So you’ve volunteered to host Christmas day. First question: WHY??? Maybe you’re like me – each year I tell myself that this time I’ll relax and let someone else rule the kitchen, and each year I find myself unable to relinquish control. There’s probably some underlying issues to be explored there, but at least I’m the kind of megalomaniac who makes sure my guests are full of warm cinnamon brioche. It’s too late to back out now, but hopefully my tips for hosting Christmas will help you to enjoy the day as much as your guests.
- Plan: Make a spreadsheet of all the dishes you’ll be cooking and the ingredients needed for each one. Also list the cookware and serveware required for each so you can figure out if you’ll need to buy or borrow extras. Fridge space is likely to be limited on the day, so think about organising buckets and ice to keep drinks cold.
- Schedule: Make a rough outline of timings required for each dish and calculate when everything needs to be done. Include time for heating the oven, defrosting and resting meats.
- Order Ahead: If you’re planning to cook a particular joint of meat, order it ahead of time from your butcher. You do not want to be fighting over the last turkey in the supermarket on Christmas Eve.
- Shop Online: There’s no place I’d rather NOT be than in a supermarket the week before Christmas, so I already have my Christmas delivery booked in. Schedule your delivery for at least two days before the 25th so if anything’s missing you still have time to go out and get a replacement.
- Be Strategic: Design a menu that requires minimal prep on the day. Jamie Oliver’s Get Ahead Gravy recipe is great, and will keep in the freezer for weeks beforehand. I make my cinnamon brioche the night before and leave them for their final rise in the fridge overnight. Stuffing can be made a day ahead, and vegetables peeled and chopped.
- Delegate: It can be hard to let go of control when you have the perfect menu in mind, but delegating a few things can save a lot of time on the day. Even guests with zero kitchen skills will find it easy to bring a cheese board, a bowl of fresh berries or some crudités and dips.
- Keep Delegating: Once again this can be difficult for a kitchen control freak, but outsourcing a lot of small tasks (peeling vegetables, mixing drinks, setting the table etc.) quickly adds up and enables you to concentrate on the bigger things. Most importantly, put someone in charge of keeping your glass of champagne topped up.
- Take Shortcuts: Our dishwasher and bench space is limited, so this year I’ve decided disposable plates and roasting trays are the way to go.
- Relax: Use your schedule as a guide, but accept now that you’ll probably be running 30mins behind at a minimum. No matter how hard you try, you will be distracted with annoyances like “having fun” and “enjoying time with friends” and it’s best just to go with it.