Nov 302010
 
how to make holiday meal less busy

My in-laws, enjoying coffee on Christmas morning. The turkey is in the oven!

These tips for making Christmas dinner less stressful and easier are simple and fun. They work best if you can round people up – a spouse, family member, or friend. Don’t do everything yourself!

Before the tips, a quip:

“One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day.  Don’t clean it up too quickly.” ~ Andy Rooney.

The same goes for the mess in the kitchen and dining room when you’re cooking Christmas dinner! Enjoy it, and immerse yourself in what it represents: the Christmas season, family, peace, joy, and the hope of a new year. I think it’s really important to spend more time hanging out with loved ones that slaving away in the kitchen — hence these easy Christmas dinner ideas! For more — and much different — tips, read Barefoot Contessa Parties! Ideas and Recipes for Easy Parties That Are Really Fun (this book is a great Christmas gift idea, by the way!).

And here are my Christmas tips…

9 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

1. Split the holiday dinner duties — especially the Christmas turkey! My hubby took care of roasting the turkey, the turkey gravy, the table extension and settings, wine pouring, and turkey carving. I made the stuffing or dressking, vegetarian gravy, mashed potatoes, and baked yams. To make Christmas dinner easy, divide up the duties in specific, clear ways. Don’t hesitate to ask guests to pitch in!

2. Create a holiday meal schedule. Here’s what our Christmas dinner schedule looked like for a 6:30 pm meal: at 2 pm, butter and stuff the turkey and get it into the oven; 3:30 pm, make two dishes of stuffing to bake outside the turkey; 4 pm, start boiling the potatoes for mashed potatoes; 6 pm, make gravy. This schedule made for an easy Christmas dinner — the day just flowed.

3. Add extra time for turkey roasting. To make sure your guests aren’t waiting extra long for the  easy Christmas turkey dinner, add an extra 45 minutes to your prep time after the turkey is roasted. This allows the turkey juices to set after it’s taken out of the oven (20 minutes), time for carving (15 minutes), and time to transfer the turkey pieces to the serving platter (approx. 10 minutes, depending on how fancy your serving platter is).

4. Don’t forget the creamed corn and/or niblets. I didn’t realize until halfway through the meal that the turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and yams really needed a corn side dish. There’s something about corn – especially sweet niblets – that really complements a Christmas dinner. And, your corn side dish doesn’t have to be complicated; it can be as easy as opening up a few cans or boiling frozen corn for a few minutes.

5. Ask guests to bring wine, dessert, or side dishes. Instead of attempting to make the perfect Christmas holiday meal all by yourself, ask your guests to participate! This reduces stress, lets everyone taste other people’s food, and allows guests to contribute. Wine, dessert, veggie platters, and the guests’ own special Christmas dishes are great things to ask for.

6. Plan to run out of oven space; consider bbq’ing your turkey with a Turkey Cannon. Our oven wasn’t big enough to roast the turkey, two dishes of stuffing or dressing, and two huge yams, so we baked the yams first and kept them warm on the bbq. To make your holiday meal easy, remember that you only have a limited number of stove and oven space! Consider bbq’ing your turkey. This funny-looking silver thing is a Camp Chef Turkey Cannon — it’s a fast, delicious, easy way to cook a turkey for Christmas. People love it; it got brilliant reviews on Amazon.

7. Make a fat-free gravy for the Christmas turkey. We found a delicious mushroom, garlic, and onion gravy on the internet that was easy to make – and it contains much less fat than turkey gravy. My hubby made gravy from the turkey fat drippings, which made this a perfect holiday meal for some of our guests (but not me — yuck!).

8. Create space at the Christmas dinner table. Have enough space on the table for serving platters, or designate an extra table off to the side. We had to put our platters of food on a nearby counter, but getting up for more food may discourage guests from second helpings. Instead of decorating your holiday meal table with huge centerpieces and extra dishware, reserve space for serving platters. It’s much easier this way.

9. Relax and enjoy yourself! This really is the most important way to make a Christmas dinner easy: have a good time so your guests can relax and enjoy themselves. There’s nothing worse than a host or hostess who is stressing about the holiday meal!

If you’re planning a Christmas party, read 16 Christmas Party Themes for Work or Home – Meaningful and Fun.

 

laurie pawlik kienlenI'm Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen - bookworm, travel bug, flute player, writer, blogger, warrior princess. :-) My husband and I live in Vancouver, Canada with our cat and dogs.

Are you happy? My Grade 10 Social Studies teacher always asked me that. And I am happy, despite a hard childhood (schizophrenic mom, no dad, foster homes), infertility, an eating disorder, and a chronic illness. The source of my peace and joy is God; I'm a Christian. Where do you find peace?

I welcome your big and little comments below, about big or little things. I can't give you advice, but writing can give you clarity and insight.

In peace and passion...Laurie

  4 Responses to “9 Ways to Make Christmas Dinner Easier and Less Stressful”

  1. I think your suggestions are absolutely right on. Everyone should have a stress free Christmas dinner, even the cook. Plan, plan, plan. I work with Better Recipes and am right now focusing on Christmas dinner recipes. Plan ahead and check out the recipes that will work for you and your guests. How about “Throw It in a Bag Rosemary Turkey” or “Drunken Cranberry Sauce”. Check out these recipes and many more here Christmas Dinner Recipes

  2. Thanks for your comments! I love the idea of finding places to have Christmas dinner — then you don’t have to worry about cooking your own holiday meals. No matter how many tips you have, Christmas dinner requires a huge amount of time and energy.

  3. Great advice, for those going to cook themselves Christmas dinner/lunch. As for me, this year, I’m hoping to find one or two Christmas dinner deals and save myself the trouble of having to mediate the the festive season’s warring as well as the cleaning.

  4. Delicious! It’s early morning but your article just made me salivate.. don’t forget the safety aspect of cooking and preparing your holiday meals.;