Normally I just post recipes on the blog, but with Christmas coming up I thought I would share with people how I plan Christmas dinner. There is a lot of pressure on having a perfect Christmas, but remember the pressure is pretty much all in the hype! The only real difference to your cooking at Christmas is normally the number of people and you really don’t want to be in the supermarket on Christmas eve so things can’t be forgotten! I have a fairly big family when we are all together for Christmas dinner (last year there were 14) but every year runs very smoothly. Why, because I prep! The secret to the perfect Christmas dinner is all in the prep! This has taken me about 10 years to have down to a fine art. So I decided to post the guide below to hopefully help make your day run smoothly too!
A week before Christmas
Plan and list the entire meal right down to the side dishes at least a week in advance. If you need recipes from an online source either save them or print them. The last thing you want is to set your heart on making something then losing the recipe!
Once you have every bit of the meal listed, make your ingredient list. Go through each and every aspect of the meal, so even if it is just roast potatoes add, potatoes, herbs and olive oil. From this make the shopping list. I add everything else for the day to this list too. Breakfast, snacks, cheese and biscuits, truffles, sweets, alcohol, soft dirnks. Getting it all on one list well in advance means having nothing to stress about at all in the run up!
While all the recipes are to hand I also write a list of the order things need put in the oven or cooked on Christmas day. If you don’t do this now it will mean getting all the recipes out again to find cooking times.
This may seem excessive, but honestly the more prepared you are for Christmas the better. It takes me about an hour each year and in main that hour is spent looking at pictures of pretty food online. Someone, shall we say, more focussed, than me could probably do this in 20 minutes!
Christmas Eve’s Eve (23rd December)
Obviously in this day and age you can get your shopping online, but delivery slots just don’t exist a week before Christmas so plan some time to physically go to the supermarket or farm shop (unless you do the above at the start of December and get a delivery slot booked in then!!). I go on the 23rd so my veg will still be fresh to last me the days following Christmas so I don’t have to leave the house for 4 days unless I want to!! Having the full list from above will make this far easier. You will not need to hang about thinking about anything, only buy what is on the list and go!
On Christmas Eve I prep everything to have it all ready to put in the oven on Christmas day. I make each course in order. Once it is prepped I tick it off the menu to ensure nothing is missed! Set aside 2-3 hours (depending on how elaborate your food is!!) to get this done. Trying to squeeze it in or doing it when you have a minute never works, so just plan ahead for those hours to be devoted to cooking!
I make the starters, main meal and pudding in full ready to just reheat on the day and prep the veg. The veg is peeled, chopped and par boiled ready for either being roasted or reheated. I also peel and cut my carrots ready for boiling the next day. I do not par boil them as that will always end in over cooked veg! I just leave it all out in the back garden covered over to save on fridge space.
Before you go to bed get the table set and all the plates and cutlery out too. This is so much easier than doing it on the day! I know it will seem like a chore at the time, but honestly saves so much time especially if people are under your feet on Christmas day!
On the day it is a simple as getting each course out in order. As everything is prepped in advance this means total minimum effort. The starters (we have 2) are simply heated and served. Following this we always then have a break in the meal. It allows everyone time to digest their food so it is not being eaten all at once, but more importantly allows the time to be split so the starters and main meal do not need to be cooked at the same time!
To have the main meal around 2 hours after the starters I wait an hour and then get the potatoes and veg roasting in the oven. For me the main meal normally takes around 40 minutes to cook so this goes in about 5-10 minutes later. 20 minutes later the veg goes on to boil and with five minutes to go I make sure the gravy is ready. This is literally all I need to do on the day! The time in the kitchen really is minimal!
My final bit of advice, if it all goes wrong don’t stress! It is only a meal when all is said and done! I know we make this huge hype but who really cares if the tatties are burned or you dropped all the veg on the floor. Honestly it is not a big deal. Christmas is all about spending time with family and enjoying yourself so make sure you actually give yourself time to do so!
Have you got any tips to add, if so do share!