73 easy Christmas buffet ideas to make at home (#54 will get a big thumbs up from the kids)

Christmas buffet food to make and serve in the comfort of your own home. Quick and easy recipes to try…

A selection of the best Christmas buffet food ideas and recipes including pies, pigs in blankets and more
(Image credit: Getty Images/Future)

Throwing a Christmas buffet has never been easier with our buffet food ideas. From dips to desserts, every buffet needs a wide variety of food to choose from and we've got it all covered.

We've rounded up our favourite Christmas food for your buffet, from easy canapes to homemade dips to Christmas desserts. Then you can sit back, crack open the fizz and relax. It’s a popular way to eat on Boxing Day, or you could be hosting a pre-Christmas celebration party, a New Year’s Eve buffet bash, or even just feeding your family leftovers in the finest buffet form. Whatever your plans, it’s a great way to feed the hungry hordes. 

“Preparing food in advance makes a buffet a low-stress entertaining option, gives you the chance to enjoy your party, and, with a few creative festive touches, provides a magical feast for the eyes as well as the stomach!” says Michaela Hanna, a chef who offers masterclasses and private cooking classes. 

“My top festive buffet platters will always include bites that are easy to eat – lots of skewers and finger foods. Chipolata sausages coated in a warm glaze of honey and wholegrain mustard are always a winning nibble. Spicy lamb meatballs with a pomegranate dipping sauce add an exotic Middle Eastern touch, as are arancini rice balls with pesto. Red chilli, crab, and lime toasts, as well as mini Yorkshire puddings with rare beef, are the canapés I’m most requested to prepare, and if you have the time they are a really special treat.”

Christmas buffet ideas 

spicy chicken wings

Marinate these wings overnight for maximum flavour

(Image credit: Getty Images)

1. Spicy chicken wings

Makes/serves: 4 | Skill level: Easy |  Total time: 25 min

These wings are sticky and delicious and deliver lots of flavours that are in short supply in traditional Christmas food – hoisin sauce, sesame oil, soy sauce and hot chilli sauce are all in the mix. It’s all very simple, but a spot of forward planning is needed - in an ideal world, they should be marinating from the day before for maximum taste. 

Get the recipe: Spicy chicken wings

Southern fried chicken

Fab served with coleslaw and potato salad on the side

(Image credit: Getty Images)

2. Southern fried chicken

Makes/serves: 4 | Skill level: Medium |  Total time: 45 min

Coat your drumsticks in a mix of fajita-style spices, polenta and flour – with added chilli powder for those who like things fiery. Fry until crispy and then finish off in the oven. Great with potato salad and homemade slaw. 

Get the recipe: Southern fried chicken

Because they're not just for accompanying the turkey

3. Bacon wrapped sausages

Makes/serves: 12 | Skill level: Easy |  Total time: 25 min

An icon of Christmas foods, pigs and blankets aren’t only for serving next to turkey and stuffing, they’re a marvellous buffet option. Mini sausages (go high on the quality if you can, it’s one of those things that’s worth paying that little extra for) wrapped in streaky bacon, they’re best served with pots of ketchup for the kids and Dijon mustard for the grown ups.

Get the recipe: Bacon wrapped sausages

Sausages wrapped in pastry in a red mug

A sausage roll with a twist, literally

(Image credit: Future)

4. Twisty sausage rolls

Makes/serves: 24 | Skill level: Easy |  Total time: 20 min

Make use of any leftover chipolatas from your pigs in blankets by wrapping them in twisted puff pastry and baking in the oven. Posher than your average sausage roll, serve them with a nice variety of condiments, including wholegrain mustard and brown sauce. 

Get the recipe: Twisty sausage rolls

Sticky sausages and sweet chilli dip

These sausages are roasted in a hoisin and honey glaze

(Image credit: TI Media Limited)

5. Sticky sausages and sweet chilli dip

Makes/serves: 4 | Skill level: Easy |  Total time: 30 min

Fancy up your sausages of choice by roasting in a glaze of hoisin sauce and honey, then serve with pots of sweet chilli dipping sauce and hot sauce. Mix in some chopped spring onions to finish off.

Get the recipe: Sticky sausages and sweet chilli dip

mini chilli beef pies

An inventive use for your usual chilli con carne

(Image credit: Getty Images)

6. Mini chilli beef pies

Makes/serves: 9 | Skill level: Medium |  Total time: 1 hr

If you’ve cooked up a vat of chilli con carne over the holidays, this is an excellent use for it on your festive buffet. A simple filling made into mini pies with shortcrust pastry. Just add a bowl of guacamole and another of sour cream on the side and you’re all set. 

Get the recipe: Mini chilli beef pies

Steak on skewers

Dip into your festive fondue, or wonderful just as they are

(Image credit: Getty Images)

7. Steak on sticks

Makes/serves: 8 | Skill level: Easy |  Total time: 11 min

A serious treat for carnivorous types going on here. Slice  your best steak into cubes, marinate in lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, thyme and garlic, cook on a very hot griddle (we highly recommend medium rare), puncture with cocktail sticks and serve with dips - honey and mustard or tzatziki work well, or even a cheese fondue for added decadence.

