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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.

DancingInTheMoonlight Wed 28-Nov-12 06:02:10

I think they will just be so glad about not cooking they won't care! Best thing you can do is relax and enjoy it too. Maybe have a few board games etc for the evening if people want to play?

To be honest your LO will steal all the attention wink

BartimaeusNeedsMoreSleep Wed 28-Nov-12 09:46:59

Bertrude we do a few cocktail stick canapes, for example cherry tomato, parma ham and mozarella, or feta, grape and ham,...

Very easy to make - just assemble! (if you have kids old enough they can do it smile )

Very good idea for having a sideboard with drinks. There's only 5 adults at our meal but still, I am a bit concerned about getting it all done!

SpanishGoatFlower Thu 29-Nov-12 17:44:57

Serve pudding on paper plates to save on washing up.

MisForMumNotMaid Thu 29-Nov-12 18:25:20

I go for one if planned cooked meal a day and breakfast and other meal are buffet style help yourself.

We have a big ham on the bone which is served at breakfast and buffet meal - people carve their own. I buy in lots of cheese, biscuits, i make some chutneys and salads.

I buy in sliced bread for toast, croissants and wraps. I buy in part bake long life rolls because I always overbuy but they can still be used and don't take up vital freezer space.

I put snack food (nuts, Pringles, Christmas cake, fruit etc) along with soft/ alcoholic drinks and glasses on a deep windowsill in the lounge.

I put it canisters of tea and coffee and mugs on the side by the hot water tap in the kitchen with a help yourself policy.

On the kitchen windowsill (its a cottage very deep sills) I put the toaster and baskets of bagged bread, croissants and wraps, bowls of fruit, dried fruit in jars, cereals, jam and marmalade. I also buy small cartons of pure fruit juice in every flavour I can get hold of ( saves fridge space, washing of glasses and spills) also if it doesn't all get used it keeps.

I clear several fridge shells to fit all the white wine and champagne in the fridge.

In the weeks running up to Christmas I make the pigs in blankets, stuffing balls in various flavours, over make Yorkshire puds when we have roasts and freeze them, boil extra potatoes when we have roasts and freeze them, I buy disposable tin trays so once the Christmas meal is cooked they can go in the recycling and the majority of the china dishes go in the dishwasher. We have 15 to stay most years and so the dishwasher needs to go on after each meal to keep us in cutlery.

I make salmon wraps for canapés ( bread no crusts flattened buttered smear of dill sauce and smoked salmon then rolled up). I put in the fridge Christmas eve and cut Christmas day into little pin wheels which we have late morning with Champagne when we open tree presents.

We tend to eat turkey mid afternoon which means I don't need to get up early to get it in the oven also I cook it and leave it to rest under foil and a towel for an hour or more so I have oven space to cook all the sausages/ potatoes / stuffings etc.

Christmas Eve or day before I prep and fridge all the Christmas meal veg and the Christmas Eve veg / salad.

I usually make a cheese cake and pavlova for puddings alongside the Xmas pud and cake. These can be made in advance.

My other special Christmas dish is a berry platter that we have with coffee after meals. Every berry fruit I can get my hands on on a three tiered platter with little fancy chocolates between each section of berries.

On Boxing Day I've started a new tradition of Asda curry for lunch. It freezes, it all goes in the oven for the same time, lots of interesting flavours and nibble bits go with it, it's a very sociable informal meal.

The biggest thing that helps me is realising i need to allow people to help but to make it easy for them too. Things like making it obvious where the kettle / tea / coffee / mugs/ wine/ glasses are even if you move them just for Christmas to be out of your kitchen work zone means you are less of slave to meeting everyone's needs.

DontmindifIdo Thu 29-Nov-12 18:45:02

A good idea is to give people 'jobs' - so put someone like your Dad in charge of "the bar", keeping everyone topped up. Put someone else in charge of looking after DS.

Waitrose deliver and do excellent tasting ready done stuff.

