One of the easiest things to make from scratch is cranberry sauce, and it can be made days (as in, you can make it this weekend!) in advance.
Use the recipe on the back of the bag, which usually involves sugar and orange juice and possibly orange zest. It takes about 10 minutes and it is sooo much better than the canned stuff. (It’s so good that I eat spoonfuls of it right out of the pot while it boils away.) If you're feeling inventive you can spruce it up by tossing a cinnamon stick into the pot while it boils.
It's also good—and pretty, too!—layered with or gently stirred into ribbons in softened vanilla ice cream (homemade or not). Just take credit for the cranberry ice cream and keep the fact that it's Haagen Daaz with a cranberry ribbon to yourself.
For the next several days, our food editor lends tips and tricks that make your holiday meal planning a little easier. Follow along on the Restaurant Insider blog.