Get the recipe: Steak on sticks

Melting cheese burgers and potato wedges

A riff on a classic cheeseburger, with a melting middle

(Image credit: Future)

8. Melting cheese burgers

Makes/serves: 4 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 1 hr

Adapt this recipe into mini sliders by making baby burgers and using mini buns (Asda sell mini rolls, and Ocado stock brioche versions). And where this differs from a regular burger is that the cheese is all melty on the inside, rather than on top. You could use Stilton to make it festive or another blue cheese or a brie works well too – a great idea if you’ve got a glut of cheese on your board that won’t all get eaten with crackers. 

Get the recipe:  Melting cheese burgers

smoked cod fishcakes

Delicious with a creamy mustard dip, make them mini for your buffet

(Image credit: Getty Images)

9. Smoked cod fish cakes

Makes/serves: 2 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 40 min

Double, or even triple, up on the ingredients list and make these fish cakes mini, before serving with a creme fraiche and mustard dip (a parsley sauce would work well too). The smoked cod could be swapped out for haddock or salmon or, for those who prefer their fish in plainer form, just use unsmoked white fish and add extra flavour with some finely chopped spring onions and/or capers.

Get the recipe: Smoked cod fish cakes

prawn cocktail

Add a big bowl of prawns in Marie Rose sauce to your buffet

(Image credit: Getty Images)

10. Prawn cocktail

Makes/serves: 4 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 15 min

It doesn’t come more iconic than a prawn cocktail, a recipe that can be easily adapted to a buffet, by making one big serving bowl full  of the stuff, alongside a crispy green salad and some crusty bread (or buttered sliced brown for traditionalists). The tabasco, mayo and ketchup of the marie rose can be flavoured by a splash of brandy – because it’s Christmas, so everything must contain booze.

Get the recipe: Prawn cocktail

fish nuggets

Kids will go crazy for these homemade fish nuggets

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11. Cod nuggets

Makes/serves: 4 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 30 min

Good ol’ fish nuggets will please the kids, dipped in ketchup – if the grown ups don’t get there first. Add bowls of tartar sauce and sweet chilli, and pop them next to a plate of sweet potato fries or wedges. You could jazz up the breadcrumb coating with a few pinches of paprika if it takes your fancy. Don’t forget lemon or lime wedges to serve, and some thinly sliced cucumber wouldn’t go amiss. 

Get the recipe: Cod nuggets


Indian flavours are always welcome on a buffet

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12. Samosas

Makes/serves: 16 | Skill level: Medium | Total time: 50 min

Filo pastry packed with curried mince, peas, potatoes and onions, most commonly bought with your Indian takeout but oh-so-satisfying to make at home. The beef could be swapped for lamb, or meat could be omitted altogether and more veg added – finely cubed carrots, swede or even parsnips for a festive twist can work well. Add chilli powder if your guests are spicy types. Serve with mango chutney, lime pickle and raita.

Get the recipe: Samosas

peshwari naan

Delicious hot naan with a sweet twist

(Image credit: Alamy)

13. Peshwari naan

Makes/serves: 6 | Skill level: Easy |  Total time: 33 mins, plus proving time

Making your own naan isn’t as complicated as it might seem. Where it differs from other breads is the use of melted ghee and yoghurt with the strong bread flour and yeast. This peshwari naan has the sweet flavours of raisins, desiccated coconut as well as flaked almonds, though you could keep it plain or add grated garlic should you prefer.

Get the recipe: Peshwari naan

cauliflower pakoras

Serve your pakoras with a dollop of mango chutney

(Image credit: Getty Images)

14. Spicy cauliflower pakoras

Makes/serves: 2 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 20 min

The cauliflower is our favourite versatile veggie and takes on flavour like no other. It’s particularly suited to Indian spices and is coated here in a mix of gram flour and spices before frying in sunflower oil. It works well with other veggies too, from broccoli to carrots to aubergines, or a mix of all.  Serve with a tamarind raita (if you don’t already have tamarind in your cupboard, it’s worthy of a space - just roughly blend the sour fruit with water and use the liquid in the mix).

Get the recipe: Spicy cauliflower pakoras

cheese and spinach baked mushrooms

Portobellos stuffed with rice, cheese and spinach is like a meal in a mushroom

(Image credit: Getty Images)

15. Cheese and spinach baked mushrooms

Makes/serves: 4 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 35 min

Stilton, dolcelatte or any other blue cheese, mixed with spinach, cooked rice, onion and garlic, stuffed into mushrooms (portabello are best) and baked. Great for a buffet, it could also be a Christmas main course for anyone eschewing meat this season.

Get the recipe: Cheese and spinach baked mushrooms

stuffed peppers

(Image credit: Getty Images)

16. Mediterranean stuffed peppers

Makes/serves: 4 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 1 hr

This veggie classic, could be adapted to use with smaller peppers to make it bite sized, or serve classic capsicums cut in half. Stuffed with pine nuts, rice and onions flavoured with stock and tinned tomatoes, this recipe used Edam cheese, but this could be swapped out for cheddar, a crumbly cheese like Lancashire or Wensleydale, or even a Stilton or camembert.

