Noche Buena Ideas: Here's A Gameplan For A Stress-Free Christmas

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The most festive time of the year is just around the corner and if you're decided on a noche buena menu, you're already miles ahead of many people. 

Not everyone is organized enough to plan ahead but we can give you a few things to think about before the big day. These are relatively easy choices to make but it may cost you in effort if you don't make a practical choice in time. These planning tips will save you time and the stress-induced headache.

Here are Christmas food ideas so you can have a game plan that's as stress-free as possible to make a Christmas dinner:  

Photo by Conti's official website

1 Choose what to cook and what to buy. 

Christmas is the day to indulge and have all your favorite food, you do not need to tire yourself out that you do not enjoy the evening and the company you're with. 

The biggest decision you need to make is deciding what to cook and what to buy. Sure, you can make your menu complete with a homemade chicken galantina and a moist and decadent rum cake recipe from scratch which will wow your family and friends. However, the question is this: will you have the time to make all of these dishes? If your answer is a confident and resounding "yes", you're on the right path. However, if you say "no" or can't say "yes" with confidence, you need to rethink your noche buena menu strategy. 

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While saving money for this Christmas dinner is ideal, you also need to take into account the time and effort that will go into making it a success. 


Once you decide what you will buy instead of make, you can proceed with the other decisions that will impact what you will do that day. 

Photo by Majoy Siason

2 Choose a ham or cook something else.  

You can order a ham and have minimal prep to do on the day itself or you can make the main course yourself. 


If you're thinking of buying a ham but don't want to completely leave it as is, we have fabulous ideas on how to make easy ham glazes to tweak the flavors. You can also simmer a mixture of orange and pineapple juice to create a fantastic sauce that is more complex in flavor than usual. Amp up the warm umami flavors of your version with spices such as cloves, cinnamon, and exotic cardamom for a unique and aromatic glaze. You can also just simply place pineapple chunks or slices on top before heating it in the oven to amp up the fruity sweetness of the glaze. 

If you're thinking of having a simpler fare this Christmas, a simple roast chicken or pork loin can be exactly what you need. It need not be a complicated recipe but it does need to be as good as you can make it. Try one of these easy recipe options as your main course! Remember to take advantage of your butcher because you can get any of these prepared before taking it home:   


Photo by Roselle Miranda

3 Make dessert fast and easy. 

There's no shame in making dishes that are easy. It's the taste that ultimately matters. If you decide to make dessert, a towering layered cake will certainly be impressive. However, if it's at the cost of your sanity because it took hours to make that could have been used to make another dish or two, making a simpler dessert can be a good idea. 


No-bake desserts are perfect for celebrations such as Christmas and New Year's.    

Photo by Bianca Laxamana

4 Keep it simple. 

No menu has to be long to be delicious, and you can delight people with two dishes as much as you can with an impressive 5-course meal. The key here is to not only keep it simple enough that you can make it work but also easy enough that you can take the time to make it delicious


Aim to make dishes that you will be proud to serve instead of trying to just impress. Whether it's a simple roast chicken done right or the creamiest fruit salad you have ever made, it will be more memorable compared to a beef dish that took you three hours to cook that looks impressive but tasted ordinary. 

Photo by Majoy Siason

5 Let go and enjoy the holiday.

Finally, when things don't work out the way you wanted, despite your confidence and your planning, learn to let go and leave it be. No time to cook the ham? Serve it as is. Overcooked the chicken? Shred it, and stir it with mayonnaise or barbecue sauce for sandwiches for after-dinner snacks. Overbaked the cake? Chop it up into cubes or crumbs and toss it with the fruit salad for unexpected texture or make easy cake balls. No time to make dessert? Serve in-season fresh fruits for the easiest dessert ever.  

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Thinking about what to cook next? Join our Facebook group, Yummy Pinoy Cooking Club, to get more recipe ideas, share your own dishes, and find out what the rest of the community are making and eating!

Got your own version of the classic dishes? Pa-share naman! Get your recipe published on by submitting your recipe here.


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