Creating a formal holiday dinner menu

Dec 15, 2011 at 10:35 a.m. ET

Creating a holiday dinner menu detailing the evening's offerings is a perfect addition to a formal dinner party. From a five course meal to dessert and drinks, you can easily customize the perfect finishing touch to your evening with minimal extra planning.

Woman pouring champagne into glass at Christmas party

How to create a formal dinner menu

By creating a formal dinner menu, you can enhance your dinner party experience with details your guests will appreciate. Here are some easy ways to create a perfect menu.

  • Use Microsoft Word or another custom template to print simple invitations and menus from home.
  • Have menus printed at a specialty or paper goods store if you prefer to have them made for you.
  • Order your dinner menu from a printing website that offers customizable invitations or other flat card options.


If you send out paper invitations, purchase extra matching or coordinating paper to use for your dinner menus.

5 Tips for planning a holiday party menu >>

What to include on your holiday dinner menu

Depending on your theme, food options, guests and ambiance, you can include as little or as much information as you want. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Introduction: Welcome your guests with a message about the evening and thank them for joining you.
  • Information: Include the date, time and place for a formal dinner party, a special celebration (an engagement or birthday) or for a party with a large number of attendees.
  • First course: Appetizers or starters
  • Second course: Soup
  • Third course: Salad or antipasto
  • Fourth course: Main meal offering
  • Fifth course: Dessert or cheese selection
  • After-dinner drinks: Coffee, espresso or other festive drinks


Arrange your five course meal depending on the foods you are serving or to your liking.

Other possible menu items to include

  • Wine pairings or suggestions: Offer a suggested pairing with each course, with the main course or offer a few selections for the evening at the bottom of the menu.
  • Drink options: Including any wine and/or liquor options that you will be offering for the evening.
  • Dietary options: Detail any gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian and/or dairy-free selections or options.
  • Kids' menu: Consider offering a section or separate menu if children will be present.

Gluten-free holiday treats >>

Dinner menu ideas

If you need some delicious menu ideas for your special night, check out these popular holiday recipes.

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