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Christmas dinner on Christmas eve, good plan or not?

(37 Posts)
mogs0 Tue 20-Sep-11 21:06:56

I've just been reading on another thread about having Christmas dinner on Christmas eve and think it sounds like a great idea.

My main reason for thinking this is because I am hosting it this year for the first time ever and think it would make things calmer on Christmas day without the stress of cooking the meal.

There will be 8 of us - mum, step-dad, aunt, sister and sister's inlaws. Ds will be here too but wouldn't care if all we ate was chocolate for the whole Christmas holiday grin! Everyone, except my sister's inlaws who live about 3 miles away, will be staying on Christmas eve.

Anyone have any thoughts? I appreciate that being my family, I know what their reaction to this is likely to be but wondered if anyone can think of any reason why they might object to this?

senua Tue 20-Sep-11 21:15:13

Doesn't it just transfer the stress to a different day?

Friends of mine cook the bird on Christmas Eve so there is less to do on the day itself.

Would it go down well if you tinkered with tradition on your first hosting?

LowLevelWhingeing Tue 20-Sep-11 21:18:54


but what will you eat on Christmas day? You can't have crap food on Christmas!

and yes, it just transfers the stress to a different day, or gives you two stressful days as you'd still have to feed people on Christmas day too confused

Hassled Tue 20-Sep-11 21:19:35

What will you eat on Christmas Day then? Agree it just moves the stress of cooking a big meal from one day to the previous one - doesn't actually remove the stress itself.

Spend as much time as you can on Christmas Eve prepping - get potatoes peeled, even par-boiled is fine, do whatever you can think of. It will be fine, honest. It's just a glorified roast.

IwanttobeShirleyValentine Tue 20-Sep-11 21:26:20

Although i can see you thinking you will just move the stress to Xmas eve which is also a special day to be spending with the DC.

I always cook Xmas lunch for about 1pm on Xmas day. Its easy because I prep EVERYTHING the day before.

All my veg is chopped fresh and put into water in pans on the hob (lids on). I make my stuffing and meat loaf Xmas eve evening. I even dress the Turkey and put its in its baking tray all trussed up in foil. I take it out of the fridge last thing before going to bed and put it on our very cool kitchen windowsill. My roasting spuds are parboiled Xmas eve and in the fridge, Fat is ready in the spud roasting tin As soon as the DC wake on Xmas morning the oven goes on and the Turkey goes in and I dont do ANYTHING to it for at least 2 hours. All my pigs in blankets are prepped Xmas eve too. Cranberry sauce etc made 23rd usually.

I even lay the table etc all on Xmas eve. The DC help and it makes us all feel christmassey.

Honestly Xmas day I pop my head in the oven a few times and pop the spuds and stuffing etc in the oven at the appropiate time and that is it. Its no drama and in alot of ways less hassle than a normal Sunday roast cos all the prep has already been done.

Cooking Xmas dinner - only needs to be as complicated as you make it.

Each to their own and if you really want it Xmas eve and know you wont feel a bit "meh" on Xmas day eating cold turkey, then go for it.

prizeelliott Tue 20-Sep-11 21:26:45

We did this last year and it was lovely. We have 3 DD's who were 8m, 2 and 3 last christmas. Having the big dinner for tea on Christmas eve made it really special. Was fab.... then on Christmas day the kids could aet all Santa's Chocolate etc without moaning...we basically grazed on nice ham, cheese, pate etc all day and had a fab curry with friends in the eve once kids in bed! Worked really well. Meant our X mas dinner wasn't invaded by visiting relatives and friends, and I actually got to play with the kids toys with them in the morning.

To be recomended... although can't quite believe we're discussing this already!! Having said that, mince meat in co-op! Don't miss the boat ladies!!!!

ivykaty44 Tue 20-Sep-11 21:28:25

It just stresses everything into an evening rather than the next day. If you plan everything you shouldn't be stressed though on christmas day.

I have never cooked the meat the day before - but make sure I am up at 6am to put the meat in the oven and prepare it for the oven the night before, prepare the vegtables the night before and put into water on the hob and prepare the table etc ready for lunch and have breakfast on laps opening presents

LillianGish Tue 20-Sep-11 21:29:59

It's what they do in France and Germany. I think it could be quite practical in terms of simplifying catering - have Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve, then you can eat up left-overs etc on Christmas day. Takes away decision of what to prepare for Christmas Eve and gives a bit of focus to the evening (you will have to prepare something anyway) then on Christmas day you can focus on presents and toys and take a more relaxed approach to preparing meals.

