Hosting Christmas for the 1st time this year - HELP!!(11 Posts)
We just bought a new house and decided to have our 1st Christmas at home this year. We’ll be having 6 adults and a toddler.
I know it’s quite early to start planning, but what are some tips for a stress free Christmas meal and hosting people for about a week. Thanks ladies xx
Firstly don't stress, you've plenty of time! Also there's plenty of people here who will be along who have done it (I've managed to escape hosting). If it's feeding people can you already ask/plan for a guest to bring dessert to knock one course off or anything? Just make a list of what you consider 'essential' for Christmas dinner. Work through it, what you know how to do already and it'll seem less daunting. There's other threads on here with similar ones so loom through them and get ideas if it helps.
We had this last year for 10 plus a 5 year old and puppy, my tips would be...Accept help from others! If someone wants to peel the vegetables - let them, if someone wants to wash up - let them! We laid the dining table Christmas Eve so one less thing to do Christmas Day. Also, don't over buy! We have a fully stocked alcohol cupboard left from Christmas and sent everyone home with food parcels, I don't know what I was thinking! Also, above all else enjoy!
Loads of time.
I would bug one small thing with the weekly shop if you can.
Just think of it as a Sunday roast. Would you plan in this long in advanced?
You could practise making things like shortbread or stuffing or homemade cranberry.
I always prep my veg Christmas eve and don't bother with a starter. But if you wanted you could make a homemade soup and freeze in advance.
Ok, have you got all the guests for a week?
Do a Traditional Christmas Dinner ( and plan what you'll cook and what you need to buy)
What you'll have for Christmas Eve and Boxing Day.
Then all the other days (before and after) just light/simple things.
Lasagne , pasta bakes
Baked potatoes, fillings
Chilli , rice
Have enough tea, coffee, soft drinks, wine, beer (your guests will bring things too no doubt)
Maybe look at the dates for your supermarket delivery and book it when they're released.
Have you got enough plates, crockery,glasses? Buy or borrow?
Sounds fun - have somethings planned to get people out (to keep tempers calm and give you peace)
Set up another TV - they'll maybe want to watch other things.
Make sure you have a full tank of petrol and taxi numbers.
I don't let anyone else cook but I put the kettle and tea things within easy reach . I had 6 adults and 2 teens the last couple of years.
It's a glorified roast with extra bits - enjoy
I've cooked for these numbers the past few years. My tips are:
Prepare everything you can the day before. Do peel, chop, stuff etc. Then on Xmas morning you just shove it all in the oven/put on to boil.
But a fresh turkey if you can afford it. They cook a lot quicker.
Eat early. Lots of people eat at 3/4/5pm but that means you spend all day cooking. Better to get it over and done with at 1pm plus this is a more normal eating time. That said be vague about eating times so you don't feel the pressure.
Nominate assistants and banish everyone else from the kitchen.
Don't be afraid to buy things. Eg parsnips, stuffing, gravy.
Eat things out your freezer in the autumn so you've space come Xmas.
As for hosting - I've done this too. A slow cooker is your friend. If you don't have one, get one. They're £10-15 and will change your life. Most of my Xmas meals involve the slow cooker. Chilli, pulled pork, gammon, stews, etc. It is SO much easier to chuck it all in first thing and leave all day. I love hosting but I hate cooking so I have three slow cookers.
Be clear with people what's ok in your house. If you want them to help themselves to drinks, tell them. People are happy helping and pitching in they just need direction.
I have to say I don't think I would manage having people stay for a week. If you can cut it down a bit I would. But if people are coming a long way it might not be possible. Make beds up and put out towels etc as early as you can.
I find the most expensive things are all the extras like snacks and drinks. Ask others to bring these.
I've probably got loads of other ideas so will no doubt post again! I love hosting Xmas. Be sure to find time to enjoy it!
We hosted the last 2 years (my family of 5 adults then my in laws of 5 adults - both sets staying over a few nights)
We sent a text around September time to ask everyone what they would really miss from the Xmas dinner then decided from that (eg sil loves cauliflower cheese but nobody else was that bothered - we just bought tesco finest)
We do a decent breakfast (salmon/pate on muffins or bacon sarnies) late lunch then dessert/cheese course in evening.
We overbought snacks!
I went and watched downton upstairs to have a break from Fil on Xmas evening (then I could manage the next few days with a grin!)
If you're doing a Christmas pudding or traditional fruit cake then it needs making ASAP and then you can forget about it until December
I'd start with making sure you've got plenty of the boring, necessary stuff like loo roll, bin liners, dishwasher tabs, washing up liquid, batteries etc. It might be worth a trip to somewhere like Costco to stock up on these.
If you have a garage, consider if it's worth installing an extra freezer. We got one for our dogs (raw fed) but it's brilliant at Christmas as it gives a lot of extra space and I can keep things in there that I've prepped or bought in advance. Some puddings, home made soup, things like that.
