a catered affair

It’s possible to lay out an entire holiday spread that makes mouths water without ever setting foot in your kitchen. Just leave the heavy lifting—and the basting, broiling, slicing and dicing—to these folks.

Wegmans, Cracker Barrel, Whole Foods and Fresh Market are among the local chains that offer customizable, ready-to-eat entrées and sides for you and a few guests, or for a whole gaggle of hungry merry-makers.

Gio Italian Grill in Macungie has plenty to offer to feed your tribe. Pick from a variety of hot and cold sides and entrées, like veal scaloppine, penne vodka or spaghetti and Nonna’s meatballs, or keep it simple with the popular roasted veggie platter or Gio Antipasta salad. Don’t forget the dessert—a pan of their yummy tiramisu is enough to feed a party of 40.

Smacznego! Babuni’s Table in Brodheadsville can help you crowd your table with Polish favorites like stuffed cabbage (Golumpkie), Warsaw lemon chicken and ground pork cutlet (Mielone Kotlety). Don’t miss the pickle soup and fried sauerkraut.

Get your fill of Eastern European dishes at Bethlehem’s Black Forest Deli. Butternut squash soup, Piroshki (pastries stuffed with a variety of fillings) and mushroom pierogis are among the additions to the fall and winter menu. They do catering or can make their meals available for a quick pick-up. If you’d rather take your holiday gathering on the road, check out one of BFD’s seasonal, five-course Kiev dinners, which feature Ukrainian and Russian specialties.

29 Cooks in Emmaus is all about helping chefs in the making sharpen their skills in the kitchen by offering culinary classes for both adults and kids. But 29 Cooks is also all about working behind the scenes to make your holiday gathering a hit. They offer everything from small-batch hors d’oeuvres and dips and sandwich or wrap trays to full meals that can be picked up the day before your big to-do.

get into the holiday "spirit"

Allentown and Bethlehem Brew Works’ Rude Elf’s Reserve has become a holiday classic. It’s an award-winning Belgian ale featuring spices of clove, cinnamon and nutmeg, along with a hefty 10.5 percent ABV. This is the first year it’s being offered in cans.

Every year Erwinna’s Sand Castle Winery offers its Alpine Spice wine, a chardonnay/ riesling mashup that’s mulled with a spice blend and can be served hot or cold. There’s a reason it’s their top seller. It even comes in a non-alcoholic version.

If you’re planning on hoisting a glass of bubbly to ring in the new year, Clover Hill Vineyards & Winery in Breinigsville makes a Sparkling Chambourcin and a Vidal Blanc that could do the trick. Or, if bubbles aren’t your thing, its Holiday wine is a sweet rosé punctuated by notes of cinnamon, cloves and citrus.

Weyerbacher debuted two new brews for the fall and winter months that are perfect for sipping by the fireplace. Little Monster is a dry stout, and Shulter Bier is a traditional, Vienna-style lager.

grab & go

Need something to nosh on the fly? Check out these spots for fast and tasty solutions.

Saylor’s & Company in Hellertown stocks its cases with fresh prepared foods that range from appetizers to sides to entire meals. It’s also a butcher shop whose offerings include custom cuts of beef, veal and lamb, as well as 50 varieties of sausage that are made on the premises.

Gannon’s Gourmetat the Allentown Fairgrounds Farmers Market has everything you need to complete your meal, such as party trays, fruit and veggie trays, appetizers and chicken and pasta salads. Complete entrées and catering are also available. Many of Gannon’s fellow merchants at the market can also load up your shopping cart with goodies to go: check out Adams’ Salads, Sweets Grill and Southern Delights, just to name a few.

Looking for some Middle Eastern flair for your holiday soirée? Let the Forks Mediterranean Deli in Easton whip up one of its flavorful platters: Lebanese chicken and rice, baked kibbi and eggplant moussaka are just a few of the many possibilities. The appetizer platter pictured here includes hummus, baba ganoush, mouhammara, tabbouli and labneh with fig.

Tamales are a holiday tradition in many Mexican, Central American and South American households. Making them can be quite labor intensive, but you can get them to go at Rice ‘N Beans in Bethlehem.

Stop by Dunderbak’s at the Lehigh Valley Mall for an order of piping-hot potato pancakes—also known as latkes—a popular dish served during Hanukkah.

Nothing says Christmas in coal country like Boilo. Recipes for this yuletide beverage abound on the internet, so you can pick up the ingredients (honey, spices, fruits and grain alcohol or whiskey) yourself and whip up a batch at home. A growing number of local distilleries—like Social Still and Eight Oaks—offer their own brands of whiskey.

just desserts

Bring on the sweet treats! Here are some of the places churning out all the goodies you need to do dessert the right way.

Bethlehem’s Vegan Treats has kiffles on its holiday menu, joined by other seasonal favorites like red velvet sandwich cookies and nut tassies.

Tomblers Bakery in Easton prides itself on pastries and pies made from scratch. In the latter category, choose from the traditional shoo-fly pie, or fruit pies using the best of whatever is in season.

Schubert’s Bakery may be best known for its legendary Moravian Sugar Cake, but this Nazareth mainstay will also get your mouth watering with its shoo-fly pie and apple flautas.

Stollen could be considered the cousin of the ubiquitous holiday fruitcake; it’s a German, cake-like bread that contains candied fruits and nuts. Get yours at Green Lion Breads in Phoenixville.

It’s no secret what The Kiffle Kitchen Bakery’s specialty is—the name says it all. And CEO Nick Kociolek says they’re gearing up for another season of kiffle madness. This year you can pick up a 50-piece sampler at the bakery’s main hub in Bath that has all the greatest hits—walnut, apricot, raspberry, etc.—or share the love and have a 30-piece pack shipped anywhere nationwide.

La Dolce Vita in Allentown is your one-stop shop for Italian cookies, cakes and pastries. For a little extra kick, try the rum-drenched rum baba.

Even though Groman’s Bakery closed its doors years ago, its buttery Moravian Sugar Cookies live on. They can be ordered online and picked up at the Historic Bethlehem Visitor Center & Museum Store. They’re still handmade using a secret family recipe.