Want a stress-free Christmas? We’ve got some great ways to minimise the stress, and maximise the cheer, to make Christmas the happiest day of the year.
It’s possible to have a perfect, stress-free Christmas Day even if you’re the one who’s hosting and will be spending loads of time in the kitchen.
It’s the perfect occasion to ask for help, and invite guests to take on small tasks. Christmas is, after all, about giving, and chances are your friends and family will be happy to be involved rather than standing around while you attempt to do everything yourself.
One of the best ways to stay chilled is to delegate out different dishes — cook what you enjoy cooking, and get everyone else to prepare the rest. Decide on the menu, find out who is good at making what and divide up the work.
The same goes for the other end of the meal, washing up the platters and storing yummy leftovers in the fridge is a great way to bond with friends and relatives.
Regardless of whether you’re facing the day with enthusiasm or trepidation, here’s our list of top 10 Christmas Hacks to make this special celebration stress-free, simple and sumptuous.
Planning always reduces stress. There is so much to do for a perfect Christmas, so use a to-do app on your smartphone and your calendar to remember events, sales and dates like Christmas pudding day if you make your own. Write a list of people you need to buy gifts for and do your Christmas shopping as early as you can. Wrap your gifts as you go (or better still ask the shop to wrap it for you). Sticky notes will help you keep track of gift contents. If you’re not a big cook, check you have all the required pots, trays and knives and that you won’t need last-minute oven or fridge repair. If anything is on its last legs, this is the perfect moment to replace it!
- Choose a fuss-free menu for the big day
Try to limit the meal to something that is not too stressful and something you have cooked before. Take food allergies and likes into account, and do the menu early so you can get your non-perishable grocery shopping done before the rush. On the day, create a timeline and order of when you need to start cooking each item.
- Seek out time-savers
It’s not cheating, it’s a Christmas Hack! Order your favourite salad from your local deli or serve a dessert from your favourite patisserie. Buy a quality Christmas pudding and/or ready-made ham, and then add your own touch. For example, you can whip up a wickedly indulgent boozy custard to drizzle over shop-bought puddings — the individual sizes are even quicker to serve — or grab a good-quality cooked ham and add an easy glaze recipe to make it special. Hide all the packaging and no one will know the difference.
- Two words: online shop
Just as you can avoid having to trek to the shops with your gift shopping, so can you avoid the supermarket when you are doing your ‘big’ pre-Christmas shop. No more backtracking up aisles, just sit down with your list and a good grocery website and online shopping will keep you on track. Just remember to book in your delivery slot well ahead of time.
- Make the main dish the star
To complement your star, choose a variety of side dishes, perhaps two cold and one warm. Salads can be pre-prepared and stored in the fridge until being dressed just before you serve. Remember, a single serve dessert makes guests feel special. Before the big day, make sure you have enough platters and trays and that the trays you want to put in the oven and fridge fit.
- Prep what you can beforehand
Copy the restaurant chefs and make most of your Christmas dinner not just hours but weeks ahead of time. You can pre-prep gravy and sauces and freeze them. A week or two before Christmas, clear out your fridge and reorganise it to make the most of the room you have. This will also make a big difference to your stress levels when your food from your online order arrives on your doorstep. Meat that will be served cold can be cooked two or three days in advance. The day before, peel the vegetables and par-boil your potatoes so that on Christmas Day all you have to do is tip them into a large roasting tray with loads of garlic, rosemary, sea salt and black pepper, and then into a hot oven to cook. Prepare chilled platters the day before, too, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. This way you’ll not need to open the fridge too much on what is often a hot summer’s day.
- Seasonal touches
Keep the table setting simple. Add a seasonal touch with a single Christmas centrepiece and festive napkins. Serving at the dinner table with large communal dishes is the way to go. It looks far more festive to put serving dishes on the table and food stays warm for longer, too. Do a cupboard stocktake before the big day to ensure you have enough plates, cutlery and glasses for everyone.
- Stock the bar
This tip doesn’t need much explanation. Take advantage of Christmas Day ideas for drinks in the food mags and do an inventory of liquor cabinet staples including tonic water and other mixers a few weeks before the day. Also chill a few bottles of champagne in the fridge during the festive season in case friends drop by.
- Focus on what’s most important
The to-do list at Christmas can seem never ending. However, this is the time of the year to refocus on what’s most important to you. Give yourself permission to forget about all those tasks still on your list and remember to have fun!
- Be satisfied with ‘good enough’
Bigger is not always better. Focus on the fellowship of the people you are gathering with and opt for stress-free rather than trying to make the perfect Christmas Day. Make sure you spend some quality time with your family. Sit down, relax and enjoy the moment — you still have to make it through the school holidays!
#HisenseHack: The easiest way to achieve the perfect stress-free Christmas Day is to share the load with family and friends.
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