12 at ours for Christmas and I will be 8 months pregnant - totally doable, right?!(31 Posts)
We are moving house this week, to our first proper grown up house. All excited when we exchanged back in May, we invited both our families for Christmas (booked early as lots need to buy flights to come from overseas). We then found out I'm pregnant and due early Feb. There will be 12 guests, me, DH & 2 dogs.
Oh, and 22 for lunch on Boxing Day. My plan is to take the week before Christmas off, cook as much as I can and freeze it.
Can someone please tell me I'm not crazy and that it will be fine?!
You're not crazy and it will probably be fine...
But, have a plan b (m&s/cook?), a plan c (hotel?) and plan d (early arrival baby). And do not feel the need to go overboard with The Best Catering Ever...
You'll be fine. If you're off the week before just nap each day do you're not knackered going into it. Are family helpful? Would they help tidy up etc?
22 on Boxing Day could be tricky! I'd ask people to bring things? And then just have things like quiches, salads and maybe cook some chickens or something?
Buy disposable roasting trays so you can prep veg, freeze it in the tray and then just do freezer to oven.
Turkey can be cooked on low overnight, or cooked the day before and reheated.
Is it just you cooking?
My carer and I have cooked roast dinners quite a lot, we have it down to a fine art - I put meat in the slow cooker and if I'm up to it prep veg that is not potatoes.
He does the potatoes and the Yorkshire puddings. To other people it looks effortless.
Maybe you should have a few Sunday roasts so that by the day it is just another roast.
For that many people I would probably buy another slow cooker and do a choice of meats, beef in one, pork in the other. Put the meat in the slow cooker on Xmas eve with a timer to come on at 5am or 6am then you only need to do the trimmings.
I'm exactly the same... Will be having 11 or 12 for lunch. I've got 2 young DS and I'll be 7 months pregnant.
I do it every year though so I'm quite organised. And I only do the main event, my mum and MIL each bring either starter or pudding. I buy a cheese board for the evening, people help themselves to left overs if they want them (usually everyone is stuffed).
Prep veg day before. Use Click and collect. I get an email to tell when slots are available and I book straight away so I get a good slot!
You'll be fine
I'll have a 2-4 week old newborn and I'm cooking for 8, I'll prep the red cabbage and freeze it, all disposable roasting trays, puddings will be shop bought and seafood starter is pretty easy. But I'm still ultra nervous! Good luck OP
Also I do my second meat which is usually ham (and third if I'm doing beef too) in the slower cooker over night on Xmas eve then just reheat
Get all your sauces in jars. Don't try to home bake or make anything more than the actual meat and vegetables. Puddings...everything....bought.
You will be fine! I had that many for Easter when I was about that pregnant and everyone helped me out and it was really lovely actually.
For the Sunday I prepped everything as early as I could, and even set the table and laid out everything I would need for cooking the night before to make it the least stressful day! After dinner I sat on the sofa with everyone playing games and DH and a couple of his friends stuck everything in the dishwasher while chatting in the kitchen.
I did buffet style for Easter Monday, and pushed the table back against the wall so everyone just milled around. Included meat leftovers from Sunday and lots of pre made m&s party style food. Everyone brought stuff too.
(a) New House
(b) Prospective arrival
(c) Agreeing to have your first Christmas in your own home!!
Yes it will all be fine.
Now firstly - do you have additional storage in your new house? Particularly of the freezer kind?
(Well, actually, firstly consider Jenijena's plans!!).
But do book some internet shopping slots early, and use those to do the non-perishables and heavy stuff. Remember things like lots of loo roll and bin bags. In fact, getting an extra item each week from now on will help considerably if you can (just designate a cupboard, if you have space, or a moving box in a corner once emptied out again, as your "Christmas collection" and put those extras into it so they are not used in the meantime). Stuff like crisps, packets of biscuits, extra tea and coffee, non-alcoholic drinks, wine, beer, cleaning items, gravy mix, cranberry sauce, part-baked bread rolls, nice paper napkins - whatever you think you will need for your way of celebrating.
OK, I probably should have started with "make a list".
Are people staying in your house? Do you have enough beds or where will they sleep? Do you need bedding/towels? How many nights? (Can any bring bedding/towels with them rather than you having to change beds a lot and having loads of laundry?)
How many meals will you have to serve them? Are there any major dietary things to consider (coeliac, vegetarians, lactose intolerant, or just anyone who is plain ole picky)? Are there any things that are particularly important for Christmas to certain people (it MUST be turkey, or we ALWAYS have goose, .....etc)? Even if there are, are there any that you actually are happy to include in your house, or are there things that you want to try yourself?
