An organized Christmas day lunch, 10 tips plus loads of suggestions to help you have a stress-free (sweat-free) Christmas day experience.
Before we start let me give you some Bonus Tips!
BONUS: What To Make For Christmas?
The first step to "What To Make For Christmas" is to decide on a menu. That means, from grazing boards and starters/canapes to side dishes, mains and dessert. If anyone knows about sweating in the kitchen while everyone else looks calm, smiling and chatting with a cocktail in their hands, it's me. Often I have my cocktail on the move. No more, let's get organized!
Decide on a menu. What exactly are you serving for Christmas day lunch and what are you NOT serving. There are times you may want to make all your favorite dishes on one day, sigh....
Think about what works in terms of the appetizer course for example - starters for appetizer or canapes? Appetizers (like the famous prawn cocktail, for example, requires a seat, glass and cutlery of some sort) whereas canapes (below) are cutlery free and small portions, more like a grazing board or crackers with toppings.
Suggestion For Cracker Toppings
If I'm making crackers for a small group then I tend to go with a variety of toppings but not for Christmas (unless my daugter is home and she does it). There is simply too much to do, to be concerned about different toppings. Get one packet of salmon, creamed cheese (optional is capers) on a white platter and done. White platters just work. That or a board.
Tip! Cucumber And Cream Cheese Canapes
This can be done minutes before you need it or the crackers go soft and are no longer crunchy. What's worse than soggy crackers? Another soggy cracker with cucumber on top!
Check out my Summer Crackers Charcuterie Board for more tips.
How To Cut The Cucumber?
This is not the time to start learning how to make fancy cucumber designs that may or may not fall off the cracker! We have way more important tasks to get through.
Keep It Simple: The thinner the better so take out your mandolin for this task or use a sharp knife and take it easy with very thin slices. Cucumber loses water so add them seconds before serving. You can also salt them as we do aurbergine to drain excess moisture. Sprinkle a little salt and leave them for a while to drain, that's it!
Tip! Crackers Platter
If you think the platter is too plain, add a bunch of grapes on the side and a some berriesññĺ.
Preparation is key to a stress-free Christmas and doing as much preparatory marinating and cooking before the big day as possible. More on that, when we get to the 10 tips.
Platters are life! Everyone helping themselves and it keeps family and friends entertained.
Tip! Table Seasoning
I always have 2 sets of seasoning on either side of the table as opposed to 'please pass the salt' as you about to put the fork in your mouth.
I think we all know what goes on a grazing board but here's some inspiration if needed Italian Antipasto Charcuterie Board.
Music is terribly underrated yet it's there to set the mood. Christmas music, classical or classics but certainly nothing over the top that strains conversation during the meal. If you prefer to eat with loud music then go for it. Myself - I like Boney M in the mornings 🙂 What can I say! Some parts of me are still stuck in the disco era!
Dessert: Fruit and ice cream for dessert is definitely to be considered. If you are not making a dessert in advance, then fresh seasonal fresh fruit it is with Italian kisses or any other ice cream of preference is an option. The fresh fruit is absolutely gorgeous and because you're working with seasonal, you get the most nutritional value from it. Take a look at this Charcuterie Fruit Platter for some ideas.
Now that I've shared most of my Bonus Tips let's get started with;
10 Tips! To An Organized Christmas Day Lunch
Tip 1. Take Your Roast Out the Freezer Days Before!
In this case we refer to the roast as the gammon but the same applies to turkey or duck, you have to remove it from the freezer days ahead!
Bonus Tip! Cooking and Simmering Gammon
A 4 to 5 kg size gammon needs to be taken out the fridge 3 days ahead of time to slowly thaw in the fridge. Anything smaller, I would say 2 days.
Prep and simmer the gammon the day before! I've underlined 'simmer' because, unless you want to end up with a tough piece of gammon, it's best to simmer before roasting. Christmas Gammon Recipe, Easy Frangelico Glazed Gammon Recipe and Instant Pot Gammon
Tip 2. Make your roast potatoes ahead!
This is a HUGE time saver!
Roast your potatoes the day before as you would do normally and just before they turn into that nice deep crisp golden brown that we all love, take them out. So they will be light golden brown. Cool them, get them into a dish, cover and refrigerate. Leave the roasting tray with the oil in on the stove somewhere (room temperature) and cover it.
Bonus Tip! Roasting Potatoes
Next day when you're ready to make the roast potatoes, preheat the oven to 200C and place the oven tray with the fat inside the oven. Let it get hot for about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the tray and add your potatoes into the hot fat, roast them for roughly 20 to 25 minutes. Or use this Roast Chicken and Potatoes, Herb Chicken Roast and Air Fryer Whole Chicken
For these Crispy Baked Hasselback Potatoes follow the recipe, cut/slice, add butter etc. and roast half the time. Let them cool in the same pan. Wait until they are properly cold then cling wrap the dish. Next day, take them out the fridge and preheat the oven to 200 C for about 15 minutes then bake them.
Tip 3. Make The Gravy Ahead!
You don't want to wait for the pan juices from the roast on the day, so take a look at my gravy recipe with a step by step method, images and suggestions. Homemade Meat Gravy
Tip 4. Starters, Appetizers and Canapes
We've already discussed this earlier on the top of this post so let simply share my favorite tarts as an option. Strawberry Coulis Tartlets! You can bake the pastry part ahead and add cream cheese closer to the time, pop on a strawberry and mint leave, done!
That's only if you have the time otherwise, read the section on top of this post re: easy canapes vs starters.
