Bad news first: Unless you’re reading from a better-prepared country, the holidays are going to be different this year. What’s off the table—individually mixed drinks, grabby bread baskets, a lot of people with whom you’d prefer to spend the holidays—is getting as much consideration as what’s on it.
As for the table itself, maybe it’s outdoors if you live somewhere where winter doesn’t mean snow, or maybe it’s surrounded by the same five or six people you’ve had every meal with since March.
Now the good news: Despite the new normal, a legit holiday feast is not only doable, but improvable. By stripping out the nonsense, leaning into shortcuts instead of fantasy-auditioning for Top Chef, and concentrating on bold, honest flavors that underscore the season, you can host a meal that won’t stress you out or keep you tethered to the kitchen all day. A majestic roast that needs only salt, pepper, and a good butcher. Desserts you whip up in a blender. All we want for Christmas are low-maintenance holiday recipes like these.