Last-minute tricks for a stress-free Christmas

You could avoid the festive pitfalls if you start planning now. Picture: Pexels/Tim Douglas

You could avoid the festive pitfalls if you start planning now. Picture: Pexels/Tim Douglas

Published Dec 22, 2023


It’s that time of the year when there is food galore, the drinks are flowing and you are surrounded by friends and family. It really is the most wonderful time of the year.

To many, the thought of having to cook Christmas dinner can be daunting – especially when doing it for the first time.

If you are not as organised as you normally would be, and have not prepared your Christmas holiday plan yet, do not stress, you still have time to make things right.

After all, the most important part of this time of the year is not just the food or festive decorations – it is about spending time with your family. You can avoid the festive pitfalls if you start planning now.

We have some great tips to help you begin the Christmas countdown with ease.

Clean out and stock your pantry. Picture: Pexels

Clean out and stock your pantry

We are not talking about a major pantry overhaul - we will do that after the holidays as we get organised in the new year. For now, just do a quick check and throw out anything that has expired or that you do not use.

Make some space and ensure that you have plenty of ingredients and pantry staples on hand for holiday baking and food preparation. Stock up on baking basics like flour and sugar, powdered sugar, and brown sugar, vanilla, baking powder and baking soda, cooking oils and sprays, and make sure you have the spices and seasonings that you will need on hand.

Gather plastic wraps, foil and paper towels. If you are roasting a turkey, make sure you have large bags for brining and roasting.

Prepare simple appetisers

Serve a variety of simple yet delicious appetisers to keep your guests satisfied while the main course is being prepared. Offer a selection of cheese and charcuterie, accompanied by artisan bread and crackers.

Alternatively, prepare bite-sized canapés with smoked salmon or stuffed mushrooms, for an indulgent treat.

Plan for your baking day. Picture: Pexels

Plan for your baking day

You could spread the holiday cheer by baking cookies and making desserts for your friends or family. Finalise the items that you want to bake and make a list of ingredients.

Plan your baking day close to Christmas, so you will not end up eating most of the cookies. You could make cute little gingerbread houses with your friends and family.

Pre-batch your cocktails

Make negroni by the litre – just combine equal parts dry London gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth. Bottle, seal, and refrigerate until required. Serve over ice and garnish with orange peel (if it is hot, add a dash of soda).

Assign helping hands

Every good leader knows that delegating is important, so it is crucial that you do not try and do everything yourself. Have some job assignments in mind for helpful guests, then set them to work clearing tables or making sure everyone has a fresh drink.

Create a festive dessert spread. Picture: Pexels/Alina Matveycheva

Create a festive dessert spread

End the meal on a sweet note with a delectable dessert spread. Showcase traditional desserts like Christmas pudding, mince pies, or trifle. Add a touch of elegance by serving individual portions of decadent chocolate mousse.

Pair the desserts with beverages to round off the dining experience.

Cook veg the day before

Blanch your sprouts, peel your potatoes. But do not put them in water because they will lose the flavour. Just peel them, make sure they are dry, roll them in extra virgin oil, and put them into a plastic bag in your fridge, then turn them out and roast them the next day.

Clean as you go

If you are just like us, when you cook a roast dinner you use every pot, pan, and utensil in sight, and clean up as you go (where possible).

This will ensure you get to relax and enjoy the after-dinner festivities with your family – rather than being chained to a pile of dishes.

Manage leftovers

Leftovers are one of the best part of Christmas feasting, but as a host, you do not want to be stuck with too much food. Put together some easy-to-go containers with paper plates, cling wrap, and plastic bags.

After dinner, enlist a few helpers to portion out leftovers equally and hand them to people as they leave. Everyone will end up with some food to go, and you will have less to clean up at the end of the night.