Christmas is a festive time with presents flowing, delicious smells coming from the kitchen and family and friends gathered around a table with all sort of delicacies eating, laughing and having a blast.
This year, however, this whole picture is slightly different for you. This Christmas you will be the cook of the big dinner. You feel excited since you have never done it before but as the big day approaches, your stress-levels are going through the roof.
You are showered in cold sweat every time you think about it and questions are popping in your brain non-stop; Will I be able to pull it through? Will I be able to have everything cooked on time? Will I survive the actual preparation? Was I completely out of my mind thinking that I would be able to take full responsibility of such an important dinner without failing?
And the answers are yes, yes, yes and no!
The truth is that the preparation of Christmas dinner is a real challenge for the cook, you.
But that doesn’t mean that you have to be Julia Child to pull it off or that it cannot be done successfully and without it being exhaustively stressful.
Besides, if you look at it calmly, Christmas dinner, even though is a big event, deep down is nothing more than a Sunday dinner with family and friends.
So, let’s skip panic and see how you can successfully and stress-free prepare one of the most longed- for dinners giving you more time to be merry in the end.
– Organizing goes a long way, that’s the most important rule of success you need to remember. And from that the rest follows!
– Christmas dinner is well known for its roasted bird, turkey, goose or duck depending on preferences, and almost all are going to be disappointed if the main course is something totally different. So stick to tradition and go for it. You will soon discover that roasting a bird is actually not complicated at all.
– Create the menu well in advance avoiding tricky or too complicated recipes. While picking recipes remember that since it is almost likely that your oven will be your roasted bird’s cooking “nest” for many hours on that day, choose starters and a dessert that will not require the use of the oven. A lovely stilton salad would be ideal as a starter and so would be a beetroot soup. For dessert, a chocolate and coffee roulade, which can be prepared the day before, is ideal after a heavy Christmas dinner.
– It is important to check whether any of your guests have special dietary needs, vegetarians for example or with lactose-intolerance, so that you can include dishes that all can enjoy.
– Not everything needs to be homemade. There are many high-quality cranberry sauces and mince pies available to buy that are very tasty and will save you the hassle of preparing them.
– Make a detailed shopping list based on the menu you created. It is guaranteed to keep you sane and also save you a lot of money. And if time is an issue you can do all your grocery shopping online and they will deliver everything right at your door step.
– Once you menu and shopping is done you need to think, based on your recipes, what food preparations you can make a couple of days prior to the big day. For example, a roast bird needs its vegetables; carrots, parsnips and brussel sprouts. You can boil your veggies two days before, store them in the fridge and on the day, just before you are ready to sit on the table, you can pan-fry the carrots and parsnips with a bit of olive oil, honey and mustard and the brussel sprouts with a bit of olive oil and chestnuts and they will taste heavenly.
The same can be done with roast potatoes. Peel and boil them in advance and on the day put them in the oven (after the bird is cooked and is put aside to rest before serving it) with olive oil, herbs and any kind of seasoning you like.
– As far as the stuffing is concerned, consider stuffing the actual bird with it. That way they will cook simultaneously, saving you time from having to cook it separately and will taste divine. The bird should be stuffed and seasoned the day before so you can pop it in the oven first thing in the morning.
– The day before check all the glasses, serving dishes, plates and cutlery you will need and ensure they are clean and ready. Check also the table linen you will use and if you can, prepare the table so that the following day you will only have to prepare the food.
[quote_box_center] – Put all the wine and champagne in the fridge at least a day in advance.[/quote_box_center]
– If someone offers to help you, accept their offer and assign them with tasks that do not involve cooking (you are the cook remember?) but that will surely lessen your workload, like preparing the ice, drinks, putting the bread on the table etc.
– Consider asking a friend or relative to prepare a welcome drink, like mulled wine, to bring early on the day to offer your guests on arrival.
– Finally, create a list with the order things need to be cooked and prepared on the day and success is imminent.
Once everything is organised you will see that you will have plenty of time left for family and friends, opening presents, having a bit of champagne and enjoying yourself while dinner is prepared. After all Christmas is not just about eating a lovely dinner but having a great time also. So, put on your favorite dress and high heels (don’t forget wearing an apron while in the kitchen), do your hair and make-up and smile. You made it!
- If you go for a frozen bird, which are of very good quality and lot cheaper than the fresh ones, remember that you need to have space on your freezer to store it and extra time to defrost it (at least a day is necessary just for defrosting)
- A timer will help you not to forget things while cooking
- Try not to cook too much food because it will take a lot of extra time and also you will not know what to do with all the leftovers
- Since Christmas gatherings are often known for fights and misunderstandings between family members, keep drinks light. Stick to wine and champagne instead of stronger spirits