More tips to make Christmas a cracker

More tips to make Christmas a cracker

In part one we covered the run-up to the big day. Part two is all about the day itself.

Here are some more tips to make Christmas a Cracker:

A Christmas dinner table laid with plates, napkins, baubles and glasses of wine

It’s worth repeating……

Perfection is overrated, preparation is key 

If you are the one reading this, you are also likely the person who takes on too much responsibility for everyone and tries a little too hard to make everything perfect. As much as we want the best day possible, we need to keep things real.  

Do all you can to get ahead, especially on the food front and that’s the best you can do. It’s most likely you are serving up a super-sized roast dinner and you’ve done plenty of those before!

If you have old enough kids or able family members, give them some jobs to do.

Carve out some me time if at all possible. It might be a quick dance around the kitchen while prepping the veg on your own or sneaking off for a relaxing soak in the bath.  

What is most important to you?

  • Chatting with family members
  • Watching your kids open their presents?
  • Playing a game together?
  • Quiet reflection time?
  • Tuning in for the Queen’s speech?
  • Fill in your thing….

Work out what really matters, and make sure at least that one thing happens with you fully present (not running off to stir the gravy)!


Some of you will have a routine and a more set timetable for your day. Others may wish to change it up a little each year?

Who is joining you and what will suit the whole party best?  

Elderly relatives may prefer a late lunch and nap time, rather than a big meal later on?

Early breakfast, traditional lunch, and a buffet tea?

Brunch, nibbles, and a big evening meal?

Once you have decided on the main event, you can make all other plans fit the timetable. Whatever works for you all and doesn’t keep one of you chained to the kitchen sink (unless you want to be)!


There have been plenty of hangovers present at our breakfast table. Green faces trying to cope with a big breakfast followed by all the other food that is on the menu. It was just too much.  

Now we have a ‘choose your own breakfast’ option. It might mean you have to make it yourself if you are a little late down to the table. 

A stack of pancakes with frosted raspberries on top and by the side

We are all together for the main food event later, so this works better for us!  

What breakfast do you serve up on Christmas Day?

  • Light and fruity, leaving plenty of space for later  
  • Full-on big fry-up with all the trimmings
  • Do you go pancakes with lashings of maple syrup
  • A bit posh with some smoked salmon
  • Take the pastry route with lots of yummy croissants/pain au choc etc
  • Or spice it up with a shakshuka
  • All washed down with a buzz fizz or an early snowball – or just a good cuppa perhaps?

Decisions, decisions!

It’s not just for Christmas

Our little border terrier is called Coco and one of the things we enjoy is the family dog walk on Christmas Day.  

364 other walks are required during the year, but we try and make the Christmas one a little special. We take treats, sometimes a tipple too. Last year we decided to get out to see the sunrise (not actually as early as you might think as it’s late December).

Whether you have a dog or not, getting outside and enjoying a walk is a great Christmas tradition!

Opening Presents

Breakfast and walking the dog first, we save presents for when we get back. Stacked into piles (if we are lucky to have a few) and opened in turn, watching each person see what they’ve received. Usually washed down with a little fizz and nibbles to keep us going!

It’s a family tradition to open in a round, I’m sure many follow suit in this regard! Makes the presents last longer. Might well be tricky for the very little ones, but it definitely works when they get older.

The main event

Set a time for serving your main meal, write down all the elements you need to achieve and by when. 

It doesn’t matter if you are late. 

The oven is full, and it can all take longer than expected.

Many magazines or Christmas cookbooks offer a full timetable for you to follow if you would find this helpful.  

Spreading the meal out can work well. Have a rest after the main course and serve puddings and/or cheese later instead of immediately afterwards.

Game On

Full-up and fed well it’s time to play!

What games will suit the whole party? A bit of charades, a game of Monopoly, or perhaps you treat yourself to a new game each year. 

Here’s a list of great family games compiled by Mumsnet to consider.

Our family loves a game of cards. We’ve been playing cards for years, a tradition handed down from grandparents to our parents and now to us and the kids.

I really hope you can have some fun this Christmas and the chance to be with those you love.

Please tell us about your day and any tips or traditions you’d love to share that help make the day a success for all you can pop to my Facebook page and share.

7 tips to make Christmas a cracker

7 tips to make Christmas a cracker

I love Christmas. The chance to be with loved ones, eat great food, take a break from work, enjoy twinkly lights and a roaring fire.

Christmas tree with twinkly lights swirling into the sky

Christmas can be a sad and lonely time too. It’s a time when we think about those we have lost, those that might be struggling. It’s not for everyone.