Bonus Tip! Quick Puff Pastry Tarts
If you don't want to fiddle with phyllo use the same recipe but with puff pastry. Place each cut piece into a muffin tin, push it down, and bake. Add the fillings.
Tip 5. Make The Cranberry Sauce!
We all need a pop of color to the table and something that will most likely start a conversation, cranberry sauce! It goes well with roast meat, some like it and others, well, not so much, while some are willing to try it because it just looks so darn good. Cranberry sauce.
Tip 6. Vegetable and Salad Side Dishes
If ever there was a time for that packet of peeled and cut butternut, it's now.
Clean and Prep: If there's any cutting of veggies like bell peppers do that the night before so that you just to get everything onto a platter the next day. Most veggies can be cleaned, cut and fully prepped the day before, everything stays sealed and that = freshness.
Steam the vegetables in advance especially if they are veggies like Brussel sprouts, butternut, carrots and seal them in the fridge. Recipes from my blog Brown Sugar Glazed Carrots Stovetop, Oven Roasted Butternut and Brussel Sprouts Air Fryer and Oven Roasted
Make toppings for your veggies in advance like balsamic vinegar and olive oil either with a taste of mustard or honey in a small container always goes well with green veg.
Make Salad Dressing and Vegetable Sauces Ahead
Almost all salad dressings, sauce, dips etc. can be made in advance.
Room temp: Have at least one room temperature butter out for a quick add onto veggies. Top up all the spice bottles.
Cheese: Grated and sealed. These are things you can do way before. Have the parmesan cheese grated and ready to go incase you want to add onto your beans.
Nuts: Toasted and sealed off in a jar or other container for ease of accessiblity and once they're toasted, it's one less thing to do. Shaved almonds work great on veggies!
Salad Options For Christmas Day Lunch
Decide if you need salad. Not every Christmas lunch needs salad and it depends what your family prefers. If there's lots of other dishes being served, a salad may go to waste. Work with one large vegetable dish or a large salad that incorporates both aspects.
If making a quinoa berry salad it's best to cook the quinoa in advance and refrigerate once cooled. Salad dressings should always be made ahead and added on the day.
Tip 7 Set The Table In Full!
Set the table in full the night before, with everything, dinnerware, cutlery, decorations and lighting. You can get your table set days in advance and use the kitchen nook, patio/outside area for meals leading up to Christmas day. This is great tip because because you get to see what you want to add or remove giving you ample time to fuss about but before Christmas Day!
Tip 8. Don't Overfill The Main Table!
Lay your food on an adjoining room or table to create more space at the main table for conversation without saying please pass the salt 🙂 I actually have 2 sets of salt and pepper on either end of the table for a more relaxed approach.
The same goes with bar, it's good to have a designated area for drinks, ice, lemons, glasses etc. that not in a whole other room. Keeping everyone close and conversation alive. Everyone can be their own mixologist! :))
Tip 9. Make the dessert ahead!
This is pure gold unless you serving ice cream, berries and chocolate. The dessert needs to be done in advance it makes everything stress-free!
My Easy Pecan Nut Chocolate Cheesecake is a great make ahead recipe because the longer it stays in the fridge the better it looks and tastes! Serve it with a nice big scoop of good quality ice cream and fresh mint for garnish. Alternatively, go for my Easy South African Summer Trifle Recipe because plums are in season this time of year or this Blueberry Cream Tart and of course I cannot suggest dessert without these mini Mini Pavlovas Filled With Crème Fraiche and Fresh Berries.
Tip 10. Create Smart Seating
Create Seating: At the table and around the house / outside area. Pull that couch out the bedroom if you're expecting people and place it somewhere. Make sure if possible you have seating at different angles of the house so there are clusters of people "hanging around".
Christmas Lunch Ideas Conclusion
Remember that the key to an organized Christmas Day lunch is thoughtful planning and preparation. By breaking down tasks, involving others, and staying organized, you can create a stress-free Christmas for everyone involved (and a sweat-free) Christmas for yourself!
- Create a Shopping List: Once you have your menu, make a comprehensive shopping list. This helps avoid last-minute trips to the store and ensures you have all the ingredients you need. You know how you cant find turkey the day before Christmas or creamed cheese.
- Prep Ahead of Time: Many dishes can be prepared ahead of time. Chop vegetables, marinate meats, and prepare side dishes a day or two before to minimize the workload on Christmas Day.
- Set a Schedule: Create a timeline for cooking and serving each dish. This will help you stay organized and ensure everything is ready to be served at the right time.
- Delegate Tasks: I learn this much too late in my life! Give everyone something to do no matter how small, even guests.
- Prepare a Signature Drink: Simplify your beverage options by preparing a signature Christmas drink in advance. This could be a festive punch or a non-alcoholic beverage that suits the occasion.
I hope that you've enjoyed my 10 tips for Xmas plus everything I've shared with you.
Don't forget to comment on this post and leave me a rating. Ratings help my blog show up on Google and that not only gives helps someone else looking for the same thing, it also gives me the opportunity to continue sharing free recipes, tips and more with you.
Be grateful you are here, be presesnt for your loved ones and for yourself. If you think of the things that make us happy it's never perfection because it doesnt exist. It's the people we love, good food, a bed with fresh linen, a good book, our pets, the sunshine and sea, sunrises, to laugh, you get the gist of this right? So be kind to yourself, each other, and have fun with the joy & blessings of the season!
Merry Christmas, to you and your family, thank you for being here.