The festive season really is the most wonderful time of the year yet there is one part of it that fills many of us with dread: Christmas dinner, or more specifically, having to cook Christmas dinner.
Instead of letting it get you down, this year, have yourself a merry little (stress-free) Christmas with these tips for cooking Christmas dinner with minimal fuss.
Getting yourself organised is one of the cardinal rules of having a stress-free Christmas dinner. This doesn’t just mean getting yourself organised come Christmas Day morning but making a plan in the days leading up to the meal with everything you need to get done, including any ingredients you have left to buy, how much you have to cook, and what you can get done before the big day itself.
Prep the day before
Cooking Christmas dinner is a big task for anyone to undertake, thankfully, you can prep plenty of your dishes the day before and even cook them before storing and reheating when you plate up.
If you have plenty of freezer space then consider making some of the side dishes the week before and freezing them.
Desserts like Christmas pudding will also fair well even if you make a few weeks in advance, while cookie and biscuit doughs can join your side dishes in the freezer.
Check that all your kitchen equipment works
There’s nothing worse than getting into your kitchen on Christmas morning to find that your blender won’t start or that all your baking trays seem to have gone missing. Take some time a few days beforehand to run through the kitchen equipment you will need and check that it’s all working.
This is also a good time to clean your oven a good clean and ensure that’s it’s working properly.
Clean as you go
Save yourself from the dreaded mountain of washing up by cleaning as you work throughout the day.
If you don’t have time to wash everything as you go, try and pack the dishwasher once you are finished using items, then you can just leave it to turn while you get on with the final preparations.
It also means that once dinner is over, you only have the dinnerware to tackle rather than having to clean all of your pots and pans too.
Know your timings
Coordinating the timings of all the different elements requires military precision planning to get right. After all, no one wants to eat piping hot turkey with lukewarm vegetables.
Keep a sheet with all of your cooking times on it and use this to organise your schedule for the day so that everything is ready at roughly the same time; this will help you avoid a lot of the stress associated with cooking a Christmas dinner, especially if you are catering to a large group.
Take some shortcuts
Shortcuts and shop-bought items are your new best friend when it comes to having a stress-free Christmas dinner. Whether it’s fiddly pigs in blankets or the Christmas pudding, don’t feel guilty about choosing to buy it rather than making it from scratch as this will save you a lot of time and hassle.
Keep it simple
For many, the turkey is the main event at Christmas lunch so focus on the main event and keep the meal simple. Do away with serving a starter and focus your energy on perfecting your roast turkey and all the side dishes.
And don’t forget to offer something equally tasty and creative to your vegetarian and vegan friends.
Double check your dinnerware, flatware, and glassware
While you don’t need to worry about your dinnerware all matching – particularly since the mix and match look is a popular trend – but you will need to make sure that there is enough of it for everyone.
You’ll also need to check that your dinnerware is free from any chips or cracks. If it’s looking worse for wear, then consider invest in a new set like the Corelle chip and break resistant dinnerware sets.
Don’t forget about checking that you have enough flatware and glassware to go around either and that all of it is polished and looking presentable.
It might seem like an obvious tip for having a stress-free Christmas meal but don’t panic.
At the end of the day, things can go wrong and will go wrong so don’t worry about the little things and focus on the big picture instead.
Christmas dinner is all about celebrating together so keep calm and remind yourself that even if you do happen to overcook the turkey, everyone will still have a good time.
Christmas dinner can feel like it requires a small army to bring together, and it often does, so don’t be afraid to delegate duties to the rest of the family.
Put someone else in charge of setting up the dining room and arrange the table setting, this way you can oversee the kitchen without constantly having to dash out into the living room.
You can also assign washing up duties to someone else, along with prep jobs like peeling vegetables.
Then you can look forward to putting your feet up with a glass of wine for a well-earned rest – unless the family drag you out for a post-lunch Christmas walk of course!