Christmas is a wonderful time of togetherness for family and friends. However, it can be a very stressful time too. There’s a lot of preparation and ‘getting things ready’ to do. For the cook of the household, Christmas is a challenge and there is a lot of pressure placed on them. Indeed, many mums or dads the country over let out a massive sigh of relief once the Christmas Dinner has hit the table. Only then can they truly relax. The kitchen, of course, is central to it all. It’s where the magic is created, after all. So, we have put together some handy and helpful kitchen tips to help you survive Christmas. Here’s how to keep your cool this festive season with some stress-free strategies to keep your kitchen organised and your family and guests happy.
Yes, even if you have the full extended family chipping in to help, the Christmas kitchen can still be 11 out of 10 on the Stress Scale. If you want to keep the stress levels down and actually enjoy the occasion, you need to plan, prepare and be as practical as you can.
Survive Christmas: Plan and be practical
Regardless of what you are choosing to cook on Christmas Day – classic and traditional with all the trimmings, or something a little bit different – following a menu plan is always a sensible idea. Christmas is a time when you want to be casual and carefree – a time for everybody to let their hair down. However, this attitude cannot really extend to the kitchen. Simply going with the flow is not advisable if you want to survive Christmas in the kitchen. Plan – everything – meticulously. The more preliminary prep you have undertaken, the easier and more relaxed things will be on the day. From recipe reading, menu reading, to test cooking – any (and all) preparation you do in advance of the big day will pay dividends. It will make everything just that little bit easier fo you on the day itself.
Be practical too. Christmas may be a time for food excess and extravagance in the kitchen. That said, you have to remember the limitations and practicalities of your kitchen. Think about the size of your oven and the number of pots of pans you have at your disposal. It might sound ridiculously obvious, but check that your turkey fits in your roasting tray – and that it all fits in the oven!
Take shortcuts and don’t be afraid to cheat
If you want to survive Christmas in the kitchen, there is absolutely no shame in making life simpler for yourself. Of course, everybody likes the idea of cooking everything from scratch. However, when there are so many tasty and affordable pre-made stuffings, sauces and sides in the supermarkets these days, it seems stupid not to take advantage. Simply buy ahead and re-heat or plate up as necessary!
Don’t be afraid to cheat a little either. Even the Christmas classics, such as pudding can come together easily and effortlessly with a well-chosen cheat’s recipe. For example, buy a good quality pre-made pudding and freshen it up with custard, cream or brandy. No one will be any the wiser and nobody will care one bit.
Share the love – and encourage helping hands
Even the best and most accomplished of home chefs can use all the help they can get in the Christmas kitchen. After all, Christmas is all about sharing and there’s no reason why this shouldn’t extend to the food preparation and the cooking itself. Delegating dishes to different family members and friends means less work for the home chef.
If you want to survive Christmas, you need to be honest about the size of the undertaking. The last thing you should be doing is to stretch yourself more than you need to. For example, you don’t want to spend half the day scrubbing roasting pans and trays. Why not simply use throwaway foil trays?
Get ahead and plan and prepare the kitchen
One of the most important things about festive celebrations is the food. Making food for the whole family is one of the great joys of the season. The Christmas Dinner is undoubtably a special part of Christmas Day. Because of this (as we mentioned above), you really need to carefully plan and prepare food before the day. This could mean using some cheat recipes to lessen the load – or at the very least preparing what you can in advance of the day, such as the stuffing. Even if all you manage to do is peel the spuds before the day, at least you have got ahead in some small way. The day itself will now provide less of a challenge and there will be less of a mountain to climb.
However, if you want to survive Christmas, it’s not just about planning and preparing the food beforehand – vital as that is. You all need to plan and prepare the space you will making all this food in – you have to get the kitchen ready too!
Survive Christmas: Get the kitchen Christmas ready
So, before you start cooking this Christmas it is important to clean and prepare your kitchen. There are a few simple things that you can do that will help you to up your cooking game this Christmas. You need to consider the space itself. If you have a tired looking kitchen that has seen better days, you may want to consider a contemporary look for the kitchen. However, with less than two weeks to go before the big day, right now is probably not the time. Instead, put a big ‘note to self’ of ‘Update Kitchen’ on your list of things to do in the new year.
However, there’s still time to have a big clear out. Get rid of all the mess and clutter and give everywhere a good clean. It’s not quite a new kitchen, but it will at least make it look fresh. It will also give you the room you need for all that Christmas cooking.
It doesn’t matter how many work surfaces you have, it’s still likely that you will end up making a real mess. Clearing as much of the clutter beforehand will be a godsend for you on the day. Clear out the fridge too. Reorganising it will be important to fit in all the Christmas food.
Be savvy – utilise the freezer
There is a common misconception that you have to cook everything on Christmas Day. These days, even the purists would point out the error in this thinking. Indeed, if you are preparing the Christmas food for a large gathering, you really need all the help you can get – from man or machine.
To this end, the freezer is probably the greatest of all your allies if you want to survive Christmas in the kitchen.
You can survive Christmas in the kitchen!
There can be no denying that Christmas cooking can be a very stressful and challenging time. If you follow even just some of these survival tips then there is no reason why things can’t run a lot more smoothly.
In conclusion, survival really boils down to those 3Ps – planning, preparation, and practicalities. Consider each of these carefully and you will put yourself in a strong position to make the Christmas kitchen a stress-free zone.
There is a lot to do and there are a lot of things that can potentially go wrong. However, it has to be said that most of the problems that can occur are self-inflicted.
All you need to do is to plan in advance, decide on what you can prepare in advance, and ensure that you have factored in the practicalities. The result should be a happy Christmas kitchen for you and all the family!