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 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 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.
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.
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!
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).