EVERYONE is coming for Christmas. Help!(26 Posts)
Well, not everyone
For various reasons, we have
1. DSis, her DP and 5yo DS 23-24 Dec.
2. DF and his DP 23-27 Dec.
3. MIL, BIL and his DP for Christmas Day and probably various other days. They'll be staying at MIL's nearby.
4. DH's cousin, his DW and their 2DCs age 4 and 5 27-30 Dec. They're mainly using us as a base to visit family.
I know it will be fine and fun but the whole idea is rather overwhelming, so I need to plan it to ensure it's also fun for DH, 3 yo DS and me.
Any tips for managing with so many in the house and all the chopping and changing please? So far I have: making it clear that everyone does their share of washing up, tidying etc whilst DH and I cook; not too many veg./ side dishes for Christmas lunch; bedding in the washer/dryer on 27th so we have enough for cousins.
Start clearing your freezer out now. Meal plan as much as you can including lunches, snacky stuff. Nearer the time stock up on staples/dried goods, and have the conversations about what everyone's going to bring, surely they won't come empty handed. Desserts? Wine? Cheese? I wouldn't hold back on veg dishes because it adds to the fun and luxury of Christmas dinner, and means there's more meat left over for sandwiches etc. Gratin dishes, sauces, even par boiled roasties can be done ahead and frozen. Cut yourself some slack and check out ready made bits. Maybe suggest some meals out or a posh takeaway during the holiday.
Frozen Xmas dinner from COOK! We used them when i ended up hosting Xmas while heavily and it was so good and such good value. Promise I don't work for them
Main thing is, as you say, to share out the workload so that you don't spend Christmas running around after everyone and then realise you haven't spent much time with DH or DS. So...
- Tell your guests (well, ask politely, but with specifics ) what to bring: prepared dishes for those heading over from their own homes who can cook; booze and soft drinks or non-perishable food from others.
- Schedule some stuff that you, DH and DS would like to do and leave anyone who doesn't want to at home. Christmas Eve crib service, muddy walks, or whatever.
- Get DH to delegate jobs and explain stuff to bring to his side of the family.
Also, meal plans and lists will be your friend.
OP one other thing, schedule in a spuds & veg peeling session on Christmas Eve and make sure everyone around then helps. Buy 3 or 4 peelers NOW so you don't forget.
I literally timetable every day in my notebook, particularly as my sister's kids get bored easily and never bring enough things to do with them. So I know when we'll have Mary Poppins on in the living room and when jenga will be on the kitchen table etc!
Also, I plan what other people can do to help. They're always asking what they can do, but usually I spend so long sorting out what they can do; I may as well have done it myself! So this year I'm going to plan in advance what people can do and have everything ready for them. Eg. put together a simple pudding; lay the table; light the candles; feed the cats etc. It's worth having a list of things in mind (or in my case in my notebook or I'll forget) so, when you're at the height of being flustered, trying to get everything on the table at once and someone says 'Can I do anything to help?' Rather than try and think of something, you can straight away say, 'Yes, please can you pour me a glass of wine and put the bin out.'
Also, the people who come and don't offer to help, I'm determined to be a bit more assertive and just ask them this year. Wish me luck!
Get your guests to bring own bedding and towels so no need to wash bedding on 27th?
Kindly ask those who will be staying nights to bring their own bedding if possible, so that you won't have to do so much laundry. It may only need to be top and bottom sheet and pillowcases, they strip them off before they go and others can put their own on when they arrive.
Yes to everyone helping with jobs. Also with bringing food/drinks.
I think you're making way more of this than what it actually is - 4 extra adults and a child for a few days before Christmas. 5 extra adults on the day itself. And a few relatives after Christmas who'll more than likely be out more than they'll be at home.
I wouldn't even be giving it any extra thought. It really is very easily doable
unless there are extenuating circumstances you haven't mentioned.
We are usually between 9 and 12 for Christmas. Meal planning spreadsheet includes who is doing which prep, who is washing up, and who has a 'meal off'. We rotate so whichever couple is doing lunch doesn't do dinner and so on. It's also helpful to spread the cost by planning who buys what (one year we had 10kg of potatoes but only 6 carrots!)
Chipped tempting but we moved house already this year!
ohdearme that's a touch patronising. We've only ever had us and MIL before, so it is a big deal for me.
