Christmas Dinner Ideas: Being Fancy, Unique, or Both

Updated June 1, 2021
Christmas dinner table with roasted pork ham

Christmastime is all about fun, family, and festivities. It's also all about the food. December 25th is a day to give gifts, and hopefully, one of those gifts ends up being stretchy pants because most people feast by dinnertime. Your Christmas dinner ideas can be anything you want! You can be unique and out-of-the-box or traditional and fancy.

Traditional Christmas Dinner Ideas

Christmas is full of tradition. People honor religious customs over this holiday season as well as family traditions. Hence, it makes sense to serve up a table full of tradition! These dishes are inspired by the holiday season and are considered staples at the dinner table on December 25th.


Whether it's a small bite before dinner or something to keep hunger at bay while the meal cooks, try these tasty traditional appetizers.

  • Deviled eggs- Deviled eggs are a classic appetizer for any party, including holiday gatherings. They are easy to make, require minimal skill, and you can put fun and creative twists on them. Play on lox, infuse your deviled egg mixture with cream cheese and smoked salmon, or add a hint of cilantro to your filling and add a chunk of bacon to your finished eggs.
  • Meatballs - If you have a slow cooker and frozen meatballs, you can pull this dish off. Toss the meatballs, grape jelly, and bbq sauce into a slow cooker and let them do their thing. What makes this appetizer "Christmasy" is that it is easy-peasy, and most parents are short on time come the busiest morning of the year! (Less time in the kitchen means more time to assemble all of those toys Santa brought!)

Side Dishes and Salads

Roasted root veggies make a delicious side dish.

  • Roasted carrots - Carrots make for a traditional side dish on Christmas Day. They can be roasted in various flavors, oils, and spices so that a classic side dish is never dull.
  • Roasted potatoes - Potatoes find their way to dinner tables on most American holidays. While they are generally served up mashed on Thanksgiving, roast them in olive oil, salt, and pepper, rosemary, and cranberries on Christmas.

Main Course

These rich and juicy meat dishes are typical main dishes served on Christmas Day in America.

  • Prime rib - Serve it with a side of horseradish sauce
  • Roast beef - A classic holiday favorite
  • Beef tenderloin - For a little extra pizzaz, wrap it in bacon.


Finish off with the perfect classic dessert.

  • Rum cake - This one is for adults only, but a rum cake with a side of decadent coffee will top the night off.
  • Fruitcake - This classic post-dinner dish has become synonymous with Christmas over the years.
Woman Dusting Powder Sugar On Cake

Fancy Christmas Dinner Ideas

Take your Christmas meal to the next level with these fancy Christmas dinner ideas. Create a menu that could easily be served at a royal table. These dishes all have a wow factor and a fancy flair.


Snazzy small bites set the stage for a fancy dinner.

  • Antipasto Christmas tree - Charcuterie boards are all the rage these days. Take elements of an antipasto tray, like varieties of olives, cheeses, sliced meats like salami, prosciutto, ham, soppressata, roasted peppers, and sprigs of rosemary, and arrange the elements in rows, creating the illusion of a Christmas Tree.
  • Bacon-wrapped scallops - Bacon-wrapped scallops are the perfect sweet and savory, crunchy, soft food combination. Scallops aren't cheap, and including them as a Christmas appetizer will let all of your guests know that this Christmas dinner is going to be anything but "meh."

Side Dishes and Salads

Fancy side dishes complement your main course and make the meal just a little more special.

  • Brussel sprouts with flair - Brussel sprouts can be blah, but add key ingredients like balsamic vinegar, toasted walnuts, and fresh cranberries, and you have a side dish so fancy it will look as if t belongs in a food magazine.
  • Warm goat cheese salad - This salad is anything but ordinary. While the greens and the dressing stay simple, the toasted goat cheese brings the dish to a level of fancy none will soon forget.
Roasted Brussels sprouts with caramelized walnuts and cranberries in a cast iron frying pan

Main Course

A fancy main dish makes your guests ooh and ahh.

  • Beef Wellington - Preparing Beef Wellington is time-consuming and tedious. If you can pull it off, then you deserve a gold medal. If done correctly, this dish is fancy, elegant, and perfect for a Christmas dinner fit for the Queen.
  • Crab legs - Crab legs are costly, especially if you are feeding a large group of people. Because of the high price that this seafood dish demands, crab legs will be considered fancy at any meal. Make sure that if you are serving crab legs on Christmas, you provide lots of melted butter, bowls for discarded shells, and tons of napkins. Also, check with guests and ask if anyone has a shellfish allergy.


For dessert, make a cheesecake. This versatile dessert can take on any flavor combination you can dream up. Use cherry and chocolate flavors to make your Christmas cheesecake feel extra fancy. Pay attention to the detailing and decor you use on your cake so that it is both delicious and elemental in the design of your feast. Serve your cheesecake with a signature Christmas cocktail.

Vegetarian Christmas Dinner Ideas

Meat has a spot in many dishes for Christmas dinner, but for those who pass on the prime rib, these vegetarian dishes will be just as welcoming and delightful as anything carnivorous.


Cranberry chutney makes a delicious vegan pre-dinner bite. Slice up French bread, set out a spread of cheeses, and make a cranberry chutney to top this appetizer off. Chutneys are vegetarian, packed full of flavor, and with an added element of cranberry, complement any Christmas menu.

Side Dishes and Salads

Sweet potato soup is an inventive use of a traditional Christmas favorite. Just having a soup course to a meal makes it feel fancy. A soup course warms up the meal, elongates the dining experience, and adds taste twist combinations to the menu. Try a cinnamon-spiced sweet potato soup to break up the appetizer course and the main dish component of the meal.

