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Real talk. I don't care if you are hosting Christmas for four or forty; this is a meal that cries out for some store-bought help. Putting pressure on yourself to make every dish from scratch will leave you exhausted and stressed on the day, and the most important thing about this holiday is to just be with your loved ones and eat great food. The good news is that there are a lot of pieces of the meal that can be sourced easily at your local grocer or specialty markets and do not suffer from being made by others. Here are the best 6 holiday dishes to buy, not make.  

Appetizers

All those little pre-dinner nibbles are super fussy to prep, and often gain little from being made from scratch. From platters of crudites and dip to elegant crispy snacks wrapped in phyllo or puff pastry, take these off your brain, and just buy them. No one will care.

Soups

Soup is often on the agenda for Christmas, especially if your family gathers early for a long day of snacking and visiting before the main event. Pumpkin or butternut, Italian wedding or classic chowder, there are now delicious soups available in grocers, and you will be delighted to get this project off your plate. Look for the soups that come in cartons versus cans and add fresh herbs or a fun garnish to make them special

Cranberry Sauce

Is homemade cranberry sauce delicious? Absolutely. Is canned perfectly fine, and preferred by some? Yep. Is it likely your local store is making their own version and selling it in tubs at the deli counter? Uh-huh. I love to make homemade cranberries, but to be honest? I often think the juice isn't worth the squeeze when I know that my guests are just as happy with store-bought. After all, it is a condiment, not an entrée. Grab a can of the jiggly stuff for those who love it, and maybe some of the fresh store-made, and move on to other dishes. 

Rolls or Bread

Bread baking is fussy, even for those who do it regularly, and is always best baked day-of, which adds a huge amount of stress to an already busy day. There are high-quality frozen and fresh take and bake rolls and breads at your local grocers, and hopefully you live near a great bakery if you prefer something a little bit artisanal. My only caveat to this is that if your family bread tradition is biscuits? Make those from scratch. But make them ahead and freeze them raw, so that you just have to bake them off on the day.

Christmas family
Credit: Getty / manonallard

Sweet Potatoes

Unlike white potatoes, sweet potatoes are almost impossible to mess up. So, feel free to buy a pan of candied spuds or a frozen puree for your sweet potatoes this year. Neither flavor nor texture suffer for not being done fresh, and it leaves you space in your timeline for other dishes.

Pumpkin or Pecan Pies

We have found that both styles of pie really lend themselves to being great to pick up at the store. From bake-from-frozen versions to fresh ones in the grocery bakery section, to giant ones from Costco, the flavor and texture really do tend to be indistinguishable from homemade. And since they are both are traditionally served with either whipped cream or ice cream, you have that extra bit of flavor to balance.