Giving is great and all, but it's common knowledge that festive foods put the "Wonder" in "Most Wonderful Time of the Year." The holidays are nigh, everyone. The chilled wind dances with a rare cheer, smiling cheeks are rosy with merriment and out wafts from chimneys the smell of chestnuts roasting on an open fire.
Trader Joe's does not underestimate the power of snack, food and drink to make any holiday party the most joyful night of the season. Below, find the ultimate shopping list for the most excellent of gleeful gatherings -- TJ's style.
Fuel For The Day
It's ideal to think that holiday cheer lies aplenty within us all, but throwing a soiree is no easy task for a host. As you rush through the house, whipping cream and hanging lights, take a moment to savor a gingerbread oat bar. The ginger-rich gluten-free treats will satiate you with almond butter, flax seed and oat flour. They're just 140 calories a pop, so your soon-to-transpire feasting is still well deserved.
Michael Buble is blasting, lights are twinkling and guests are pouring in. Now it's time for libations.
Serve this to dairy-sensitive partygoers chilled, warmed or even blended with ice and banana for a beverage nearly as fluffy as the fallen snow.
Fill friends' cups with the holiday season's dreamiest drink, and add a splash of rum when no one is looking. TJ's nog even comes in a light version with 40 percent fewer calories.
Use this brew for Moscow Mules that will make even the truest ginger junkies grin.
This sweet punch sings notes of black currant, apple and lemon and whispers hints of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and orange peel -- to name a few. TJ's suggests serving it warm in a great big mug with a cinnamon stick garnish, or steaming after a simmer session with red wine on the stovetop.
Your guests each have one hand busy with a drink. Now bequeath unto them other offerings from appetizer trays. Think cheese plates and hors d'oeuvres. They're the types of bites you might see at the grandest yuletide ball, but all you need do is buy, heat and plate. Now that's a party.
A unique ultrafiltration process renders this cheese a rich and buttery triple-creme delight. Be fair and warn guests that they may faint from elation after the daintiest taste.
Admittedly, this could count as a dessert. But it's wintertime, so let's classify it as a necessary prerequisite to an elaborate feast. How does it work? Standard cheese ingredients get cozy with a mix of lemon and sugar, the curd is baked at low temperatures and the final cooled treat resembles a lemon cheesecake.
Cheese looks gorgeous on crackers and baguette, but looks aren't everything; it could feel lonely without company. Consider cheese's feelings and give it the gift of friendship -- better known as salami. This trio comes in fennel, chorizo and herbes de Provence varieties.
These crunchy crisps will make the perfect cheese-mobile. Studded with appropriately red and green pomegranate and pistachio bits, the crackers will transport guests to better days.
Despite its uncanny resemblance to tableside decor, this is not a gorgeous lava lamp made of food. Rather, it is a beautifully edible marriage of nuts, dried figs, coconut, seeds, honey and bee pollen. Stick a spoon into it and lay it on the cheese platter, or save a jar for your best foodie friend's stocking.
Trader Joe's attests that this savory jam -- the product of slowly simmered garlic, onions, balsamic vinegar and herbs -- pairs flawlessly with the aforementioned fromage pave, but keep it around as an addition for the main dishes, too.
Fancy-fy any cocktail in no time with stirrers stacked with all of the following goodies: gherkin pickles (gherkin ... that's fun to say), baby onions, green chili peppers, red bell peppers, carrots and olives. You can also add them to the appetizer trays for a briny contrast.
Now it's time for something a little hotter. Like these, for example: delightful pigs in a blanket for the sophisticated palate. Each bite combines the soft and sweet chewiness of Medjool dates, the creamy tang of California goat cheese and the salty crispiness of apple-smoked bacon.
They've experienced flavor jubilee from the previous bundle of bliss, and now your guests will be yearning for more. Have them give these a try. They're bites of smooth brie melted in a puff-pastry blanket. Dip them in your sweet or savory jams for added taste.
Drinks are flowing, snacks are bountiful and conversations are chipper. Give your guests a break from standing while keeping their hands busy and spirits high -- with an ugly sweater cookie kit, of course. Without the fuss of gingerbread construction, the kit packs 10 sugar-cookie sweaters, vests and TJ's signature Hawaiian shirts. And for decorating purposes, there is icing and a heap of sprinkles.