Main Course

No meat here! Quiche is largely considered a brunch food, but why not create beautiful quiches for your Christmas Day dinner? You can use just about any ingredient combination in a quiche that tickles your fancy. Make a cheese quiche for the kids, a seafood quiche for vegetarians that do food from the ocean, a spinach and mushroom quiche or herb and goat cheese quiche, and even a vegan quiche. Use different pie stands to set your quiche pies on and let them pair as decor until mealtime.

Christmas Quiche


A Vegan Yule log is a tasty traditional dessert. Those who choose to bypass animal products in their foods will be satisfied with this Christmas treat, as will meat-eaters alike!

Seafood Based Christmas Dinner Ideas

Seafood during the holiday season is typical in some parts of the world. In parts of Northern Italy, people dine on seafood as the Feast of the Seven Fishes is traditional to the region's people. Catholics, a religious group who celebrate Christmas, often abstain from eating foods with animal products on Christmas Eve. If you love seafood and you love Christmas, go fishy with your feast.


Seafood makes tasty appetizers that are easy to make and get you off to a light start.

  • Shrimp cocktail - It doesn't matter what holiday is taking place; shrimp cocktail is always welcome!
  • Scallops and rosemary - Scallops are rich and buttery, perfect for a heavy meal like Christmas dinner. Sear your scallops in olive oil and rosemary to get a piney vibe going.

Side Dishes and Salads

Add some crab to your side dishes.

  • Crab stuffed mushrooms - These flavorful mushrooms also make an exellent appetizer.
  • Spinach and crab salad - Spinach, toasted pine nuts, fresh, cooked cranberries, and lump crab meat all meet to make a seafood salad that feels light and fresh.

Main Course

Cioppino is a fish stew that originated in San Francisco. The dish is Italian-inspired, full of flavor, spices, rich broth, and fish, of course. Serve it with crusty bread and a simple salad.

Seafood: Fish Stew Still Life


Look. There is no seafood dessert happening here. There is exciting and creative, and then there is nuts. Themes are fun to work into a meal like Christmas Day dinner, but don't be too extra. Play on seafood for other menu elements but leave dessert alone. If you want to stick with the ocean theme here- make a tropical dessert like tropical tiramisu or mango cheesecake.

Christmas Dinner Ideas That Kids Won't Hate

Kids are not generally known for their adventurous palates, and major meals served up on holidays can pose problems for picky eaters. These kid-friendly Christmas meal ideas will have a place at the kid table year after year.


Kid-friendly appetizers come in fun colors, flavors, and shapes.

  • Snowman skillet dip - This appetizer is festive and easy. Arrange dough around a ten-inch skillet. Fill the skillet with an uncooked dip made of cream cheese, chicken, and a few other ingredients. Bake it all together and arrange a face fit for Frosty on the finished product. Easy, savory, and kid-approved!
  • Fruity Santa hats - Kids love Santa, and kids love fruit, so there is NO WAY kids won't devour these fun Christmas appetizers. Santa hat fruit kabobs are as easy as one, two three. Using a wooden kabob stick, spear a green grape, then a slice of banana, a strawberry, and a miniature marshmallow. These are so simple the kids can take this dish over completely (buy an extra bag of marshmallows because you know they will shove half of them directly into their mouths.)

Side Dishes and Salads

Starch is an easy kid-friendly side that will please even the pickiest palate.

  • Sweet potato fries - Sweet potatoes are incredibly versatile and packed with nutrients. Even fried up, you won't feel bad pairing them with ham on Christmas Day. If this side dish feels too Plain-Jane for you, whip up a garlic aioli to dip them in or a sweet sriracha sauce to give the fries a kick.
  • Homemade rolls - For kids, rolls are often the highlight of a holiday meal. Create homemade rolls for your holiday feast. Make more than you think you will need, as no one eats only one single roll!

Main Course

Make ham. How ham found its way to center stage for Christmas dinner is anyone's guess. Ham is easy and tolerated well by younger, skeptical food critics.


Christmas cookies are a no-brainer. No winter holiday gathering is ever complete without some Christmas cookies. Serve them up with eggnog and send every belly home full and happy.

Christmas Dinner Ideas That Play on Different Cultures

Certain parts of the world celebrate Christmas uniquely. Depending on what area of the globe you live in, Christmas dinner takes on a different spin. Choose a culture that connects with you and borrow some of their traditional Christmas meals for your own dining room table.

Puerto Rico

To work in traditional Puerto Rican Christmas traditions, serve coquito, a beverage similar to eggnog, lechón asado and arroz con dulce for dessert.


Cook lamb for the main course and serve panettone or panforte for dessert.

South Korea

Learn how to make Bulgogi, a barb-b-qued beef. Serve kimchi and sweet potato noodles as sides. Serve the meal as a potluck, typically in this culture.


Try turkey with tamales. A meal like this fuses two cultural traditions together.

Roasted rosemary and garlic leg of lamb and roast potatoes

No Matter the Meal, Include This Ingredient

No, it isn't cranberry. Regardless of the meal you choose to whip up for your holiday dinner, make sure you include plenty of love. Special holiday meals are more about the people who gather to eat them than the foods themselves. So long as your Christmas dinner ideas come from the heart, your family and friends will likely love them! Looking for drinks to pair? Try these Christmas dinner wine pairings.

Christmas Dinner Ideas: Being Fancy, Unique, or Both