Well folks it's less than three weeks to Christmas and time to think about planning the festive season, especially if you have friends and family coming round.
Don't Panic - Plan!
Keep within your financial budget
Sharing times with friends and family at Christmas time is the most important thing. The food needs to be tasty and good, but it doesn't need to be expensive or complicated in order for your Chritsmas to be a success.
Plan your menus
Make a draft plan of the meals you wish to cook over the time people are visiting. If guests are staying a few days, include some light and simple meals. It's good to have breaks from festive fare!
Cost out the ingredients of the meals and ensure the cost is within budget – if not revise the plan. You won't enjoy Christmas if you have spent too much and you guests wil be happy if they get good tasting food.
An easy way to reduce the cost is to cook some meals around lentils or beans instead of meat. Or reduce the meat content of eg chilli con carne and increase the beans and vegetables
Make some Christmas food instead of buying it ready made. Mincemeat and mince pies, biscuits, cakes and puddings are all easy to make at home.
Consider when there will be leftovers to use up that can make a meal, such as after a turkey dinner
Make a shopping list and plan your shopping time.
Get Help From Guests
Many guests will ask if there is anything they can bring - and are delighted to contribite in some way. Plan some answers if they ask this question. It may be wine or a spirit that you know they like to drink – or a food item that you know they enjoy. This will help your budget and save time.
Plan to get your guests cooking together with you making biscuits, mince pies – or the evening meal - while you have a chat, a catch up and have a laugh togther at the same time
Accept offers to clear up help after a meal – and any offers to cook – unless you want to be crowned domestic god / goddess extraordinaire!
Your guests will have the best time if they spend some time with you – after all it is you they want to see. They won't want you to be in the kitchen the whole time, anymore than you want to be!
Plan some meals that can be cooked in one or two pots and only take a short time to prepare
Plan the time you need to begin cooking each dish and the order you nee dto do things to ensure there is enough time to complete what you set out to do.
Allow time to go and do some last minute shopping eg for fresh vegetables. Ask a guest or two to go with you and make it a fun trip out.
Most importantly – allocate some time to yourself to watch a film, go for a walk or sit and have a leisurely drink and a read or chat.
Don't be over ambitious – ask yourself what really matters
In my opinion you do not have to have a perfect table decoration, expensive Christmas Crackers, vintage wine, 'luxury' mince pies or a Christmas themed tablecloth and napkins to have the perfect Christmas. You just need food, wine and most importantly, time with family and friends.
There are many easy and low cost recipes to be found on Pennys Recipes
Do share your Tips for Stress Free Christmas Cooking!
Member since: 25th October 2011
I am the founder and author of http://PennysRecipes.com. I am mostly found either cooking or writing about cooking. Member of Transition Exeter