FF Cooking Club- What’s on the Christmas Eve Menu !

Hi Everyone!  So the chaos of Christmas has begun and I could not be more excited. Last evening the entire Decter family arrived and everyone is staying at our house (4 kids, 4 adults, 150 pound dog, and partridge in a pear tree).  It’s crazy mayhem and the best. I love seeing all the cousins together and catching up with our family.  So, as tradition, we (and when I say we, I mean myself and my sister in law, Jamie) host the Christmas Eve dinner party. I started this tradition about 5 years ago and it has not gone from about 12 people to 50 this year.  The food and style of the party has changed and evolved.  A few years back we started making so much food with so much variety that we would just heat up the leftovers for Christmas Dinner the next day.  This actually ends up being a great way to still have awesome food and a fun dinner with family on Christmas day, but also be able to enjoy quality time on the holiday and not cooking in the kitchen all day.  Plus, my mom always makes an awesome Christmas morning brunch that we snack on all day!

So what is on the menu this holiday?

Traditional Holiday Menu

Pot Roast

  • This is a great recipe for hosting large parties and not standing over the stove all day.
  • You literally let it sit on the stove top slow and low and serve.
  • The house smells amazing all day and it serves a lot of people.

Aunt Joy’s Rosemary Garlic Steak Recipe

  • I love this recipe.  It has SO much flavor and the sauce is AMAZING.
  • Double the marinade so you have lots of extra dipping sauce.
  • You can use any cuts of beef which is nice for different size parties.
  • For large parties like Christmas Eve I use a skirt steak.  Its inexpensive and great for serving ton of people.  For small intimate parties, I go with the fancy filet.
  • I cut the steak into small strips and serve with the sauce on top and plenty of sauce on the side.
  • Make sure to let the steak marinate for at least 2 days- the longer the better!

Mashed Potatoes

  • My mashed potatoes have become famous in our family. They are always the perfect texture and flavor.  I have gone to the ends of the earth and back to make sure this recipe is perfect.
  • Use Yukon gold mashed potatoes ALWAYS.
  • Use a potato ricer to mix the potatoes.
  • Stir with warm milk.
  • For more tips read my blog on how to make the perfect mashed potatoes.

Cauliflower Gratin

  • Delicious and easy to make the day before.
  • Just pop in the oven when ready to serve and serve straight from the baking dish.

Garlic Bread

  • LOVE this bread,
  • It’s perfect as a side for steak but also for any Italian food.
  • You can make the butter/oil spread the day before to make the prep easier.

Potluck Food (everyone brings a dish to the dinner)


Spaghetti and Meatballs

  • This recipe is fail proof and so good.
  • I make the sauce and meatballs the day before the party and boil the pasta the day of the party.
  • The garlic bread  is amazing with this.
  • Make sure to have red wine for your guests to drink!

Chicken Parmesan

  • I love this recipe but let’s be honest most chicken parm recipes are fail proof.
  • This is another great dish to make ahead of time and bake off in the over.
  • The recipe calls for pounding out the chicken but I think it is way easier to just buy the cutlets.
  • In the recipe Ree makes a homemade sauce.  You can also just purchase a jarred marinara and make your life a lot easier (oh yes…..The Pioneer Woman and I are best friends).
  • Don’t forget to pile on the cheese!


  • I have not posted my mom’s famous Lasagna yet on Forever Freckled but stay tuned.
  • She has been making this traditional meat lasagna since we were kids and it’s amazing.
  • Lasagnas and casseroles are a perfect recipe to make for dinner parties.
  • You can make them well in advance and freeze them.  The day before the party, transfer it into the refrigerator and bake it the day of.


Ginger Bread Men

  • This is an easy recipe and a mix of home made and prepared.
  • I LOVE this tradition on our Christmas Eve party.
  • I do not make the icing the recipe calls for, but we buy tons of decorating supplies (sprinkles, icing in all colors, candy, etc.) and the kids have a blast decorating the cookies.
  • We set up a cute kids table with a big sign that says cookies for Santa.  The kids all sit around and decorate the cookies and set them out for Santa by the fireplace.  So fun:)

Desserts are a great thing for everyone to bring.  It’s the holidays and everyone wants to bring candy, cakes, cookies and other extravagant deserts.  Don’t be shy when people ask what they can bring.  DESSERTS!!!

We have a few fun traditions we like to do at our Christmas Eve party that always sets up for an awesome night:

  • A lot of drinking.
  • White Elephant Present Exchange (we all take pride in finding the most ridiculous gifts and fighting over them- last year the Squatty Potty was the big prize).
  • Gingerbread man decorating contest with the kids.
  • Christmas carols blaring all night.
  • Christmas movies on at all times starting at 8am.
  • Left, Right, Center game. Last year my niece Morgan (she is 10 years old) won $300.00 bucks.
  • Board games displaced throughout the house.
  • Kids put their stockings and cookies out for Santa.

Christmas is by far my holiday.  This is probably one of our bigger hosting parties of the year and I must give credit to my amazing sister in law, Jamie for hosting with me. She loves cooking and hosting as much as I do and who else would fly in from NJ with 3 kids to relax and enjoy the sunny weather and take on one of my crazy parties? Love you Ja!

For me the holidays and parties are always about spending time together, making great memories, laughing a lot, watching the kids smile, getting excited for all the presents, and showing how much we all love each other (and of course the food and drinks are always a big plus). What other time of year do you get the ENTIRE family to fly in from all parts of the country to all be together? It’s truly magical. Merry Christmas everyone and happy hosting!

Christmas Eve 2014



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Throw back pic of the early days that started off my obsession with the holidays!


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