12 Days Of Christmas Treat Ideas

While Christmas Day dinner is a grand affair, it's far from the only fantastic foodie occasion during the holiday season. There are plentiful pastries to munch on while opening presents in the morning, and buffet tables that sparkle with bite-sized season greetings. You can even craft some decadent sweets that make great gifts to show neighbors and friends your appreciation. If you and your loved ones want something to crunch on while watching your favorite Christmas movie, caramel popcorn or glazed nuts will surely do the trick. And if you want a smaller, more elegant gathering, dishes of melted cheese or chocolate fondue are decadently divine. Colorful, eye-catching, and shareable dishes that create a sense of celebration look great and are often simple to make during these busy days. 

From glazed ham to a Noel-themed pizza, here are 12 days of Christmas treat ideas. There are far more than 12 recipes here; we've got three recipes for you to choose from each day. May your days be merry, bright, and delicious.

1. On the first day of Christmas...

Homemade eggnog is a festive season tradition. These days it inspires nostalgic sentiment, and with a tot of liquor in the mix, it can make you feel warm and fuzzy, too. This recipe creates a more sophisticated version that's perfect as a creamy, celebratory aperitif. With a cinnamon and maple syrup rim, capture the flavors of the holidays with vanilla vodka and herby, hazelnutty Frangelico. Shaken, not stirred, with eggnog, this is a perfect cocktail for a glamorous holiday party. Since 'tis the season to indulge, don't forget the whipped cream on top.

Recipe: Eggnog Martini

If you're a fan of chocolate bark, then you're going to say ding dong merrily on high to this smooth, dark, and sweet white choccy combo with a peppermint crunch. You can use either peppermint candies or Christmassy candy canes. Pop the minty sweets in a sealed food bag and smash them up with the back of a wooden spoon. To get your molten chocolate ready, melt it in the microwave at 30-second intervals to get it just right, and when it's time to pour it out, it's easier to use a baking tray with a rim.

Recipe: Peppermint Bark

Whenever there're some rainbow sprinkles, there's definitely a celebration happening. These buttery biscuits are a delicious sweet offering for guests dropping by over the festive period, and they look so jolly on a plate, they're sure to make everyone smile. When you roll your dough into the sugared candy bits make sure you press down so that they're covering the sides all the way around. Patience is a virtue, so don't miss out on the part where you chill your sprinkle-covered logs before cutting and baking.

Recipe: Fun And Festive Butter Cookies

2. On the second day of Christmas...

Of course you can munch on some pizza over the holidays, but it's a lot more fun if your pie is festive. Not only is this doughy pleasure delicious, but its wreath design and Christmassy colors make it a feel-good, look-great, and taste-sensational centerpiece for this time of year. The green comes from pesto, pepper, and fresh basil leaves, with chorizo and cherry tomatoes adding some red. The edible bow, made from red pepper, adds a lovely finishing touch for a fun recipe that's great to make with kids over the holidays. 

Recipe: Simple Christmas Pizza 

Just looking at this fudge makes you want to sink your teeth into its soft sweetness. Orange zest adds some seasonal zing to the terrific toffee taste. Since it's holiday time, you can decorate these decadent bites with a topping of Chrismas colored sprinkles. If you're busy using your oven to whip up some other treats for the family or friends coming over, then this recipe is a must, as it's a no-bake version that only takes 30 minutes to make — although you need to keep your hands off for 4 hours while it sets.

Recipe: Christmas Fudge

Making the Italian sweet bread panettone is the epitome of baking over the holidays. It looks majestic and evokes a feeling of sharing and warmth with loved ones. Adding dried figs, raisins, bittersweet chocolate chips, and toasted hazelnuts creates a sumptuous Christmassy taste. You might want to source a specific paper mold for this specialty treat along with diastatic malt powder, which helps the yeasty dough rise more. To serve, cut a large section and divide it into slices. Enjoy with a hot drink or a glass of wine after dinner.

Recipe: Chocolate-Fig Holiday Panettone

3. On the third day of Christmas...

After turkey and all the trimmings, it's a welcome change to drink a dessert rather than have to chow down on yet another course. And if you're settling down for a post-blowout-meal movie, then you might enjoy a creamy gingerbread milkshake to curl up with. It's delicious yet easy to whip up in a matter of minutes — just blend vanilla ice cream and crushed gingersnaps with milk. For an even creamier version, use heavy cream in place of milk. Boost the spiced flavor with ground ginger and cinnamon and top with whipped cream and cookie bits.

Recipe: Gingerbread Milkshake

Adding a festive element to a well-loved snack is a brilliant idea for the holidays. This recipe, by Petar Marshall, adorns deviled eggs with pomegranate seeds, chopped rosemary, and parsley leaves. Easy to make, the hardest part of creating this buffet favorite is peeling the hard-boiled eggs. A good tip is to cool the cooked eggs in cold water and then move them around so the shells crack a little before peeling them under running water. Feel free to customize the egg yolk filling with whatever seasoning you like, such as dill pickle.

