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 wherever 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, Magic Oven Bags 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. Keep things simple without sacrificing quality
Save on the washing up and guarantee a stunning Christmas feast by cooking your turkey, ham and/or vegetables in Magic Oven Bags! These 100% Irish-made bags cleverly seal in flavours; feel free to add extra seasonings to yours for extra deliciousness (think onions, lemons, garlic or fresh herbs). Food cooks perfectly in these bags, and the trapped moisture will ensure your turkey and ham stay juicy and succulent. With no risk of spills or splashes, you won’t have to clean the oven afterwards, either — a definite win.
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. 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 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. 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 the big day; 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 dietary requirements 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, working backwards from your chosen serving time and being generous with timings to allow yourself a comfortable window in which to get everything done. 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 just follow your time schedule and everything will run smoothly. Check out our step-by-step guide to cooking the perfect turkey, and enjoy minimum clean-up and maximum flavour thanks to your Magic Oven Bags!
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