How to Host the Easiest-Ever Secret Santa Potluck


Planning a Secret Santa party with friends, family or co-workers this year? Lighten your hosting load by making it a potluck.

Yes, the holidays are for spending time with family, but let’s not forget the other meaningful people in our lives: friends, neighbors, co-workers. They deserve a special nod during the season of giving, too, and the best way to cover your gift-giving bases (without going on a spending spree) is none other than the sacred tradition of Secret Santa. If you’re hosting this year, lighten your load by declaring 2016 the year of the Secret Santa Potluck. These festive dishes from Food Network are so quick and easy that you won’t feel any guilt asking your guests to pitch in.

To start, ask one of your guests to whip up a simple appetizer — something along the lines of this creamy wheel of brie (above) topped with orange marmalade, chopped fresh rosemary and toasted pine nuts. Because who doesn’t love cheese?

See: 10 Ways to Dress Up a Wheel of Brie


It wouldn’t be Christmas without a warm mug filled to the brim with silky hot cocoa. Stir up Food Network Kitchen’s ten-minute recipe and serve it with any number of seasonal garnishes. A splash of peppermint Schnapps and a spritz of whipped cream will make your mugs extra festive. While the drink-making responsibilities generally fall to the host, don’t hesitate to ask one of your guests to pick up a bottle of Schnapps on the way. This is a BYOB affair, after all.


While we’re on the topic of host responsibilities, let’s talk about the main dish. You’re going to want to spend your time preparing your home — setting out plates, cups and utensils; finding the perfect spot to hang that sprig of mistletoe — so stick with a recipe that practically cooks itself. Anything involving the slow cooker is best. This slow-cooker ham is the lazy host’s dream, and we’re okay with that: It requires just 10 minutes of initial prep work, and the apricot-Dijon glaze is out of this world.

When it comes time to delegate side dishes, go easy and ask for something low-maintenance and comforting. Melissa d’Arabian’s Individual Potato Gratins are the tender, biscuitlike companions for your juicy ham (or lamb, or roast chicken, or flank steak, or vegetarian main) that you’ve been looking for. Wafer-thin slices of russet potato are layered in a greased muffin tin, separated by grated Swiss cheese and earthy green onion.

Christmas isn’t all about meat and potatoes. It’s about mac and cheese, too — ideally one that’s loaded with ham and no fewer than three cheeses.

Giada De Laurentiis whips up her party-pleasing recipe (above) using Fontina, Parmesan and grated mozzarella. Depending on the number of guests you’re having, you may want to double the recipe. Or, ask your noble, side dish-bearing pal to double the recipe.

If enough people bring dessert, your Secret Santa party can double as a cookie swap. As always, simple is best. Skip temperamental cakes or pies and encourage your friends to bring cookies, bark or bars, then bag up any leftovers for your guests to take home.

See: All-Star Holiday Cookie Recipes

Ina Garten’s White Chocolate Bark studded with salted pistachios, dried cranberries and diced dried apricots would make a gorgeous addition to the goodie bags.

And the chocolate lover on your guest list will surely job at the opportunity to whip up Food Network Kitchen’s easy, fudgy cheesecake candy cane bars (above).

Check out more of Food Network’s quick and easy holiday recipes.