Get the turkey ready to go in the oven on Christmas eve (foil and everything), so Christmas morning you just have to preheat the oven, pop it in so you are able to go get ready without having to think about that fiddly bit.

Keep everything as simple as possible.

And remember hte best bit for everyone else is they aren't having to do it, and they get to spend Christmas with DGC. It's only food with family, it's the family bit that matters!

moonblues Thu 29-Nov-12 21:29:45

MisForMumNotMaid Wow. Just wow! grin
I would love to be that organised... maybe one day hmm

Sarahb1969 Thu 29-Nov-12 23:37:39

I know this sounds slightly boring for canapes - but you can always do crudities and dips, along with some nice breadsticks. Open a pack of peanuts, twiglets, crisps etc etc as well. If you are having a big meal just a few nibbly bits are often better - don't want those in-laws filled up before the Turkey!! If you still want to do something a bit more just go for the mediterranean idea - a selection of parma ham, chorizo, etc, with melon 'chunks' (looks great if you do the different colours together too!!) and olives. Both the cold meat and melon can be brought ready prepared - so it just gets better and better!!

I'd also get in some senakot (other makes are avaliable!!) and extra paracetamol, ibupofen and plasters!

And make your own traditions - this is your FIRST Christmas as a family - so make it your own! I'm pretty sure that the DGP's will be delighted that you have invited them to share the babe's first Christmas with them. You want this to be a Christmas to remember for all the right reasons!

starfishmummy Fri 30-Nov-12 00:11:52

People may offer to bring food (my MIL always takes her hideously greasy stuffing and gravy you can slice).

Make sure there are nice drinks for people who don't want alcohol.

MulledTurkey Fri 30-Nov-12 00:20:39

Hi OP! Good Luck and hope it all goes fantastically well! I love Christmas and all the trimmings, we made a pact DH and I that we always spend it at home every year. This means anyone can come and stay but we stay put, easier with our three dc's even though one of them is 20 this year!

I always do my shop online in advance online tescos and sainsburys will release Xmas dates soon. I add to it over the weeks which is great as I have the memory of a goldfish, this way nothing is forgotten. I write a list first of my menus for Xmas eve, xmas day and Boxing Day then write mini lists of cupboard stuff, cold stuff, drinks and bits and bobs. This way I budget through December and get stuff with each weeks shop so by Xmas week all I have to order is veg, perishables and anything I may have forgotten.

I usually make a Thai curry for the freezer for Xmas eve, nice and easy but feels special. I make mince pies and freeze them, a good chicken liver and sherry pâté, lime and orange ice cream,choc Xmas pud (good food recipe which is so so yummy) as none of us like traditional. I freeze it all,alongside parboiled roast spuds which actually come out really crispy when you do them like this. I buy in pigs in blankets, meat stuffing, smoked salmon and also freeze all that. I have a delicious recipe for Italian vegetarian stuffing which is so good the meat eaters end up scoffing it all. Not my invention but I shamelessly take all the credit for it grin and I have to add all the above recipes are super easy,I don't do complicated!

The past couple of years I have dabbled with duck, goose and this year due to having a new baby we are on a bit of a budget so will be buying the best whole chicken instead of turkey which to be honest I don't love. The chicken I stuff under the skin with an Italian recipe, lemon pancetta and mascarpone it tastes better than any turkey to me. Served with my pre frozen roasties sprinkled with semolina a la nigella (crunchy goodness) whacked in the oven, creamed spinach, honey roasted carrots and parsnips.

Boxing Day we visit family for dinner or I make a ham with buffet freezer things,salad that sort of meal. My MIL puts a small table gift by everyone's place at dinner which I think is quite sweet. As for traditions poor old DH has to put up with our ritualistic Xmas heh heh heh. We get up, a new outfit for the dc's is wrapped and left in their bedroom doorways to put on, they are allowed to peep at their stockings, we hang them by the tree in the lounge, far easier for Him to stuff. Brekkie is usually smoked salmon, a poached egg and English muffin or toast and Buck's Fizz. After the adults wash up, the kids make tea and coffee and then get to open their stockings, yes it's mean but they love it!! Then dinner around 2 and tree gifts after lunch with the youngest handing out bit by bit.

