Easy Entertaining: Make-Ahead Recipes to Feed Your Holiday Houseguests

By Victoria de la Maza
Victoria de la Maza
Victoria de la Maza
Victoria de la Maza is an award-winning cookbook author, columnist, and international TV host. Passionate about great food, she combines American traditions with her European heritage to create classic-with-a-twist recipes and ideas for stylish entertaining at home.
November 17, 2021 Updated: November 17, 2021

For Thanksgiving hosts, Thanksgiving week, from Wednesday (or even earlier, for the extra-prepared) to Sunday, is all about a cooking and entertaining marathon at home.

Planning meals ahead of time is my secret weapon for enjoyably hosting weekend guests, while not constantly worrying about what to serve for meals. Thanksgiving is no exception.

Thursday’s main event is clear, but what about Wednesday, when guests start arriving, exhausted after a long trip? How about Friday breakfast before hitting the shops, or weekend brunch before waving everyone goodbye?

Of course, there will be leftovers and turkey sandwiches, but moving beyond those is essential for happy houseguests through the weekend. I find it essential to have a few other made-in-advance staples that I can pull out and serve with minimum effort.

Homemade granola, for instance, makes an energizing breakfast served with Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, store-bought muffins, and a pot of coffee. It will get everyone talking and ready for their day. It’s easy to prepare ahead, and it’s also delicious as a topping for fruit tarts, a garnish for salads, or simply an on-the-go snack—so make a big batch, you’ll thank me!

Another great dish that everyone adores is a savory bread and butter pudding. I make mine with diced bacon and gruyere, caramelized onions, and buttered slices of day-old bread. The beauty of this dish is that it needs to sit overnight in the fridge for the bread to really soak up all the flavors, so it’s made for a make-ahead menu. Cheesy, eggy, creamy, and savory, it’s just as good for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, served with a green salad and a chilled glass of white wine.

Finally, Thanksgiving weekend would not be Thanksgiving weekend without a pitcher of bloody marys at the ready. This year, I’m setting up a bloody mary bar with all sorts of garnishes to let everyone create their own masterpieces. Genius!

Save these recipes to make ahead for your own Thanksgiving weekend festivities—or anytime this holiday season you find yourself needing to feed a few extra hungry houseguests.

 

RECIPE: Homemade Granola

RECIPE: Ham and Cheese Bread and Butter Pudding

RECIPE: Citrusy Bloody Mary

Victoria de la Maza is an award-winning cookbook author, columnist, and international TV host. Passionate about great food, she combines American traditions with her European heritage to create classic-with-a-twist recipes and ideas for stylish entertaining at home.