Thanks for your helpful suggestions. I like the idea of having specific jobs up my sleeve and a friend who now has a king size bed has offered to lend double bedding, so will take her up on that.
ohdearme that's a touch patronising. We've only ever had us and MIL before, so it is a big deal for me
I didn't intend to be patronising. Just matter of fact. You really are just going to be dealing with a few extra people over a couple of days. Don't give it another thought. It's very doable.
Specific jobs really helps - if people are a bit shy, or just not sure what to do given its not their own home, then giving very clear direction is good and may even help them feel good & included. But make sure you've given yourself a pep talk about 'letting go' - don't sabotage by asking sometime to load the dishwasher then redoing it if they don't do it 'your' way!
The kids might be a bit young - but you could try putting them in charge of something? I'll do something like put my 9yo in charge of keeping bins emptied and cups cleared from living room, 7 yo is in charge of keeping dishwasher emptied - then remember to really notice and praise every time this is kept right.
Think about building in some spots of 'alone' time for yourself - even if it means getting up 15min earlier for a cup of tea in a silent kitchen, or making an excuse to pop to shop by yourself - doing this really helps me when I've got a house full.
For your 3yo - maybe engineer a 'quiet time dvd' slot most days after lunch? This would give him a bit of space and might let him catch a short nap if he needs it.
Buy and wrap yourself a couple of nice presents from santa under tree - and then enjoy opening them. This will be nice for you and provides a bit of emotional insurance in case of disappointing gifts coming your way :-)
Understood ohdearme I'm an introvert and this Christmas has snowballed from original plans.
Alone time- check. DS is an extrovert like DH. He'll love it.
Bony lots of people would be phased by this number of people just for Christmas lunch, let alone staying over ,despite Ohdearme taking it in her stride. I agree with others that a sort of rota is a good idea and asking people to bring some food/drink. I would also factor in a long walk to clear your head and let the children have a run about. And don't panic if something goes wrong. With family and close friends you can just laugh about it!
Understood ohdearme smile I'm an introvert and this Christmas has snowballed from original plans
You'll be fine. It will all be fine. And I'd put money on you saying when it's all over - I don't know why I was worried.
All the mention of peeling the veg - you cook for 3 adults on Christmas day anyway so to put your mind at rest a bit how about you get enough spuds out for 3 people then add more for the extra 4 visitors so you get an idea of how little extra there's going to need peeled. It will be the same for the carrots etc. Once you've done that you'll literally be able to see the reality of it all.
One thing though - make sure your saucepans can take the amount of veg you'll need to make. And if they can't then just borrow from the people who are coming to you.
Or you can maybe just buy a few new ones because you do know that this isn't going to be the last time you do this. 😉
YY to people bringing their own bedding and towels.
Snacks etc - keep an eye out now and buy when things are on special, then store them away until needed.
Very specific instructions to everyone - 2kg potatoes, 4 bottles of red, xmas pudding for 10, etc.
Also, the Cook xmas dinner is very, very good.
If you're an introvert have a think about whether you want people helping with the veg peeling etc or you want to kick them all out for a long walk and do it in peace on your own.
I don't mind catering for loads (big family so used to it) but my red line is that I must be left on my own to listen the Carols from Kings on Christmas Eve and do some food prep or wrapping.
Also if you need it pick up some basic cutlery sets in Home Bargains, use disposable trays in the oven, paper napkins and table cloths etc so clearing up is easier.
Get people to bring stuff. The cost really mounts when you have 10+ extra people over a week even on basics like milk or bread or cereal etc. So you when you add Xmas luxury goods it goes surprisingly quick
I would get each adult to bring two bottles of something. Could be white or red wine, mulled wine, elderflower cordial or similar, box of beers, or whatever. Make a list so everyone doesn't bring the same thing. But drinks alone mount up.
Plus ask each adults bring a food item. One a Xmas pudding for 6 people, one a box of shortbread, one some cheese etc.
Last Christmas, due to the timing of ds's birthday, us not easily being able to get to family so them coming to us and our first year in a bigger house, we hosted 7 times over the Christmas/New year fortnight, with the quietest being 6 adults and 2 kids (the busiest being 14 adults and 3 dc). It was very busy! Top tips:
-Make lists and plan ahead. Plan time to shop if you need to and organise delivery slots early as they book up fast.
