Our Community’s Holiday Essentials

Updated: Feb. 18, 2024

We asked our community members to share the holiday tools, gear, gadgets and ingredients they can't live without.

Turkey in roasting pan on table for holiday mealThomas Barwick/Getty Images

Finding the best tools and gadgets for entertaining can be challenging when there are so many things to choose from. But more often than not, the simplest tools are the best ones. We polled our community to find their holiday must-haves.

If you’re prepping for the holidays, you won’t want to celebrate the season without these essentials or our staffers’ must-have holiday gear.

1 / 10

French Rolling Pin From Kristyne Mcdougle Walter
Getty Images, Courtesy Krystyne Mcdougle Walter

French Rolling Pin

A rolling pin is a kitchen staple every baker should have, especially during the holidays. Consider opting for the “handle-less” French rolling pin to get better control of the thickness of your dough.

The tapered pin fits perfectly in my hands and been worn smooth after years of rolling out pie crusts, sweet rolls and nut roll dough. When I retrieve them from the pantry, I feel as if I’m greeting old friends.”  —Kristyne McDougle Walter, Lorain, Ohio

2 / 10

Homemade Vanilla Extract From Danielle Arndt
Tmb Studio, Courtesy Danielle Arndt

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Everything tastes better homemade—even vanilla extract! Whether you are using it in your own recipes or want to give it as a holiday gift, you can give our easy-to-do vanilla extract recipe a try this holiday season.

Homemade vanilla extract seems to elevate my baked goods to a new level of deliciousness, which is why is it always a staple in my kitchen year round but especially during the holiday seasons.” —Danielle Arndt, Mexico, New York

3 / 10

Kitchenaid Mixer From Sue Gronholz
Getty Images, Courtesy Sue Gronholz

KitchenAid Mixer

From cookie batter to the creamiest mashed potatoes, a KitchenAid mixer can help you make just about anything.

It has a permanent spot on my countertop and I couldn’t get through the holidays without it!” —Sue Gronholz, Beaver Dam, Wisconsin

4 / 10

Microplane Zester From Marina Castle Kelley
Tmb Studio, Courtesy Marina Castle Kelley

Microplane Zester

Microplanes are easy to use and built to last. They aren’t just for grating cheese or zesting lemons, they’re also durable enough to grate cinnamon sticks and cheeses.

I make the best cinnamon sugar with this fresh grated cane sugar and freshly grated cinnamon that I use in my holiday baking.” —Marina Castle Kelley, Canyon Country, California

5 / 10

Cookie Scoop From Jolene Martinelli
Getty Images, Courtesy Jolene Martinelli

Cookie Scoop

Cookie scoops are a no-brainer when it comes to the countless sheets of holiday cookies you’ll be making. They help get perfectly portioned cookies for every batch.

Not only does it make it easier to portion out the dough but it also keeps all the cookies beautifully uniform. Cookies that are the same size bake more consistently and look gorgeous on your cookie tray!” —Jolene Martinelli, Fremont, New Hampshire

6 / 10

Thermospatula From Gina Dolieslager
Courtesy Gina Dolieslager (2)

Digital Candy Thermospatula

Spatulas are a critical kitchen tool for scraping dough and sauces off the side of the mixing bowl, but what’s even better than a spatula? One that does two jobs! If candies and fudge are on your holiday menu, consider a thermospatula to help you keep track of the temperature while you are folding and stirring.

I don’t have to worry about the bulb of a glass thermometer hitting the bottom of the hot pan. I guarantee if you try one you’ll never go back to a regular candy thermometer!” —Gina Dolieslager, Conway Springs, Kansas

7 / 10

Cookie Cutters And Presses From Debbie Glasscock
Getty Images, Courtesy Debbie Glasscock

Pattern Molds, Cookie Cutters and Cookie Presses

When you want your cookies to be just as festive and decorative as the rest of your house, try using cookie molds, cookie cutters or cookie presses to give your holiday treats fun patterns and shapes.

My press gets a workout during the holidays…but never lets me down!” —Debbie Glasscock, Conway, Arkansas

8 / 10

Roasting Pan From Robert Johnson
Getty Images, Courtesy Robert Johnson

Roasting Pans

Whether you are serving up a Thanksgiving turkey or a holiday ham, a roasting pan is a must-have during the holidays.

“[Our roasting pan’s] been with us for many years and is used for ham, roasts, fowl and other uses.” —Robert Johnson, Chino Valley, Arizona

9 / 10

Aprons From Cindy Worth
Getty Images, Courtesy Cindy Worth


Looking as good as your cookies is an essential part of holiday cooking, but functionality is just as important as style. Our community cook Cindy says her holiday baking can’t begin until she puts on a fresh, clean apron!

“My neighbor Dixie has all kinds of material, so she started making aprons [that] have a towel scarf to clean hands or grab hot pans with. I love the sunflower print for it brightens up a rainy day.” —Cindy Worth, Lapwai, Idaho

10 / 10

Sugar Free Options From Yvett Montemayor
Tmb Studio, Courtesy Yvett Montemayor

Sugar-Free Options

Though the holidays are the season of indulgences, it can be easy to forget about allergies and diet restrictions. That’s why sugar alternatives and other substitutes can be a blessing to have on hand. Sugar-free treats will help make sure the holidays are enjoyable for everyone!

“There are not a lot of great options for diabetics now a days. I made a sugar free mochi cheesecake with sugar free sweetener and Truvia brown sugar.” —Yvett Montemayor, San Diego, California