Your guests will have had so much fun at this point, they're sure to be skeptical that the main course could eclipse the previous events. Fret not; TJ's products assure this part of the evening will be the opposite of a bore. Serve these tasty temptations with something green for good measure.
Fondue is like the breadbasket -- but much, much better. Scatter the dining table with bowls of baguette and brioche bites, plus sticks for spearing, and your guests will be dippin' 'til they drop.
If you're from the southwest, these might bring back fond memories of the holidays at home (and induce sweet tears of nostalgia). A celebratory staple, these delicate tamales come filled with chicken and green chile, pork and red sauce, and vegetarian cheese and green salsa. They'll be a welcome addition to the spread.
(No judgment if you had to Google "porchetta.") This here hearty hunk o' meat is a pork shoulder rubbed with garlic, sage, oregano, rosemary and a hint of lemon. It's wrapped in bacon and packaged so it's ready to be popped into your oven. No need to spray the dining room with fragrance -- TJ's says the roasting porchetta will fill your home with aromas of bacon and porky goodness.
These Canadian crustaceans are stuffed with more lobster and crab, mayonnaise, celery, bell pepper, lemon juice and garlic. Give each guest a sizeable piece of the lobster, and you can call the meal a holiday surf 'n' turf.
With hearts full and bellies nearly there, it's time for dessert. Have your guests clear the table, gather 'round the fireplace for a goodhearted gift exchange, and succumb to a proper sugar coma.
These cookie sticks have the flavor of gingerbread plus the convenience of dip-ability. Hold them like biscotti and have them take a swim in a frothy bath of egg nog. You shan't regret it.
TJ's iconic macarons are back for the most festive time of the year, this time in chocolate peppermint, chocolate raspberry, four-spice caramel, pear cinnamon, gingerbread and cappuccino flavors. Since they're French, now would be a great time to pop open the champagne. Treat yourself.
Have you ever imagined bathing in cake? No? Okay. But if you were to dream of such a thing, it would likely involve this cake. It's made with lots of butter, sugar and chopped dates, and it oozes with hot toffee sauce -- add ice cream or whipped cream, if you're into that contrasting-temperatures thing, which we are.
This ultra-sweet ice cream is abound with the jingliest and jangliest. You know, like chocolate-covered pretzels, peanut butter cups, red candy gems and Joe-Joe's cookies. It's best eaten with a ladle for maximum jingle distribution in each bite.
For those who like their ice cream chunky, but not jangly, this is the answer. It's a swirl of Joe-Joe's-laden peppermint ice cream and fudge-ribboned vanilla ice cream. Those who say ice cream shouldn't be eaten in cold weather just haven't tried this one yet.
Perhaps you expected the last word in that title to be "cookies," or even "potato chips." Crackers, really? But that's just the thing. The crunchy cracker provides a blank canvas for the flavors of milk chocolate, diced honey toffee and almonds -- and an also delightfully unexpected dusting of ground coffee -- to shine. Embrace the unusual. Be great.
Your guests will arrive hungry and leave happy -- and extra happy if you give them this dark chocolate bar with caramel filling and crumbs of gingerbread cookies.
The package comes with a key detailing each piece's level of spiciness. Get the low down on your friends' heat tolerance, then hit 'em with a sweet and smoky treat for the road.
Each velvety chocolate ball is coated with fine flakes of speculoos cookies, caramelized coconut or caramelized pecan. They're truffles, people, and they're not to be trifled with.
You've done it, you convivial host! After an ample night's rest, wake up to the last two treasures from your shopping cart, and take the rest of the day for yourself.
After a long night, what's your poison? Chocolate mint? Maybe wintry blend? French vanilla, perhaps? You'll find it here.
OK, this could be overkill for a quiet breakfast alone. Whether you indulge solo or keep it in the freezer for when Mom comes to town, this is a traditional Italian cake filled with Italian-style ice cream, wearing a hat of chocolate chips. It's just begging to be tried at Christmas brunch.
Happy Holidays, happy shopping, all happy everything!