The holiday season can be a stressful time. From hosting relatives to buying gifts, the to-do list for a holiday gathering can quickly add up. Luckily, the EatingWell editors are experienced pros at cooking and hosting during the holiday season, so we're here to lend a hand. From easy hostess gifts to quick appetizers, check out our nine must-have items from Trader Joe's that will make the holidays a little easier.
With so many aisles, it can be easy to overlook the carousels of cards at your local Trader Joe's store, but Jaime Milan, EatingWell's senior digital editor, says they can't be missed. These inexpensive cards start at just $0.99, so it's easy to grab a card to bring along with the gift for your host. Plus, it saves you an extra trip to the stationary store.
Flowers & Plants
Speaking of your host, the flower and plant section is the perfect place to grab a gift, according to Penelope Wall, EatingWell's executive editor. From a small succulent to a bouquet of fresh flowers, this is an easy gift idea that anyone will appreciate. Or if you're hosting the holiday get-together, grab some flowers to use as a centerpiece for the table.
Many of the EatingWell editors make it a point to stop by the wine aisle. With a wide selection, you can easily find a bottle that fits your taste and price point. Whether you're bringing a bottle along to a get-together or want something to serve alongside your meal (or need something to drink while you make the meal), there are great options at Trader Joe's. Check out the best wine to buy this fall, according to Trader Joe's employees.
Dips & Spreads
EatingWell's Senior Food Editor Carolyn Malcoun says, "Skip making the apps and just get them from Trader Joe's!" One easy appetizer idea is offering a dip or spread along with some veggie sticks, pretzels or chips for scooping (but no double dipping here!). If any of your guests have food allergies or stick to a plant-based diet, check out the best dairy-free dips, according to Trader Joe's employees.
Cheese Board Essentials
Another quick appetizer idea is a cheese board. Milan says, "I love stocking up on their Italian breadsticks, prosciutto, a few different cheeses, nuts and grapes for a holiday appetizer that feels fancy, but is actually really easy to put together." Once you have all your ingredients, learn how to build the perfect cheese board that will have all of your guests scrambling to take pictures of the gorgeous spread.
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Parmesan Pastry Pups
Who says holiday meals have to be a big spread? I'm a huge fan of appetizers for dinner, so this year my menu will consist of different ones, starting with these pigs in a blanket. The Parmesan puff pastry makes it feel fancy, yet all I'll have to do is put them in the oven and sit back. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce for an easy, hands-off dish.
Trimmed & Cleaned Green Beans
On holidays like Thanksgiving, it can be a hassle to prep everything, which is why Victoria Seaver, M.S., RD, EatingWell's deputy digital editor, is a fan of these green beans. They help her save time when she's making her green bean casserole. In addition to this handy shortcut, Seaver also grabs some sliced mushrooms to add to her dish.
Seasoned Brussels Sprouts
Trader Joe's Seasoned Brussels Sprouts are another massive time-saver when it comes to holiday cooking. These Brussels sprouts are precut and preseasoned, so all you have to do is cook them. Milan suggests roasting or sautéing them for an easy side dish with some bacon, dried cranberries and a touch of maple syrup. Or you could use them in a warm salad like our Roasted Brussels Sprout & Butternut Squash Salad.
Hydrating Sheet Masks
In addition to shopping for your holiday meal, you can also find stocking stuffers at Trader Joe's. Wall likes to grab a few hydrating sheet masks, so you can treat your loved one to an at-home spa day. And if you're looking for other stocking stuffer ideas, I know I would be happy to find a chocolate bar or even a Trader Joe's gift card in my stocking.