dry turkey scene from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

You simply can’t do the holidays without a few favorite holiday films and you definitely can’t do holidays without mountains of food. Naturally the two intersect, often in hilarious, heartfelt, and cringeworthy on-screen moments. The best holiday movies capture the drama of it all; be it familial skirmishes that erupt when stuck around the table with our nearest, but not necessarily dearest of kin and unlimited booze. On the flip side, food can be THE thing that brings it all back together: A shared experience or gaffe that breaks the tension and unearths the spirit of the day.

No matter what, these funny/sad/crazy/warm moments around the holiday table resonate for one simple reason. We’ve all SOOO been there, you guys! We dusted off our Blockbuster cards to compile the quintessential food moments from holiday films throughout the years. What’s more, we paired them with perfect recipes, so you can create your own happy or horrifying holiday food memories this year.

Check out our favorites below and tell us yours in the comments!

“The Family Stone”: Strata Spill

No holiday movie captures the searing tension of bringing a new love interest home for Christmas quite like the 2005 dramedy, “The Family Stone”. In it, Sarah Jessica Parker’s character, Meredith, foibles her way through meeting, and subsequently insulting, every member of the Stones (her boyfriend’s family). In her defense, they’re not the most affable group (looking at you Rachel McAdams and your drag queen levels of shade), and pearl-clasping tension quickly ensues.

We watch, horrified and through fingers, as Meredith caps a run of epic blunders by dumping two trays of uncooked strata on herself and the kitchen floor. Diane Keaton (Meredith’s boyfriend’s mother) and McAdams (his sister) come tumbling in with mouths agape. Having nothing left to lose, she takes the opening to air her grievances with the family (loudly) as they all slide across the floor through the gloppy mixture of beaten eggs and cream. Bad as it seems, Meredith and the Stones finally come to an understanding and the conflicts begin to resolve. Communication, people!

Strata is the perfect “wow em’” breakfast for a big group. Use some leftover ham for this holiday version, but for the love of god, handle with care!

holiday ham, cheese, and mushroom strata


Get our Ham, Cheese, and Mushrom Strata recipe.

“National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”: Aunt Katherine’s Dry Turkey (Jerky)

Who can forget world champion knucklehead, Clark Griswold, after screwing up every single other thing, cutting into the turkey, prepared by Uncle Eddie’s wife Katherine, and watching the air simultaneously poof out of it (and the room). “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” goes down as one of the all-time greats, but as the disgruntled group gnaws on that audibly dry turkey meat, we remind ourselves of the importance of a good brine and meticulous attention to time/weight when cooking those big birds.

easy brined turkey with cream gravy


Get our Easy Brined Turkey with Creamed Gravy recipe.

spicy turkey jerky


If it’s really dry turkey you’re after, do it right like with our Spicy Turkey Jerky recipe.

“Home Alone/Home Alone 2”: Cheese Pizza

Let’s face facts. Kevin Arnold is kind of a jerk. Sure he’s a child being stalked by two adult criminals but seems to have more sophisticated methods of inflicting pain and torture than the KGB. Perhaps he learned all this from Buzz, who tortures Kevin at any given moment; like in the opening scene of the first movie. All Kevin wants is a slice of classic cheese pizza but that godawful Buzz, played by perennial 90’s bully Devin Ratray, taunts the younger, smaller Kevin with the very last bites, even offering to “barf” some back up for Kevin. Really, Buzz?

Kevin does eventually get his cheese pizza and no time more lavishly than in “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York”, where it’s served, as any pizza should, in a stretch limo with white glove service, washed down with soda, cold and bubbling, en champagne flute.

Kevin would surely approve of this four-cheese pizza:

four cheese pizza with mozzarella, parmesan, brie, and ricotta

I Am a Food Blog

Get the recipe.

“Elf”: All Maple Syrup Everything!

Buddy does a lot of strange things over the course of the 2003 instant Christmas classic, “Elf”. His North Pole upbringing makes for some questionable practices but none more so than an insistence on putting maple syrup on, well, everything.

While we admit that the sweet stuff is the best part of many things, like pancakes and Vermont, pouring it directly over spaghetti is perhaps a bridge too far. We thought this pumpkin maple gnocchi with brown butter and sage would be a better choice for the serious home chef. Cinnamon and nutmeg provide a surprising warmth and depth to the hearty fall dish.

pumpkin maple gnocchi with brown butter and sage

Spry Living

Get the recipe.

“How the Grinch Stole Christmas”: Holiday Roast Beast

The Grinch surely needs no introduction. A bad dude, dreamt up by the iconic child author, Dr. Seuss, who schemes to ruin Christmas for the innocent people of Whoville. He and a highly coerced dog steal everything from the adorable townsfolk, right down to the last can of Who Hash and the Roast Beast! A true monster.

The good people of Whoville troll him hard, though, by living their best life, despite his nefarious acts, and eventually he comes to his senses. Upon returning all the loot, a newly woke Grinch even volunteers to carve the roast beast, as tiny Cindy Lou Who watches in delight!

roast beast carving scene from How the Grinch Stole Christmas


slow roasted prime rib au jus


Get our Slow-Roasted Prime Rib au Jus recipe.

“A Christmas Story”: Chinese Turkey (a.k.a Duck)

There are moments throughout the course of the beloved “A Christmas Story” where we truly wonder if the Parkers will pull it together. The father paints a portrait of 1950s military-style parenting, while the rest of the family tiptoes about in an effort to avoid his wrath. Cut to Christmas morning when things seem like they can’t get worse, neighborhood dogs burst through the kitchen doors and devour the glorious turkey that old man Parker has been fawning over. With no stores open, a true doomsday scenario unfolds.

Their turkey loss quickly becomes our LOL gain, as the Parkers pile into an otherwise empty Chinese restaurant. Waiters dutifully (and terribly) sing Christmas carols to the chuckling family. A whole roasted duck appears (or “Chinese Turkey” as Ralphie refers to it) but the head staring up at them is cause for concern. With one ferocious clever hack, the head is gone and all erupt into a mix of horror and laughter.

See clip below or catch the movie in full on TBS all damn Christmas day long!!

marmalade glazed roast duck


Get our Marmalade-Glazed Roast Duck recipe.

And finally…

“The Polar Express”: Hot Chocolate Song

“Here we’ve only got one rule. Never ever let it cool!” Just try to watch this toe-tapping scene from 2004’s magical “The Polar Express” without smiling. In this clip, an animated Tom Hanks leads a troupe of high-kicking waiters as they deliver song, dance, and steaming cups of hot chocolate to a train car of bafflingly unamused children.

hot chocolate made from scratch with toasted marshmallows


Don’t skimp on the hot stuff this holiday; get our Real Deal Hot Chocolate recipe.

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