I reckon most of Xmas can be done a few weeks in advance, leaving you with time to relax and enjoy it all, I also cook the meat and leave for an hour on the day then cook the other things,makes life easier. Someone else can wash up, tidy up and do everything else.

Vohn Fri 30-Nov-12 00:44:56

If it's getting expensive, ask around for people's favourite buys from the discount retailers - I have found that the continental meats and smoked salmon at Aldi's are better than any of the main supermarkets.

The thing that surprised me most when cooking for the whole family is how few of them wanted dessert after their big meal. I'd spent all that time making something stunning and it just sat there all afternoon - heartbreaking! Now I just buy mini puddings (mixture of different flavours) and they can be easily microwaved when anyone feels like pudding.

My biggest tip would be to make sure you have enough dining chairs - everyone advised me to check I had enough serving dishes, plates, cutlery, glasses etc but no-one mentioned dining chairs and it didn't cross my mind until I set the table and realised we were a chair short!

And ice. Note to self: remember to make ice cubes - there never seems to be enough ice.

DontmindifIdo Fri 30-Nov-12 11:25:40

Oh for easy canapés, I usually do quarter (or less if they are big) fig with some goats cheese wrapped in some Parma ham with a cocktail stick through (very early '00's here) grin and buy blinis with a dollop of creme fresh, bit of smoked salmon and sprinkle on dill. Feta stuffed mini peppers are also popular, but you can but those ready done in most delis, so just dump in a bowl and pretend you did them yourself! Christmas you have enough else to do without trying to do fancy canapés.

4forkssake Fri 30-Nov-12 20:58:15

Sorry bellsmysbride, just seem your post.
Curry sauce recipe as follows -

25g unsalted butter
1 x tbsp vegetable oil
1 x tbsp Ground coriander
1 x tbsp Ground cumin
1 x tbsp Garam masala
2 x tsp Turmeric
2 x tsp Mustard seeds
1 x small red chilli (although I tend to use 1 or 2 green chillies, depends how spicy you like it), chopped
1 x medium onion, finely chopped
2 x garlic cloves, crushed
2 x cans coconut milk
1 x can tinned tomatoes
2 tsp mango chutney
Fresh coriander (add when thawed

Melt butter & oil & add spices. Fry gently til mustard seeds start to pop (5 mins ish). Blitz onion & chilli in processor (or finely chop) & add to spices. Fry for 5 mins til onion soft. Add garlic & cook 2-3 mins.

Add chopped toms & coconut milk & bring to boil & season. Simmer for 20 mins. Cool & freeze.

Add turkey or meat leftovers & I often add mushrooms (or you can add raw chicken pieces if not using leftovers) & 2 tsp mango chutney. Reheat sauce & meat (I sometimes put it in slow cooker so can forget about it for few hours).

Add fresh coriander before serving.


Done grin

dementedma Fri 30-Nov-12 21:52:29

Cook the turkey on Christmas eve.carve, and put slices in fridge under foil. Cook red cabbage and freeze ahead. Parboil spuds for roasties and freeze. On the day itself you only have to bung them frozen roasties in hot goose fat, reheat the red cabbage and bung in a tray of parsnips and pigs in blankets.serve turkey cold but with hot gravy - shop bought and tarted up with a glug of red wine or port.
Get extra tinfoil and cling film, make loads of ice cubes, make sure you have plenty of kitchen roll and loo roll. Freeze extra milk and rolls.

makinglemonade Fri 30-Nov-12 22:59:40

This thread is great! You are all so organised

I'm panicking a bit as I'm hosting this year (only done it once before) but I've literally no time off work between now and Christmas. I'm in retail and working almost every day including Christmas Eve.