Get the recipe: Mediterranean stuffed peppers

mini vegetable frittata

Like muffins, but in egg form – drizzle with pesto for even more flavour

(Image credit: Getty Images)

17. Mini vegetable frittatas

Makes/serves: 6 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 35 min

Unusual for a frittata in that they contain pasta, these mini ones are almost like muffins, packed with tasty flavours from the salty feta to the oregano and spring onion. Flecks of colour from the red pepper are visually appealing, to boot. Serve drizzled with pesto. 

Get the recipe: Mini vegetable frittatas

mini quiche

Filled with bacon and cheddar, the meat could be swapped for fish or your favourite veggies

(Image credit: Getty Images)

18. Mini quiches

Makes/serves: 12 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 1 hr 10 min

These mini quiches are filled with bacon, onion and cheddar but they can be adapted to whatever you have in the fridge – leftover Christmas ham, smoked salmon, chopped mushrooms (you could even use unusual varieties like shiitake to fancy things up), broccoli, sweetcorn, anything goes. Buy ready-made shortcrust pastry if you want to make life easier. 

Get the recipe: Mini quiches

Christmas buffet ideas

Don't mess with a classic

(Image credit: Alamy Stock Photo)

19. Scotch Eggs

Makes/serves: 6 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 44 min

A classic – made even more iconic during the ‘substantial meal’ debate of the pandemic – this recipe is true to tradition, with the hard boiled eggs (personally we think keep them ever so slightly runny for Scotch egg perfection) coated in sausage meat and breadcrumbs before deep frying. Serve with a watercress salad and a pot of chilli sauce or mustard for those who may like a bit of spice with their eggs.

Get the recipe: Scotch eggs

Seeded Parmesan biscuits

Great with cheese and chutney, or just as they are

(Image credit: Alamy)

20. Seeded Parmesan biscuits

Makes/serves: 30 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 1 hr 15 min

These moreish snacks, a twist on a cheese straw, are unbelievably tasty, and work well with a dab of Christmas chutney or just as they are. Crispy, salty, and topped with sesame and poppy seeds, we recommend a pinch or two of cayenne pepper in the mix. 

Get the recipe: Seeded Parmesan biscuits

oat cheese biscuits

Make your cheese board even more impressive this Christmas

(Image credit: Getty Images)

21. Oaty cheese biscuits

Makes/serves: 12 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 30 min

Sure, you can’t beat a classic cream cracker, but these slightly sweet (there’s honey in the mix) cheesy biscuits have a gentle hit of rosemary and will be a delightful complement to your cheese board. Cut them into festive shapes, from stars to trees, with your best cookie cutters, or just go classic round. 

Get the recipe: Oaty cheese biscuits

burritos on a buffet

Slice to make your burrito buffet bite sized

(Image credit: Getty Images)

22. Burritos

Makes/serves: 8 | Skill level: Easy |  Total time: 55 min

Shredded or minced beef with pinto beans, cooked in a spicy sauce. Add sour cream, salad and guac and roll, then slice into thick strips so that people can help themselves, buffet style. Swap out the beef for chicken or pulled pork, or add veggies such as sweetcorn and sliced peppers and courgettes. 

Get the recipe: Burritos

Churros and chocolate

Homemade Mexican doughnuts, with chocolate sauce? Sure

(Image credit: Future)

23. Homemade churros

Makes/serves: 16 | Skill level: Medium | Total time: 1 hr 25 min

What Masterchef champ and Wahaca owner Thomasina Miers doesn’t know about Mexican food isn’t worth knowing, so when she tells us how to make churros, we listen. Her recipe shows us how to make these sugary, cinnamon spiced doughnuts, which go straight from the piping bag into the pan to give them that unique look. Sweet dipping sauce is essential – make your own chocolate sauce from this recipe, or buy a tub of delicious dulce du leche.

Get the recipe: Homemade churros

A bowl of nachos and dips

Because the simple things are usually the best

(Image credit: Getty Images)

24. Nachos

Makes/serves: 6 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 15 min

Lay out a bag of tortilla chips in a roasting dish, top with grated cheddar and jalapenos and stick under the grill until bubbling. Serve with pots of sour cream, guac and salsa. Simple. Just no double dipping, guys. 

Get the recipe: Nachos

kofta kebabs

Kofta kebabs with a creamy tzatziki is a great buffet choice

(Image credit: Getty Images)

25. Lamb kebabs with creamy yoghurt dip

Makes/serves: 24 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 25 min

Made with lamb mince and spices, these kofta style kebabs might be more in place on a summer holiday, but they work brilliantly on a Christmas buffet with a tangy, garlicky tzatziki dip. You could also serve some toasted pitta breads and a red onion and tomato salad on the side to complement.

Get the recipe: Lamb kebabs with creamy yoghurt dip

halloumi kebabs

Because grilled halloumi is for life, not just for summer

(Image credit: Getty Images)

26. Easy halloumi kebabs

Makes/serves: 8 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 20 min

Firm, salty, squeaky and delicious, halloumi is the king of veggie kebabs. Add red and green peppers for a festive hue, grill until toasted and serve with the same tasty accoutrements as the lamb kebabs, above. 

