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Hosting Christmas for first time- where do I start?

(55 Posts)
olivo Sun 30-Sep-12 11:02:42

We finally have room to host people on Christmas Day. We will have 9 or 10 adults and 4 children. Where do I start? I need to start buying things that won't go off soon, as we are pretty tight on money. What can/ should I buy in advance?

ChiefOwl Sun 30-Sep-12 11:09:44

If its just Xmas day it's not too bad, is anyone staying overnight? And are you doing breakfast, lunch, dinner or just the main Xmas meal....

olivo Sun 30-Sep-12 11:12:00

We'll have one family staying over but only that night, I assume. It should just be nibbles and lunch, including 4 veggies, 2 adults, 2 kids ( one is me so should be ok with that bit!). It'll be veg/bacon butties for breakfast the next morning!

olivo Sun 30-Sep-12 11:12:23

When I say lunch, the main Xmas meal.

ChiefOwl Sun 30-Sep-12 11:20:39

Start buying now... Depends if visitors will bring wine, chocs etc.

Make a list of everything you will need

Soft drinks
Table bits - crackers

Decide menu for main lunch (starter, main, puddings) and write down all ingredients involved

Decide on extras Christmas cake.

Then I divide this into two lists.

1. Fresh stuff that has to be bought/ordered for Xmas week.
2. Stuff that can be bought in advance.

I then carry the second list in my bag and look out for offers on these, but make sure I buy a few things off it each week when doing my normal shop.

Then find somewhere to keep tis stuff sO it doesn't get eaten/drunk before the day.

I also work out a cooking timetable for Xmas day, but to be honest I do as much the day before as poss - lay the table, get all the right dishes etc out. I make my stuffing. On Xmas morning once kids ave opened stockings, dh makes breakfast whils I peel the veg etc and leave in cold water in saucepans on the hob.

ChiefOwl Sun 30-Sep-12 11:21:41

Sorry about typing, am on iPad!

Lirogiro Sun 30-Sep-12 11:22:59

I would ask your guests to make a contribution as is can get expensive. My mil has bought all the meat before and I've cooked it on the day. Or someone could bring the crackers or the Christmas pud?
I think it's better to ask people to bring stuff as asking for a financial contribution seems a bit mean.
I like doing a decoration for the table as that makes it feel festive, so you could do that soon as long as it doesn't have fresh stuff in.

ChiefOwl Sun 30-Sep-12 11:27:48

Yes to getting people to bring stuff, people will never mind. A pudding is always a good one. The turkey is the expensive bit but assuming you not having one.

Also get in extra tea, coffee, sugar, milk etc and bread.

Allalonenow Sun 30-Sep-12 11:30:32

Find out if any of the guests make their own mince pies Christmas cake or pudding, then ask them if they would mind providing some, they will be pleased and flattered to help you, and you can all enjoy lovely home made treats.

olivo Sun 30-Sep-12 11:34:02

Thank you for ideas, I will be checking back! We have done it in the past where each couple/ family has provided a course, with the main provided by the hosts. Would it be rude to suggest that, do you think? They are all family except one couple.

Hadn't even thought about things like crackers etc! Right, time for a list!

ChiefOwl Sun 30-Sep-12 11:42:46

I don't but then our Christmas guests come from Xmas eve to 27th. Think yourself lucky!!! However they do all bring wine, mince pies, cakes, chocolates and often once they go we find money on mantelpiece, or under a pot in the kitchen!

ChiefOwl Sun 30-Sep-12 11:43:32

I actually have a spreadsheet I change each year blush

MmeLindor Sun 30-Sep-12 11:45:17

Lists. Lots of them.

Yes, ask each couple to bring something. If you don't mind cooking, ask them to bring crackers or table deco.

I prefer to do all the cooking (at least of the main course) so would probably do that, and ask them to bring starter or dessert.

Prepare as much as you can the day before. I parboil the potatoes the day before, then just bung them in the oven. Same with the veg - I do a green bean baked casserole thing that needs reheated. They go in the oven when the turkey comes out to rest.

Turkey crown is easier to cook and carve.

