If you’re hosting a big family gathering this coming Christmas, you may already be worried about how much you’ve taken on. The holiday season brings plenty of extra chores to do. With the kids out of school, it can be one of the most chaotic times of the year. All the excitement of the festive period can completely wear us out. We’re often ready for our beds before we can serve up the Christmas dinner! Plan ahead this year by starting early, and reading these top tips for a sane Christmas.
One of the biggest worries about a big family gathering is how you’re going to feed everyone! The freezer and oven aren’t huge, so you may not fit all the food in. It’s essential to buy all your food in early enough but being able to store it is not easy. This year, why not ask the neighbours who go away for the holidays if you could borrow their fridge space for a couple of days. Alternatively, look into buying or hiring a basement freezer to store the extra food.
Cooking up a big feast can be easier than you think when you plan ahead. Use a spreadsheet app to note all the cooking times for each dish. You can then coordinate the use of the hobs and oven so everything can be ready in time. Choose recipes that are simple rather than going for the gourmet things. Tried and tested is more likely to guarantee good results. If there are some new dishes you would like to try, practice them a couple of times before the big day.
Cooking a Christmas dinner can involve lots of vegetables and meats. Wine is an important ingredient too, so be sure to order good wines for the food as well as for the table. Web-based stores like SerenataFlowers.com deliver plenty of choices for Christmas wines. Buy online, so you can peruse at your pleasure without getting stuck at the mall. You may also want to think about ordering a bottle of champagne to celebrate the whole family being together.
Preparing your table for Christmas can be a headache if some guests who are prone to disagreements. The seating plan needn’t be too tricky if you take the time to think ahead. Choose a good quality table cloth, and add a Christmas theme cover over the top. Napkins could be placed in themed rings, and you can add paper napkins with little Santas or reindeers on. If you have small children at the table, consider keeping them at one end away from the serving dishes.
Candles are a lovely touch for the dining table. You can buy them in red and gold colours to keep in with the theme of the day. You might be using a special table runner or mats. Themed confetti can look lovely and add a touch of sparkle to the table. You may also want to place some small pots of fresh flowers in the centre to bring other colours to your meal. Don’t forget to leave space for the plates!
Present shopping can be enormously stressful. Not only is it expensive, but it can be tricky to figure out what to buy for everyone. While children are often very vocal with their request list, older relatives tend not to drop hints about what they would like. Start early in the year. Talk to your relatives and try to get ideas from the things that crop up in conversation. You can also take advantage of sales at the end of the Summer and into Autumn and Fall if you plan ahead.
Seasons greetings cards are always fun to write until you start getting into double and then triple figures. You might choose to send your own homemade cards, or even save on the writing (and the paper!) altogether and send out Christmas eCards. Or have some printed by a local printer, bearing your family’s photograph. Some people start writing them in January as they are popping the cards from Christmas into the recycling box. This way, they can make sure they are sending a card to everyone who wrote to them last year!
The Christmas tree is one of the best parts of the season, especially for the children. Getting it into the house and upright in the room is perhaps not quite as fun. Lay out a large decorator’s sheet on the floor to collect all the needles and leaves that may drop off. You can then just fold it up and shake it all outside, saving you an hour of vacuuming later on. It also preserves your carpets and floors from muddy or snowy boot from the delivery team!
Once the tree is in, have fun with the children decorating it. This is one of those quality times that kids remember with their parents. Turn off the phone and laptop, and get stuck into an afternoon of hanging decorations on the branches. You can sit down with the arts and crafts box, and each make a new decoration to hang for this year. Stars, angels, bells and robin birds are popular shapes. You can make them out of air drying clay or even some old card. Have fun with glue sticks, paints and glitter together to make memories for life.
Once all the family start to arrive, your house will be in disarray for at least several hours. You may prefer to run around cleaning and tidying up after everyone, but this day is about relaxing and having fun with the family. Cooking and preparing food will take up much of your time, but invite the family to come into the kitchen and share in the process with you. Enjoy a glass of wine together and chat to catch up. Just because you’re playing hostess, it doesn’t mean you can’t rope in some happy helpers.
Hopefully, your big Christmas gathering will run smoothly, but the truth is most have their hiccups. Things get spilt, and other things get broken. Kids cry, and grown-ups argue. At the end of the day, you are all together, and you’re the one who made it happen. Be proud of your accomplishments, and happy in the knowledge Christmas comes but once a year! Merry Christmas.