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Entertaining Essentials: Books to Keep Your Spirits High and Stress Low This Holiday Season

Thanksgiving and Christmas make year’s end a wonderful, if busy, time. Some people relish the opportunity to play host, but for many, the thought of coming up with a menu and preparing enough food for your extended family is a real holiday mood killer.

Before you crawl under the covers and let someone else deal with all that cooking and entertaining, take a look at some of these helpful cookbooks. No matter what holiday has you in its crosshairs, you will be ready for a potluck, a sit-down dinner, a cocktail party, and every other type of celebration you’re hosting or invited to. Who knows: you might even look forward to them with these cookbooks as your guide!


Entertaining guests means catering to a wide and potentially conflicting array of dietary needs and preferences. Provisions: The Roots of Caribbean Cooking offers an impressive selection of traditional recipes that use only vegetarian ingredients—but are more than delicious enough to impress the entire family. No one will be able to resist sweet potato gnocchi, coconut corn fritters, ripe plantain gratin, and other meat-free treats!


For many people, the holidays mean indulging in a little bit (or a lot!) of alcohol. Why not add a fun and cultured twist to your holiday drinking with the cocktails in Tequila Mockingbird? Each drink featured here is a clever reference to a classic book. Now you can impress the mixologists, the book nerds, and the pun lovers in your life at the same time with Rye and Prejudice, The Cooler Purple, The Joy Luck Club Soda, and lots more.



Holidays mean parties, and parties mean plenty of drinks and music—and guests to share them with! Booze & Vinyl is a unique book that not only provides fantastic cocktail recipes, it also suggests the perfect vintage album to pair with each drink. For instance, the Rolling Stones album Sticky Fingers goes great with a tequila sunrise and a Jack and Coke (and Coors). Also, if you’re looking for snacks to serve with your musical cocktails, this book has you covered there, too.


Ayesha Curry, wife of renowned basketball player Stephen Curry, is a mixed-race woman who has lived in both Canada and the United States. This unique background introduced her to delicious dishes and traditional recipes from many different cultures. She shares some of them in The Seasoned Life. What holiday party wouldn’t be improved with the addition of Greek yogurt parfaits, prosciutto egg cups with asparagus, or honey-pepper cast-iron biscuits?


Many people think of the holidays as a time to spend with family, but friends can be just as important! Show your friends how much they mean to you with the recipes in Friendsgiving, a cookbook inspired by the classic friend-centric sitcom Friends. You’ll learn how to make Fancy Restaurant Salad, Floor Cheesecake, Ross’s famous Moist Maker sandwich, and more—and to serve them with style! After all, there’s no better way to tell your friends you love them than with good food and great company.



Who says we can only party around the holidays? Not David Burtka, author of Life is a Party. This joyful cookbook encourages readers to celebrate the little things, from a sunny afternoon to movie night with family. The recipes are arranged by season, so it’s easy to find springtime foods like rhubarb-ginger crumb muffins, winter fare like thyme and gruyère popovers, and everything in between. Whatever holiday you’re celebrating—including none at all—this book will prepare you.



Some people enjoy the unpredictable nature of potluck dinners; others dread the idea of having to prepare something and then pretend to like what everyone else brought. With Bring It, you can be sure that your dish, at least, will be a hit! You’ll be anxiously awaiting your next potluck dinner invitation so you can show off your couscous with peas and onions, ginger beef, herbed tzatziki, or any other of these delectable dishes. If you’ve never been to a potluck before, the book includes tips on how to transport the food, reheat it, and more.


Opening a six-pack of beer or a bottle of wine is fine for most occasions. But what if you want to make your holiday celebration extra special by mixing your very own cocktails? Julie Reiner, who owns two New York clubs, wrote The Craft Cocktail Party to help you make fantastic cocktails in the comfort of home. She walks you through all of the tools and ingredients you’ll need to whip up the perfect cocktails for every occasion.


Eileen Gonzalez is a freelance writer from Connecticut. She has a Master’s degree in communications and years of experience writing about pop culture. She contributes to Book Riot and Foreword Reviews, and she occasionally tweets at @eileen2thestars.