A Perfect Christmas Doesn’t HaveTo Be Perfect

I am a big fan of Christmas! It is easily my favourite time of the year, and I must do a good job of organising and cooking and hosting because this is the fourth time in the last five years I have been asked to host Christmas dinner (the only year my services were not requested was in 2015, though I was originally supposed to host but sadly my Mom died on the 17th of December). I think the reason I am always called on to host at Christmas is my almost zen-like sense of calm and organisation… Or maybe it is just my fully stocked bar; who knows?

My Yoda-ish sense of calm however isn’t something that is hard-wired into my personality. It is the result of years of chaotic holidays, filled with the mini-disasters that everyone has, and my taking simple steps to ensure they never happen again.

So this year, I shall once again post some steps to ensure you have a fun and relaxing Christmas.

Domestic Dad’s Guide to Christmas Bliss.

  1. REMEMBER Christmas is just another day of the year, but with added presents, and a bit more indulgent food. The real magic of Christmas doesn’t come from perfection, it comes from “togetherness”. When the red mist begins to decent, take a moment to remember that you want it to be perfect, because you are surrounded by the people in your life that you love the most, then maybe have a glass of your favourite beverage, and go back to making memories.
  2. PLANNING is key. Make a menu well in advance, collect any special requests and make a plan. Remember to check that you have the room in the fridge for everyone’s delights, check cooking times, and make sure you have room in the oven and on the stove to make your menu in time for dinner.
  3. LISTS make everything go to plan. There is nothing worse than waking on Christmas day to realise you have forgotten to buy carrots, or pototoes.
  4. GET AHEAD. Try cooking as much as you can in advance and freezing it, ready for Christmas day. I have already made and frozen my Cranberry relish, and Stuffing Balls, and my Christmas cake has been maturing for a couple of weeks. I have also set-up a reminder on my phone to alert me to get them out of the freezer in time to be defrosted, ready for heating up on the big day.
  5. RECRUIT help. Get the kids to peel the vegetables and lay the table, ask guests to bring their favourite dish, or just ask for a hand in the kitchen from your guests. Most people actually don’t mind helping out.
  6. SET UP a drinks and snacks bar and let people help themselves. After all it is your Christmas as well, so you don’t want to spend it working as a waiter.
  7. ALLOW the kids to eat what they want for dinner. If they don’t want sprouts don’t force them, it will only cause unnecessary stress.

Stress Free Christmas Dinner Plan; Get Ahead

The menu is planned, your shopping is ordered, and timetable is complete, so now is the time to start getting ahead. For every minute you spend getting ahead, it is one more minute you can spend relaxing and enjoying your company on Christmas day.

Many parts of your meal can be prepared beforehand, stuffing can be made and then frozen, or stored in the fridge for a couple of days, your cranberry sauce can be made the week before, or even weeks before and then frozen. This will free up time and oven space on Christmas day, just remember to take everything out of the freezer with enough time to let it thaw.

Over the next few days I will share with you some of the recipes I have used for the last few years which I have successfully prepared in advance.

So what are you waiting for, get those cook books out and start planning.

The Stress Free Christmas Dinner Plan; The Timetable

You’ve completed your menu, made your list, checked it twice and filled your refrigerator, cupboards and freezer to the max. Life is peachy, all you have to do is wait for the big day and cook away… right?

Perhaps if you are a Christmas dinner veteran, very lucky, or super organised you could get away with it. If however, you are like me, than it is better to quickly jot down a timetable, to make sure everything runs to plan. Afterall, the last thing you need is the stress of your little ones asking over and over if dinner is ready on Christmas day, because you forgot to put the roast potatoes in the oven.

Of course I am not saying you have to get out a clipboard and a stopwatch, my timetable is pretty basic, but it works. I simply decide (or am told) what time dinner is to be served and then work backwards. Then I add an extra half hour to cover any mishaps, and I end up with something that looks like this:

Continue reading “The Stress Free Christmas Dinner Plan; The Timetable”

The Stress Free Christmas Dinner Plan; The Menu

Christmas is just over a month away, for some of us, this means a slight nagging panic is starting to settle into your bones over preparing the Christmas feast. The rest of you, fortunate enough not to have swerved the responsibility of preparing your Christmas feast; congratulations, you are free to go put your feet up and watch It’s A Wonderful Life. The rest of us have work to do.

For those of you. who have followed this blog since the beginning, you will know that I began this blog when, for reasons I am still unsure of, I agreed to prepare my families Christmas feast a few years ago. Thinking back, it was a bit of a chaotic experience, probably with a soundtrack that would consist of a series of high-pitched bleeps, and Domesticated Mum saying “calm down dear” repeatedly.

It must have been a success though, as I have been asked to repeat the task every year since. It has also become the one meal, I increasingly enjoy preparing every year. The panic and the swearing is gone (mostly), because I have learned the secret to the perfect Christmas… PLANNING!

Now I know it may sound a bit obvious, but in order to create a panic free Christmas feast, planning really is the key. Don’t leave anything to chance. Plan every detail, and follow that plan, and a stress free Christmas dinner will be yours.

Of course not all of us know how to make a plan, which is where I come in. Follow my instructions, do as I say (not as I do) and Christmas dinner bliss, is just over a month away.

Continue reading “The Stress Free Christmas Dinner Plan; The Menu”

Top tips for Christmas: Making a list and checking it twice

There is nothing more irritating than going for the weekly shop and getting home to realise you have forgotten something. At Christmas time though this could spell disaster and set you into ‘panic mode’. So my advice to all of you cooking the Christmas feast is don’t rely on your memory! Make a list and check it by cross-referencing the ingredients required for your Christmas menu. Then when you get the shopping home, check the items off the list again while you are unpacking. This should help prevent any last-minute dashes back the shop, or paying over the odds for a pint of milk at your local corner shop.