Merry Christmas! Kind of hard to believe that it is here (and winter too, for that matter) with 50-plus degree weather this week, but I do feel the festiveness in the air. Trees are flying down the street faster than the speed of light, lines at stores seem to go on forever and a day cannot go by without hearing jingling bells, if not some faint part of a Christmas carol.

All of this fervor has pushed many over the edge-of course, all relative to the cliff on which they stand. Some had a tree up and decorated the day after Thanksgiving and their gift list compiled, spellchecked, proofread and laminated, too. Others, perhaps those without little ones…well…not so much. Their approach is more like, “Christmas is THIS Sunday! Really?! Hmmm…what to do.”

Well, if you are the former of the two, you can stop reading at this point (really, don’t stop-call it your gift to me), but if you are the latter, have no fear! Your Christmas “cheats” are very near.

Should you not want to cook but still imbibe with your neighbors, give a quick call to your favorite restaurant and inquire if they’ll do all the hard labor. I made a couple of calls for you to find out which of our notable eateries are cooking for Christmas. Most are open for Christmas Eve meals only, but a select few will be a beacon of light for a Christmas Day celebration.

Fans of Red Rooster can rejoice, as Chef Marcus Samuelsson will be serving up his Swedish-Ethiopian morsels for dinner on Saturday night. Sunday will feature a prix-fixe brunch and dinner buffet. Don’t forget to get your glass of glogg!

Harlem original Settepani (196 Lenox Ave. at 120th Street, (917) 492-4806, will be offering up an Italian Christmas Day feast from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For $35 per person (plus beverage, tax and tip), you will get traditional vintage holiday fare of pheasant, goose, ham and sides. There will be lovely charcuterie and cheeses, and you will finish with a Yule log, panettone and other Settepani sweets. Raise your complimentary glass of prosecco to Babbo Natale (Italy’s Santa Claus) and the hands that prepared what will be an awesome meal!

Now, if you are reading this on Thursday, Friday or Saturday and you are inspired to have a Christmas meal in your home, I want you to calmly close and roll this paper into a baton, get down in the sprinter’s starting position (fingers splayed), count backward from three and run (don’t walk) to the nearest store to buy prepared food!

Fairway Harlem is open until midnight Thursday and Friday and until 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve. See your plan of attack below; your shopping list is in bold!

Go straight to the rotisserie chickens and get two, followed by the walk-in to pick up a couple of quarts of your favorite soup to start the meal and a gallon of eggnog (there is a lactose-free version, too). Return to the deli/hot food bar and load up on three to four side dishes. Maybe get some clementines for eating and decorating in a big bowl, olives, cheese and nuts for nibbles. Snap up a can of cranberry sauce if you don’t have one in your cupboard already. And for dessert, don’t forget a couple of pies, some cookies, a quart of good ice cream, a variety pack of tea and beans for coffee! Stop for wines and spirits on the way home.


Now Harlemites are happy, secure with holiday “cheats.” Merry Christmas to all, and to all, good holiday eats!

Enjoy, get eating and thanks for reading!

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Questions at dinnertime? Chat with me at AskSCHOP, Monday through Friday, 6-8 p.m.

Kysha Harris is owner of SCHOP! which is available for weekly service or for home entertaining. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Email