Get the recipe: Easy halloumi kebabs

prawn kebabs

King prawns, grilled, with a horseradish mayo

(Image credit: Getty Images)

27. Prawn kebabs

Makes/serves: 8 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 21 min

These king prawn kebabs are soaked in a sugary lime and garlic marinade, that could easily be improvised with – add southeast Asian flavours like fish sauce and lemongrass, or pop some red chilli in there. The recipe suggests a horseradish mayo to go alongside, though this could be switched for a sweet or hot chilli sauce if that’s more to your taste.

Get the recipe: Prawn kebabs

Chilli hummus

Is a buffet even a buffet without a bowl of hummus?

(Image credit: Getty Images)

28. Chilli pepper hummus

Makes/serves: 4 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 15 min

There are many riffs on a classic hummus to be had these days, and this one adds a hit of spice with a tsp of hot sauce and a dash of paprika as well as some roasted red peppers for a jar. Great served with batons of cucumber and strips of pitta bread or breadsticks.

Get the recipe: Chilli pepper hummus

Guacamole recipe with tortillas.

A good guac is a great side dish for pretty much everything

(Image credit: Alamy Stock Photo)

29. Guacamole

Makes/serves: 4 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 10 mins

The avocado has been having its moment in the spotlight for quite some time now, and our enthusiasm isn’t showing any sign of abating just yet. For the best guac, you’ll need yours ripe and creamy, so it can be easily smashed and blitzed with the tomato, lime and red onion. Serve it with everything, basically. Grilled chicken, nachos, quesadillas, chilli con carne, mini burgers, there’s little guacamole isn’t a good match for. 

Get the recipe: Guacamole

salsa dip

A spicy tomato salsa should be in the buffet mix

(Image credit: Getty Images)

30. Salsa

Makes/serves: 8 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 30 min

A good way to use up a glut of tomatoes, and all the better if they’re over-ripe. Mix with finely chopped onion and garlic, lime juice and chopped chillies, as well as a pinch of sugar and seasoning. Keep in the fridge, ideally for a day at least, for the flavours to blend, then serve, just like guac, with pretty much anything you fancy.

Get the recipe: Salsa

cheese and chive dip

Because homemade is so much better than the supermarket can offer

(Image credit: Getty Images)

31. Creamy cheese and chive dip

Makes/serves: 4 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 5 min

Super quick and super easy, just add grated cheese to natural yoghurt and mayo, and throw in some finely chopped chives and spring onions. Serve with crackers and crudites. No need to buy this from the supermarket ever again, right?

Get the recipe: Creamy cheese and chive dip

Parmesan bites

So simple, so delicious

(Image credit: Rights Unknown)

34. Parmesan bites

Makes/serves: 4 | Skill level: Easy |  Total time: 5 min

Almost as simple as opening the cupboard and reaching for a bag of crisps, all these snacks take to make is  mixing grated Parmesan with flour and a generous grind of black pepper. Flatten into rounds (a tablespoon worth for each) and pop under the grill for two mins. Serve with salsa or just eat as they are.

Get the recipe: Parmesan bites

red onion quiche

Sticky onions, with thyme and cheese, this is a next level quiche

(Image credit: Future)

35. Caramelised red onion quiche

Makes/serves: 4 | Skill level: Medium | Total time: 1 hr 25 min

A poshed up quiche, the key here is slowly cooking the onions in butter until they turn deliciously sticky and brown. Pour over a mix of cream, eggs and mustard, top with fresh thyme leaves and bake until brown and bubbling. Divine.

Get the recipe: Caramelised Red Onion Quiche

ham, cheese and spinach quiche

A classic, great for leftover ham and cheese

(Image credit: Getty Images)

36. Ham, cheese and spinach quiche

Makes/serves: 6 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 30 min

An excellent way for using up your leftover Christmas ham, this quiche combines it with those classic flavours of spinach and ricotta. The ham could, of course, be omitted for a veggie friendly version, and buying ready-to-use shortcrust pastry will save on time when there are endless other buffet favourites to prep. 

Get the recipe: Ham, Cheese and Spinach Quiche 

Chinese dumplings

Easier than they look to make, these gyozas are a buffet joy

(Image credit: Getty Images)

37. Chinese dumplings

Makes/serves: 2 | Skill level: Medium | Total time: 50 min

Trebling or quadrupling on the ingredients here to feed the troops, these delicious steamed dumplings are something most of us never think to make but, actually, they’re pretty easy to put together. Using pork (shredded chicken or turkey leftovers would work well too) and cabbage flavoured with spring onions, soy sauce and sesame oil, buy the dumpling pastries from an Asian supermarket or order on Amazon.

Get the recipe: Chinese dumplings

spring rolls

Crispy rolls made with filo and packed with flavour

(Image credit: Getty Images)

38. Vegetable spring rolls

Makes/serves: 12 | Skill level: Medium | Total time: 45 min

Making your own spring rolls with sheets of filo pastry is a highly satisfying activity and they will be far superior to those flabby, tasteless varieties the supermarkets tend to have on offer. Grated carrot, finely sliced peppers, onions and garlic are combined with spices and stock (you could also add any leftover meat – shredded duck, pork or beef work well), baked and serve with a sweet dipping sauce that is a work of genius – passata, mango chutney, chilli and coriander. Go with it, believe us, it works. 

