There is no doubt that Christmas is a busy time of year and for those cooking the Christmas Dinner, Christmas Day can pass in a blur. If you are not buying your foods ready prepared as I am this year, as explained in this recent post, then to make things easier it helps to plan ahead. Even though I have gone down the ready prepared, frozen food route I will still be preparing ahead to make things run smoothly on the big day.
Here are my favourite things to do the night before:
- Prepare any fresh foods you can. For example, potatoes - peel but keep whole. Place in pan or bowl, covered with cold water. Place a slice of white bread on top. This will draw out the starch.
- If you are making your own Yorkshire Puddings, make the batter the day before and store in the fridge. A quick mix before using and it’s done.
- Making your own stuffing (I have in the past but this year it will be from a packet!), make and store in the fridge the day before.
- Frozen foods which need defrosting prior to cooking? Make sure you get these out ahead of time.
- Things that need to be defrosted on the day? Add it in to your timings plan below.
Make a plan for the day
I write down everything that needs cooking, the temperature it should be cooked at and the length of time it needs cooking for. I then list these in time order, from longest to shortest. This then allows me to write an actual time plan. Here is my plan for this year:
09.45 Preheat the oven to GM6
10.00 Turkey to go in oven
11.45 Parsnips in the oven
11.55 Brussels in the oven
12.15 Roast potatoes in the oven
12.20 Pigs in Blankets in the oven
12.25 Stuffing in oven
12.30 Mash in microwave
12.45 Make breadsauce
12.50 Yorkshires in the oven
Get your baking trays, dishes, utensils ready
Something else I do every year is pull out all the equipment that I will need to cook and serve the meal. I then write out little labels on a scrap of paper and cut them out individually. I then place a label into each of the dishes to represent where each item of food will be going. This works twofold – firstly, you know you have all the equipment you require and there is no last minute panic on the day and secondly, if someone offers to help you, they can easily see where things should be placed.
Check your cutlery
I get all the cutlery out the night before too. I make sure I have exactly what we will need and leave this ready to lay the table as soon as we have finished breakfast. One year I actually laid the table the night before, forgetting that we would need to use the table at breakfast!
I like to decant the cranberry sauce into a couple of small serving dishes. I do this earlier in the day, cover with foil and place on the table when I set it after breakfast.
Tablecloth, napkins, Christmas Crackers
Get these out and leave ready with your cutlery for when you set the table.
Plates, bowls, cups and saucers
Yes, I get these out and ready too.
Drinks and Nibbles
We like to have a drinks and nibbles area with glasses etc which allows everyone to help themselves, allowing us to focus on other things.
Tea, Coffee and Sugar
Another area where we make sure everything is out and ready. Again, it allows anyone to help you without you having to point out where things are.
I now know that I can get up Christmas morning, enjoy opening presents and a leisurely breakfast with the family before beginning to cook our meal and knowing that everything is prepared and ready to go.
I hope you find these tips helpful. Do you have any tips to add? Let me know in the comments below.