Side Dish Tips for Your Holiday Table Arrangement

When decorating a table for Christmas, Thanksgiving, or Easter it is the selection of foods creatively complimenting each other which create the bounty and beauty of this meal's display. Besides consisting of a much wider variety of side dishes compared to everyday meals, a holiday table's arrangement also generally contains a color theme accenting the season it represents. 

Whether you are entertaining for Christmas, Thanksgiving, or Easter a holiday dinner usually has turkey or ham presenting itself as the main attraction on the table. The number of side dishes that go along with this combine to make each holiday dinner the anticipated annual event that it is. Excitingly colorful with a wide selection of foods to choose from there is a breath taking attractiveness in a holiday meal's display.

We plan our menu by selecting the main and side dishes that will go onto our dining table to create this holiday meal. It is a spectacular blending of taste, color, and texture. Factors that combine to create the perfect table setting include how satisfying a food is to those who will be attending the meal, how taste tempting is its appearance, and each items attractiveness in relation to the other foods set onto the table.

The first selection made is traditionally that of the meal's main fare which is most often the type of meat to be served. We generally first select the meat that will be served for our festivity because this food will occupy the center or focal point of the table. 

The most popular choices in meat for the Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter holidays are generally turkey and ham but a beef roast, stuffed pork loin, or an assortment of deli meat and cheese trays are also popular modern options.

From this point there are a few very natural choices in side garnishes to go along with the chosen main fare served. Turkey will generally be accompanied by side dishes of gravy and cranberry sauce. Turkey is also likely to be served with dressing and mashed potatoes as side dishes. Ham will often be served with applesauce or a honey glaze or sauce as side dishes. Selecting a filling staple side dish is the second step in the planning of this meal. Filling foods such as potato, yam, rice, or noodles are generally chosen. Potatoes are traditionally the main staple food for most holiday tables. These can be anything from mashed potatoes, scalloped potatoes, potato salad, to fried, baked or boiled potatoes.

Potato, Yam, Stuffing, Pasta, or Rice?
As there are generally visitors attending for the holidays it is important to take into account the taste preferences and food sensitivities of all individuals. This is one of the main reasons that a wider variety of side foods are generally served for a formal meal. Many households choose to serve 2 types of meat and the same for each of the main side dish options. Sweet potato or yam can be served along side or to replace the standard white potato. For those who may have a food sensitivity rice is a food that is generally well tolerated by most people making it an excellent item to serve to visiting guests.

A fancy pasta can be very festive for the holidays and most varieties have the wonderful option of being served hot from the pot or as a cold salad. Pasta dishes offer a wide range of serving options making them a highly versatile alternative for a seasonal meal.

Farfalle and Farfalloni are ribbon or bow shaped pasta that can be delightfully seasonal. Tripolini is bow tie shape similar to the ribbon pasta it is quite a festive noodle. Campanelle is a bell shaped noodle that is very decorative for a holiday meal. Conchiglie is a shell shaped noodle that is popular with children. Filled pasta are also very nice to serve as a compliment to the main fare as it can be eaten as a filling alternative by those who choose to bypass the other. Pierogi, ravioli, pelmeni, tortellini, rigatoni, and agnolotti are some of the more popular choices. Pasta can be a delightfully festive side dish.

No meal is complete without vegetable options and most tables will serve more than one. Fruits and vegetables offer up a wonderfully wide range of healthy nutrients but during the holidays their main claim to fame is the spectacular wave of color these foods add to the table's display. With such an amazing selection of vegetables to choose from it can be difficult to select just one or two to serve. Fortunately you don't have to, there really is no need to limit the number of vegetable side dishes you elect to serve.

When selecting vegetables for your meal consider first how their color will compliment the occasion. Holiday colors can add a fun seasonal flare to your Christmas or Thanksgiving meal. Cranberries are red so they are an ideal choice for a Thanksgiving or Christmas table. Beets, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and peas are other popular holiday vegetables.

After you have your seasonal colored fruits and vegetables selected you can then move on to choosing others such as corn, carrot, turnip, or cauliflower. Bright red, green, yellow, and orange vegetables can beautifully compliment lighter color ones. You are completely open in the number of vegetable dishes you set on your table. The more the merrier. Serve them hot or cold or a mix of both.

Simple Tricks to Fancy up Your Side Dishes: 
Never under estimate the versatility of a sauce. Cheese, white, garlic, tomato Hollandaise, or Alfredo, sauces are quick and easy to make and can be a wonderfully decorative upgrade to any meal.
Now comes the choice of salads and what a tremendous variety there are to choose from. Salads truly are sensational! These colorful vegetable dishes are some of the most exciting foods that you can set on your table because there really is no limit to what you can put into them. Garden salad, pasta salad, gelatin salad, Greek, Ceasar, coleslaw, bean, or fruit. Colorful and bursting with flavor these side dishes are going to bring your holiday table to life. The salad is a compliment to main side dishes so generally one or two is quite sufficient to complete the table.

The holidays are an ideal time to serve traditional family dishes so dig deep into mom's recipe book. Most families include a traditional dish or two into their Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter meal planning. The holidays are the ideal time to celebrate your family heritage and food is one of the most delightful ways to do this.These dishes are of course generally based on your heritage and are foods that are unique to the family (or passed down within it). Perogie, cabbage rolls, Babka, Burli, dumplings, strudel, and wurst are a few examples of these. Be sure to include your own unique cultural dishes into your holiday meal. 

To top off the list of side dishes is bread which is also generally served with most holiday meals. The choice of which type to serve is completely up to the host or hostess. One bread or many can be offered to your guests. White bread, brown bread, sour dough, sweet buns, fancy crescent dinner buns, or fancy braided bread the choice is entirely yours to make.

The holidays are a delightful mix of family friends and food. The main meal is generally the highlight of the day but the sweet treats that come after are also a very important ingredient of the season. Make plenty and freeze batches to be pulled out as needed. It is much easier to bake a double or triple batch then to bake on numerous occasions. Better yet join into a cookie swap and enjoy the rewards of a wide assortment of goodies for a fraction of the work.


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