Unless you’ve got a Harry Potter wand, a festive lunch with all the trimmings won’t appear by magic. Perfectly cooked turkey, yummy roast potatoes and delicious gravy all take time and effort – especially when the family’s hopes are so high. Instead of slaving over a hot stove this festive season, follow these tips and you’ll be sipping eggnog by the fire before you can say “Happy Christmas”.
1. Stick to the basics
Work out exactly what you want to serve, what’s essential and what you can do away with. Do you really need to serve starters? Chances are everyone will have eaten chocolates and nuts aplenty.
2. Eat later
If you find you’re having to get up at 6am to put the turkey in so you can all eat at lunchtime, do yourself a favour and eat later in the afternoon. Everyone can have cheese and biscuits at lunchtime if they’re desperate.
3. Do you need to buy a whole turkey?
There’s no shame in buying a ready-stuffed turkey joint these days – so much easier and how many of your guests will be able to tell?
4. Prepare in advance
Peel and chop sprouts and carrots the day before, and store them in bowls of cold water in the fridge. Sort out cutlery, plates, bowls and glasses – make sure they are clean and put to one side. Get jugs ready for gravy, bread sauce and cream. Sharpen your carving knife.
5. Step out of the kitchen
Why do potatoes have to be peeled at the work surface? If everyone is sipping Buck’s Fizz and opening presents in the lounge, take your sack of potatoes, your peeler and your pot in there, and peel on the floor on to some old newspaper.
6. Don’t stuff
Save precious Christmas time by simply stuffing your turkey with a peeled onion or two and cooking your stuffing in a separate side dish later on.
7. Don’t parboil
Cook your roast potatoes from raw alongside your turkey and ditch the parboiling. They will take longer (at least an hour and fifteen minutes) but you can put them in and forget about them, and save on washing up.
8. Consider roasting veg
Roasting carrots and parsnips instead of mucking about with saucepans on the hob will save time, as you can put them in and forget about them. They’ll need at least 45 minutes. You can’t roast sprouts – but if no one likes them, ditch them.
9. Warm plates
Dishing up a full plate of Christmas dinner for lots of people is one of the most time-consuming and stressful parts of the whole thing. If you have hot plates, you can take your time and no-one will be forced to eat a tepid meal.
When you take the turkey out to rest before carving, replace it with your plates.
10. Microwave your pud
There’s no reason to steam your Christmas pudding for hours any more – most shop-bought puds can be microwaved in minutes.