Get the recipe: Vegetable spring rolls

prawn toast

Making your own prawn toast is totally worth the effort

(Image credit: Getty Images)

39. Prawn toast

Makes/serves: 8 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 20 min

Another one that most of us never consider making fresh ourselves, homemade prawn toast – that bastion of the Chinese takeout – is so worth it, and far less faff than you’d imagine. Just chop your prawns with garlic, ginger and spring onion, whizz into a paste with egg white, top your toast, sprinkle with sesame seeds and grill. Divine. 

Get the recipe: Prawn toast

vegetarian wellington

Serve slices of veggie wellington, with gravy on the side

(Image credit: Future)

40. Vegetarian wellington

Makes/serves: 8 | Skill level: Medium | Total time: 1 hr 55 min

One we think of as more of a main course than finger food, this wellington can be served in slices on a buffet, with a pot of vegetarian gravy on the side to dunk.  Packed with squash, beetroot, spinach and stuffing, it’s a good dish to serve next to a sliced beef wellington to cater for all tastes. 

Get the recipe: Vegetarian Wellington 

gordon ramsay beef wellington

The key is keeping the meat pink – or Gordon will have something to say

(Image credit: www.ti-mediacontent.com)

41. Gordon Ramsay’s beef wellington

Makes/serves: 4 | Skill level: Medium | Total time: 1 hr 10 min

An icon of British dishes from an icon of cooking, this beef wellington is a true classic – fillet of beef, wrapped in Parma ham, smothered in a mushroom pate and encased in puff pastry. The key is keeping this beef deliciously pink and succulent inside – Gordon will be having a word if it comes out well done. Serve sliced, centre stage, on your buffet for a high class, luxurious treat. 

Get the recipe: Gordon Ramsay’s Beef Wellington

cheese scones

These delicious, unusual scones have chutney in the mix

(Image credit: Getty Images)

42. Cheese and chutney scones

Makes/serves: 8 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 33 min

My, these taste fine. A brilliant bake to make use of that glut of Christmas cheese, they’re wonderful made with a strong Cheddar, though you could also try them with leftover Stilton. Parmesan works wonders, too. And as much as we love a good chutney, it never all gets eaten, so pop a dollop into your mix (yep, actually in them, not on the side). A tangy tomato chutney is the preferred option, but an onion relish also works well. 

Get the recipe: Cheese and chutney scones

baked camembert

Baked cheese couldn't be simpler or more delicious

(Image credit: Getty Images)

43. Baked camembert

Makes/serves: 4 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 15 min

It’s the simple things. Bake your cheese in the oven in the box, it’s that straightforward. You could also cut a hole in the centre and pour in a splash of white wine, fondue style, or scatter over fresh thyme leaves, chopped chives or a spring of rosemary. Of course, it’s obligatory to serve with French bread, though sticks of celery work well too and, if you want to be really decadent, dip in juicy steak on sticks. 

Get the recipe: Baked Camembert 

sunflower seed rolls

Wonderful with cheeses and cold cuts

(Image credit: Getty Images)

44. Sunflower seed rolls

Makes/serves: 12 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 1 hr 50 min

A recipe from Jo Wheatley (who won Bake Off back in 2011), these lovely, slightly sweet, dinner rolls will go well alongside a platter of cold cuts, cheeses and chutneys, a good quality butter and an olive oil and balsamic vinegar dip. Delightful.

Get the recipe: Sunflower seed rolls

cheese straws

Fill your boots with these tasty homemade straws

(Image credit: Getty Images)

45. Cheese straws

Makes/serves: 40 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 40 min

A kid’s and grown up’s fave, these cheese straws, made with Parmesan or mature cheddar (again, mix this up for any other strong, firm cheese, should you wish) are a delight, dipped into a Christmas chutney or alongside your buffet dip selection – a tangy salsa is the dream partner.

Get the recipe: Cheese straws

sesame and salt breadsticks

The kids especially will be all over these homemade breadsticks

(Image credit: TI Media)

46. Sesame and salt breadsticks

Makes/serves: 30 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 35 min

Sure, you can buy a box from the supermarket, but homemade are well worth the effort for a special occasion, and the kids will go crazy for them. Hugely versatile, serve stacked in your finest tall pots, next to the dips and the cheese board. 

Get the recipe: Sesame and salt breadsticks

Peppermint cupcakes

A hidden After Eight centre and a peppermint cream top, for this retro delight

(Image credit: Future)

47. Peppermint creams cupcakes

Makes/serves: 12 | Skill level: Medium | Total time: 50 min

A retro flavour, these peppermint cupcakes are quite the special treat, containing a surprise After Eight mint centre, buttercream, and topped with homemade peppermint creams. The festive toppers here are also homemade, but you could save time if your baking skill set isn’t quite on point, by topping with After Eights. 

