Do you spend hours in the kitchen making Christmas dinner while everyone else lounges around watching Christmas movies? Are you so stressed peeling and cooking vegetables, making gravy, bread sauce, cranberry sauce, brandy butter that by the time dinner is served you are too shattered to enjoy it? When it goes right, Christmas dinner is one of the best meals of the year but it can be stressful for the person preparing it. We have teamed up with M&S Ireland and put together our top tips to save time on Christmas dinner so you can enjoy spending time with the family and have a tasty Christmas dinner too.
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#1. Be Prepared
Cook what you can in advance. From red cabbage to the ham, soup to dessert cook what you can in the week leading up to Christmas day or the day before. Re-heat before you serve and in some cases, these dishes taste even better when cooked in this way.
You can also prepare the vegetables the night before and cook them on the day. Just store them in cold water with a little salt.
You could also set the table the night before. Get the kids to do this, they will enjoy putting out crackers and making the table look festive for the big day.
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#2. Order In
Ok so we don’t mean from the local take away but M&S have a large selection of time saving Christmas goodies that can be pre-ordered and picked up in-store.
Best of all, if you order before November 11th and spend €90 + you will recieve a fee bottle of wine or box of chocolates. T&C’s apply.
Don’t leave the food shopping to the last possible minute. Apart from the queues, you may find you have to fight for the last turkey, net of sprouts or tub of cream! Buy what you can in advance and have it delivered or ready to be picked up in-store.
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Everything from gravy to bread sauce, stuffing to mince pies can be made well in advance and frozen. Just remember to remove them the night before and heat everything to the correct temperature on the day.
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#4. Get up Early
Ok so any house with kids don’t need to worry about setting the alarm, but for those with teens, get up early if you are cooking a big turkey or meat that needs a long time in the oven and get it on.
You can always go back to bed and leave it to roast low and slow. This has the added benefit of giving you time to rest the meat and frees up your oven for those crispy roast potatoes we all love so much! Crowding your oven slows down the cooking process so this will also ensure you have enough space for everything to cook well.
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#5. Ask for Help
If it is your year to host everyone for Christmas dinner get people to bring food with them. Your Mum may make the best red cabbage while your sister makes a tasty sherry trifle. So play to their strengths and dinner will be on the table in no time.
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#6. Plan Your Menu
The pressure is on to impress the in-laws but honestly, serving 10 types of veg or 6 different sauces will only result in disaster. Plan your menu and only attempt what you are comfortable with. 2 to 3 veg dishes done well will impress better than 10 charred, mushy or cold offerings!
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#7. Serving Up
Warm the plates in advance and if you have family over, get a member from each house to help with the serving up. That way you aren’t shouting over everyone to see how wants what veg or which bit of the turkey they want or if they want gravy or sauce!
As an alternative, you could serve veg in individual dishes, carve up the meat, put sauces in jugs and place everything on the table so everyone serves themselves and gets exactly what they want. This means there should also be less waste too.
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#8. Spread the Meal Out Over the Day
Do you leave the table barely able to move? In the last few years we have spread the meal out over the day. So we start with soup and then have a break, before returning for a fish course or main course. Then another break before the cheese and dessert courses.
Everyone has time to digest their food between courses, kids aren’t bored sitting at the table waiting for adults to finish and we are all more relaxed. We have even been known to get out for a walk between courses and build back up our appetite!
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#9. Washing Up
Assign this duty to those who have not helped in the preparations. However, if you wash as you go, it will free up space in the dishwasher or on the draining board and you’ll have plenty of space to serve up!
Order your Christmas Food from M&S by November 11th and get a free bottle of wine or a box of chocolates.
Over to you now. Do you have any tips to save time on Christmas dinner? Please let us know in the comments box below.