Hosting a Christmas dinner can be fun but also lots of work and stress especially if you are planning to make everything from scratch. With a little planning you can actually enjoy your family’s and friends’ company instead of doing all the hard work till the moment you’re ready to join the table.

There are plenty of things you can prepare days or weeks ahead.

  1. You can make gravy in advance: simply freeze it in a container and defrost on the day. You can also add the juice from your Christmas meat to it before serving.
  2. Stuffing freezes well too. You can freeze it raw in an oven tray so that, once defrosted, you can pop it straight in the oven or you can cook it in advance and freeze it. On the day you will only have to warm it up.
  3. A day ahead boil your Brussel sprouts and drop them in cold water to stop the cooking process. On Christmas day you’ll only need to reheat them in a pan.
  4. Peel and chop your potatoes the night before and, to avoid browning, leave them in a container covered by water in the fridge. It will save you lots of time and mess in the kitchen! You can also half roast your potatoes in advance, for about 30 minutes, and finish roasting them for 20 minutes in a hot oven. Another option is to parboil and freeze them when they have cooled down.
  5. Rinse and pat dry your turkey the day before and cut the vegetables you are cooking it with. To prevent drying out in the fridge, put a damp paper towel on the chopped vegetables and store them in an airtight container in the fridge.
  6. Cranberry sauce is easy to make and can be stored in the fridge for up to a week!
  7. Boil parsnips the day before and keep them in the fridge; or bring the parsnips to the boil for three minutes before freezing. When defrosted, they’ll only need 15-20 minutes in the oven before turning crisp and golden.
  8. Sweet potatoes can be peeled and chopped 3 to 4 days in advance. Store them in a sealed bag or container with an airtight lid in the fridge.
  9. Cabbage can be washed and chopped, sliced, or shredded 1 to 2 days in advance and stored in the fridge.
  10. Broccoli and Cauliflower  can be washed and cut into florets 2 to 3 days in advance and kept in the fridge.
  11. Yorkshire puddings can be frozen for up to a month. Defrost them on the day and warm them up in the oven for 5-10 minutes. Alternatively you can make the batter a day in advance.
  12. Salad dressing can be made up to a week in advance and stored in the fridge. Dressings made with olive oil  will  solidify in the fridge but you can leave them on the kitchen counter for an hour to come to room temperature and give them a good shake to re-emulsify.
  13. Chicken and vegetable stock can be made in advance and  kept in the fridge for 3 to 4 days or frozen for up to 3 months and defrosted in the fridge overnight or on your kitchen counter for a few hours.
  14. Most cheeses can be shredded or sliced up to 5 days in advance.
  15. Of course Christmas pudding can be made months ahead but you can also make mince pies a month before and pop them in the freezer ready to be baked from frozen at a moment’s notice!
  16. Mulled wine improves its flavour the earlier you make it. Add herbs and spices, saving fruit till later as it won’t have the same lasting power.

Follow these tips and you’ll have more time to enjoy a glass or two of your favourite wine!