My sister's solution to Christmas this year is that everyone comes to our house!(9 Posts)
Ok, bit of background to the situation.
My parents have both died, but when they were alive we had large family Christmases.
DH's mother has also died.
Every year we have had to split ourselves between the 2 families, usually having FIL and BIL for Christmas Day and going to my sisters on Boxing Day/day after.
My brother and sister both have teenage/adult children and I have 2 DSs, 3 & 8 months. DH's brother doesn't have children.
However we have recently moved out of London and back near the family so Christmas was going to be more complicated this year with us having to split up Christmas Day (sister's for lunch, have FIL in evening).
So, my sister suggested that everyone comes to our house. It makes sense, we won't be torn, DSs will be able to get to bed at reasonable time in their own house, we have room. There will be 13 adults, 1 toddler plus baby.
The only downside to this is the organisation and cost of the whole thing but sister has volunteered to pitch in/contribute and to make sure everyone else does the same.
So, my question is, what should I insist other people do or bring. My sister is bring the turkey as my oven isn't big enough to cook it in.
Any other tips for stress free mass catering. Does this work in practice or will I still end up having a nervous breakdown by Christmas Even trying to coordinate everything?
It will work. I usually have about 16 and its fine if you delegate.
Don't do too many different veg or you will run out of room. Roast veg is best as it needs no attention.
Get 2-3 people to bring different deserts
Peel veg and set the table the night before.
Get someone to bring a buffet that will be elevenses/lunch/tea/supper. It doesn't have to be elaborate, just shop bought christmassy things and maybe some ham and bread buns.
Why don't you just do a big buffet for lunch? Nice cheeses, cold meats,breads, chutneys...everyone can bring something, everyone can help themselves and it will be un pressured and I am absolutely sure the kids (whether 2 or 15) would prefer things a bit less formal if it means a) the adults aren't spending half the day cooking and b)they don't have to sit at a table trying to keep their manners etc. Crackers and hats etc can still be part of the deal....
There's no law that says you actually have to have a Turkey etc....
anyway, I guess this is not what you're asking but it's what I would do. I know my limits and catering for 15 is beyond me
Work out a menu and give everyone a dish to make and bring (with amounts to avoid ending up with teaspoon of mash and half a plate of pigs in blankets each ). Try to allow for setting off times so that things that need to be more freshly cooked are made by those who will be arriving latest IYSWIM, you take the veg that can be preped the night before and turned on when everyone has arrived.
Accept that it will not be the most refined of meals now and your relaxed attitude will mean that it will be one of the most fun you have done!
Choose one or two things to do to make it special rather than trying to do everything you can possibly think of - so choose from (for eg) fab dinner table, co-ordinated wrapping of gifts for each person, extra special decorations in the dining room, high brow tree... or whatever else it is that leaps to mind. IE pick out the one or two things that will make it most special in your opinion and do those, do not try to be super mum!
Mass christmas can and does work just make sure everyone knows their place! My top tip would be to (jokingly) tell everyone when you invite them what job they will be doing - ie Uncle Bob, you will be on washing up duty, Sis you are going to be in charge of clearing the table for me and so on. If you do it in a jokey fashion it lays the seed without being rude and if you make sure you "joke" a different job to everyone you should find them easier to push in that direction come the day. Doing ti as a family is fun, doing it as cheif cook and bottle washer whilst they all have a nice family christmas is not fun!
Good luck - and have fun
I would ask everybody to put some money in the pot for food, table decorations, wine for the table and bring their own drink for after dinner. Your sister could do this too and the turkey could be bought out of the kitty.
Buy pre prepared vegetables.
Do a cold pudding that can just be served up.
As long as you are organised its not that bad. I had to cook Christmas dinner for about 50 last year in work. The worst part is dishing up, so make sure your guests help out. I bought a pre cooked turkey crown from Costco for about £30. There was plenty of meat. I just carved it up when it was cold, put a bit of foil over it and warmed it in the oven for about 20 minutes so it came out the oven and straight on to the plate.
These are great tips, thank you.
It's hard because my mum was so fabulous at Christmas and we all have Christmas things that are non-negotiable (mine is homemade trifle). It's difficult to try to keep those traditions but not try to recreate something that's past.
As I was the youngest (and the only one without children) I used to be in charge of the washing up, marshalling my brother and sisters kids - so I'm definitely making my nieces and nephews in charge this year!
I think, when things change like this, it is a good thinkg to introduce a new tradition. It is a way to make it yours and deflect a little from that feeling of "it will never be quite how mum did it" IYSWIM.
It could be something small, maybe suggest that each year one of the families have to come up with a game to play after lunch? Each families name goes into a hat and the one pulled has to come up with something fun and interactive to do in the afternoon - they automatically get a buy for next year and the aim each year is to outdo the year before for entertainment value!
Sorry, I meant to say - keep your old tradition too, the aim is to add to things not to change them IYSWIM.
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