What kind of Christmas dinner do you want?
What kind of buffet do you fancy?
What dishes will you need to serve things on and for people to eat off - do you have enough? (Would paper or plastic plates, to be thrown out afterwards, be useful for the buffet in particular rather than loads of washing up?)
Make a list of everything you need for every meal and for visitors in general. Remember all the accompaniments like sauces or jams or seasonings you might need.
Then, going back to an earlier point - start to tick things off as you do your regular weekly shopping from now on, especially when you see something on offer that is on your list.
Be freezer savvy.
Make mince pies or cookie dough and freeze, ready to cook or just heat through over Christmas as needed.
Put away a bag of breadcrumbs when you have leftover crusts - or even make it into stuffing now and freeze. Always useful for loads (I use it for Christmas turkey, but also mushrooms, tomatoes (with added bacon and cheese), regular chicken roasts, on sliced courgettes which are then baked, etc).
Buy things like quiches or sausage rolls if you see a deal and freeze those for the buffet.
Back to lists - is there anything that is a family special that people can bring? Or just ask them to bring something on the day like - some wine, some cheese, a desert, a large bowl of mashed potato etc.
And do a separate list where you have things that need to be done (beds made up, bathroom cleaned, bins emptied, tree decorated...etc) and see if there are any jobs that can be delegated to visitors who want to help, or DH.
A week off in advance to cook is a good idea, but I would also try to make the best use of my energies between now and then as well. So if you are making, say sausage rolls for tea one evening (I never make sausage rolls but some people love pastry making!), make a double batch and freeze the other half. The same with a lasagna that you could use for either the buffet or a meal with a smaller group over the holidays. Pasta sauces, curries, chicken and mushroom pie, smoked fish and broccoli pie, that sort of thing freezes well and can be very useful to bring out for an easy lunch/dinner when it's busy. A nice curry sauce, either frozen or in the fridge, could be a great way to use up leftover turkey for the buffet. A large batch of soup, either for starters on 25th or buffet on 26th, could also usefully be frozen ahead of time.
And then there are the veggies and potatoes for the meal itself - I know lots who freeze those too. I tend to just prep them the night before and steep them in cold water. DH should be able to help with that as well.
If you can, either book an internet shopping slot for the last few days, or go for an off-peak time. I found 10-11pm at night often reasonable in Christmas week, or 6-7am (there are a few supermarkets locally that do 24hrs at that time of year). If there is a good local butcher, that may be a great way to avoid the supermarket for the turkey or whatever, especially if you can get an internet slot for everything else.
Overall - enjoy!! You may want that week before Christmas to just relax as well.
Oh, and it's really just a glorified roast.
Throw a joint in the oven in plenty of time to cook. Add as many potatoes to roast as will fit. (Make some mashed potatoes on the top as well).
Do as many veggies in pots as you can rather than needing oven, or just oven for a while as the meat rests (so cook cauliflower first, then add a cheese sauce from the freezer and put it in to brown once turkey or whatever comes out).
Make gravy the day before and reheat. Or buy premade.
Make sure there is a designated wash up team afterwards that does NOT include you!!
Make sure there's enough roast potatoes OP. Not just what fits around the meat. That will never do all those people. Do some beforehand if your oven's not big enough for a second tray full...warm them up...better than not enough.
Thanks so much, everyone for your fab advice and Biddy - I think I love you!
I come from a huge family and regularly cook celebration meals for 20+ so I don't know why I am so anxious, it just all seems like a lot is changing and so I don't feel that sure of how it will go!
Plan b is indeed m&s and I will warm it all up. Plan c is nice gastropub and plan d is probably to cancel it all!
The 12 guests for Christmas include a vegan, 2 vegetarians, 1 pescatarian, and 1 coeliac.
I am thinking of doing smoked salmon for the starter, with a Christmas spiced bruschetta for the veggie/vegans, then roasted maple and mustard glazed gammon with potato dauphinois and all the trimmings for the meat eaters, then a butternut squash and chestnut Wellington for the veggies/vegan. Pudding-wise, baked apples stuffed with mincemeat with custard/coconut milk ice cream for the vegans.
for Boxing Day, I am contemplating a slightly mad idea - thought I might make some vast trays of mash and a huge pan of gravy, then do a winter bbq of sausages?!
I plan to get a small chest freezer and the house can sleep 6 guests and the rest will have to get hotel rooms.
Towels and linen are fine, but we need more crockery, cutlery, chairs and a second table which I am thinking I might hire?
