It's that time again -- time for the last-minute panic as you plan a celebratory sideboard of snacks worthy of this most festive holiday. After our Dollar Tree Thanksgiving's proper sit-down meal, we decided to create a buffet-style Christmas smorgasbord of the finest treats the DT has to offer -- and it looks like the stores have really upped their game since November, because they're offering some seriously chic noshes for purchase. And since the Dollar Tree accepts SNAP, no cash is no object: Everyone deserves a holiday din to remember.
Please enjoy our Yuletide buffet suggestions, and with all the ched you save, feel free to augment the festivities with a bottle -- or a case -- of holiday spirits.
Get this party started with tubs of pasteurized processed cheese food product, slabs of pepperoni and crackers -- all classier than the usual DT fare, since nothing here is splurted out of a can.
Stuffing mushrooms yourself is tedious. These nuggets are mushroom-shaped, filled with cream cheese, and reason to finally fire up the Fry Baby you got ten Christmases ago.
These tasty balls o' meat are appropriate for all ages, all types and probably even vegetarians, because the actual meat ratio in DT meat-a-balls is about as low as the cost of a bag.
This is where the fanciness comes in for our buffet: A few bags of these head-on, not-deveined shrimps sautéed in a little margarine and garlic salt will impress your guests as much as the prep time will irritate you.
Scallops? Why, yes. The Dollar Tree has a fine array of seafood this season, and although they look quite miniscule and slightly freezer-burned, no one will notice after you toss them in with the shrimp and serve the seafood on a bed of Rice-a-Roni.
Forget the fresh veggies. Besides, who has ever actually seen fresh lima beans? They probably grow in cans, and these are even pre-seasoned for your dining pleasure.
Improving eyesight is important during the winter months, and between these delicious steam-in-the-bag carrot coins and the medical marijuana that one of your dinner guests has no doubt stashed in his sock, retinal health is an assured Christmas gift.
Cobs of corn in boxes is a stroke of a-maize-ing genius, because after a few minutes roasting in the microwave, these cob-ettes are ready for the table -- in their own disposable serving dishes.
Frozen popcorn chicken tastes so much better when pan-fried in leftover bacon grease.
Munchies on sticks are usually reserved for state fair days rather than holidays, but Dollar Tree delights are good for all seasons, especially chicken dogs enrobed in sweet, sweet cornbread batter.
Most frozen clam strips are chewy and taste like licking a handful of dirty nickels, but giving the benefit of the doubt is a considerate holiday gift.
Pick-Up Stix...just saying the name of these probably-poultry-french-fry-looking things makes you feel festive, and it never hurts to have something else to dip in ranch dressing.
One of the best holiday smells is that of freshly baked pies, the aroma wafting from the kitchen into the living room or, if you're in a studio apartment, the laundry/bath/closet/hot-water heater room.
Going international on the buffet table is a sign of a sophisticated palate, and these fruit-stuffed crepes are sure to offset the suspicious breaded clams a few inches away.
After-dinner coffee is a great way to catch up with your guests, sharing stories about life, love and economic downturn. And if the Supreme Cappuccino flavors aren't satisfying, there's always the bottle of instant crystals just begging to be added to hot tap water.
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Killing coffee breath makes these tiny toothpaste mints a must for any holiday gathering, and it will pay to have minty-fresh brefs when you are singing after-dinner Christmas carols -- like anything by Ted Nugent.