Recipe: Christmas Deviled Eggs

Rice Chex cereal is transformed into a sugary treat that's sure to satisfy your inner child. Chocolate chips, peanut butter, and powdered sugar coat the cereal before it's marvelously combined with red and green M&Ms, mini pretzels, and Reese's cups. Wowzer. Once you've melted your choccy mix, be sure to coat the cereal pieces without crushing them, and add the sugar while it's still warm. Kids love helping make reindeer food, and this festive mix is perfect to make in big batches, bag up, and give out as small gifts to neighbors and friends dropping by.

Recipe: Reindeer Food

4. On the fourth day of Christmas...

When imagining Christmas treats, a caprese salad doesn't automatically come to mind. That's until you see how quickly and easily you can turn this simple salad into a festive wreath. You need super-fresh basil leaves for this, plucked at the stem, and if you don't want to add a layer of thinly sliced vine tomatoes you can use cherry tomatoes instead. Fill any gaps with basil and tomatoes. Make sure you leave one of the mozzarella balls unsliced to add to the center of your Italian masterpiece and serve with crispy crackers or fresh bread. 

Recipe: Caprese Christmas Wreath

Do you ever dig out your nutcracker in December so everyone can struggle trying to crack open a variety of hard nuts? While this might be entertaining, these sugary cinnamon-roasted nuts are far easier and tastier. As well as making a great snack, you can also throw a few on top of some ice cream after your Christmas dinner. Make sure you turn them over every 20 minutes when roasting, so they cook evenly and don't burn. Choose a combination of your favorite nuts, such as peanuts, cashews, and almonds.

Recipe: Holiday Roasted Nuts

While Rudolph is busy munching on a carrot, sit back and enjoy some brownies this Christmas. The fact that they're cutely designed with reindeer faces somehow makes them taste better too, and cake decorating doesn't really get any easier than this. Add in a boxed brownie mix and nobody's going to put you on the naughty list. Use a plastic knife to make a cleaner cut when creating brownie triangles. Red M&Ms create that all-important red nose and if you can't find eyes in the baking section, use a halved mini marshmallow and chocolate.

Recipe: Reindeer Brownies

5. On the fifth day of Christmas...

Once you've decked the halls with boughs of holly, bring out the ultimate Christmas cake: the yule log. The fact that it's only made at this time of year only adds to its allure. The trick in creating the log shape is to roll the cake in a clean dishtowel while it's still warm, and not too tightly, as it'll crack. You want it loose enough to add the filling and roll it again the next day. Create the bark design with fork tines and add whipped cream mushrooms if you're feeling creative.

Recipe: Yule Log

Meatballs are usually enjoyed as pure comfort food, but you can also give them some festive flair. Just add in some dried cranberries, fresh parsley, and dried sage and thyme. Brown sugar in the sauce adds some brothy sweetness too. Since this recipe uses some extra ingredients in addition to ground meat, you really need to make sure it's well-mixed so you can taste all the flavors in one bite. (It's easier to do this with your hands!) Serve with a carb of your choice or some roasted veggies. 

Recipe: Christmas Meatballs

Bah humbug! Grumpy as he may be, the Grinch ultimately inspires Christmas joy, as do these gorgeously green cookies with heart-shaped sprinkles. The dough requires no chilling or rolling, which means you can focus on curling up with a plateful when they're baked, perhaps watching a movie of the Dr. Seuss classic, and spending quality time with loved ones. Add extra drops of food coloring to get just the right shade, and give them space as they'll expand in the oven. Remember, they're ready when they're solid as they won't brown on top because of the color.

Recipe: Grinch Cookies

6. On the sixth day of Christmas...

Creating food with intricate designs sometimes requires culinary artistry that the average home cook may not possess. But before you give up on trying to fashion a snowflake, try this simple snowman soup. It's so festive and fun, and triple yummy as it's really just hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows. This recipe uses semi-sweet chocolate chips, but you can use white or milk chocolate if you prefer. Add some holiday spice with some cinnamon, nutmeg, or ginger, or even a pinch of chili powder or a shot of rum or Baileys for a festive kick.

Recipe: Snowman Soup

If you can't do cute, fun, and themed treats at Christmas, then when can you? Serve strawberries and cream cheese frosting with festive flair by creating these adorable Santas. Kids and everyone who isn't channeling the Grinch can't help but smile at how creative they are. You don't need to be a culinary artist either. Add powdered sugar on a plate for the snow, and cut the fruit to create hats. Pipe the creamy mixture on to create buttons, faces, and hat bobbles, and add chocolate sprinkles for the eyes.

