November 17, 2023
Lauren Platero

Catering Christmas Dinner: 31 Christmas Catering Menu Ideas

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… you know, when restaurants and culinary experts start creating their catering Christmas dinner plans! During the holiday season, there are so many opportunities to develop a delicious assortment of food and beverages. Whether you’re hosting a dinner for family and friends or planning a menu for a restaurant business, the ideas for festive options are abundant. 

In this article, we’re going to outline several ideas for your catering menu. Then, you’ll be fully equipped to host a full course meal that guests will thoroughly enjoy. Now, let’s learn how catering Christmas dinner is done like a pro!

Catering Christmas: The Ultimate List of Menu Ideas 

Christmas party catering menu types include quite the variety. This should always be the case, even if customers can order Christmas dinner online. Maybe you’re crafting a list of dishes and drinks for an upscale restaurant. Or, perhaps you’re planning your annual Christmas party. Either way, we have over a dozen catering ideas below!

Snacks and Appetizers for When You’re Catering Christmas Dinner

Finger foods and appetizers are where many culinary enthusiasts get creative. From holiday-centric recipes to ornate plates, there is so much to choose from. Adding a few plates of appetizers will surely go over well with party guests. 

Check out the following ideas to inspire your appetizer list:

  • Holiday Charcuterie Board - display a variety of seasonal cheeses, meats, crackers, dried fruits, and nuts on a festive board. 
  • Beer Bread and Spinach Dip - a creamy dip served alongside bread made with any of your favorite beer brands
  • Brie and Cranberry Bites - fill Phyllo cups with brie and cranberry sauce for the most decadent appetizer of all. 
  • Shrimp Cocktail - a chilly classic that is perfect all year round, even in the chilly weather. 
  • Bacon-Wrapped Dates - this delicious appetizer creates the perfect balance of sweet and savory flavor notes. 
  • Mozzarella Sticks - a toasty favorite that pairs perfectly with marinara sauce. 

These snacks are sure to disappear rather quickly when catering Christmas dinner. Once they do, wait about a half hour or so to bring out items from the next section.

The Main Courses for When You’re Catering Christmas Dinner

Christmas dinner catering will probably be one of the most festive meals of the year. Well, after Thanksgiving, of course. With this in mind, it's absolutely the time to go all out on the entree food

If you need ideas for your entree section of your Christmas Day, Christmas Eve catering menu, or even a New Year's Eve catering menu, review the list below:

  • Baked Ham - serve with a brown sugar glaze to pair with other holiday menu items.
  • Turkey - if you don't celebrate Thanksgiving, a turkey may be suitable for Christmas dinner.
  • The Feast of Seven Fishes - an Italian meal eaten on Christmas Eve featuring pasta with seven types of seafood.
  • Eggplant, Chicken, and/or Shrimp Parmigiana - an Italian-American classic baked with mozzarella and red sauce, served with a side of pasta. 
  • Lamb Chops with Mint Sauce - an entree that complements all the minty flavors present during the Christmas season.
  • Vegetarian Wellington - a vegetarian's ultimate culmination of veggies, nuts, and cheese inside a flaky puff pastry. You can also make it vegan by using dairy free cheese. 
  • Lasagna - several layers of red sauce, pasta, and ricotta is always a fan favorite. 
  • Seafood Paella - if seven types of fish is too much, try this Spanish classic instead, featuring rice, saffron, and other spices. 

Aside from the ham and turkey, most of these entree foods don’t even need a lineup of elaborate side dishes. A side salad and bread basket for the table should be just fine.

Desserts and Sweet Treats for When You’re Catering Christmas Dinner

The holiday season is a time when everyone indulges in sweets. After all, there are so many decadent and festive recipes that stir up the Christmas spirit. Plus, they're oftentimes decorative and fun to prepare, especially when catering Christmas dinner for a large group. 

If you're looking to create a dessert menu for a holiday party or for when you’re catering Christmas, check below:

  • Christmas Cookies - from classics such as chocolate snowballs to family traditions, you can't go wrong with homemade cookies. 
  • Peppermint Bark - layers of white and dark chocolate with crumbled candy cane pieces make for a festive sweet treat. 
  • Pumpkin Pie - an American classic that's just as perfect near Christmas as it is in the fall.
  • Tiramisu - one of the most decadent Italian desserts, balancing the flavors of espresso, sweet cream, and mascarpone. 
  • Christmas Pudding - a dense pudding made with dried fruit that stems from British descent. 
  • Cinnamon Rolls - a sweet and gooey pastry drizzled with a vanilla cream cheese icing. 

Serving delicious and Christmas-y desserts will be the perfect finale to a memorable meal. With just a few options from the list above, you'll certainly be saving the best for last!