Some of us take on too much and come Christmas time are stressed and exhausted. Perfection is overrated, but preparation is key.

Here are some tips on making your Christmas a cracker (part one):


This is one of the best bits for me. Planning the big day and what we might eat. We never (or rarely) have turkey. Some of the family can take or leave it, so we try and have something special and different each year.  

A few months prior, I will start to pour over my cookbooks or trawl around the internet, getting a feel for what might make the menu. Do this well ahead of time and you are not panicking about what to make when things get busy.

Once you have your menu down, you can start to plan how you will get the food element done.

It’s all about the people

My hubby says that he can’t understand the fuss around Christmas food. The main point, he felt, was to be with the people on the day, and so many spent hours in the kitchen stressing about the meal. He’s a real eat-to-live person, so he doesn’t get the foodie thing. 

Christmas is so about the food for me, but he does have a point. I do consider a menu where I can get ahead and minimise my time in the kitchen on the big day. Kitchen-time is treasured by me too – a bit of cooking therapy and a quiet moment can be lovely.

Christmas cake covered in chocolate and sprinkles and topped with holly

Get ahead

Christmas cake is an easy one, I’m cooking mine next week (October half-term). I do a Delia – and we cover ours in marzipan and chocolate. Who do you use?

What element of your meal can be made ahead and frozen?

Par-boil roasties, open freeze, put into freezer bags, and pop them frozen into hot oil on the big day. 

Snowball cocktails with cherries and small cakes on a checked tablecloth

The crispiest version of roasties and no kitchen full of steam.

Red cabbage/cauliflower cheese/bread sauce – whatever you can, make ahead and freeze.

Pudding – last year I used a fantastic Delia recipe for frozen brulees. We didn’t eat them on the big day, but as they were in the freezer, we ate them when we fancied instead! Here are some of my fav choc puds.

Booze – it doesn’t go off, so you can definitely get ahead on your booze buying. Snowball anyone?

Cards on the table

Christmas cards are not really my thing so mostly I don’t send them. Especially if I am seeing the people I might send them to on a regular basis. 

Much prefer to make a charitable donation in lieu of sending cards and paying postage. I think many appreciate this and it’s important to me to be charitable, especially at Christmas.


Buying presents for people is one of my favourite things to do.  

I usually start this around the end of August and ensure I’m done by the end of October, early November.  Usually, I’m super busy with chocolate workshops on the run-up to Christmas, so having this element done nice and early works well for me.  

That may sound ridiculous, but it takes all the pressure off. Buying in dribs and drabs over the weeks means there is no last-minute rush. 

No huge pressure to fight around the shops with everyone or rely on deliveries turning up in time.

Keep a list of everyone you have to buy for. Write what you have bought for each person as you buy it, so you can refer to your list and know what you have yet to buy. Each year I copy the list over, I can go back over the years and see what I bought previously if I want inspiration or to avoid buying the same old thing each year.

I might well buy an experience rather than a physical present. People love doing things together and creating memories. PS: Hubby and I can help with chocolate or blacksmithing!

As well as the main pressies, I especially love a table pressie. Buying a tiny token for each person seated at the table to open after dinner. It might be a mini bottle of booze, some chocs or make-up for example.  

One thing that worked well was each having some posh chocolates as table presents one year. 

We enjoyed these instead of a pud!

Have conversations with loved ones and decide on a budget, so it doesn’t get silly. Put all the names in a hat and only buy for one person from a group if you have lots to consider. Agree on a price limit and go and buy for one person instead of everyone.

Make your own gifts – now is the time to make chutneys, jams, and jellies. Good Housekeeping always has some great make-ahead ideas.

As much as it’s lovely to choose a gift for someone you love, it’s definitely the thought that counts, not the amount you spend.

It’s a wrap

Buying the pressies, great! 

Cardboard box tied with red string, on a table with twinkly lights and tree decorations

Wrapping the pressies, boo!  

One of the worst jobs of Christmas for me. My sister is the best wrapper I know, she manages truly beautiful creations. However, in the spirit of trying to be more eco-friendly, we have ditched the wrapping paper and re-use bags, or even newspaper. 

We also ditched the crackers for the same reason.

I will rope in Hubby to help and we often have a wrapping blitz and get it all done in one go.

Sharing is caring

What are you having for the big day? Let’s share top foodie tips and menus.

What do you do for presents? 

How do you come up with inspiration?

I’d love to know how you celebrate Christmas. Please pop over to my Facebook page and share your tips for a great Christmas.

There is so much more to say, so head over to part two (covering breakfast, timetables, party games, and your guests).