Here are my 10 tips for an easy Christmas.
Yes I know, I know. It is only October and I am writing about Christmas. Plus I am Thai.!!
I am a closet lover of Christmas. I pretend that I really can not be bothered with it all but secretly I love everything about it. The family getting together, the food, the games, the food, the party, the food hehehe yes, you got me. The reason I love Christmas so much is the food. I mean there are no limits to what you can eat! You just have to say “go on then, it’s Christmas”
However, with all the fun of eating, Christmas can be the most stressful time of the year. Not to mention the most expensive.
Every year I get over excited about Christmas and think I am going make this, do that and be the perfect host and everyone is going to say WOW isn’t she amazing. The truth is that Christmas comes around so fast I never have enough time to make this or do that. All I end up doing is rushing around like a headless Turkey (yep, I went there) and end up too knackered to enjoy the day.
So we are now planning ahead, way ahead. 9 weeks ahead to be precise. For the next 9 weeks I am going to be sharing with you my alternative Christmas recipes from stir frying the dreaded Brussel Sprout to having curry sauce with your Turkey instead of gravy and much more. But for today, to get you in the mood for the festive season.Some top tips to help you make it through Christmas.
Grab yourself a drink, notepad and pencils and let’s get to it.
If I could give you one piece of advice, it’s to start planning early! Nothing wastes money more than a last-minute panic buy. So make sure you decide your Christmas party budget early. Be realistic – give yourself a budget and stick to it.
Make a schedule
This is the part I love the most, making a schedule. I love my sheets, post-it notes and now Trello. It is the only way you can ensure that you have the time for everything. Schedule the time to make a meal plan is your next step. Once you have done that then you can work out what you need to do and when you need to do it. Again be realistic. Work out how many hours a week you can spare to prepare for Christmas. Remembering all the other events that you will have to attend during the festive period.
Plan all your meals over the 2 weeks festive period ahead of time. This way you can start to buy some of the store cupboard ingredients, maybe when they are on offer. This can save you £££££££. This is where your notepad comes in (I love a good notepad don’t you?) I would meal plan from 20th to 28th December, longer if you can bring yourself to do that. Making sure you include tray bakes that you can make ahead and freeze. Cottage pie, lasagne and curries are great for the freezer. Reheat them for the “in between” days. This way you do not have to think about what you are going to have on the day. Leaving you free to enjoy a mulled wine or two.
Get on the line
Is what my mum calls internet. I find online food ordering to be the best at keeping costs down. You just search for what is on your list (and only on your list) saving you from picking up all the extra bits you want but don’t need.
You can also just keep adding on to the basket until you are ready to order. I would also sleep on your order (not literally). I always end up taking another £50 off my shopping. When I check it the day after and find that I have been looking at what was on offer and put half of it in my basket.
Make friends with your freezer
It might seem early to be cooking Christmas dinner, but a surprising number of dishes can be made ahead of time. I always make most of my side dishes months ahead: Cauliflower cheese, cranberry sauce, braised red cabbage. They can all be made ahead. My Gravy is always ready and waiting in the freezer from November and the same with stuffing and pigs in blankets.
If you are having a Christmas party the drink bills can get big fast. Of course you could / should ask your guests to bring drinks but you still want to make something to welcome them to your home. There are many cocktails out there that can make your fizz goes a long way. The fun part is to try to create one of your own ahead of time. I mean you will have to spend some time drinking them! All in the name of research of course.
Disposable when possible
The last thing you want over christmas is to be chained to the kitchen sink. Where possible use disposable baking trays to cook. Turkey, potatoes, pigs in blankets, they can all be cooked in disposable trays. It will make your life that little bit easier.
Get the men to help!
I can hear a few of you going “I don’t think so”. Believe it or not most men love to cook Christmas dinner. Mr M loves it when we go to his Mum’s for Christmas because he gets to do the cooking. I am too controlling to let him help. Last year we found a perfect way for us to both cook and not wanting to kill each other. We used the BBQ. Yes, I said BBQ. If you have a barbeque with a lid sitting in garden, make use of it this Christmas. We alway have both beef and Turkey on christmas day. Mr M was very happy to be outside cooking the beef on the BBQ, which I must say was amazing. You can also use it to cook you pigs in the blanket, keep things warm. This will free up valuable space in the oven and your man to help out (and be out of your way). It’s a win win.
Keeping your plates warm
This might be my favorite tip of all. Warm up plates in the dishwasher! Come Christmas day your oven is going to be more stuffed than your turkey (sorry, can’t help it) and it is a special occasion, you want to serve your food on a lovely warm plate. The oven is full, the microwave is spinning right round like a record! Put your dinner plates in the dishwasher for a quick rinse and they will be lovely and warm in time for dinner.
One last schedule
Schedule a timeline for christmas. All well laid plans can go wrong. But if you have a timeline of what needs to go in the oven at what time then you are halfway to having a perfect day. I use the alarm on my phone for this. This way you do not have to keep looking at the clock.
The most important thing about Christmas is to spend time together. Last year I was spending all my time making sure everything was perfect that I did not get to spend much time with my oldest girl who I only get to spend every other Christmas with. Was the food amazing? Yes it was. Was it the most important thing? No. So don’t stress. You have done all the preparation ahead. Now just let the day run and have fun with your family.