Our favorite store-bought shortcuts for entertaining.
It's the most wonderful time of the year—so bring on the comfort & joy, we say. In The Art of Chill Holidays, we'll show you how we keep celebrations low-key, with festive decor tricks, clever time-saving tips, and scrumptious spreads of snacks (always snacks!).
Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Year's (or all of the above!), everyone can agree that December is one big month of partying. From big family gatherings and office potlucks to intimate dinner parties with friends, we cram our calendars with loads of joyful greetings.
For us at Food52, we need store-bought shortcuts to keep us going 'til the end of the year. You know, sauces and snacks and sips to complement wow-worthy mains or desserts. And in our moments of need, we turn to fan-favorite Trader Joe’s. Their classic standbys and seasonal superstars are perfect party helpers, no matter what we’re celebrating.
Want to know our favorites? I've collected 20 of them below.
“My sister-in-law swears by making her own pigs in a blanket but why bother when Parmesan Pastry Pups exist? They're a little snazzier than your average frozen pigs because of the parmesan sprinkle and get eaten up just as quickly.” —Joanna Sciarrino, Managing Editor
“When it comes to hosting, I love to be as hands-off as possible. So I cheat a little bit and stock up on the Trader Joe's Mushroom & Black Truffle Flatbread Pizza, slice it up into bite-sized squares, and serve it on my favorite platter. It's never not been a hit." —Erin Alexander, Assistant Editor, Partner Content
"I go to Trader Joe's for literally everything! In fact, I'm doing a huge TJ's run on Thursday to prep for my 10th annual Holiday Ornament Exchange this weekend. My newest obsession? French Onion Soup Bites." —Aja Aktay, Buyer for Home, Outdoor & Vintage
“I always keep Mini Brie en Croute in my freezer in case my usual cheeseboard runs out. It's the tastiest hail-Mary I know of and is always a huge hit.” —Brinda Ayer, Books & Special Projects Editor
“I buy frozen croissants for when guests sleep over during the holidays. You thaw them in the fridge the night before and bake them the next morning. Everyone's happy!” Brooke Deonarine, Prop Stylist
“I always go for the frozen spanakopita. You can pair them with other TJs offerings like hummus or tzaziki or eat them on their own.” —Mollie Doherty, Account Manager
"I love the puff pastry sheets from Trader Joe's to no end. Not only are they extremely handy around the holidays, they are a mere $4.99 for two frozen, all-butter sheets (all-butter is surprisingly hard to find in normal store-bought brands). Fancy-feeling, but truly easy pissaladière and melty cheese mounds are never far. These often sell out, so grab a couple of boxes and store them in your freezer while you can!” —Hana Asbrink, Senior Lifestyle Editor
“I like the Trader Joe’s eggnog. It’s something I only ever buy for the holidays. I just saw in the Fearless Flyer, though, that they have an almond ‘nog! Trying that next. Spiked, of course.” —Eric Kim, Senior Editor
"There are two main TJ products I turn to over the holidays. The first is Trader Joe's Grand Reserve Blanc de Blancs Sparkling Wine, which is dry, well balanced, and sells at a more affordable price point than many other sparkling wines. I'm all about sparkling wine over the holidays because it's deeply festive and if you don't agree, I challenge you to drink a glass tonight with a mini cheese board for dinner. The second is their (vegan!!!!) pound-plus dark chocolate bar—I'm never not baking something sweet over the holidays, and if I'm baking something sweet, I'm never not using chocolate in some capacity.” —Ella Quittner, Food Writer & Recipe Developer
"Spiced Cider—it's one of the few things i stop drinking water for during the holiday season. I keep it in the fridge and keep it cold but every now and then i love to heat it up in a mug and have hot cider before bed!" —Danielle Curtis-Williams, Marketing Coordinator
“Trader Joe's wine stores are gems—worth going out of your way to find! Thankfully, my palate has outgrown the 'two-buck Chuck' of my youth, but they have a great variety of other affordable, delicious options (key when you're buying by the case), and the $1 six-bottle carrier tote is a godsend for carrying your haul home.” —Ishita Singh, Video Programming Director
“I love the Gingerbread ground coffee! The spices are all-natural, and the flavor is not too overpowering. It's cozy in a cup” —Megan Güntaş, Digital Designer
"Oh yes!! I like to get the pumpkin cheesecake because it is always a solid crowdpleaser and people can't believe that it's from Trader Joes (though I wave that Trader Joes flag high and proud). Next, I'm going to try their Triple Ginger Cake!" —Rebekah Daniels, Account Manager
“I've been enjoying Trader Joe's Sipping Chocolate this year—it's so rich and comforting when it's so cold outside.” —Grace Montgomery, Director, Brand Strategy
“I swear by the Dark Chocolate Covered Shortbread Cookies. They are only available during the holidays and I can’t help but impulsively buy them.” —Bobbi Lin, Photographer
What's your favorite holiday helper from Trader Joe's? Let us know in the comments below.