Christmas dinner timetable
It's probably the biggest meal you'll cook all year, and it's all too easy to get completely stressed out. But don't panic, Amy Willcock's Christmas dinner timetable reduces everything down to manageable chunks. Print this out, tick off steps as you complete them, and before you know it you'll have cooked up a veritable feast for family and friends.
Order your turkey or buy a frozen one now. To work out what size you need, count on serving 450g per person. A frozen turkey will need 4–5 days to thaw. Make and freeze your mince pies. Think about the tabletop decorations if you're planning something special.
One week before Christmas
Start to defrost the turkey at the back of the fridge. Write your shopping list and purchase all non-perishables (don’t forget pet food). Buy milk in cartons and freeze in case of emergency.
Two days before Christmas
Make cranberry sauce and store in the fridge. For stuffings and bread sauce you will need stale bread. Cut and cube it now and lay it out on a baking tray in a single layer. Make sure all napkins and tablecloths are washed and ironed. Wash or polish cutlery, glasses, serving dishes and china. Pick up the flowers you ordered for the table. Arrange flowers and water well. If possible, wait until Christmas Eve to buy vegetables, salads and fish. If not, buy them now.
Christmas Eve morning
Pick up fresh turkey. Do last-minute shopping. Prepare turkey gravy. Defrost mince pies. Prepare your chosen pudding and refrigerate. If you’re serving a traditional pudding, make brandy butter and refrigerate.
Christmas Eve afternoon
Prepare stuffings. Don’t refrigerate, but leave covered in a cool place. The stuffings should not be too cold when you stuff the turkey. Prepare the vegetables. Peel potatoes and put in cold water in the fridge. Prepare other vegetables and store in plastic bags in the fridge. Make bread sauce. Cover tightly with cling film and store in the fridge. Set the table, leaving the flowers until the morning.
Christmas Eve evening
Take the turkey out of the fridge, cover with foil and allow it to come to room temperature. Do the same with the stuffing and butter so that it softens for the morning. With all the newly-created space, fill up the fridge with wines, mineral water and fresh juice.
Whether you're hosting Christmas for the first time and don't know where to start, or you're a seasoned chef looking for something new, look no further than this essential guide to fest...