Sausages and mash sounds great - nice wintery food, easy to adapt for the veggies etc too
I had a similar time a few Christmasses ago. Was about as pregnant as you will be so I would say get a willing helper for lifting heavy things, I couldn't actually bend down enough to get a tray of fish fingers out of the oven!
We had easy starters (cold, just assemble on the plate) -I think we had tomato mozzarella and basil salad.
Pudding I delegated to a couple of folks - willing DM and MIL and we just got custard, cream, ice cream to go with.
I would recommend prepping as much as you can before the day.
Will your visitors be helpful ones? If so think of tasks you can give them beforehand that will keep them from interfering or getting in the way and will actually help!
Is there an Ikea anywhere near you for linens, folding table, stacking chairs, crockery etc? Although hiring is good too if there's somewhere local that can sort you out.
If you wanted to do mash ahead of time and freeze, make it up using powdered milk rather than liquid milk - then it is milky but not slushy on thawing. I love the idea of a winter BBQ though!!!
I was 39+1 at Christmas last year. It was only 6 of us though. M&S was great - not as good as mine, obviously but do-able.
Especially good to have the veg and sides with no prep. (I really wasn't doing much standing by then, had SPD and was enormous).
I'm a keen cook normally, but just swallowed my pride and went all pre-prepped!
I was pretty grumpy with the house-guests too by that point, but tried to suppress the impending-labour-rage and disguise it by getting everyone else drunk! Hopefully you won't be quite at that point...
Right so I'm super amazed as I just found a scribbled shopping list from that year!
I am not normally this organised. I'm having to plan ahead a bit this year so this is handy.
I got a lot of fruit for snacks but also made a fruit salad for a dessert for Boxing Day (vegan etc friendly). Meat I ordered from the butcher - cooked a chicken (spatchcocked so easier to carve up) and had that for buffet. Could do the same with ham, beef depending on preference.
Cheese - we had the world's most enormous supply of cheese, we are addicts though. On my list it says Don't forget the crackers!
Tons of snacks, bread, loo roll, hand soap and yes to whoever mentioned disposable roasting tins. I also got party bowls for snacks so I could just recycle them ( we can recycle plastic here).
We also bought "posh squash" e.g. Bottle Green cordials and made them with sparkling water for drivers/alcohol free drinking.
HTH, you have inspired me to start getting organised
I do love to hear tales of organisation.
The way I would set about this. Would be to write a list of everything that needs to be done, starting with the end result, so all rubbish in bin bags put out for collection. Work back from that as much as you can. This may not be an approach you are used to, so, if you get stuck, start again from the other end, at very high level, welcoming drinks, breakfast, christmas dinner, present opening, supper, nightcaps. Etc. Then expand each of these until you have everything, and start to see things that depend on other things so you have the sequence in which to do things. And the timeline, and pinch points, like what space you have in the freezer, and the oven and how to resolve. One year we had a wheelbarrow outside filled with ice to keep drinks cool.
You might find whole 'workstreams' that could be given t someone else, PP mentioned puddings by someone else. Also good to have someone to arrange drinks for visitors, while you and DH greet people. I hate making tea so always make sure that there is someone else who knows where the tea making things are, so they can show the newcomers.
I read an article by, I think, the Sainted Delia, who wrote that noone was ever brave enough to cook for her for family occasions. Rather than get stuck doing 'everything' she wrote a plan and directed everyone so that everyone could do their bit. Brilliant, an Inspiration to me for ever.
* Pudding-wise, baked apples stuffed with mincemeat with custard/coconut milk ice cream for the vegans. *
I seem to remember Bird's custard is vegan, you can certainly get vegi mincemeat.
Have you got enough room in your oven?
Good luck Fenella!
My tips would be to use heated trays. I have a normal size cooker ( not a range cooker), and have cooked Xmas lunch for 15 - 20 over the years.
The heated trays (in the kitchen) mean that you have a lot more flexibility in the timings of everything.
Also on Boxing Day, I cook a gammon in a slow cooker, casseroles ( veg and meat), and serve with rice from a rice cooker and a side salad.
And absolutely no clearing up by the cook!
(On a slight tangent, birds custard is vegan, but it is absolutely vile when made with oat or soy milk. I'd go with either the ready made alpro custard or the coconut icecream for the vegans)
Sorry I think your crackers
But then I'm 8 months pregnant now and can't imagine anything worse!
We're having 10 and I will be 37 weeks. I'm saying it will be fine!
I am quite genuinely in total awe of you
I'm 35w tomorrow and can barely summon the energy to make breakfast for myself most mornings.
No advice as I struggled to cook for 4 last year without being up the duff, but congratulations
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