Last Updated on October 10, 2023 by Share My Kitchen
When is the best time to start planning for Christmas? Without a doubt, October.
Planning the menu, grocery and gift shopping, cooking, and decorating the home take a lot of work and can take the joy out of Christmas if not done on time. Really, the last thing you want is to be stuck in the kitchen all day instead of enjoying the festivities!
Thankfully, there’s plenty you can do right now to get ahead for a stress-free Christmas dinner. Let’s dive in and explore some easy, practical ideas to make this Christmas less hectic and more enjoyable.
In the Kitchen
Plan Your Holiday Menu in Advance
First things first – figure out the menu well in advance. Start by deciding on the meals you’d like to serve on the Big Day. Are you going for the traditional roast turkey or is a vegetarian lasagna more up your alley? Whatever you and your loved ones prefer, it’s best to decide on the exact dishes early on so you can do the shopping early and prepare and freeze some of the dishes in advance.
Once you’ve settled on the main dishes, consider sides and appetizers. Traditional choices like mashed potatoes, stuffing, and cranberry sauce are always a hit. However, if you want to get creative, think about adding a unique twist, like truffle mashed potatoes or bacon-wrapped Brussels sprouts.
Stock Up on Essentials
To avoid the hectic Christmas supermarket queues, it’s best to stock up on essentials well before the holiday rush hits the stores. You can do this by planning your menu in advance and then creating a comprehensive shopping list of everything you need for each meal you plan on making. Equally important is sticking to that list so you stop yourself from overspending.
While you cannot stock on every single thing you’ll need on Christmas day, you can definitely stock up on essentials: spices and herbs, flour, sugar, stock cubes, baking essentials, tableware, cling film, freezer bags of all sizes, etc. Before you go shopping though, make sure you check your pantry for non-perishables so you don’t buy the things you already have.
Pre-Make and Freeze Meals
Many dishes and trimming can be prepared ahead of time and frozen. Casseroles, stuffings, sauces, pies, cookies, ice-cream desserts – all can be made in advance so you don’t spend the holiday bent over a stove.
For example, you can make and freeze the cake and gravy up to three months ahead. Roast potatoes, mince pies, and stuffings can be made up to one month ahead, saving you precious hours on Christmas day. Before you start with the recipes though, clear out your freezer so you have enough space for everything.
Beyond the Kitchen
- Start Gift Shopping Ahead of Time: To avoid the stress of last-minute shopping, start creating a list of recipients right now and brainstorming ideas for each person. If you come across something that would make a perfect gift for a friend or family member in October or November, go ahead and buy it. It might feel a bit premature, but your future self will thank you when December rolls around and you’re not caught in a shopping frenzy.
- Create Personalized Holiday Cards Early: Sending customized holiday photo cards is a wonderful way to spread holiday cheer and make your loved ones feel special. To avoid the last-minute rush, schedule a fun photo session with your family weeks or even months in advance. This can be especially helpful for super-busy families who don’t have a lot of free time together. You can also send out the cards earlier, but no more than a week before Thanksgiving.
Decorate Your Home Weeks in Advance: To get into the Christmas spirit, start decorating your home several weeks before Christmas. Start by going through your existing decorations to see what you have and what needs replacing. If you find worn-out or broken items, make a note to purchase replacements early. This will save you from the disappointment of realizing you’re missing key pieces just days before the big celebration.