For many women, Christmas is one of the most challenging fixtures in the family diary. Organising in-laws, sourcing the perfect gifts, and whipping up a Christmas dinner suitable for all the fussy eaters, gourmands and allergy sufferers in the family can be stressful. Unless you’re a full time events planner by trade, it’s impossible to be prepared for everything that the festive season brings. However, steps can be taken to ensure the big day runs smoothly.
When cooking Christmas dinner, the challenge lies in the many courses and side dishes, along with the different timings for preparation and cooking. The key is organisation. Don’t rely on memory: write a shopping list. NetMums has a really simple template for a seasonal meal planner that can be printed out and scribbled over, allowing you to add in extra dishes, or switch around ingredients and ideas to help you play to your own strengths. Try to prepare as much and as early as possible, so that in the hours before the big dinner you’re able run your kitchen like an assembly line and simply move trays of pre-prepared dishes into the oven at different times. Set a few alarms on your mobile to help you keep track of how long each dish needs to cook for.
It’s a good idea to buy slightly more than you think you need. This has two benefits: firstly, you’re covered if your husband’s long lost brother arrives, your son brings round the latest girlfriend, or your great auntie’s in town, all of which have an odd habit of occurring approximately 90 minutes before dinner is served. Secondly, the leftovers make a great bubble and squeak for breakfast or hearty turkey sandwiches for lunch on Boxing Day.
Whether you have a family with sophisticated palates, or a crop of kids to please, Christmas dinner should be more than your average roast. Soon, the newspapers and magazines will start to publish Christmas recipes. Keep an eye out for any inspirational ideas or quirky dishes that might match your family’s unique combination of preferences.
You need to ensure your kitchen is running at full strength for all this, so if you’ve been thinking about replacing your oven for a while, now’s the time to do it. You can buy cookers on finance to get practising your roast spuds in advance. Then you can rest easy on Christmas day, knowing that you can rely on your cooker to keep things ticking over whilst you enjoy the queen’s speech (and possibly The King’s Speech, too).
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