First Christmas in our own house - tips needed!(10 Posts)
DH and I have always gone to one or other family for Christmas, but we've just moved and have a toddler and have
foolishly decided to have everyone at ours for Christmas. This means 5 guests (no kids) staying over and 10 people for Christmas dinner, with an extra 4 arriving for dessert.
I am not a domestic goddess but
am a total raving loony perfectionist like things to be nice. I have already agreed with my (very helpful) sister that the general theme should be "minimal fuss, maximum fun", so am looking for tips and ideas for making the few days go well, without me ending up in residential care. Help!
Make sure you have enough chairs, cutlery, glasses, crockery, serving dishes, pans, roasting tins. Ask to borrow. With staying guests, ask if they would mind bringing own bedding and towels, and possibly airbeds if necessary. Saves you doing all that washing when they leave.
See whether guests would be happy to bring some things to help you out, desserts that they have made, mince pies, etc. Also drinks, crackers, after dinner chocs etc.
Prepare as much as you can in advance and freeze it. Peel and chop veg the day before and put in polythene bags in the fridge, ready to cook.
Enlist help from your guests for table setting, entertaining toddler, serving drinks, carrying dishes to the table when you are ready to eat. Also clearing and dishwashing afterwards.
I agree. Definitely ask guests to bring something specific for dinner (dessert/wine/nibbles) and don't be afraid to ask them to bring towels etc too. Check cutlery to ensure you don't need to wash forks from dinner to be used again with dessert etc. Or at least you know in advance so they can go straight into hot soapy water after the main course.
Check seating in advance too, as those spare chairs that live in the shed/garage could be damaged/wobbly. You also have time to get some seat pads if they seem particularly uncomfortable. Check they fit around the table too.
Personally, I'd go with less trimmings and more fun. Avoid food and time wastage by not doing a tonne of several different types of veg. When my mum has hosted, she's just put everything in serving dishes and you help yourself. Also saves on wasting food and remembering preferences when dishing up. Same for desserts, the whole lot go on the table.
Cut corners where you can/want to.... buy pre-prepared veg, cartons of custard etc. You may wish to use disposable trays to save on washing up (depends if you think your guests will help or you have a dishwasher!!)
All of the above plus join the dining & garden tables together & cover with 2 king size bedsheets with a runner going down the middle. This what I do when I have a crowd for dinner & it works well for us.
If you have a premier inn etc near you, check out now if they have any £19-£25 rooms left & consider booking in your older guests or couples. This will free up space, bathroom & save you buying bedding. I did this when my brother got married & it was nice to escape from the noise & activities & have a bath without someone banging on the door!
Try to factor in time for walks in the fresh air to get out of the house. Ideal time would be after eating xmas dinner but before pudding, load the dishwasher & go for a nice walk and then come back for coffee & dessert. The fresh air makes even the hardened perfectionist lesd cranky!
Marks and spencer for your food if you can. Easy to cook as it is mostly prepared plus they have a great disposable table setting set which I have used in the past.
Get your list sorted soon and ask people to bring contributions as said above.
Definitely consider things you,ll need for table setting, including wine, water glasses, mugs or cups. Cups better for bulk as less filling, can refill, but extra washing in saucers.
Def put veg, spuds, gravy in jugs (ordinary are fine if you don,t have gravy boats), and other side things out not able to serve yourselves. I'd serve the meat on plates, but put extra on a serving plate for table either immediately or when people are going for seconds.
For starter, either a big pot of soup or something cold you can have plated up in advance that morning (smoked salmon is nice - buy pre sliced for ease).
Veg prep on Xmas Eve, put those needing it into water in pots, other in airtight tubs (Brussels sprouts or cauliflower). Make your stuffing too, and perhaps cook ham as easy to reheat.
Think about quantities and oven space. While turkey rests you,d get roasted veg done but probably need spuds in for some time same as turkey. A seperate dish of stuffing could also cook while turkey rests. Maybe do 1-2 rosaries each. But big pot mashedpotato as well on stove. Steam sprouts, do a mixed veg stir fry, steam/boil cauliflower and put into oven under blanket cheese sauce for few mins while turkey out. Gravy is stove top, could make day before to reheat just adding turkey juices.
Overnight guests. Beds and towels, breakfasts and late night cups of tea, chocolate and a snack.
Will they stay long, and mostly before or after Christmas? So do you need lots of easy prep meals in advance, or have plans to use leftovers in sambos, curries or whatever? Shops will open again after, but if staying long visit, you might want to have a decent meal planned for 27/28th that you order ahead, like a leg of lamb or beef joint, or a family favourite.
Have you a few things to entertain? Even options is good so bad weather or nice weather can be dealt with, or just boredom of some. Board games, a big jigsaw, "parlour games", tv schedule or a couple of box sets or sign up to Netflix or love film for a couple of weeks.
And definitely give people specific jobs in advance and when there. So you can enjoy too. A man might find cleaning and setting the fire ok, a woman very happy to wash up or make gravy.
And start to put things away now. Soft drinks, alcohol, boxes or mixed packs of biscuits, crackers for cheese, nice marmalade for brekkie, part baked bread rolls, packs of ready made custard. Paper napkins, tin foil roasting platters, tin foil and cling film to store things, kitchen towel, plenty loo roll.
And maybe put together the fruit now for hm mince meat, buy jus rol or similar pastry ready,are (and rolled if want for time) and throw together h&m mince pies in minutes.
Think of your strengths and play to those. But make sure you make time for yourselves too during the festivities to relax, and enjoy your DCs as well.
Preplan your Christmas eve meals (and any other days/nights that guests will be there) for simple easy to cook things.
Something like a big casserole and some jacket potatoes or decide to get pizza delivered. Saves you having to plan too much extra.
Keep lunches simple (if you are not out) with something like pasta and salad or sandwiches and festive nibbles. If you run out of anything send a guest to the shops for it.
Make sure you have lots of pickles, salad etc in for eating with leftovers, the next day. A two or three course meal always seems more satisfying, somehow, so even if it's just leftover turkey, ham and salad with a few oven chips or small baked potatoes, do a soup starter or have an easy pudding like a fruit crumble. (Soup can be made well in advance and frozen, as can crumble mix.)
Make sure you have enough milk. You will be amazed how much you can get through with cups of tea etc, when you ramp up the numbers drinking the tea.
Not that I have ever had to buy milk from a petrol station on Christmas morning.
If you don't make pastry yourself, (though it's really easy in a food processor) make sure you have some and some mince meat to whip up a few mince pies, if you are running low on nibbles afterwards.
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