It’s A Wonderful Life: The Official Bailey Family Cookbook

During the holiday season, it’s always an extra special time for me to revisit some of my favorite holiday films and to share them with others. However, the opportunity to have a little “taste” of their magic in the form of a fully film-inspired meal is rarely a ready-made offering. In the case of It’s A Wonderful Life (1946), fans of the film can indulge their tastebuds in addition to the joy the film provides by recreating some of the recipes in the new cookbook It’s A Wonderful Life: The Official Bailey Family Cookbook from Insight Editions.

In this beautifully photographed book, each recipe is given context from the film. Whether inspired by a character, culture, or situation, there is rhyme and reason to this well-organized book. Interestingly, the book even parallels George Bailey’s journey and dreams of travel, including recipes from near and far as well as recipes for one person (à la Mary the librarian) or recipes that could feed a whole Bailey family! Additionally, these recipes are true to the time period, with some of them even being reimagined vintage recipes.

Though this book is brimming with holiday cheer, the vast majority of these recipes could be revisited at any time of year–or even for a fun “Christmas in July” gathering. The book includes recipes for appetizers, sides, entrees, desserts, cocktails, and drinks. Beyond the food, the authors of this book really thought of everything; there are also Christmas craft instructions, vintage Christmas dinner tips (which includes an utterly brilliant “How to Throw the Perfect Vintage Christmas Dinner” hosting timeline guide as well as table-setting and decorating advice), and more.

Clockwise from top: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Carol Coombs, Jimmy Hawkins, Larry Simms and Karolyn Grimes. (Photo by Herbert Dorfman/Corbis via Getty Images)

While the cookbook is available now, a special gift set edition is available for pre-order. The gift set will be in stock in mid-November 2021 and includes an apron.


It’s A Wonderful Life: The Official Bailey Family Cookbook is available for purchase via Insight Editions.

About Annette Bochenek

Dr. Annette Bochenek of Chicago, Illinois, is an avid scholar of Hollywood’s Golden Age. She manages the Hometowns to Hollywood blog, in which she writes about her trips exploring the legacies and hometowns of Golden Age stars. Annette also hosts the “Hometowns to Hollywood” film series throughout the Chicago area. She has been featured on Turner Classic Movies and is the president of TCM Backlot’s Chicago chapter. In addition to writing for TCM Backlot, she also writes for Classic Movie Hub, Silent Film Quarterly, Nostalgia Digest, and Chicago Art Deco Society Magazine.
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