Saturday, 16 December 2017

On the Fourth Day of Parenting - Christmas Dinner De-Stressed

Hello and thank you for hopping over from Bumps Babies Tots and Teens Mummy Diaries and welcome to the 4th day of #12DaysOfParenting. Today's sponsor is Bags of Love who are offering a Personalised Apron and the theme is Your Christmas Dinner De-Stressed! My keyword to enter today’s giveaway is in this post below, good luck! Full details of the #12DaysOfParenting terms and conditions can be found on the #12DaysOfParenting page and all entries are to be completed via the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.

This year we are having our first Christmas at home with no extended family.

I am so excited to be fully in charge this year!

I’ve made Christmas Dinner many times, but this will be the first year that I am responsible for cooking whilst only having one other adult around to supervise children. So I’ve been getting organised.
With a decent pla, you can't go far wrong

My biggest tip is to make a cooking plan, with all the timings for everything written down. This has saved me many a time. One day I’ll save it somewhere or print and laminate, but today is not that day! Scribbled down in pencil on a piece of paper will have to suffice.

Having the order of prep and timings for cooking written down means that if I am required for a feed or a cuddle, then the Hubby can jump in and take over for a while too. And it shows the times when I can be with the family in the lounge, rather than spending the whole morning running around the kitchen like a headless turkey!

To write my plan, I first of all list everything that needs to be served up - especially the red cabbage, because of the ridiculous number of years we’ve forgotten about it, only to find it dried out in the slow cooker at bedtime.

Then I add in how long each item takes, putting down both the time needed to prepare and to cook.

Then I work backwards from the time we want to eat, writing down the time each action needs to take place, always allowing for some leeway in case of longer cooking times being needed.

And, voilĂ ! I have a plan.
It's your meal - you choose when to eat

In order for the plan to run as smoothly as possible, I also make and freeze several components of Christmas Dinner in the weeks running up to the big day.

Cranberry sauce and bread sauce are great for freezing, and I have begun to make Jamie Oliver’s Get Ahead gravy because gravy tends to be the thing that slows me down at the end of cooking. It’s a joy to be able to simply warm it up as dinner time approaches, rather than trying to find space for the turkey roasting tin on the hob and frantically stirring, waiting for the gravy to thicken while the rest of the food gets cold.

Just don’t forget to get all the frozen stuff out to defrost first thing!

Our least stressful Christmas - pre-kids!
On Christmas Eve I like to get the whole family involved in preparing the vegetables for the next day. When we’re all sat at the table together, working and listening to Christmas songs, it becomes a joyful experience, instead of a lonely and resentful one. Smaller children can remove the outer leaves from sprouts, while bigger kids can chop carrots and leeks. And the Hubby is a master of pigs in blankets, though we’re considering buying them ready made this year.

Vegetables can be parboiled and plunged into icy water before storing in the fridge to be warmed up on Christmas Day.

I have tried pre-boiling the potatoes for roasties, but we weren’t impressed with them, so it will be back to boiling on the day this year, though even potatoes can be peeled the day before and submerged in cold water in the fridge overnight.

We have a dishwasher, which is useful for warming to plates before dinner and cleaning them afterwards. But to avoid the peril of having to leave oven dishes to soak, we buy disposable trays. I know it’s not the most environmentally friendly idea, but sometimes being able to decrease the stress and increase the time spent with the family is of greater importance.

I think it’s important to remember that Christmas Dinner is really just a roast with a few extra dishes. It shouldn’t be the stressful experience that it is thought to be. And if you’ve never made a roast before, then there is absolutely no shame in buying pre-prepared dishes. It’s far more important that you have a lovely day with your family.

So, relax and enjoy. Let your cooking be fun. And bon appetit!

What are your tips for taking the stress out of Christmas Dinner?

Today’s Codeword is: NATIVITY
If you would like to read another post and gain another entry, then head over to Mummies Waiting for their take on Your Christmas Dinner De-stressed.

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