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Christmas for beginners

(56 Posts)
MogwaiTheGremlin Fri 23-Nov-12 09:24:35

Ho ho ho, I'm hosting Christmas this year for the very first time and dh's family will be joining us for what will be ds's first Christmas.
I am starting completely from scratch so there's a lot to think about!
I'd like to think I have the basics covered (buy tree, roast turkey etc) but please share your top tips/family traditions which make Christmas extra special? Also any hints/cheats to make it easier for me as I'm determined to avoid ending up like Asda Mum grin.

KinkyDorito Fri 23-Nov-12 19:16:07

Buy some things ready done - trays of stuffing to bake, pre-prepared veg, ready made up pigs in blankets, etc.

Microwave pudding and ready made custard.

Lots of Baileys.


sittinginthesun Fri 23-Nov-12 19:21:07

How long are they over for? Is it just Christmas Dinner or longer?

I do a meal planner, with a list, a diary, and timings for the main dinner (no one knows I do this, it's my secretsmile ).

MogwaiTheGremlin Fri 23-Nov-12 20:00:37

Oooh I love a good list and am all for ready prepared stuff, thanks!
My mum says I should just buy everything from M&S and pretend I cooked it wink
I'm just a bit scared of forgetting something crucial (woke up in the middle of the night realising we need crackers!) and spoiling it for everyone. Also I've never spent Christmas with them so I don't know what little rituals they have or what they're expecting.
Oh well, the most important thing is that we're all together so hopefully they'll cut me some slack!

sittinginthesun Fri 23-Nov-12 20:09:01

When ate they arriving? You can share my list!

MogwaiTheGremlin Fri 23-Nov-12 20:13:33

Christmas Eve and staying til Boxing Day. Please tell me your last is typed (fancy!)?!

4forkssake Fri 23-Nov-12 20:29:57

Definitely write a list of the meals you'll be having & then write a shopping list accordingly. Don't forget large foil for the turkey, goose fat, brandy sauce, cranberry etc. Maybe extra milk that you can freeze.

Prepare as much as you can on Christmas eve (eg peel veg & leave in water somewhere cold - garage or shed or car boot - just don't forget & go to pick someone up the next day with it still in there! blush

Buy a Christmas magazine like Good Housekeeping or Sainsburys which will give you timings to follow.

Prepare food & freeze if freezer big enough. Not just stuff for the day but Christmas eve meal, boxing day food (freeze a curry sauce & chuck in some turkey, or freeze a chilli)

Don't cook too much. Maybe few m&s canapés & a glass of bubbly rather than a starter.

Maybe find out if the inlaws have anything they like to do at Christmas & try to incorporate & creep make them feel very welcome.

Take any offers of help (if they're forthcoming!)

Have a very large bottle of your fave tipple & if all else fails, get sloshed!

Finally, the shops are only shut for one day now so if you forget it, don't worry & if you run out, get it the next day! & enjoy wink

MogwaiTheGremlin Sun 25-Nov-12 09:14:39

Thanks so much 4, large foil etc is exactly the sort of thing I would forget! But I do live in London so can always send Dh out for extra bits and pieces.
Sooo wish I could get sloshed but am still breastfeeding my gorgeous bottle-refusing ds. Oh well, at least it means I'll be vaguely compos mentis unlike my mother the lush who "forgets" the turkey in the aga every single year!
That's our family tradition so maybe it is time to start some new ones with my own little family grin

TheHappyCamper Sun 25-Nov-12 09:28:35

I think you hit the nail on the head with "we'll all be together so hopefully they'll cut me some slack".

I have cooked for various family combinations a few times now. I made a list that started at the top with the time I roughly wanted to serve, the worked backwards, writing down the times each thing should go into the oven. It worked really well as you don't have to think about how long things need when you're in a tiz, just look at the time.

DH knows about the list so he checks it periodically in case I have got sidetracked with dd/presents etc.

This year I have bought pre-made pigs in blankets so they don't need a tray and there's less washing up! Also second a microwaveable xmas pudding and carton of brandy sauce. We never do starters as dd is only 3, so it's hard enough getting her to wait until a bit later for her meal, without adding to the wait.

You might also think about leaving glasses, cups, tea, coffee etc somewhere away from your main cooking area and be explicit that you WANT people to help themselves freely. Keeps them out of your way and means you're not bogged down making endless cups of tea!

MogwaiTheGremlin Tue 27-Nov-12 13:50:13

Thanks Happy I'm definitely going to write down all the timings as you suggest and maybe set an alarm on my phone in case I get sidetracked! Dh cannot be trusted in the kitchen but i will put him on tea making duty and encourage people to help themselves!

AppleOgies Tue 27-Nov-12 13:50:42

M&S is your friend! grin

MogwaiTheGremlin Tue 27-Nov-12 14:12:34

I agree but what an expensive friend!

MoaningMingeWhimpersAgain Tue 27-Nov-12 14:17:28

I get a vegetarian main dish from M and S plus their pork and chestnut stuffing, it's gorgeous. The rest is optional but very nice.

Remember, it is just a roast dinner with crackers.

Chocolates to pick at. Cheeses and crackers. Another dessert for the pudding haters. Alcohol. it will be fine

LineRunner Tue 27-Nov-12 14:23:47

Does anyone know what the Iceland prepared 'Christmas trimmings' are like? They look nice on the covers of the boxes and bags, and are soooo much cheaper than M&S's.

