Follow our clever Christmas countdown and tick items off as you go to make sure you’re as prepared as possible for the big day — without the stress. Our Christmas playlist on Spotify has all the tunes you need to get your festive groove on, so crank up the volume and let’s get to work!
The big to-do list
- Menu planning is vital. Draw up menus for all meals you plan on making over the Christmas week.
- Once you have your menu plan ready, use this to write a detailed food shopping list.
- Write a cooking plan for the weeks and days leading up to Christmas, so that you’re not swamped on the day. Make everything you can ahead of time. Freezer-friendly foods can be made one month in advance, while many starters can be made a day or two before eating.
- Prepare your homemade Christmas cake and pudding.
- Make Christmas gift lists and start shopping! Now is a good time to order any gifts that you intend to purchase online.
- Order your Christmas turkey if sourcing from a butcher. It’s never to early to phone your local butcher and ask them to pop you on their Christmas list.
- Clean out the fridge and defrost the freezer to make space for Christmas foods.
- Stock up on holiday drinks, including alcohol, soft drinks and juices.
Top tip: For a complete guide to Christmas, check out our festive toolkit, with all the recipes, tips and advice you need in one place!
- Gather decorations for the house, or make your own!
- Post parcels that are traveling internationally. Last posting dates for parcels are as follows: December 4th for international posting, 9th to post to the USA, 13th for Europe and 20th for Great Britain.
- Get the kids to write their letters to Santa. Don’t forget to post it to: Santa Claus, Santa’s Grotto, The North Pole.
- Consider investing in a meat thermometer to take any doubt out of cooking the turkey.
- Batch-cook and freeze one or two easy family meal options for the busy days coming up to Christmas and the lazy days following it, meaning you can focus solely on the main event(s). An easy way to do this is to have a few days where you simply double every freezer-friendly family recipe you make.
- Purchase everything non-perishable, including larder staples like olive oil, sugar and stock cubes, as well as any meat or fish that can be frozen. Don’t forget things like cling film, tin foil, roasting trays and kitchen paper, too — and don’t forget toilet paper!
- Now’s a good time to get cards and wrapping paper, too.
Top tip: Buy extra Sellotape, gift tags and more wrapping paper than you think you’ll need. Nothing is more frustrating than running out of supplies with only a few of your gifts wrapped, and you can always save any extra for next year.
- Put up the festive decorations — make sure to get family or friends involved! Curl up with mugs of hot chocolate and a Christmas film once you’re done.
- Time to start Christmas food shopping. Start with your groceries list for your storecupboard. No need to buy perishable food just yet.
- If you are giving edible gifts, now is a good time to start making them. See some of our ideas here.
- Post out any Christmas cards to Irish addresses.
The week before Christmas
- In the run-up to the big day, have as many nights eating out of the fridge and freezer as possible to make space for the Christmas food to be stored. This should also save you some money — always a big help at this time of year!
- Make sure you’ve got enough oven trays, roasting tins, pots, pans, serving dishes and glassware. 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.
- Bake some Christmas treats and pop them in the fridge or freezer so you have lots ready for when guests arrive.
- Read through the recipes you are using for Christmas dinner and write a detailed plan for Christmas morning. Begin at whatever time you want to dish up, then work backwards to figure out when you need to get started. Consider cooking times and how many things can fit in the oven at once.
- Wrap any remaining gifts and place them under the tree.
- Start cleaning the house for guests’ arrivals. Check that you have clean linen for the beds. If any guests are bringing children, have a couple of activities on hand to keep them occupied, such as a Christmas colouring book and some colouring pencils.
- Finish your grocery shopping and make sure any perishables are stored correctly in the fridge and freezer.
- Think outside the dinner itself — what will you need to have in the house for a few days of breakfasts, lunches and snacks? Remember things like tea, coffee, milk, butter, bread and any condiments on which you’re running low.
The night before Christmas
- Defrost any remaining pre-made dishes in your freezer.
- Peel and chop potatoes and vegetables on Christmas Eve and store submerged in cold water.
- Set the table the night before, so you can tick one more job off your Christmas Day list.
- Read through your recipes and timings for the next day so they’re fresh in your mind.
- Don’t forget to leave some milk and biscuits out for Santa, and a few carrots for his reindeer… then pour yourself a drink and put your feet up!
Top tip: Rather than running around like a headless chicken, enlist guests to help out with small tasks on the day. Ask one person to set the table, and another to organise drinks. Put kids or teenagers in charge of greeting guests at the door and taking coats.
For more advice, tips and plenty of festive recipes, pick up your copy of the Easy Food Christmas Annual 2021, in shops now!