We all know Christmas is more than just one day and the stress can mount when trying to get everything ready for this special season. Our advice: get as much done ahead of time, and use shortcuts that won’t compromise on quality whenever you can! These tips will help you make the most of the festive time with minimal fuss, so get the following items ticked off your to-do list to alleviate the stress of Christmas planning.
1. Get your kitchen stocked in late November
Purchase any food items that will last, like wine, cooking oils, chutneys or chocolates, as well as household staples like cling film, tin foil, roasting trays and storage containers. While you’re at it, give the fridge and freezer a good clean-out to make room for the Christmas haul of leftovers. If you’re ordering a turkey from a butcher, now’s the time to place your order.
2. Pudding prep
The traditional Christmas pudding is a must-have at most Christmas dinners, and it’s actually better the further ahead it’s made — most recipes typically recommend making it about one month in advance. The combination of dried fruits and spices only taste better over time, and the high moisture content of the pudding keeps it perfectly decadent for serving on the big day. There are also plenty of great options for store-bought puddings when you don’t have time to make one from scratch; generally, opt for puddings that have been aged for a few months.
3. Save time without sacrificing quality
Give the cook in your household a break when it comes to the big feast and order a pre-cooked Brady Family Christmas Ham on the bone (4kg) or half ham (2.25kg). These award-winning hams undergo the traditional Brady Family curing and cooking process and always come from Bord Bia Approved pork farmers. They are delivered chilled straight to your door, ready to reheat and serve — all saving quality time better spent with friends and family! Order online or by phone by 17 December for delivery on Thursday, 20 December.
4. Holiday-ify the home!
In early December, get some small decorations up around the home — leaving all the decorating to one day can be a chore otherwise. Use seasonal elements in your decorations. Fresh cranberries in jars with votive candles, sprigs of rosemary or thyme tied into napkins and bowls of citrus fruits will all add a pop of colour but cost far less than flowers. Also, make sure to get family or friends involved! Curl up with mugs of hot chocolate and a Christmas film once you’re done. While you’re at it, order any gifts that you intend to purchase online.
5. Get the gifts in order
In mid-December, get the kids to write their letters to Santa. Don’t forget to post it to: Santa Claus, Santa’s Grotto, The North Pole. If you are giving edible gifts, now is a good time to start making them. Have a look at some of our favourite ideas here, from a baked Brie kit for the cheese lover in your life to a salted caramel sauce for your friend with the sweet tooth. Don’t forget our tips on wrapping these homemade goodies! If you’re not up for braving the crowds at the shopping centres, set aside some time to shop online so your gifts can be delivered straight to your door — no queueing required!
6. Stock the house with food for sharing and gifting
Bake some Christmas treats and pop them in the fridge or freezer so you have lots ready for when guests arrive. Also, read the recipes you’re using for Christmas dinner and familiarise yourself with them so you can draw up a time plan.
7. Be the hostess with the most-ess
Start cleaning the house for guests’ arrivals; again, doing a little bit each day is less taxing than stressing over one big clean-out. Check that you have clean linen for the beds and spare towels. You can also set the table ahead of time so that it’s ready for serving.
8. Get your kitchen ready for the big day
The week of Christmas, shop for any perishable food items needed for your menu, and buy extra butter, wine and chocolates — these are always going to go quickly! Keep in mind any diets that your guests might have and start sourcing special ingredients now. Don’t rush into buying new items — ask around if you’re missing something essential to your party plans. At least one friend is sure to have a punch bowl or a cheeseboard.
9. Prep as much of the big dinner the day before
Begin your preparations for Christmas dinner the day before: prepare starters and desserts and chop all of your vegetables. Draw up a time schedule for cooking tomorrow and if you haven’t already made your Christmas cake, this last-minute recipe is perfect. Bake some cookies with your children and don’t forget to leave a few out with some milk for Santa, and carrots for his reindeer!
10. Keep to a schedule on Christmas day
Cooking will begin early, but follow your time schedule and everything will run smoothly. Check out our tips for cooking the perfect turkey. To reheat a Brady Family pre-cooked ham, simply place the ham on a roasting rack in a tray that has 2cm of water at the bottom. Cover the tray in parchment paper and tin foil, then gently steam at 180˚C/160˚C fan/gas mark 4 for 1 hour per kilogram, topping up the water if needed. Give the ham a final 20 minutes at 200˚C/180˚C fan/gas mark 6 with the foil and parchment removed to allow the glaze to crisp up.
For more information or to order your pre-cooked Brady Family Christmas ham, visit www.bradyfamily.ie.