Christmas dinner is, for many of us, one of the most important meals of the year. It is probably the highlight of Christmas Day and the pressure is on us parents to produce something Nigella would be proud of.
Not only that, but we feel our table setting has to be picture perfect – all fake snow, glitter and candle light.
|There’s nothing like a spot of home baking at Christmas|
If you find yourself obsessing over whether the gifts in your ‘luxury crackers’ will meet everyone’s approval, it’s time to take stock.
The following tips may help relieve some of the pressure.
Write a list
Yes, a piece of advice as old as Santa but one I often forget to do. You may think you can remember everything you need but there’s always something, isn’t there? Cranberry sauce, cornflour, stock cubes and a choice of non-alcoholic drinks for grandma are usually the ones we forget.
Consider dietary requirements
Are any of your guests vegetarian, vegan or on a gluten free diet? Does anyone have any allergies? The major supermarkets all offer acceptable ranges of food for those on special or restricted diets but make sure you know what you need well in advance.
If you believe the TV commercials, tables across the land will be groaning under the sheer weight of food but, at Christmas, as at any other time, it’s sensible to avoid waste (of food and money). I think many of us believe it’s better to offer too much than too little but this can be a costly philosophy.
If you are serving canapes, the recommended amount is generally about 4-6 pieces over an hour before serving lunch.
|Have you got enough to offer all your guests a Christmas tipple?|
And what about wine? The average person drinks 3 glasses of wine at dinner and there are 4 glasses in a wine bottle. But who am I to define your average?!
Just make sure you have enough non-alcoholic drinks for those who don’t touch the stuff or anybody who is driving.
You can do your own calculations on Majestic Wine’s site (there are others) to get a rough idea. You might also consider hiring glasses or even tableware.
Work out what you can prepare ahead
Many of your dishes and accompaniments can be prepared ahead. For example, you can batch cook mince pies and freeze them. Many desserts can be made the day before and kept in the fridge – trifles, mousses for example. Vegetables can be prepped the night before and popped in the fridge. (I put them in bowls with a little water to keep them fresh).
Check the capacity of your oven
Will that huge turkey you’ve bought actually fit in your oven? And if it does, will you have room for the roast potatoes and vegetables? Are you steaming your veg? Are there enough rings on the hob?!
Make More Use Of The Microwave
Vegetables can be steamed in the microwave. And, sacrilege though it may be to some, many shop bought Christmas puddings can be microwaved too.
It may be worth investing in one of the new combination microwave ovens which also grill, steam and bake to give yourself extra cooking capacity.
On some of the newer Panasonic models, for example, you don’t even need to set power levels, food weight or cooking time.
Peeling and chopping veg can be delegated to the family. Once children have reached a sensible age, they can help too.
If you’ve got guests coming round, why not ask them to bring a dish rather than the usual wine or chocolates. They could bring a salad accompaniment or an alternative dessert or cheese.
And of course, if your partner considers you a nightmare in the kitchen like mine does, you could always delegate the cooking to them!
Lastly, remember it’s your Christmas too – so make sure there’s something on that shopping list you really enjoy.