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Setting the Christmas table
Retailers serve up variety of festive fare
Publix meat manager Tiffany Weck checks the holiday hams on display at the store on Hwy. 20. - photo by Autumn McBride

There’s no right or wrong way to prepare for Christmas dinner.

While turkey is usually the main event of any Thanksgiving menu, a variety of main dishes can grace the Christmas table.

“Every family has a special traditional dish or favorite that they’ll make,” said John Will, owner of Ferguson’s Meat Market in Cumming.

“It can be a rib roast, tenderloin, bacon-wrapped filet or sometimes people will say, ‘Give me 20 pounds of stew meat.’ But they’ll always make something they’ve always had with family at Christmas.”

Those different traditions are why Publix grocery stores will be offering sales on a variety of meats, including turkey, ham, ribeye and pork rib roasts.

“Christmas is just as popular as Thanksgiving in terms of a food occasion, but Christmas varies family to family, so we have to have more of a variety on sale,” said Brenda Reid, Publix spokeswoman. “We’ve got everything covered, including lobster tails.”

It’s the busiest time of year for HoneyBaked Ham, said Doug Griffith, manager of the Buford Highway location.

The retailer’s name can be misleading.

HoneyBaked specializes in ham, but the company also sells turkey, beef, pork, side dishes and desserts. However, its traditional bone-in half ham remains the most popular Christmas purchase. It can feed between eight to 20 people.

Griffith said a ham has been the staple of his family’s Christmas dinner “ever since I was a little kid.”

“It’s a family tradition,” he said. “What we do is we offer a product that lets people spend time with their families and not in the kitchen.”

Pre-cooked meals, featuring meats ranging from rack of lamb and spiral ham to standing rib roast, can also be found at Publix.
The meals include salads, side dishes and desserts.

Publix stores also have an events station set up where customers can talk with a representative about planning holiday meals and parties.

Customers can view a brochure of fully cooked meals, including a turkey dinner, which Reid said is $39.99 and includes cranberry orange relish, cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes with gravy and an apple-cranberry cobbler.

Cakes and pies are also on sale at Publix for the holiday season, though not all sale items are limited to Christmas dinner.

“A lot of people stay home for the holidays and have family over at the house for the holidays, and I think breakfast and brunch are a big meal on Christmas Day when you’ve got several people staying at your house,” Reid said.

“I’m talking bacon and sausage and eggs and cheese ... everybody’s customs are so different so we’ve tried to cover a broad variety this year.”

Kroger supermarkets will also have pre-made holiday dinners with sides like black-eyed peas, collard greens, and macaroni and cheese.

“We realize the important bonds many families have, especially during this holiday season,” said Glynn Jenkins, Kroger spokesman. “We want our customers to let us prepare their meal so they can spend time with the ones they love.”

Will said Ferguson’s has been catering corporate and civic Christmas parties this season. After this week, the meat market will stock up for family meals, which also include desserts like cheesecake and pumpkin and bourbon pecan pies.

As for holiday dinner meats, the certified Angus rib roast is a top seller, as is the tenderloin pork prime roast and “our bacon and sausage will double next week in sales.”

“It could be a breakfast, a lunch or a dinner — it’s just a real festive time and people will just want to get together to eat,” he said. “People are staying home and cooking and entertaining their family and friends.”