Help - Hosting my first Christmas(17 Posts)
Just as the title says really. We are hosting our first ever Christmas after moving into our new house last week. Quite skint, house a wreck but after a difficult year with bereavement & the family far flung it's been decided to have a proper Christmas at mine. I've been up since five thinking of what I need to start organising (other then beds...sofa etc)
Have any of you got a Christmas spread sheet or time line, or even book you use?
I've hosted Christmas for a varying number of people from 10-23 and I use Delia Smith's Christmas book quite a lot for timings although a lot of our recipes are family traditional ones e.g. Granny's bread sauce , Mils red cabbage etc ...my top tips are:
If yoI've got lots of people it is cheaper to cook stuff yourself
Write out a ' menu' of everything you're going to eat during the day and then do a shopping list and I'll start getting stuff over a few weeks as it helps with budgeting
Prepare as much food yourself ahead of time so I'll freeze my own breadcrumbs and chopped parsley( stuffing) , make the bacon and sausage rolls ( twist chipolatas into halves and wrap in half slice streaky bacon ) make cranberry sauce.
I use a turkey crown now easier and quicker to cook and carve and I put my stuffing under the skin and fix with small skewers ( stuff on Xmas eve cook Xmas day)
Do all the other prep on Xmas eve .. family all get stuck in
I write a cooking plan with timings and activities for Xmas day ..and stick it on the wall .... keeps me on track even after wine! If guests offer to help I just point them to the list and they pick th next job
Remember it's Xmas so enjoy yourself and don't spend all your time in the kitchen . I love it cos after the dinner is served I really feel I'm " off the hook" and then everyone else pretty much takes over . It's great to see distant family makes a change from weddings and funerals ! HAVE FUN !
Agree with Friday, the way to plan what needs to be done starts with what you want to have happen. Make a list, starting with the 'end' and work backwards to list out what is needed for each part. Oh, and delegate the responsibility for each part to someone, so that you are free to 'supervise' and coordinate.
Keep your lists from your to year, keep the bits that worked well, adjust anything that could be even better if ...
My biggest problem is always serving. Either getting things on the table for people to serve themselves or if I do it, keeping it warm. Fitting round the table is one thing but then fitting serving dishes on the table is another.
Might try serving everyone a small dinner then putting the remainder in the middle of the table???
My top tip is to have "emergency meals" like bolognaise or shepherds pie in the freezer for the run up to Christmas. It helps not having to think what's for tea as well as everything else!
I agree with TRYING I find the logistics of serving is the hardest bit but I've started putting food in smaller serving dishes and use multiples i.e. 3x bacon rolls 2x sprouts as they're easier and quicker to pass round the table ... helps if the gravys hot ! I also remove the junk off the sideboard and move dishes on/ off that ...... actually thinking about it the hardest bit of Xmas is the moving of the years junk accumulation !!!
We have some food warmers, basically trays which are heated with tealights. Can't post a link but if you look on Amazon for for warmers there's a load at a wide price range, they're surprisingly efficient
For all the meals around the edges of the big one, I recommend cooking a ham and making soup.
Blend frozen peas with the ham stock for a green pea soup which takes minutes.
Tomato soup for those that don’t like pea soup/vegetarians- tinned toms, an onion or two, basil, (garlic and chilli optional) frozen peppers cooked for quite a while then blended. Stir in milk and warm through.
Both are great with crusty bread and grated cheese. Don't do toast- takes to long for large numbers.
I'd decide what meals you want to cook, exactly what you'll be serving, and make a list.
Cook as much as you can in advance and freeze.
Don't forget to check you've got enough plates, cutlery, glasses, etc.
Check you've room round the table and enough chairs.
And most importantly - get everyone involved who you can. Ask people to bring certain things if you can and make sure you give your dh/p if you've got one, specific jobs.
For serving, big dishes with everything on them at each end of the table (roasts, sausages, stuffing, sprouts).
I find serving a starter really helps with the t8ming. We have something from the fridge like smoked salmon that just needs arranging. We eat that and do crackers and fizz while the meat rests and the roast potatoes and stuffing finish.
If you buy this months good food magazine there are a few different meal ideas (simple, medium difficultly, all out!) and there's also a planner thing you can fill in with times about when to cook things.
Make lists. Lots of lists.
Buy as much as you can now. So stuff like cranberry sauce, cheese biscuits, pickles. And keep them in a cupboard away from other stuff.
If you are doing a turkey go for a crown. Easier to cook and carve. I always get boneless. And when I do a big meal with 2 types of meat I do a gammon with the turkey and cook the gammon the night before.
Prep as much as possible before the day. So I peel all my veg, make my gravy (jamie oliver does an easy one using chicken wings) and stuffing if I am making it myself. And make my piggies in blankets ready to cook.
Remember that no one will particularly care if you buy ready made stuff. Big time savers are M and S Christmas gravy, ready made stuffing and piggies in blankets. I found no difference quality wise between Aldi, Tesco and M and S last year!
And party/buffet food was the same. In fact Aldi was probably the winner for most stuff and much, much cheaper.
If you have guests staying overnight Christmas eve then do something simple Christmas eve tea. And Christmas day morning the last thing you want is people milling around in the kitchen. So something simple for breakfast like croissants and fruit and yoghurt with a few cereal options. Or a big batch of bacon butties. Don't do a cooked breakfast!
And get everyone helping. But don't be afraid to kick everyone out of the kitchen either. My family know that the only thing I want someone to do is mash the spuds and keep on top of the washing hope. People opening my oven or being stirry fuckers is banned.
And once the main is eaten that's it I have done. Everyone else washes the pots, tidies up and sorts out whatever pudding they want. I collapse and whimper into my wine!
Aldi's frozen goose fat roast potatoes and parsnips are great. They need longer in the oven if you are making a lot because they are frozen so bring down the oven temperature.
I’d get someone else to bring things that can be done elsewhere- puddings, sauces, gravy etc.
I clear the decks Christmas Eve. Toaster, odds and sods, pans I don’t use, everything that I can get out of the kitchen goes in a big box to the garage. Microwave goes in the utility.
put dishwasher on after breakfast whether it's full or not. Fill sink with hot soapy water to wash and soak as you cook.
This way you won't have dishwasher noise drowning the dinner conversation and an empty dishwasher to put the dinner plates in after the meal.
Serve soups and stews as meals before the big one. They can sit warming in one pot on the hob if someone isn't ready to eat. Freeze loaves of brown bread and pop in microwave. Tastes like it's
come out of the oven.
Selection of cereal for breakfasts.
After big day pad out leftover meats with cheese, chutney etc.
Freeze soups and stews in individual portions and defrost as many as you need. Defrost is much quicker like this than in a big lump. Soups and stews taste better than fresh as flavours develop but go gently on seasoning as they will be stronger.
Start clearing your freezer now (by eating from it I mean ) to make space.
Ask relatives to bring practical things like extra oven dishes, serving plates, cutlery, glasses, teatowels, bed linen, bath towels.... you're not running a hotel and people will be happy to help.
Ah thank you for the replies! I'm taking notes
In terms of the food shopping, I book an online order for the 23rd. That way I still have Christmas Eve to sort anything missing or that I've forgot. Just order in enough for 24th-27th. Otherwise may not be room in your fridge/freezer. Christmas is always something in the slow cooker that I can get started in the morning & forget about. If you need a lot of beer etc, it is often cold enough to store it outside the back door rather than taking up fridge space.
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