LillianGish Tue 20-Sep-11 21:30:54

In fact exactly what prizeelliot said!

mogs0 Tue 20-Sep-11 21:47:12

Hassled - can I confess that I've never actually cooked a proper roast before? blush

I thought we could eat left over turkey, ham, salad, cheese and crackers, chocolate, all the thousands of jars of homemade chutney lined up in my kitchen, homemade flavoured vodka, chocolate, christmas cake, chocolate - that sort of thing.

There's always so much going on and Christmas dinner cooking and eating seems to take up such a huge part of the day that if it was done the day before it might make Christmas day a bit more relaxed.

Senua - I quite like the idea of tinkering with tradition grin

Prize - that sounds like the kind of Christmas day I was hoping for.

Lillian - then I think we'll be French or German this year - croissants for breakfast? That might be what sells it to my sister!

Hassled Tue 20-Sep-11 22:02:59

mogs - you need to do a practice roast between now and then. Start with a chicken. None of the bits are actually difficult - it's not hard to roast a potato, not hard to boil some veg. What's difficult is getting so many different things ready at the same time - that's where the stress hits.

Delia does a good countdown to Christmas roast thing in one of her books - I think Nigella does as well. So if you're eating at 2pm, you do this at 11 and then that at 12, etc. Find one of those, tweak the timings for when you want to eat, and you're sorted.

mogs0 Tue 20-Sep-11 22:15:39

Thanks, hassled. I have been assured that I won't be left to do it by myself and the menu will be divided between everyone coming. My Mum's cooking the turkey - possibly because she doesn't trust me not to poison everyone grin so it should all be fine whether it's on Christmas eve or Christmas day.

mogs0 Wed 21-Sep-11 12:55:27

Damn, my mum and sister have said no. I am unreasonably put out that they're not even considering it.

Having re-read my op, it's not so much the stress of the cooking etc because i know that everyone will help but it's also that I want to be watching ds open and play with his gifts. It was his birthday last month and I missed him open almost all his presents because I was in the kitchen.

This next bit is probably going to make me sound like a spoilt brat... I remember being about 12 or 13, my parents had been divorced about 2 years and my eldest sister was spending Christmas with her boyfriend. There was a big crowd of us (Mum's friends, my other sister). My middle sister announced that no-one should open presents until after Christmas dinner. We didn't eat until about 5pm and it was the longest time when you were the only child in a houseful of adults and not a Christmas I remember as being very much fun. So because of this I am very mindful of how my ds is going to feel if he had to wait until after christmas dinner to open presents. He is often the only child in a crowd of grownups and it is very boring for him.

Sorry for the ramble, the memory has made me feel quite sad actually (though pmt might be contributing to my mood).

So, does anyone have any suggestions as to how we could compromise or should I just accept that I won't be able to do and see everything on Christmas day.

weeklyshop Wed 21-Sep-11 13:13:42

Well, we've always had Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve because dh is French. I love it as it spreads the experience of Christmas out over more days. We have our main Christmas meal on Christmas Eve pm then on Christmas Day we have things like nice ham, salad and bread then Christmas cake and mince pies etc.

It really doesn't transfer the stress to Christmas Eve because we keep the present opening part until Christmas morning. Christmas Day is then a lovely relaxed day that I spend with my dh and children rather than worrying about what's happening in the kitchen.

Personally, I wouldn't want to do all the prep the day before because I wouldn't want reheated Turkey on Christmas Day or vegetables that have been soaking in water for 24 hours (loses all the water soluable vitamins too) but each to their own smile

Not all my family are happy with the arrangement, they are English and some of them prefer to have their main meal on Christmas Day. They are welcome to come to our house and fit in with us or to visit elsewhere on Christmas Day if they would like a big meal then. Some of them have 2 Christmas dinners, the first at our house on Christmas Eve and the second elsewhere!

GwendolineMaryLacey Wed 21-Sep-11 13:20:17

Why would you make your ds wait? It's your house, your child. Let him open his presents in the morning. If they get arsey, point them to the chippy for Christmas lunch smile

peaz Wed 21-Sep-11 13:21:07

Personally I wouldn't do it but that's because I've hosted Christmas dinner twice before and loved it. I was so over-the-top in my organisation (not like me at all) and it all went swimmingly well so I didn't find it stressful at all. Also, I don't think it would go down well with OH. Christmas eve- take out, slowcooker meal or a small buffet. Christmas dinner- big blow out, Boxing day - leftovers.