Get the recipe:  Peppermint creams cupcakes

Gingerbread cupcakes with clementine buttercream

Adorable gingerbread folk top these cakes

(Image credit: Future)

48. Gingerbread cupcakes

Makes/serves: 12 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 35 min

Totally adorable, these ginger cakes have a delightful festive flavour with cloves, cinnamon and clementine zest in the mix. Topped with clementine frosting and decorated with mini gingerbread people, who the kids can decorate in their finest festive get-up. 

Get the recipe: Gingerbread cupcakes

Snowmen cupcakes

 A perfect cake to make with the kids

(Image credit: Annabel Karmel)

49. Snowmen cupcakes

Makes/serves: 10 | Skill level: Medium | Total time: 55 min

Children’s baking icon Annabel Karmel came up with this brilliant recipe to get the kids involved in the buffet preparation. Fizzy laces for scarves, marshmallow heads and icing pens to do their best decorating work, this is one to aim for rustic charm rather than finesse and perfection. 

Get the recipe: Snowmen cupcakes

Christmas trifle

A classic trifle, but made with mulled wine in the mix

(Image credit: Getty Images)

50. Christmas trifle

Makes/serves: 8 | Skill level: Medium | Total time: 1 hr 10 min

Is it even Christmas if there isn’t a trifle on the table? This recipe features equally festive mulled wine in place of the usual sherry, though this can be left out if you want kids and those who don’t drink alcohol to enjoy. Freestyle on the decoration –top with berries, crumbled pistachios or hazelnuts or even grated chocolate or edible glitter. Feel free to go OTT – trifles weren't created to be classy.

Get the recipe: Christmas trifle

mini trifles

Easier than your average trifle, and just as delicious

(Image credit: Getty Images)

51. Mini fruit trifles

Makes/serves: 10 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 4 hr 30 min (including setting time)

A super easy version of trifle, involving shop-bought Swiss rolls, strawberries, ready-made custard and squirty cream. Decorate, serve in small glasses so the layers can be appreciated, and know everyone will love it just as much as if you’d spent ten times as long making it.

Get the recipe: Mini fruit trifles

iced trifle slice

Trifle, but not as we know it

(Image credit: Rights Unknown)

52. Iced trifle slice

Makes/serves: 10 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 20 min

Turning a trifle on its head, with frozen custard and brandy cream topped with berries and crushed Amaretti biscuits, this is one to bring out later to surprise your buffet guests. Simple and delicious.

Get the recipe: Iced trifle slice


A zesty version of a classic

(Image credit: Future)

53. Blueberry and orange trifle

Makes/serves: 6 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 20 min

Mixing things up from the traditional fruit, this recipe swaps the usual sponge fingers for sliced-up blueberry muffins (no one will judge you for using shop bought), soaked in orange juice and Cointreau. Fresh oranges and blueberries are topped with cream and custard flavoured with orange zest. Just be sure to leave plenty of soaking and chilling time ahead of serving.

Get the recipe: Blueberry and orange trifle

marshmallow snowmen

Too cute to let the kids have them all

(Image credit: Future)

54. Marshmallow snowmen

Makes/serves: 4 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 25 min

Super cute and oh-so-simple, they're one to do with the kids because there’s no baking involved. Softened marshmallow bodies on ginger biscuits, topped with marshmallow heads with Rolo or peanut butter cup hats and Matchmaker arms. There will be more of a scramble for these than anything else on the buffet, you just know it.

Get the recipe: No Bake Marshmallow Snowmen 

Christmas tree biscuits

Sweet, and simple to decorate

(Image credit: Alamy)

55. Christmas tree biscuits

Makes/serves: 10 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 1 hr 25 min (including chilling time)

A simple gingerbread recipe, cut into tree shapes with a cookie cutter (stars and other festive shapes are also welcome) and decorated with icing writing. An easy one to do with children, who can parade around your party with plates of them to offer guests, and feel rightly proud of what they have created.

Get the recipe: Christmas Tree Biscuits 

Chocolate pudding recipe

A pleasingly oozy pud

(Image credit: TI Media Limited)

56. Chocolate puddings

Makes/serves: 4 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 30 min

A dessert for which the word ‘oozy’ was surely created, these melt-in-the-middle individual puddings are ideal crowd pleasers for a buffet scenario. Serve with a pot of cream and perhaps another of brandy cream, for guests to dollop on top.

Get the recipe: Chocolate puddings

chocolate fondue with strawberries and marshmallows

A big buffet hit, serve with plenty of fruit on the side

(Image credit: Future)

57. Chocolate fondue

Makes/serves: 4 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 20 min

Always effective, always a talking point – the masses will be hovering around this section of the buffet, that’s for certain. Simply melt cream, chocolate and milk together, serve in a big bowl (unless you’re lucky enough to own a fountain) with a pile of skewers and bowls of strawberries and marshmallows to dunk. Keep on high alert for double dippers, though!

Get the recipe: Chocolate fondue

nutella madeleines

(Image credit: Pippa Middleton)

58. Nutella madeleines

Makes/serves: 24 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 35 min

The work of Pippa Middleton, no less (so we know what Kate and Wills eat at their Boxing Day buffet), her recipe is a riff on the classic madeleine biscuit, featuring Nutella. Topped with toasted hazelnuts and icing sugar, serve on your poshest, royal-approved cake plate.

