Recipes and Tips for Hosting 12 or 20 People During the Holidays

Does it seem like year after year the number of dinner guests during the holidays continues to grow? To simplify the task at hand, we’ve got a few serving tips and menu suggestions to feed a group of 12 or 20 people. Let the celebrations begin!

Simplify each course

For the starters: When you’re in a large group, it’s preferable for everyone to begin eating at the same time. Therefore, avoid serving starters that are too refined and need to be presented a certain way on the plate. Instead, opt for a soup that can be made in advance and reheated right before serving. Serve the soup in a pitcher, like they do in banquet halls, or simply place a tureen at the centre of the table so that everyone can help themselves.


For the sides: A mash is perfect for a group; just peel the vegetables, let them soak in water and make it at the last minute. Potatoes, carrots, squash or sweet potatoes; choose the vegetable that works best. Roasted root vegetables are also a great idea.


For the main dish: Always bet on a holiday classic: the turkey. For a group of 12 people, you can serve a beautiful stuffed turkey roast, but for 20 people, it’s better to turn to the whole turkey, served with stuffing that can feed a crowd. Opt for a 20 lb (9 kg) turkey for 20 people.


For dessert: Prepare the dessert in small jars or verrines. Make them in advance and then form an assembly line. In small individual jars, the desserts are easier to store and, if there are any left over, your guests can easily take one to go. You can even stack them to create the shape of a Christmas tree.

Hosting 12 people

Entertaining 12 people is already enough to get a bit stressed. Hence the need for a more simplified formula.

The spirit of the menu

Focus on simplicity. Place the dishes on the table and, even if everything isn’t ready at the same time, the dishes can begin to circulate. Without even realizing it, your party has already begun.

Anticipating drinks

Before the meal: Opt for a self-serve punch or a cocktail pitcher that you can prepare in advance. It’s festive and friendly! And this way, you have your hands free to continue preparing the meal and to welcome your guests.

During the meal: You might think that you’ll save money by buying your alcohol in a magnum (1.5 L) bottle, but as a general rule, it’s more advantageous to buy two 750 ml bottles instead. Why? The magnum format is rarer, so the bottle (even empty), the cork and the bottling method are more expensive. As for vineyards, there are more and more good wines that are bagged there rather than imported in bulk to stores. To get around the problem of presentation, simply pour the wine into a decanter, which will also help to aerate it.

The menu for 12 people:

Hosting 20 people

When you have 20 people around the table, it’s not the time to make things complicated. With this (almost) casual menu, make wise ingredient choices, and simplify the prep and serving of the courses as much as possible to get everything done.

The spirit of the menu

One word: efficiency. For the service, recruit the most motivated people (or the most competent, it’s up to you). Pour the soup into bowls using a pitcher and fill the plates in an assembly line. Everyone is responsible for their own plate. This keeps the hungry crowd away from the kitchen, and everyone is served faster.

Anticipating drinks

Before the meal: Sparkling wine is sure to get everyone in the mood to party. There’s nothing to prepare; just serve. Choose three magnum bottles for 20 people (or six 750 ml bottles).

During the meal: At turkey time, serve a red that isn’t too full-bodied, whose flavours will pair well with the roasted poultry. If you live in Quebec, you can save money by shopping at an SAQ Dépôt. In these stores, you’ll get 15% off the total amount on any purchase of 12 bottles or more.

The menu for 20 people:

Calculating servings per person

Bites and starters

  • • 6 hors d’oeuvres
  • • 1 1⁄4 cup (300 ml) of soup


The main dish

  • • 6 oz (170 g) of meat before cooking
  • • 1⁄4 lb (110 g) of peeled potatoes before cooking
  • • 1⁄2 lb (225 g) of vegetables before cooking
  • • 1⁄4 cup (60 ml) of gravy



  • • 1 cocktail/beer/glass of wine before the meal
  • • 2 glasses of wine during the meal