I'm so worried that it will be a flop because I'm not prepared.

I had all these lovely ideas of what I'd do and it's December tomorrow and I've not even sorted my christmas shopping.

Starting a list now though

bossboggle Sat 01-Dec-12 14:47:06

A good tip - be prepared and an even better tip - DON'T PANIC!! And as someone said 'You're altogether and they might cut me some slack'. You're all together - if there is a little hiccough on the day don't worry - there are some brilliant tips on here. Done the festive day for years and totally enjoy it!! My house is big enough to accommodate my clan. The message is simple - enjoy the day with your loved ones and have a good day!! I lost two members of my close family a few weeks ago so the simple message is have a great day with your loved ones ands don't stress it is just one day out of 365!!!!

MisForMumNotMaid Sat 01-Dec-12 16:21:13

Boss so sorry for your losses. You're absolutely right. It's about togetherness.

I always find bits I've fogotten to put out after everyone's left or discover the unopened jar of cranberry sauce in the back of the fridge. No one has ever said remember that Christmas when Mis forgot the x,y,z we shan't be going their again!

Kirstoll Sat 01-Dec-12 18:19:55

I forgot the potatoes one year! blush I actually fin Christmas is a lot better a little unorganised. I think it's because my work life is so structured and lists of lists of post-it-notes of lists. Sometimes it's better to go with the flow (although i might not be saying that if my Xmas sounded like Mis's- very jealous of such exemplary organisation!!) what's the worst that can happen wink

Kirstoll Sat 01-Dec-12 18:21:05

Oh NOOoOo I just scrolled a bit more and I would like my smile people to be blush and wink

Chottie Sat 01-Dec-12 21:11:05

If you have a separate dining room, set the table on Christmas Eve ready for Christmas Day. It's lovely to see it already for the Christmas feast first thing in the morning.

MogwaiTheGremlin Sat 01-Dec-12 21:24:28

I am in awe! All of you sound like you have the most fantastic Christmas!

MisForMum and MulledTurkey I've had a change of heart and we're all coming round to yours instead! wink

Thanks for all the tips and thanks for those who, rightly, point out that the most important thing is that we're all together and a few burnt sprouts won't spoil that. It's already been an incredible year with the arrival of ds so I'm really looking forward to celebrating with the family and starting some new traditions of our own....And it's officially December now hooray!

grin grin grin

MulledTurkey Sun 02-Dec-12 09:34:06

The more the merrier Mogwai grin Hope you have a fantastic time!

MulledTurkey Sun 02-Dec-12 09:35:48


MisForMumNotMaid Sun 02-Dec-12 17:13:14

It wouldn't be the first time we've had extras turning up. More the merrier here too. I just pad the meal out with a few extra veg there's always peas from the freezer, add new or mashed potato if there's not time for more roasts and add frozen chipolatas to bulk up the meat ration.

Stage one of the meal shopping started today I brought the turkey drumsticks, sausage meat and cranberrys for making stuffed turkey roll. I can't believe that two big turkey drumsticks were only £1.88 in Asda.

DH is a teacher and he's counting the days down. I don't know who the biggest kid is in this house.

Have a wonderful time.

fuzzpig Sun 02-Dec-12 17:19:46

Excellent thread smile

I think one of the best things we started doing a couple of years ago was buying huge disposable roasting trays grin

EggNogRules Sun 02-Dec-12 21:01:46

I am intending on getting my meat and vegetables from Aldi this year. I buy a crown from Aldi and the same turkey legs from Asda as MissForMum. I get three as a tradition and they go down well.

I will also do a grocery shop on the internet for supplies and extras. Be aware you will probably get a few more substitutions. I always request King Edwards potatoes and never get them - they make the best roasties imho.

To keep room in the fridge, I keep drink and veg in the conservatory in plastic boxes.

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