4 weeks before (that's now! but you could stretch it to 2 weeks before)
Make your Christmas cake and Christmas Pudding
If you don't make one, you can buy them! If you make them- they keep pretty well but I like to put mine in the freezer for a bit too.
It's a good time to do the Christmas baking
It all freezes well gingerbread, rocky road, shortbread, or some baileys fudge never went astray I say!
Buy your table dressing/decorations
If you like to theme your day, or that old tablecloth just won't cut the mustard this year - this is a good time to get them, whilst there's still some choices left. You could also decide to make your own Christmas BonBons if you get really creative!
Plan your menu
That's pretty important, source your recipes, do a practice run if you like - time to check if your guests have any allergies too! How many people are you having? Are you doing buffet or a la carte? Which dishes can you or will you delegate to others?
Order a ham, turkey and/or seafood
It gets pretty competitive out there and I think to get a lovely ham - it's sometimes best bought from your butcher, but you need to get in quick.
Week before Christmas
Do a clean up
Where-ever you're going to relax, get it done now, give the house a good once-over, the garden, the BBQ might need a clean, as might your oven. I always do a clean out of my refrigerator in the lead up to Christmas, I want to maximise as much space in there as possible, and lots of people are likely to be using it, they don't need to see mouldy-what-ever-that-used-to-be and either do you!
Write your shopping list
Like a good meal planner you need to meticulously write down every ingredient you're going to need to make your feast. Don't worry if you 'think' you already have it in the pantry/fridge, cross it out when you've checked, better than rushing to the shops on Christmas Eve!
Sort out the ambience
Do you like Christmas Carols playing? Organise a download of carols, or don't. Put up your tree or at least a few decorations to let people know if you're in the holiday spirit. Playing those Christmas Carols whilst you do Christmassy things is good for the soul I assure you (although playing 'all I want for Christmas is you incessantly for 6 hours as I experienced in Shanghai airport last week is NOT recommended!)
Make as much as you can in advance so you can just cook the minimum on the day and assemble the rest - like pre-cooking and chilling pasta for a pasta salad, pre-making your custard if you're making it from scratch, making any chilled desserts etc.
Set your table
Yes, if you can set your table Christmas Eve, not always possible if you're eating outside but if you can I highly recommend it!
On the day
Enjoy, enlist your guests to help wash up as you go, it's your Christmas too! No one likes a frazzled host!
So what are your tips for not just surviving, but thriving on the Christmas feast? Go to someone else's house perhaps!?
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