With the holidays in full swing, entertaining is on everyone’s mind. ‘Tis the season for festive cocktail parties, family dinners, and feasts with friends.
Whether you’re trying to cater to those with dietary restrictions or wow the seasoned foodies on your guest list, plan ahead and make sure there’s something for everyone at your next holiday gathering.
We hit up Molly Siegler from the global Culinary and Hospitality team at Whole Foods Market to get some pro tips. The hostess extraordinaire shared her shopping list of favorite holiday entertaining essentials and grab-and-go goodies!
Clementines and Comice pears
You’ll always find peak-season produce in our stores, but my holiday favorites are snackable clementines and perfectly sweet Comice pears. I like to leave big bowls of these guys around the house when entertaining for easy grazing. Use big chunks of pear instead of apples in this charmingly old-fashioned pandowdy for a simple and satisfying holiday dessert.
Candied pecans and walnuts are the perfect way to get some fancy vibes going without much effort. They’re available in a variety of glazes and are delicious on cheese boards or in salads.
Cheese boards are a holiday party fixture, and I’m always looking for new ideas. Camembert’s silky-smooth cheeses are delicious on their own, but you can also look for stuffed cheeses, which are filled by hand with nuts, porcini mushrooms, or truffles. You can bet they’ll certainly liven up any gathering!
An olive spread
An olive bar is my go-to spot for picking up an instant (and impressive!) appetizer. Just assemble a pretty blend of olives and pickled veggies, then add a sprig of rosemary and a big piece of grapefruit peel when you get home.
What’s cold weather without a cozy cider? You can find many varieties out there, but I love a classic apple cider because it’s already fragrant with warm spices. Heat it up and it’s ready to go for cozy mugs or winter-themed cocktails.
I love applesauce as a healthy substitute for fat in traditional holiday baked goods. Look for the pumpkin spice variety, which adds an extra element of fall flavor!
I love cassava flour, brown rice flour, coconut flour, and almond flour, which make it easy to enjoy holiday favorites without gluten. And they can all be found in our baking aisle! Try Bob’s Red Mill Paleo Baking Flour Mix and Birch Benders Paleo Pumpkin Pancake Mix for extra-easy baking.
Brine & seasoning kit
Turkey prep kits will save you time with step-by-step instructions, brine ingredients, and an herb-packed seasoning rub. Pick up one of these with the rest of your holiday shopping list items, and you can roast and serve a delicious turkey without hunting for the perfect recipe.
Low-sodium chicken broth
Broth is a pantry staple this time of year — a necessity for soups and stuffing. I always look for a low-sodium option, which makes it easy to control salt levels in an otherwise indulgent season.
Instead of one XXL turkey, purchase a small or medium bird and add an additional heirloom or heritage turkey. They’re a bit smaller (up to 14 pounds) and pack a more robust turkey flavor. They’re about as close to a wild turkey as you can get.
While many classic holiday favorites are vegan or can be tweaked to be dairy- and egg-free, why not give your vegan friends something special just for them? The Whole Foods’ vegan Thanksgiving menu was developed by chefs Kate Jacoby and Rich Landau of Vedge restaurant in Philadelphia, and makes for a wildly inventive and striking holiday feast. Golden brown whole roasted cauliflower anyone? You might just see your turkey-feasters eyeing the other side of the table this year!
All of these items can be found in Whole Foods Market stores or on Wholefoodsmarket.com. Look for the 365 Everyday Value options!
Molly Siegler is an associate coordinator on the global Culinary and Hospitality team at Whole Foods Market. As a classically trained chef with a political science degree, she puts her food fascination to work. Previously, Molly coordinated the creation and curation of editorial culinary content — primarily recipes — for the website, videos, email newsletter campaigns, social media channels, and more as Whole Foods Market’s Food Editor. Nothing excites Molly more than discovering a fun new food combination or tradition, and her position with Whole Foods ensures she'll never be alone in her search.