DameFanny Sun 30-Sep-12 11:48:03

Gin. For you.

Have you got enough chairs? Can you ask people to bring folding chairs if necessary?

And can you set up a smaller table for the children, maybe with an electric candle so they don't realise they're being segregated for your comfort? wink

cazinge Sun 30-Sep-12 11:52:33

First time hosts here too 5 adults & a dog staying 4adults & 2dogs just coming for the day.

I have asked my parents to do pudding (my mum will make a Xmas pudding & poss a Xmas cake) and buy a cheesecake or similar, M&FIL are providing the Turkey, SIL& her DH are bringing starters & my Nan will pay for some wine, chocs & nibbles that I will buy. I'm hoping this way it won't be too expensive for anyone but we still have loads to get:
- All veg, stuffing, sides, etc
- Breakfasts, suppers, etc for those staying
- Champers
- Crackers
- Alcohol other than wine e.g. Bailey's, Cider, Lager
- Cheese & Biscuits

And I haven't bought any pressies yet either shock

Viviennemary Sun 30-Sep-12 11:55:44

I've only done Christmas dinner once for a large number of people Twelve. Faints at memory. I've not been asked again. There's one or two things that could help. First get a cookery book that deals with Christmas dinner and times. Like 11.00 am do such and such. Some magazines run these articles near Christmas but that would be too late for me. And also buy, beg or borrow one of those tiered steamers for the veg. And think about buying ready made gravy even if it costs a bit. And smaller table for children is a great idea. Good luck!

OwedToAutumn Sun 30-Sep-12 11:57:12

Watch out for buying alcohol early. Supermarkets have a trick of putting up alcohol prices in October and November, and then "slashing" them back to their usual price in December. So if you buy early, you may be paying more than it would usually retail for!

olivo Sun 30-Sep-12 12:04:49

Lots of good ideas, thank you. Will definitely give the children their own table, they'll like that ( 2 of them are mine!) we are going to use the folding garden chairs for the extra adults. Not being a meat eater, hasn't even thought about gravy and things. Think I'll keep an eye out for a magazine or a website or something witha step by step guide!

Can't believe I'm nearly 40 and have never hosted a Christmas! blush

MmeLindor Sun 30-Sep-12 12:08:44

I can send you a link to my blog with timings etc - you will have to adjust it to what you are cooknig but it will give you an idea.

LadyClariceCannockMonty Sun 30-Sep-12 12:12:29


Ask everyone to bring something (especially anyone with particular dietary needs --or fussiness--).

Don't worry about peripherals like crackers, nuts and chocolate. Who really eats all that stuff anyway? And if people want to that much, and if they have any idea about being good guests, they'll bring stuff like that with them.

On the day, ask/expect people to pitch in. It's meant to be a convivial day of togetherness, not a restaurant scenario where guests sit on their arses while you run around and sweat.

And for meat/main-course items, go for multiple smaller things rather than one enormous item that takes for ever to cook (e.g. if you were doing turkey, two small ones, not one behemoth).

But mainly, relax, and don't be afraid to ask for a communal effort on the day.

olivo Sun 30-Sep-12 13:12:43

Yes please mmelindor.

I am actually really excited about it, but slightly nervous as I am not renowned for my cooking prowess........blush

If i was rich, it'd be and M and S Christmas!

Knowsabitabouteducation Sun 30-Sep-12 13:19:31

Start by planning the meals you are going to eat and the baking you are going to do, and see what you can get or make in advance.

Delia's Christmas book is fantastic for the novice doing a traditional feast, and she covers the period before and after Christmas Day as well. She tells you what you can make and freeze.

planestrainsautomobiles Sun 30-Sep-12 13:24:28

Sorry to hijack - MmeLindor could you send me a link to your blog - love a good blog. And starting to get a little tired of the same old 4 style blogs. Thanks!

MmeLindor Sun 30-Sep-12 13:49:05

Have done - and do have a look at the Bloggers Network here on MN for other ideas.

I have never got on with Delia, Knowsabit. I don't know what I am doing wrong, but her recipes always fail.

fuzzpig Sun 30-Sep-12 14:25:07

<settles in> smile

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