However, isn't it all about doing what the heck YOU like?! So I say, do it! Re-reading your post, it does sound slightly tempting!

weeklyshop Wed 21-Sep-11 13:24:26

It think that if it's what you want to do then go ahead. Why do your family think they should be dictating what is eaten in your house on which day and when other people should be opening their presents WHEN THEY ARE GUESTS IN YOUR HOUSE shock .

WhereDidAllThePuffinsGo Wed 21-Sep-11 13:38:58

Um, you're hosting, and everyone is coming to you, right? And you're providing food on Christmas eve and Christmas day?

Why do your mum and sister get to choose what food is served and when? You say that you're put out that they're not even considering your plan. What's to consider? You tell them what you're doing. That's the joy of hosting!

I'm doing Christmas eve dinner next time I host, sounds fab. Might feed the kids early and send them to bed - none of them like Christmas dinner.

Another option for you might be to do the roast in the evening on Christmas day - that way you still get to spend the morning eating chocs and opening presents. No nice leftovers at lunch though. Or you could say you're doing the roast at lunchtime and actually plan to serve at about 3pm. That way you don't have to think about food till after ds has done all his presents.

But I still think you should get to choose how you do it, in your house!

Carrotsandcelery Wed 21-Sep-11 13:51:54

How about you spend the morning opening Christmas gifts with your ds - spending the time with him is the most important part of it all afterall. Then have all the lovely nibbles you mentioned for lunch. The big Christmas meal could be in the evening so there is time to prepare it all without ruining ds's day.

mogs0 Wed 21-Sep-11 14:10:38

Thanks everyone! I'm not sure what to do now as I've asked them and they've said no. Maybe I'll wait a few weeks and mention it again saying that this is what my plan is going to be. I'm just crap at saying these sort of things without it coming out too bluntly and then everyone gets huffy!

crystalglasses Wed 21-Sep-11 14:18:50

Dinner in the early evening of Christmas Day is better imo. You could have a really good breakfast - fry up, plus toast, croissants and fruit salad in the morning (a real treat in our house), which should fill everyone up for the rest of the day and then the roast meal in the early evening. The children could open their presents either before or after breakfast.

mogs0 Wed 21-Sep-11 14:22:51

Crystal - but do you then spend the day thinking about all that needs to be done or can you switch off and forget about it? So, if you were planning to eat at 5, what time would you start cooking? I think half of them would need feeding inbetween and I'd still spend half the morning cooking a breakfast.

crystalglasses Wed 21-Sep-11 14:43:35

Well I wouldn't do it all for a start. i've got so many relatives at Christmas that I rely on them all pitching in. I'm fairly laid back about it all and don't worry if things aren't perfect, but I can see that it wouldn't suit everybody.

mogs0 Wed 21-Sep-11 14:54:00

Do they come in and ask what to do or do you have to delegate?

My lot would do things if I asked directly but wouldn't necessarily say 'right, let me do...'

Maybe if I had a list on the wall of what needed doing they could look for themselves. I think it would require me to be super organised - eek!

Onlyaphase Wed 21-Sep-11 15:04:43

I've hosted Christmas for the last 10 years and this year have put my foot down and said we are having a roast on Christmas Eve (done by DH) and then Christmas day will be cold ham, cold beef and cold turkey, salads and jacket potatoes, cheese and fruit. Easy to do on Christmas day, no stressing about things in the oven, how to fit everything in etc. And it means we can all go down the village pub for a few beers with no worries about the oven.

We used to do this 30 years ago as a family for practical reasons and I loved it.

I also don't like roasts generally - lots of hot faffing around for a meal I don't like and would never chose to eat left to myself. So usually Christmas Day is spent not drinking that much as I'm co-ordinating timings and pans, then once the meal is finally on the table I can feel myself relaxing...only to look at roast turkey (not a favourite), roast potatoes (again, not my first choice) and veg. Followed by Christmas pudding (don't like it) and mince pies (don't like them much either), and a kitchen full of roasting pans.

This year we will have food I like, so I can spend Christmas day watching DD open her presents, have time to play with her and go down the pub, and no hot kitchen. Relatives aren't happy, but they are welcome to go elsewhere after 10 years!

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