“This cocktail was invented simply because I had leftover cranberry-orange relish from hosting Thanksgiving,” says reader Trilby Parker of Redwood City, California. You can also use a combination of orange zest and store-bought cranberry sauce, as we’ve done here.
Reader Patricia Bloodgood of San Diego came up with this bright, juicy, easy punch that practically screams, “Christmas party!” If you’re making it ahead, prepare all the ingredients and combine them at the last minute, with the ice.
“I created this recipe to serve at our November wedding,” says reader Komron Shahhosseini of Santa Rosa, California. “It’s fantastic to drink with your groomsmen but approachable enough to share with the bridesmaids.” His sophisticated original version included a tincture of candy cap mushrooms, which taste like maple syrup; we’ve left it out, since candy cap mushrooms aren’t easy to find. Here is his method, if you’d like to try it: Crush 1 oz. dried candy cap mushrooms and mix with 6 oz. vodka. Let sit 30 days, then strain.
Reader and teacher Kristen Leong of Bellevue, Washington, came up with this drink during her bartending days. “The taste is bright and lush, like a forest lit with Christmas lights.” If you want a stronger pine taste, add a drop or two of pine liqueur—but it’s delightful just as it is.
Deborah Biggs of Omaha, Nebraska, loves gingerbread so much, she decided to put its flavors right into her coffee. The result? A not-too-sweet drink that warms you from head to toe. If your holiday party falls on a rainy, cold night, consider serving it instead of eggnog.
Cleta Burden of Porterville, California, took traditional baklava and added everybody’s favorite ingredient, plus chile flakes and orange syrup. The result: an appetizer that's outrageous and addictive.
From Sitka, Alaska, come these delightfully rich toasts covered with crisp nuts and bits of salty prosciutto, contributed by reader Patrice Reinhardt. It’s an old family recipe, says Reinhardt, who adds that the butter is crucial to its appeal: “No substitutes.”
“Upon being invited to a party at the last minute, I invented this hummus from what I had on hand,” says reader Maria August of Boulder, Colorado. “To my surprise, I liked it better than the traditional tahini version.” Serve with fresh-cut vegetables, such as jicama, carrot, red pepper, and celery sticks.
The beauty of this appetizer is that guests assemble the toasts themselves, so it’s fuss-free for the host. Reader Rebecca Firth of Solvang, California, created the recipe, inspired by her living in China for three years around the time of the Beijing Olympics. “We would try to do everything as close to our holiday traditions back home. On a whim, as I was preparing Christmas dinner, I threw in some five-spice powder to my usual cranberries and I loved what it did to the flavor.”
Christine Littell of Auburn, California, explains how she created her winning recipe: “I was inspired after having a mixed pickle plate at a local wine bar. I was there with my best foodie friend and we were amazed by the array of different fruits and vegetables, all pickled with different sweet and savory spices. We are now both addicted to pickled grapes.” We are too! We especially like them with cheese and salumi—in the place of cornichons.
Reader Jean Oh of Cerritos, California, sent in this family recipe. We’d like to say that they’re just as good baked, but honestly, they really are best fried. The Sriracha mayo puts it over the top. Note: Wonton wrappers vary in size, so if you use smaller wrappers, you’ll get more wontons.