Deciding what to make for your holiday feast can be the most stressful and most fun part of the voyage you're embarking on. When poring over holiday recipe magazines and your fave foodie websites, keep a couple of rules of thumb in mind.
First, be realistic in your abilities, and your time frame. This isn't the day to try some new, advanced cooking technique you just saw on Top Chef. Pick recipes similar to those you have successfully pulled off in the past or ones that have few steps.
Second, plan on making recipes where a bulk of the work can be done long before your guests arrive. Bonus points for recipes that can be completely assembled the day before and reheated in time for dinner.
Third, consider the limitations of your cooking space. If you have double ovens, you can go casserole crazy, but if you're working with a tiny, apartment-style oven, recipes that are prepared on the stovetop or served chilled or at room temperature are your best buds. I once cooked a huge Thanksgiving dinner for 12 in my Brooklyn apartment kitchen utilizing my crockpot, stovetop, and toaster oven. It's possible!
Fourth, think about your guests. Any vegetarians? Shunners of gluten? Food allergies? No, you don't need to cater the entire meal to one person's preferences, but knowing that there are a couple of items that each person can enjoy is a classy move by a host. I once cooked Ina Garten's lobster mac and cheese for a New Year's Eve dinner, only to find out that one of my guests didn't eat lobster. A little homework on my part would have avoided that dilemma.
Fifth, if you are making a show-stopping meal, take it easy on appetizers. Limit yourself to two or three hors d'oeuvres. I usually make one dip with crudite and crackers, one hot item to pass, and something easy to grab like spiced nuts or cheese straws. Make sure to have at least one item ready as soon as guests walk in the door, particularly if they traveled far to reach you.
Last but not least, try to serve a balanced meal. Proteins are filling, so take that into account when planning appetizers and side dishes. Do a lot of your sides include cream or cheese? Are all your veggies on the starchy side? Offset heavier dishes with a simple sauteed green vegetable or salad.