Christmas is meant to be a day for fun and family, but for so many Christmas lunch hosts it can mean nothing but stress. Unless you’re organised enough that you started planning it out in October, you will likely to get into a bit of a panic at some point. Whatever you’re serving up, we can help make it easier with a few tips and tricks!
Lots of the sides and extras of a Christmas lunch don’t really need to be homemade, especially if you’re feeling a little short on time in the run up. With things like cranberry and bread sauce, chances are no one’s going to notice they aren’t homemade – especially if you add some extra seasonings yourself. You can even get away with buying a ready-made Christmas pudding, and then mixing up a quick custard to go with it. This could save you from months of preparation (and your own forgetfulness). Hide the packaging before anyone comes over and they’ll be none the wiser!
Not everything has to be homemade but keep it within reason – Christmas dinner in a can is not okay.
There’s so much you can do to make the day itself a little easier on yourself, while still presenting a first class meal. Start by taking everything off your list that isn’t essential but will take a lot of time. Make potato mash the night before so it’s ready to cook on the big day, prepare a frozen portion of stock to use in gravy and with the roast potatoes, and cook the sprouts and other vegetables the day before, simply pan-frying them on the day.
Things like bread sauce and cranberry sauce, if you do want to make them yourself, can be made up to a week in advance. If you do enough preparation beforehand, your only tasks will be to cook the turkey and the spuds, and reheat a few things. Remember to have your turkey out of the fridge for at least an hour (or preferably overnight) before cooking, and then leave it for an hour after cooking before you start cutting.
One of the other benefits of making as much food ahead of time as possible is you’ll have less time next to the hot oven on Christmas morning!
Check Your Equipment
A few weeks before Christmas, look through all the equipment you’re going to need to make sure it’s in good working order. First of all, make sure you have meat that fits in your oven – the last thing you want is to get to the day and find it doesn’t even go in! Make sure you have your roasting tray, your beater, plenty of serving bowls and spoons. Invest in a meat temperature probe for peace of mind; a blender can be great for soups and sauces.
Never underestimate the power of a good knife! Everything will be made substantially easier if your knives are sharp, so check the condition of yours and either sharpen them or look into buying a new set as an early Christmas present to yourself.
Keep It Tidy
At the end of the day, you’re going to have a lot to clean up. Make it easier on yourself by tidying and cleaning as you go throughout the food preparation process. A few days before you cook give the kitchen surfaces a really good clear, and make sure nothing unnecessary is in the fridge before you get your ingredients in. Making sure there’s space for everything will help a lot and if you decide to make some elements of the dinner up in advance, you won’t end up with every single piece of kitchen equipment sat next to the sink on Boxing Day.
If you’re hosting Christmas lunch, save yourself the stress and do it your own way! Forgoing the roast lunch for a barbeque isn’t exactly a new concept, but you can still make a Christmas meal with a few adaptations. Maybe put together kebab skewers of turkey, sprouts, potatoes and pigs-in-blankets, then pop them on the grill. If you don’t like Christmas pudding, don’t make it – go for a refreshing sorbet or something deliciously creamy and cold. Don’t worry about having starters if your main course is going to be huge.
Alternatively you could make all of the Christmas lunch the day or two before, and have a cold version on the day. Cold cuts of turkey with pre-made cranberry sauce and stuffing might be a real treat if the temperature is getting high, and if in doubt a good warm, meaty gravy will cure all ills.
Remember, above all, not to let yourself get too stressed out. Even a delicious meal isn’t worth tearing your hair out over!