Am I deluding myself?

tipp2chicago Tue 27-Nov-12 14:24:05

Get in extra:

Bin bags
Kitchen paper
Cling film
Toilet paper
Anti-bacterial spray
Washing up liquid

On Christmas Eve:

Prep as many veg as possible & stash in fridge
Put mixers & cold drinks in shed/garage/car boot to chill a bit
Make sure all cutlery/glasses/plates/serving dishes are clean & ready
Prep stuffing
Do as much prep as possible for sauces & side dishes
Run& empty dishwasher so it's ready for Xmas day
Make sure all dish cloths & tea towels are clean & dry & ready to use

tipp2chicago Tue 27-Nov-12 14:32:18

Also get in extra paper napkins for snacking.

Book a grocery delivery for as near as you can to Christmas.

bellamysbride Tue 27-Nov-12 14:44:26

4forks have you got a good freezable curry sauce recipe? Sorry hijack over.

Startail Tue 27-Nov-12 14:54:39

Ask DH for as many childhood memories as you can drag out of him. You want to aim for slightly different, but not too different.

Especially ask about drink, my DDad hardly does and my lot are a pain about having nasty sweet wine. I now buy a bottle of decent stuff too.

The right wine, spirit, type of tea or coffee can smooth many a frayed nerve.

Sainsbury's party bits are reasonable and sensibly priced. Depending on your inlaws income, posh, ham, nice bread rolls, smoked salmon, finest pate and prawns all go down well, without having to hit M&S or the deli.

Don't over cater on fresh stuff, stash frozen party bits, prawns and nice deserts in your freezer. Older people don't always eat that much.
Spares just form a nice buffet for New year.

Buy more milk!
DH and DD2 hate milk, and I drink black coffee. I always forget how much milk normal white tea and coffee drinking, cereal eating visitors use.

Oh and I must remember no endive, DM hates it.

Startail Tue 27-Nov-12 15:02:29

Oh and if you can get them to bake a cake, make a quiche (my mum's speciality), bring a bottle, provide any donations at all do.

Christmas is expensive, if DH waxes lyrical to his mum about her beautiful Xmas logs when he was a boy, you might strike lucky.

(My dear Mum can't stand to bake any more, but has a brilliant butcher, so brings beautiful beef and a chicken, for Christmas and boxing days as their donation).

Start, subtly as you mean to go on, if their house is small or they are elderly and you are likely to always host a few ground rules prevent you typing an AIBU in two years time.

BartimaeusNeedsMoreSleep Tue 27-Nov-12 15:27:16

This is brilliant - am watching with interest!

I'm also going to start a to-do list for the next few weekends to make sure cards are written and presents are wrapped well before the last weekend!

Also do everything you can to avoid getting stressed. My MIL is lovely but whenever she comes over I get really stressed racing around the kitchen (DH insists we have an aperatif, + 3 courses despite MIL hardly eating anything as she has stomach problems).

DS (14 months) picks up on my stress and the fact I'm always in and out of the kitchen and not a lot with him and so really plays up. Which of course adds to my stress!

Fortunately we're hosting both sets of parents this year and my mum has offered to help in the kitchen.

I was going to do a home-made Christmas log but have decided I have enough to do so will buy ready-made where possible.

BartimaeusNeedsMoreSleep Tue 27-Nov-12 15:30:14

Is your DS weaned or just BF? Because I've just realised that our oven is a micorwave/oven combo and I'll have to work out the heating of DS' lunch in the microwave into my timings....

He's not yet into just eating what we are.

MogwaiTheGremlin Tue 27-Nov-12 21:47:14

Thanks everyone, I am stealing all of your great ideas! The general consensus seems to be alcohol, pre-prepared food and lists.

Chicago - Imodium??! I may be new to this but my cooking isn't that bad grin

Startail - my house is full of nasty sweet wine because, with the arrival of ds, I've been off the booze and no one else will touch the stuff Will get some decent plonk for those who know better!

Bart - my ds is just bf so easier in that respect but, like you, I want to make sure I'm not so busy slaving away that I don't have time for him.

I am now officially excited about Christmas! smile

tipp2chicago Tue 27-Nov-12 23:10:05

I know Imodium may seem like overkill, but some eejit will surely eat a dodgy prawn sandwich from a manky deli on the way to you and ill leave it to yourself to imagine the results. Better be looking at it than looking for it. wink

Bertrude Wed 28-Nov-12 05:48:56

Thanks for this - I'm hosting for the first time in 10 years (stupidly offered to host on my first year of living on my own with tosspot ex so we didn't have to decide where to go for dinner) and I'm actually scared.

My friend cooked Thanksgiving dinner at mine due to their lack of dining table so that's given me a few pointers as to what I need to get in/do to successfully host, and all our shops are open as normal so the husband, depending on how much he's drinking, will be able to pop to waitrose for any last minute bits.

I've already decided that the long sidetable in the living room will have glasses, bottles of red and spirits on it with a cooler underneath for white wine and mixers so that nobody has to come anywhere near me in the kitchen grin

I will also be setting the table the night before and we'll be earing a curry takeaway off our knees (coasters over the glasses to prevent dust etc)

On Christmas Eve, I'll be doing the following:
Making soup (leek and potato I think - its our traditional christmas starter back home)
Preparing veg
Polishing the cutlery and setting the dining table
Making the stuffing and stuffing the turkey
Going and buying fresh cakes (I'm certainly not making them)
Making the mulled wine
Setting up the 'bar' in the living room
Making sure the spare rooms have clean bedding and the travel cot is set up for the little one

Oh god I didn't realise how long the ToDo list is getting!

Bertrude Wed 28-Nov-12 05:49:13

Anyone know any nice simple to make canapes? Our M&S doesn't have fresh food, only frozen veg and fish, and waitrose don't have the canapes like they probably would in the UK.

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