Recipe: Simple Strawberry Santas

Twinkle, twinkle little Christmas star cookie, how I wonder how tasty you are. Even if it's not a white Christmas, these ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg treats adorned with white icing taste like days curled up in front of the fire with a snowy scene outside. Mix your batter using softened butter and use your hands, with plastic gloves if you prefer, to bring the dough together smoothly. Try other festive shapes, such as snowmen and snowflakes, or create Christmassy icing with colorful food dyes. Enjoy with a glass of milk.

Recipe: Christmas Star Cookies

7. On the seventh day of Christmas...

Soft, doughy bread with mozzarella cheese, pesto, and sundried tomatoes that you can rip apart with your bare hands that's in the shape of a Christmas tree. What more do you need to know? If you live by the philosophy of "the more, the merrier" this season, then make multiple loaves for the table for everyone to happily share. If you want an alternative topping, go with melted butter, Parmesan, and chopped parsley. Serve as part of a grazing board as-is or with a dip like marinara sauce. 

Recipe: Pull-Apart Christmas Tree Bread

The sweet tang of candied orange peel is the epitome of Christmas, whether it's served on its own, dipped in chocolate, or added to breads, fruitcake, or a classic panettone. This age-old recipe has never gone out of fashion, especially during the festive season, and it's so simple to make that you may want to try it with lemon and lime peels, or grapefruit. After boiling the peel strips, don't skip the cold water rinse to get rid of the bitterness before adding sugar. Parchment paper will help minimize mess during the drying process.

Recipe: Candied Orange Peel

If you can't believe it's possible to recreate the taste of eggnog without eggs, then you haven't tried this dreamy frosting. It's the vanilla extract, cinnamon, and ground nutmeg that gives it that oh-so-familiar festive flavor. The secret to getting the light and creamy texture is making sure your butter's not too cold. Cutting it into small pieces and whisking it before adding the sugar is also key. Add to tray cake, cupcakes, or fill a doughnut with it. It also brings some sweetness to a muffin or even some bread.

Recipe: Eggnog Frosting

8. On the eighth day of Christmas...

No party table is complete without a cheese ball surrounded by crackers or slices of French bread. But it's the orange, cranberries, and pecans in this recipe that snowballs this crowdpleaser into a Christmas cracker. Make sure you chill the cream cheese ball for an hour before coating to make it firmer to work with. If you want a bit of a peppery taste, swap the fresh parsley in the zesty outer layer for chopped chives, making sure all the ingredients are well-mixed to get an even coat. 

Recipe: Cranberry Orange Cheese Ball

You don't have to drink alcohol to be merry, and a non-alcoholic Christmas punch is a great way to get everyone in the right kind of spirits. You can always serve shots on the side for those who want to create a boozy tipple. Play around with the ingredients if you like, swapping cranberry juice for fresh fruit and orange slices for juice. A sprig of rosemary might seem a strange garnish, but it echoes the rosemary-infused syrup that complements the citrus notes in the drink. And the green looks gorgeous against the ruby-red.

Recipe: Non-Alcoholic Christmas Punch

No-bake treats give you more time for rockin' around the Christmas tree. These gooey and crunchy Rice Krispie bars have been given a festive twist with some red and green M&Ms and seasonally colored sprinkles. Mix these in well, so they make it into each bar. Greasing your tray before adding your parchment paper means you'll be able to easily lift your mixture out before cutting it up. These bars are delish to eat as-is, but you can also dip them in melted chocolate or serve with ice cream.

Recipe: Christmas Rice Krispie Treats

9. On the ninth day of Christmas...

Traditionally a British classic, a Christmas trifle promises indulgent spoonfuls of sponge, jelly, berries, custard, and cream. If you can't find the classic Madeira cake then pound cake is just fine, while vanilla pudding can be used if custard isn't so easy to source. And if you're wondering what jelly is, then it's pretty much the same as Jell-O. This recipe uses cranberries to add a seasonal taste, but mixed berries are good too. If you're serving this after a big meal, warn your guests to make room for this sumptous layered dessert.

Recipe: Holiday Trifle

They sparkle, they're made with cheese, and there are cranberries on top, which is the fruit of not just Thanksgiving, but the whole holiday season. There's nothing about these savory and sweet treats that doesn't say Christmas is here. Let the berries set in the syrup a little before rolling them in sugar and letting them shine, and toast the bread a little so it doesn't go soggy from the honey and Brie. You also can make your own rosemary salt to sprinkle on the top.

Recipe: Sparkling Cranberry Brie Bites

If you love the smoky flavor of bourbon and the sweet and buttery taste of pecans, then you're going to adore these pralines over Christmas. For a non-boozy version, leave out the liquor and add some vanilla extract instead. They're a wonderful change from cookies and candies and make great gifts because they're a little different. The golden rule is you have to use a candy thermometer to check that the mix reaches 235 C before adding the nuts and alcohol, otherwise they won't harden. Pour to set at whatever size you like.