Get the recipe: Nutella madeleines

Puff pastry mince pies

A pastry twist for these pies

(Image credit: TI Media Limited)

59. Puff pastry mince pies

Makes/serves: 18 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 1 hr

Traditionally made with shortcrust pastry, this version is made with puff, ready made and using a jar of mincemeat, so they’re impressively homemade without much more effort than the shop bought variety. Sprinkle them with sugar, and you could also add a dusting of cinnamon. Delightful. 

Get the recipe: Puff pastry mince pies

Christmas buffet ideas_filo pastry mince pies

Lighter on the pastry, with a marzipan topping

(Image credit: Future)

60. Filo pastry mince pies

Makes/serves: 24 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 30 min

This is a brilliant twist on the classic, particularly if you find the usual mince pies a tad heavy on the pastry. Filo cases are filled with mincemeat and topped with marzipan stars, a flavour match made in heaven. They’re easy to make, too. 

Get the recipe: Filo pastry mince pies

Christmas pudding truffles

Cute, but for the grown ups alone

(Image credit: Getty Images)

61. Rum and raisin pudding truffles

Makes/serves: 40 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 30 min

A festive rum truffle (you could freestyle with other spirits like Cointreau instead, should you fancy), these are decorated in Christmas pudding style, by dipping in melted white chocolate and topping with fondant holly. Super cute, and all for the grown ups. 

Get the recipe: Rum and raisin pudding truffles

chocolate snowball truffles

Great for a gift, as well as a buffet

(Image credit: Getty Images)

62. Chocolate truffle snowballs

Makes/serves: 18 | Skill level: Easy |  Total time: 30 min, plus freezing time

Never mind that box of Thorntons, make your own chocolates this Christmas. These coconut flavoured truffles, could be topped with crushed nuts or desiccated coconut or drizzled with white chocolate, and passed around when you’re serving coffee and liquors later in the evening. Also, very handy for an emergency present. 

Get the recipe: Chocolate truffle snowballs

blueberry cheesecake

Simple, and dairy free

(Image credit: Getty Images)

63. Vegan cheesecake

Makes/serves: 2 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 10 min

Vegans often get slim pickings during a season that is heavy on meat and dairy, so it’s good to include plant-based offerings in the buffet mix. This ‘cheese’ cake uses vegan cheese, blueberry marmalade and crushed vegan biscuits (just increase the quantities here) and means that those who don’t do dairy don’t have to miss out on the sweet stuff.

Get the recipe: Vegan Cheesecake recipe

mini baked orange cheesecake

A divine dessert, if ever we saw one

(Image credit: Getty Images)

64. Mini baked orange cheesecakes

Makes/serves: 12 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 45 min

These delightful mini cheesecakes make use of some more unusual baking fruits alongside the main orange flavour. Drizzled with a passion fruit syrup, they’re topped with pomegranate seeds (which are a superfood, so surely that means it’s almost a health food, right?).

Get the recipe: Mini baked orange cheesecakes

Chocolate and cranberry cheesecake shots

A shot, but not as we know it

(Image credit: Getty Images)

65. Chocolate and cranberry cheesecake shots

Makes/serves: 12 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 25 min

We are loving the idea of a cheesecake shot (probably a better idea than a tequila shot, anyway) and these mini desserts are canape sized, so you could pass them round later in the evening and they’re probably just about enough of a sweet hit, considering the myriad treats on offer. They make good use of your leftover cranberry sauce too. Serve in shot glasses. 

Get the recipe: Chocolate and cranberry cheesecake shots

vanilla cheesecake

A simple classic

(Image credit: Getty Images)

66. Vanilla cheesecake slice

Makes/serves: 10 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 2 hr 15 min

A classic vanilla cheesecake, because sometimes the simple things don’t need to be messed with. Serving this sliced on a dessert table, decorate the plate with a selection of berries – strawberries, blackberries and blueberries will add festive colours, mixed in with a few sprigs of holly.

Get the recipe: Vanilla cheesecake slice

christmas pud cake pops

Such a sweet treat

(Image credit: TI Media Limited)

67. Christmas pudding cake pops

Makes/serves: 12 | Skill level: Medium | Total time: 1 hr 40 min

Make use of your leftover Christmas cake (or just buy a simple madeira cake) by shaping it into balls, dipping in chocolate and drizzling with white choc and topping with fondant holly. Pop them on sticks, tie around a festive ribbon and you’ve got a simple but very festively effective treat. 

Get the recipe: Christmas pudding cake pops

sugar cookies

Simple and great with a good strong coffee

(Image credit: Alamy)

68. Sugar cookies

Makes/serves: 18 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 30 min

These super simple sugar cookies are wonderful to serve with coffee as a petit four (alongside your chocolate truffles, perhaps) at the end of the evening. Give the kids a job to pass them around the guests and make them feel important and involved. Leftovers will be a winner with a cuppa, a festive film, and a relax the following day.

