidy? What are baking apples? Baking should be fun, so that's why we compiled these handy resources, below.

Recipes

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Cookies

Christmas Cookie Tablescape

Claire Cohen 

Whether you're baking for Santa, your friends, or just to have on the holiday table to share, we brought you tips to reinvent your tried-and-true recipes as well as how to keep them at their best.

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Cake

Southern Mandarin Orange Cake

The Spruce / Cara Cormack

Whether you bake a cake from scratch or use a store-bought mix (no one needs to know), a cake can make anyone feel extra special. Click through to find out how much cake will feed your guests and what equipment you should consider.

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Drinks

Poinsettia Champagne Cocktail

The Spruce / Nyssa Tanner

Get into the holiday spirit, whether that's with a classic aperitif or mocktail. In party planning, the general advice is that guests will drink two drinks the first hour, and one drink per hour after that. These drinks can be cocktails, beer, wine, or nonalcoholic beverages, and many guests will opt for a combination throughout the night. Unless you've done some time as a bartender, it can be hard to tell exactly what to have on hand.

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