Sure, you could go out to eat for Christmas dinner – many people do just that – but if you’re dreaming of an old-fashioned Christmas with the family, you’re probably making plans to eat in.
And if you’re looking for ways to make preparing Christmas dinner easier, we’ve got you covered. Here are 12 ways to make the task of shopping and preparing this special meal easier.
1. Print Out a Blank Christmas Calendar
When planning your meals, fill in when you plan to shop, cook make-ahead dishes, and any deliveries that need to be made to your home.
Prepare your menu now and don’t get tempted by any recipes that make it to your Facebook feed! Making your shopping list ahead of time will help make preparing Christmas dinner easier, plus it gives you the chance to make a shopping list ahead of time once you know what you’ll serve for Christmas dinner.
2. Make a game plan
Prepare your game plan a few days in advance. The first step is to make a list of what needs to be cooked, for how long and at what temperature.
After you have all the details, start with the shortest cooking time and work your way backwards, starting with when you want dinner served.
3. Prep foods
Can you make anything in advance and freeze it? For example, can you freeze the gravy,stuffing, and/or cranberry sauce?
Prepare everything so it can be nuked or popped in the oven when you have Christmas dinner. Making these things ahead of time allows you to manage things better on the day and reduces the amount of work you need to do.
Most desserts can be made ahead of time too, either frozen or kept in the refrigerator until they’re ready to be eaten!
Chop and store peeled carrots, sprouts, etc. in ziplock bags. You can also peel potatoes and parsnips and store them in water to keep them from browning. Just leave them in the water overnight and they will be ready the next day when you’re ready to finish your recipe(s).
4. The Night Before, Set the Table and Empty Your Dishwasher and Trash Cans
Even though it’s a simple task, it’s one thing that you’ll be able to cross off your to-do list on the day.
Consider lining your trash bins with extra garbage bags. That way, when the garbage overflows, you won’t need to hunt down a new bag.
5. Ease into the day!
Breakfast shouldn’t be a big deal. Place a covered basket of muffins in the fridge the night before and make sure everyone knows where the coffee, cereal, and bowls are. Both you and your guests will feel calm and relaxed by starting the day that way.
6. Streamline your cooking
Use square and rectangle pans in the oven for a brilliantly simple way to simplify preparing your Christmas dinner. It is much easier to line them up and cook multiple dishes simultaneously.
7. Rest the turkey
For your turkey to retain its juices, it should rest for around 45 minutes after cooking. Thanks to this, you will have plenty of oven space left for all the things with shorter cooking times.
For a great tasting bird, marinate it in brine the night before. This will punch up the flavor and keep it nice and moist.
8. Use your phone’s timer
Setting an alarm on your phone will enable you to carry it with you if you’re likely to leave the kitchen (and you should if you’re able to, otherwise you won’t get to visit with everyone). When there’s a lot of talking going on, it’s hard to hear the oven beep.
Rather than slaving away in the kitchen alone, ask someone to help. Have a little Christmas helper elf do all those boring, tedious things you don’t enjoy.
10. Clean as you go
Wash your dishes/put things in the dishwasher as you go and keep your surfaces as clear as possible. Doing this allows you to focus on the task at hand, instead of feeling overwhelmed about a pile of dirty dishes taking up sink and counter space.
11. Serve dinner “family style”
Plating up can take a lot of time, and if you wait too long, your dinner could get cold. Most things can be served in lidded bowls if there is enough space on the table, which will keep the food warm while allowing everyone to serve themselves.
Also, this reduces waste since people can better estimate how much they can eat. No sideboard or not enough room on the table? As an alternative, ask your guests to assist with plating and serving.
12. Go ahead and use convenience foods
Last but not least, it isn’t cheating to buy ready-made Christmas dinner elements. To give your guests a wider selection and/or to ease the process on the big day, nobody will mind if you pick up some desserts or side dishes.