This is all about a stress free Christmas day, where you can sit down with the rest of your family instead of running around like a headless chicken – or turkey. Yes you saw right, it’s OCD time – Operation Christmas Dinner I know what you’re thinking… CHRISTMAS!!! But, it’s MID-NOVEMBER!!!! Why am I reading about preparing for Christmas dinner when it’s not even December yet?! Because it’s now that you do the preparation for the big day, to save you from having to do it all there and then.
This is your Christmas Countdown… with a difference. Here’s a list of what to do and how far ahead to do it.
1 Month: Order the turkey or goose. If you don’t want either, decide what meat you’re having and tell your butcher (or your abattoir), so he’ll have a nice piece set aside for you.
3 weeks: Body Count Find out who is coming, then plan the menu and assign everyone a job so they know well in advance what they’re responsible for.
2 weeks: Booze Shopping online for your wine, spirits and mixers is a real time-saver. You don’t want to be rushing out for last-minute prosecco or tonic – or worse, running out of it.
Up to 1 week: Gravy and the rest Your gravy can be made in advance. Finalize what else you’re cooking, write your shopping list and place last orders. Gently remind everyone about their jobs so they’ve got no excuse to turn up empty-handed.
2 days: Do the big food shop: Unless you’ve ordered everything in, there’s no way around this. Make sure you have a list, take a deep breath and go to the supermarket. Also, if your having a very large frozen bird, best to take it out now and let it thaw naturally. Always check the defrosting instructions on the bird, saves any journeys to casualty on Christmas Day/Boxing Day with food poisoning.
1 day: Start cooking If you’re having goose, make it now, and brine your turkey. You may as well have as many veg done as you can*. Provided you cover them and have somewhere cool to store them (like a garage or secure shed), you can reheat them to piping hot the next day.
The big day Start your turkey and roast spuds. Have a check-list (after all this is a military-like operation) – it’s easy to forget things. Make sure everyone is on track with their task, then leave them to get on with it. If you haven’t, put someone on drinks duty – getting glasses, opening wine and, most importantly, pouring you a glass of fizz.
* Note: Vegetables can be done as far in advance as possible, like now for instance. Blanching your vegetables i.e. your potatoes, root veggies et al, and then freeze them giving you a massive head-start for the big day.
Following this guide should ensure that you have a Christmas to enjoy and remember for the rights reasons.