Recipe: Bourbon Pecan Pralines

10. On the 10th day of Christmas...

A spiced, sweet, smoky glazed ham is a dream Christmas treat. Wonderful as a main course dish to share, it's also perfect for snacking on over the holidays and a staple if you're laying on a festive spread. What makes this baked ham stand out is the seasonal essence that you taste in every bite. Black Forest ham is a must as the whiskey glaze elevates the distinctive smoked flavor. Cinnamon sticks and cloves are perfect with the sticky glaze, with zesty orange peel creating a citrus lift that cuts through the sweetness.

Recipe: Whiskey Glazed Ham

The way that the powdered sugar falls into the cracks of these Christmas cookies gives them an irresistible quality. They look like they've been dipped in sparkling snow. With no added ingredients like fruit and nuts, you get a pure, unadulterated chocolatey taste and chewy texture. If you don't have vegetable shortening to mix with the other ingredients, use vegetable oil instead. Dampen your hands to make it easier to roll these oily doughy balls into shape. Once they expand, set, and split, they are ready.

Recipe: Easy Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Buttery pastry with raspberry filling and icing drizzled on top along with Christmas sprinkles is a sweet sensation. Baked in the shape of a festive wreath, you can cut it into whatever sized slices you like and serve for brunch, with coffee, or as an after-dinner dessert. You'll need a tape measure to make sure your dough is the right width and length to make the pastry big enough. If you don't have time to make your own dough, use a ready-made pack of puff pastry instead.

Recipe: Christmas Kringle Pastry

11. On the 11th day of Christmas...

This baked Brie might be a luxury treat you want to share with a select few. Make sure you push the little sprigs of thyme into the crisscrossing slits on top of the cheese so the herby flavor permeates through the divine gooeyness, while cutting round the parchment paper gives it a neater look on the serving plate. Dip this rich, savory cheese in bread or crackers, though fruit such as apples and grapes are delicious too. If it starts to harden, fret not: Just give your half-demolished wheel a quick blast in the microwave.

Recipe: Baked Brie

A "Top Chef"-crafted dessert makes for a sweet treat over Christmas. And what could be more deliciously decadent and festive than a chocolate cranberry ganache tart? It looks high-class, but it takes hardly any time to create. Make a chocolate wafer crumb crust and fill it with a chocolatey heavy cream mixture with orange zest and dried cranberries stirred in. Once set, pipe on sugared whipped cream with vanilla bean. Fresh pomegranate and slivers of orange zest give the tart some high-end restaurant style.

Recipe: Chef Nyesha Arrington's Chocolate Cranberry Ganache Tart

If Willy Wonka was turning up for Christmas he'd be mighty impressed by these creative, visually stunning cupcakes. The swirling red and white sponge, soft and creamy frosting, and peppermint candy cane crunch are simply sublime. Layer up the different colored batters, and if you want to be really cutesy, then you can also make mini versions of this sweet treat. To test whether the cakes are cooked, prick them with a toothpick. If it comes out clean then they're done. Just make sure you've arranged a festive party to go with them.

Recipe: Candy Cane Cupcakes

12. On the 12th day of Christmas...

Bourbon, sugar, and bitters create a classic old fashioned. Orange slices are the traditional way to finish this wintery, warming cocktail. This version adds festive flavor, making it a must-serve at any festive party or for a quiet, cozy night on Christmas Eve. The secret extra ingredients are fresh cranberries and rosemary. Muddle the berries so that the tanginess hits the smoky liquor creating a tart twist, saving a few to add to each glass along with orange zest. The peppery, aromatic, and citrusy notes of rosemary sprigs create a gorgeous garnish.

Recipe: Christmas Old Fashioned Cocktail

If your home is looking beautiful with twinkling Christmas lights, then these sophisticated bite-size balls of chocolatey truffles enhance any elegant soiree you're throwing. While they may be decadent, they're outrageously easy to make. Once you've followed this recipe, try adding other ingredients into the mix, such as milk chocolate chips or cacao. Just make sure you make the ganache in a microwavable bowl. If the mixture gets too hard during the chilling time to scoop and form spheres, you can soften it in the microwave. Don't be surprised if your guests snatch them all up.

Recipe: Dark Chocolate Ganache Truffles

If you love a fruity, fizzy, refreshing punch then this festive concoction is a gift. Frozen cranberries, fresh mint leaves, and vibrant orange slices give a bowlful of Jingle Juice a Christmas color scheme and keep it cool without ice cubes. To make it, combine orangey-tasting Cointreau and vodka with both sparkling rosé and cider, remembering to chill the drinks first. Serve this boozy bonanza at a holiday party so that you can spend your time enjoying yourself rather than mixing drinks. You might want to raise a toast and sing Jingle Bells if you have more than one. 

Recipe: Jingle Juice