-Start with an empty freezer and if your can a spare cupboard to keep things stocked up. Start buying ASAP on things that don't go off and are on a deal.
- Try to keep things simple. For ds's birthday (3 days before Christmas) I made loads of meatballs and a big tomato sauce in November and froze them. On the day we had pasta with tomato and meatballs, pasta with broccoli and cheese sauce and garlic bread- all just in big serving dishes for everyone to help themselves. Leftovers were great for quick meals on other days. We had a big take away with my family for tea.
- Ask for help. I didn't do this last year and spent a lot of time cooking and cleaning.
-I posted a thread last year about this and everyone said " people will bring stuff! Don't worry about it!". They mostly didn't. Or at least they did but a lot of it wasn't that useful. You need to be specific. If you just say 'bring a bottle' you could end up with 4 bottles of
bloody raffle prize mulled wine when everyone drinks white or 3 boxes of crackers and you paying a small fortune for cheese! My MIL was the most helpful because she just asked me exactly what I would like her to bring (meat and potato pie). This year I will be making list for other people- I felt awful even contemplating this last year but it cost us hundreds of pounds, everyone had a really nice time so I don't think they would actually mind contributing.
I wouldn't do it OP. With the best will in the world that's a lot of entertaining, shopping, planning, cooking.
I love christmas and I don't mind entertaining in a small way but to have such a full on guest list would seriously impact on my enjoyment of christmas.
Thanks. I'm adding 'ask people to bring specific things'.
user much as I might wish otherwise at times, it's happening
never to be repeated. As I said, it snowballed unavoidably.
Shuddering for you cos I'm an introvert too and while I love entertaining and hospitality I couldn't cope with days upon days of relatives! They just have to ....go.....home.
My strategies would be:
Meal plans: I'd try and serve food that won't spoil if people don't all come promptly to the table. Stuff like soup and brown bread for lunch so people can help themselves without it taking over your kitchen. Stews, curries could sit in a big pot, or slow cooker. And they can be made ahead and frozen so all you have to do is defrost and heat up. Those kind of dishes actually taste better when the flavours have time to merge. And it doesn't have to be samey - a Normandy pork casserole one day, a hearty boeuf bourguinon, chicken chasseur, a simple spaghetti bolognese. Keep breakfast simple with cereals, toast and juice.
Personally I'd aim to keep people out of my fridge but this is largely because I'm a control freak and I don't cope well with discovering that someone has eaten the Parma ham that was supposed to be the starter for Christmas Day and the cream has gone off because someone forgot to put it back in the fridge after the late night hot chocolate.
Ask the children's parents for food suggestions and be as specific as possible. Kids can be funny about brands and it makes life easier all round to cater to their whims in the short term.
while I think it makes lots of sense to ask people to do specific jobs and bring specific items my relatives have form for half doing the job and forgetting what they promised to bring. If you're cool and can roll with that then there's no problem but it would drive me demented. So I'd rather take responsibility for the lot myself.
And being an introvert I'm perfectly happy to do all the prep and cooking if everyone else would go for a walk as a previous poster mentioned. catering for a crowd is just a bit of extra work but organising jobs for people and delegating and waiting while someone chops the onions oh so slowly would be exhausting!
Go through your serving dishes, pots and pans and think about what you'll use each one for, with a packet of post its to label them if necessary. I have a habit of mentally assigning the same pan to two different dishes if I'm not careful.
You might need to switch on the dishwasher after each meal even if it's not completely full in order to make sure you don't run short for the next meal.
And schedule in time for yourself, even if it's just to lock yourself in the bathroom for a few minutes and check in with us on mumsnet
I have a strip your bed policy for guests. I also make sure that I have at least 3 full sets clean and ironed which I quickly slip then it's just a quick vacuum and clean the bathroom and I'm ready. Good housekeeping magazine have some brilliant menu ideas for over Christmas. They keep the menus simple and much of it is prepare ahead it's minimal effort and maximum effect. Have nice mincemeat in and blocks of ready made pastry and you can whip up mince pies fresh as needed. I always have those croutades things in from ikea too as you can whip up simple canapés in minutes.
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