Alcoholic Drinks and Liquor for When You’re Catering Christmas Dinner

Consumers and restaurant staff alike have a tendency to mix and match different types of alcohol during the holidays. For one, it’s a time to unwind with friends and family. Plus, they contribute to the creation of super festive recipes. From original mixtures to twists on popular cocktails, the room for creativity is endless. 

See below for alcoholic drink ideas inspired by holiday food trends and flavors:

  • Winter Sangria - simply add brandy, orange liqueur, cranberries, apples, and oranges to your favorite red wine.
  • Hot Toddy - lemon tea and honey with a shot of whiskey is a blend that'll always keep you warm on a freezing winter night. 
  • Candy Cane Martini - mixing peppermint schnapps, vanilla vodka, and white crème de cacao screams "Christmas spirit." Don't forget to garnish with a candy cane! Check out the classic Martini recipe for reference.
  • Gingerbread White Russian - just add gingerbread syrup to a classic White Russian recipe and you have a delicious and festive cocktail. 
  • Dark Rum - though you’ll probably be adding it to the eggnog, rum is a super versatile liquor for other cocktail recipes you may decide to serve. 
  • Peppermint Vodka - whether you serve it over ice or in a spiked hot chocolate, peppermint vodka is always a hit during the holidays. 

Okay, so we’ve covered what the guests over twenty-one years of age can enjoy. Check out the next section to discover fun ideas for drinks without an alcohol content you can serve when catering Christmas festivities.

Non-Alcoholic Beverages for When You’re Catering Christmas Dinner

Mocktails and mixers make up some of the most delicious drinks on a menu. With the right ingredients and garnishing, they can be just as festive as cocktails, too. Plus, there are no dangers involved, and you won’t be at risk of a hangover. 

Ready to put your mixology skills to good use? Try some of the recipes below or let them spark the inspiration to create something new:

  • Eggnog - one of the most decadent holiday drinks that you can garnish with cinnamon. 
  • Apple Cider - though it might seem reminiscent of autumn, cider is enjoyable near Christmas, too. 
  • Chai Tea Latte - for guests who want something warm and cozy without any sweet flavors. 
  • Hot Chocolate - a classic that is loved by almost everyone during the colder months. Add a touch of peppermint extract for a festive twist. 
  • Peppermint Mocha Coffee - some people may want a standard coffee after dinner, but having a peppermint creamer nearby is ideal during the Christmas season.

You can’t create a menu without a list of beverages suitable for everyone. In addition to standard soft drinks like water and soda, these ideas should inspire holiday-centric options.

Frequently Asked Questions About Catering Christmas

One of the many festivities leading up to the holidays is creating your Christmas catering menu. However, there’s more to it than planning which food and drinks you’ll serve. Need some pointers on hosting a large dinner party or working around your budget? Check out the following FAQ section where we cover just that and so much more for those who are catering Christmas!

What Does It Mean to Be Catering Christmas?

Catering Christmas is the concept of providing dinner parties with food and beverages on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Aside from Christmas Eve traditions, the menus are pretty similar between the two days. To avoid the need of changing up the options between the 24th and 25th, just stick to the classics.

How Do I Create a Menu When Catering Christmas?

When catering Christmas, you can begin by selecting up to three items for each category on your menu. This will provide guests with a variety without kitchen operations getting too hectic. If you're unsure of what to prepare, consider the classics or the dishes that were a hit in years past.

What Do Most People Serve for Christmas Dinner?

On Christmas, most people serve either ham or turkey with a variety of sides. Aside from Christmas pudding or some kind of fruitcake for dessert, the menu could resemble Thanksgiving quite a bit. But since Christmas is celebrated worldwide, there are many cultural influences on the food from one home to another.

How Do You Serve a Large Group Christmas Dinner?

To serve a large group for Christmas dinner, a buffet or family style dining approach will be your best options. When everyone is able to fix their own plate or pick from platters on the table, the dining experience typically runs smoothly. This is mostly because it eliminates the time it would take to plate everyone's dish. Just ensure that you have enough food to go around!

How Do You Host a Christmas Dinner On a Budget?

If you're striving to host Christmas dinner on a budget, simplify the menu and use as many coupons as possible. Depending on how casual your Christmas dinner is going to be, you can also encourage guests to bring a dish. However, it's only proper etiquette to make suggestions if they specifically ask what they can bring. In many cases though, they will.

‘Tis the Season to Be Catering!

The holidays are full of gatherings, which means that there are many occasions to cater Christmas festivities. If you’re the business owner of a restaurant, this also means that there are several ways to maximize revenue during the holiday season. Regardless of which side of the coin you’re on, this guide of menu ideas should lead to delicious and spectacular dining experiences.