Get the recipe: Sugar cookies

Santa hat brownies

Brownies, cream, berries – easy, delicious

(Image credit: Getty Images)

69. Santa hat brownies

Makes/serves: 15 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 1 hr 30 min

So sweet, so rustic-yet-effective, so easy. Make up a batch of chocolate brownies, cut into round, top with cream, then a strawberry, and then another small blob of cream for the top of the hat. Dust over some icing sugar, like Santa got caught in a snowstorm, and enjoy. 

Get the recipe: Santa hat brownies

raspberry frangipane tarts

Festive frangipane, anyone?

(Image credit: Getty Images)

70. Mini raspberry and frangipane tarts

Makes/serves: 24 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 25 min

Who doesn’t love a spot of festive frangipane? These mini bite-sized tarts are perfect for a buffet, and an excellent alternative choice for anyone suffering from mince pie fatigue (not that we can imagine such a thing). And you’ll get to appreciate the leftovers the next day, too. 

Get the recipe: Mini raspberry and frangipane tarts

mulled wine

Warming, festive, perfect

(Image credit: Getty Images)

71. Mulled wine

Makes/serves: 8 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 20 min

There’s no more festive smell than that of a vat of mulled wine wafting through the house. It’s  easy to make with a spice sachet,  mixed in with red wine, orange juice, sugar, brandy and chopped fruit. It can even be made in the slow cooker to give time for the flavours to really blend. Throw a cinnamon stick in for flavour and decoration, and let guests help themselves with a ladle. Seriously warms the cockles. 

Get the recipe: Mulled wine


Reviving a retro classic

(Image credit: Getty Images)

72. Eggnog

Makes/serves: 4 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 25 min

Revive a Christmas classic that seems to have been sidelined in recent years, by making your eggnog. It’s more dessert than drink, really – because we haven’t had enough cream and sugar yet this season, eh? – but is a great one for anyone who doesn’t drink alcohol or is a designated driver for the evening.

Get the recipe: Eggnog

Snowball cocktail

Don't forget the cocktail cherries on this festive classic

(Image credit: Getty Images)

73. Snowball cocktail

Makes/serves: 1 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 5 min

Another retro classic, hands up whose Grandma used to love a snowball or two on Christmas day? Advocaat and Cognac is mixed with lemonade for those with a sweet tooth – and don’t forget the requisite cocktail cherries on a stick to decorate. It’s like being at Abigail’s Party. Cheesy pineapple anyone?

Get the recipe: Snowball cocktail

What is the best way to present Christmas buffet food?

Use a seasonal tablecloth and napkins, light candles, and invest in some Christmas-shaped cutters – that way, it is easy and gets the kids involved,  you could even make festive sandwiches with them.

You can also turn to nature.  “Branches of holly fill spaces and give an instant festive feel. Spraying any branches and twigs with silver or gold paint makes for an excellent DIY decoration activity,” says chef Michaela Hanna. 

Bowls of oranges and nuts make for a very simple but festive (and edible) decoration, You could also dot around bowls with cloves, star anise, and cinnamon sticks for a festive assault on the senses, and clear glass vases filled with baubles also look fabulous.

What do you traditionally serve at a Christmas buffet?

Classic Christmas foods like a cheese board with crackers, chutneys, and fruit, as well as pâtés, terrines, and cold cuts, such as turkey, beef, and roast ham. Add some lovely bread to serve it all with, and make a winter coleslaw (great use of leftover red cabbage, carrots, and sprouts!). Don't forget leftover stuffing with the meat, too.

Sweet table-wise, good old mince pies are a favourite, as well as stollen and panettone, with a tub of brandy butter and some whipped cream. Add a sliced Yule log, Christmas cake, and perhaps some festive cupcakes, or a big bowl of trifle for everyone to dig into.

And don't forget the drinks – get a vat of homemade mulled wine on the go, open the fizz, and do some Christmas cocktails and mocktails – vodka with cranberry juice and lime is an easy one and always a winner. Enjoy!

How do you arrange food at a buffet table?

Be mindful of people's dietary issues. Make sure that meat dishes are kept separate from fish and vegan options so that people who won't eat certain things don't get their food contaminated. Be mindful of people with dairy or gluten intolerances and nut allergies, and label things that could be hazardous to any of your guests. Make sure everything has an individual serving spoon.

Put all your condiments – chutneys, mustards, etc – and salads near the dishes they complement best – so ideally in between your cold cuts and the cheese board, for example. And do one end of the display – or another table if you have that luxury – for your dessert table.

For those of you looking for more party inspiration, have a browse through our Christmas party food ideas including our most popular vol-au-vent fillings and a showstopping Maltesers Christmas pudding that will be the talk of Christmas.

Lara Kilner
Food Writer

Lara Kilner is a writer and editor with two decades of experience in national newspapers, magazines, and websites. She writes about food, lifestyle, travel, health and wellness, and entertainment, and regularly interviews celebrities and people with interesting life stories and experiences. Her foodie content has included interviews with Jamie Oliver, Rick Stein, Queer Eye’s food expert Antoni Porowski, the Hairy Bikers, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, Raymond Blanc, Andi Oliver, Paul Hollywood, Prue Leith, and Nadiya Hussain.