Draw up a rough menu plan for the time you have guests. For each day, I'd work on breakfast, a light lunch and a main meal. Don't assume you have to cater every single meal - for that length of time I'd consider a takeaway one night (that could be really fun, if you have a pizza party) or eat out one night. That means you only have four main meals to prep/cook, and I'd also look at lunch out at least once or twice too. The breakfast and lunches can be light and straightforward and don't need to involve too much effort from you. So breakfast Day 1 - croissants. Day 2 - home made granola Day 3 - porridge (can be made in slow cooker overnight) Day 4 English muffins and scrambled eggs Day 5 Pain au chocolat or Danish etc.. Serve with plenty of fruit juice, tea, coffee, fresh fruit. I'd have available a couple of cereals. Most of these can be either prepped ahead or frozen and defrosted the night before. Again, Costco (or similar!) is your friend.
I'd also consider activities over the week - maybe think about booking a panto trip, any Christmas theatre/ballet/concerts, skating, Santa train rides, guided walks etc - this will get you all out of the house. Fresh air and a change of scene very welcome.
Agree with pp about reviewing your crockery, cutlery, glasses, towels and bedding. Work out where everyone is sleeping, and what they are sleeping on. Have you got enough pillows/sheets etc? Enough chairs?
Ikea is brilliant for cheap basic china, glasses etc and a couple of extra spare folding chairs.
Plan and book in a deep clean for the house before the guests arrive (may be worth getting this booked via an agency) and windows/oven cleaned. Also consider the space issue of decorations, cards etc when teh house is full. May be worth trying to keep these out of the way/minimal to allow plenty of space/circulation room.
Once you've worked out your menu, tell people what you'd like them to bring so you can cross that off your list. e.g. Uncle Bert can bring savoury crackers and a really good Cheddar, cousin Mabel is bringing Christmas cake and her famous home made sausage rolls etc.
Alcohol can be an expensive part of the hosting so find out if you don't already know the preferences of your guests, so that you only have in drinks people like and will consume. Nothing worse than being left with a random selection of dodgy sherry and prosecco if you don't like it. Broad rule of thumb is half a bottle of wine per adult for evening meals, so a meal for six would probably involve three bottles but you should know your guests. It's often easier to buy by the case if you are hosting. Considerate guests will ask what you would like them to bring - don't be afraid to have lists or ask for specifics.
Definitely menu plan. Don't forget that you can just do simple quick and easy stuff - spaghetti bolognese or chilli and jackets. A homemade soup is brilliant for lunch and you can make it ahead and freeze. Also make a cottage pie and bung it in the freezer.
The second that Sainsburys/Tesco release their delivery slots bung 12 bottles of wine in your trolley and check out for delivery on 23rd that way you've got time to whip into town if they havent got something. You can keep amending your order up until the last minute.
Have you got a cupboard or shelves in the garage/shed/under the stairs where you can create a pantry? If so I'd start stocking it up now - part baked rolls, tins, jam, pickles etc. Basically all the bits and bobs that take up room in the kitchen.
I also start adding to my weekly shop about now for all the household things such as bin liners, foil, takeaway tubs for leftovers, disposable foil trays, zip lock bags, loo rolls kitchen rolls etc.
Are you near an ikea? Declutter ( although you're probably okay having just moved!) Underbed storage bags are really handy. They also sell brilliant tea towels. I seem to get through every tea towel in the house on Christmas day. No idea how as it all goes in the dishwasher!
I'd also suggest to the guests that they bring wellies - bundle everyone out of the house for a walk on Christmas Eve and again on Boxing Day. Plan for an hour long easy walk somewhere about half an hour away. That way if you need a quiet couple of hours to collapse on the sofa with a cuppa you can have the house to yourself.
Are your guests the "pitch in and help" kind or the "sit down and be waited on" kind? My parents need to be given jobs to do, my dad, for example, would happily tidy up the garage on boxing day if I asked him to! My BIL, on the other hand, just wants to read the paper, I give him a cuppa every hour and he's happy (he's actually easier than my mother - I find myself thinking up things for her to do)
Make sure your DH is aware of the battle plan. Get him involved with the planning.
Deep clean a room a week.
Plan a games night (not Monopoly...I shall never forget the Christmas of 2010. I didn't think my Dsis and DF would ever speak again )
I know I've written an essay but just remember it is just a glorified Sunday roast. It doesn't have to be a full on Martha Stewart perfect Christmas. Just have a lovely time with your nearest and dearest.
I'm hosting Christmas for possibly 16 this year! I'm going with a marks and Spencer's pre-prepared Christmas dinner. Expensive, but so worth it! And I don't feel guilty as I'm sure Christmas is more about spending time together instead of the number of hours I've spent in the kitchen
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