The holidays are busy enough without adding extra on your to-do list. Here are the essential items to always have on hand for stress free entertaining.
A friend of mine once told me he could do anything as long as he had an egg and an onion.
And that got me to thinking, at TWS we’re huge fans of parties – and not big fans of stress. So what do we always need to have on hand for easy entertaining?
Here is our list of Holiday Essentials. For everything from cozy dinners whipped together in a flash to casual snacks for surprise afternoon guests, this is what we keep on hand for the holidays. And everyday, TBH.
- Arborio rice – for easy yet elegant risottos when afternoon cocktails stretch into dinner
- Quality dried pasta – for quick carbonara, vegetarian pastas and meat ragus.
- Oil packed sun-dried tomatoes – the oil doubles as a flavour builder for sauces and dressings.
- Canned artichoke hearts – antipasto boards, salad ingredients, pasta star, is there nothing these tasty gems can’t do?
- Bulbs of garlic – I mean, c’mon.
- Jarred tomatoes and tomato puree.
- Extra virgin Olive Oil – No word of a lie, we always have a bottle on the go and at least one extra in the pantry.
- Crackers – added to a cheeseboard, served alongside dips, or to accompany spreads, these are an underrated necessity.
- Selection of cheeses – at least one triple creme, parmesan, and one aged/or hard.
- Good quality, pre-made dips and spreads.
- Dijon mustard
- Olives – we’re partial to the flexibility of Castelvetrano for snacks, but also keep sun-dried oil cured black olives in stock to add depth to sauces and salads.
- Charcuterie – take your pick but at least one spicy and one mild.
- Lemons – cocktails, salad dressing, soup and sauce finisher, this is an all star ingredient never to be without.
- Limes – not as ubiquitous as lemons, but still important.
- Good quality stock: vegetable or chicken is the most versatile.
- Butter – from sauté starter, to sauce finisher, to bread topper, butter is always needed.
- Fresh herbs – during the holidays we stock plenty of rosemary and thyme, not just for cooking but for garnish on cheeseboards and even seasonal cocktails. Parsley and chives are always nice to have around too.
- Shrimp – for shrimp cocktails, shrimp rolls and main courses.
- Sausage – vegan and meat options.
- Puff pastry – for wrapping & baking triple creme cheeses, homemade sausage rolls, and making bite-sized treats.
- Plenty of ice – We are never without a 3lb bag.
- Frozen vegetables – corn, edamame, and peas.
- Red wine – at least half a case.
- White wine – at least half a case.
- Sparkling wine – at least two bottles.
- Simple syrup
- Sweet vermouth
- Sparkling water
- Still water
- Bitters – a selection is really nice, but classic Angostura is just fine.
- Maraschino cherries – preferably Luxardo or Toschi (avoid those weird fluorescent ones).
This blog has been updated in 2020 from its original publishing in 2014.