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stress free celebrations - how to enjoy the big day

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stress free celebrations - how to enjoy the big day

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pavlovs_dogpavlovs_dog Forumite
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inspired by this post, i thought it would be a good idea for us to share tips on how to avoid succumbing the the stresses of christmas. many see christmas as a stressful time, because for them it involves keeping everyone else happy and then having to adjudicate when world war three commences between relatives who've overdone it on the sherry :eek: so any tips on how to keep the peace, enjoy the day and avoid family arguments welcomed here.

my piece of advice... if you are a host/hostess on christmas day, do not be a martyr to your guests. remember, it is your christmas too! set aside an hour on christmas eve to do any preparations you can for the day itself, so that you dont spend the 25th running around like a frazzled chicken :D

*prepare the veg, and keep in waters of saucepans
*prepare stuffing balls, pigs in blankets etc and chill, so they are ready to just pop in the oven when required
*if you wont be using it for breakfast, dress the table ready for dinner
*make sure you have ice available to chill drinks
*some poeple like to cook their meat the day before, allowing plenty of time for it to rest and be carved. on the day then, simply reheat.
*prepare any bits you can for buffet tea, if this is the tradition in your house
*put a few rubbish bags to hand in the living room to deal with discarded wrapping paper etc, so that the place is presentable when your guests arrive
* keep a supply of board games/ party games/films/CDs to hand, so that you have an instant entertainment idea to hand if converstaion should lull :eek: or perhaps there is somewhere nice locally where you can go to walk off dinner?
*have batteries close to hand for the kids/big kids' toys
*make sure you have a camera, charged batteries and film to hand to capture the day

never loose sight of the fact that its your day too, and making it special for your guests does not mean you should not enjoy the day yourself

know thyself
Nid wy'n gofyn bywyd moethus...


  • nearlyrichnearlyrich Forumite
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    Part of the Furniture Combo Breaker Hung up my suit! Mortgage-free Glee!
    My big tip is don't go out on Christmas Eve and get talked into too many cocktails when you have a turkey and other roasted meat to prepare for 14 people.:o

    Seriously I now just do the best I can and don't worry if I forget to put the mince pies out, everyone still wants to come again this year.:beer:
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  • newMSnewMS Forumite
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    my top tip is to not do christmas...............

    i dont have any guests, i cook for 2 kids, myself and OH....

    kids go to their dads on boxing day so leaves me and OH (if hes not working) on our own enjoying the quiet :)

    I wouldnt do christmas at all if it weren't for the kids
    mustn't grumble :cool:
  • kethrykethry Forumite
    1K posts
    My tip?

    just a few, really: 1) prepare prepare prepare: from pre-peeling the veg (soak em in cold water to make sure they don't go brown), precooking the stock for gravy, to laying the table, preparing clothes and so on.. as much as possible is done before the day itself. It does mean my christmas prep goes on a bit longer than others, but that's ok - it means i can have a sit down and relax on the day itself.

    2) Adjacent to this is planning: i plan, right down to what i'm gonna cook things in, what i'm going to serve them in, when i need to cook things (making sure i have enough rings on the stove, space in the oven) and i write all this up neatly and stick em on the kitchen cupboards in front of me. [this means that my mom, who is the only other person allowed in the kitchen at that time (apart from dad when he carves da bird) can see the instructions too and help out where needed (in fact i often email her the breakdown before xmas so she has a chance to read it through). What i also make sure is that i plan time for me: time to to have a bath early in the morning and get ready, time to have a cup of coffee and a sit down with the guests and time to do the pressies. [Food wise: do remember that if you are doing lots of different items of food, that people will take correspondingly less of each so you won't need as much as if you were feeding them, say, broccoli as the main vegetable.]

    3) use your microwave as much as possible. This really fits in with no 1 - reheating already prepared food, such as the pigs in blankets, and the christmas pudding - if nothing else, it frees up one ring on the stove.

    4) get someone you trust to help you, and make sure that *everyone* knows they are the only people allowed in the kitchen, especially if you have a small kitchen. mine is tiny, and as i've said, my mom is the only person allowed in there at that time, if only because we spent years working together in her kitchen which is of a similar size so we know how to work around each other. She often just does simple things like keeping on top of the washing up as it goes, running the microwave when i'm working on something, keeping people supplied with cups of tea or drink - she knows my kitchen almost as well as her own (and vice versa!).

    5) if you are short on fridge space, it will be cold enough outside that most things will keep outside for a while. If you don't have a garage of outhouse, a bucket or clean empty bin will do fine for keeping insects off anything. Don't forget also that the turkey has to come up to room temperature overnight, so don't forget to take it out of the fridge if you're doing it that day!!!

    6) and yes, i'd echo what someone above said about making sure you have YOU time - its your christmas too. Although i get up mega early to chuck the turkey in, i use that time first thing in the morning to breathe in the bath, to run through my lists mentally, to prepare stuff that i couldn't do the night before.. that breathing space is what keeps me sane later when stuff is all going to hell in a basket. LOL.

    7) beg borrow steal a copy of Delia's Christmas. Its invaluable. I swear by mine.

    hope that helps someone!

  • meerustarmeerustar Forumite
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    Part of the Furniture Combo Breaker
    I always have the family over at mine at Xmas and My mum always cooks the Turkey at her house and brings it round on the day to carve.

    Let the kids make trifles the day before (hardly anyone likes Xmas pud in our family), but leave the fresh cream off untl just before serving.

    Wrap up any spare toiletries you have for that 'unexpected' gift you have to return.

    And my main tip is MAKE SURE YOU HAVE ENOUGH CHAIRS!!!!!!!

    Theres nothing worse than having half the family on chairs, a couple on stools and then computer desk chairs. Use garden chairs, get them out the day before an give them a good clean.

    Oh, and also enjoy it ... its the only day of the year I have everyone round at the same time, so make the most of it ... you never know whats around the corner.
  • To make christmas a little less stress free we always start ours on Christmas Eve (I believe the Germans do too?).

    Since my children were young we have had our christmas dinner on christmas eve (I had four children in five years so christmas time was a bit mad ;) ) .

    Every year, everyone is home by christmas eve lunchtime. We have our christmas dinner at about 4pm and have our traditional little bits and everyone tells a small part of the christmas story, opening one christmas pressie and lighting the entire room with lots of candles...and open our christmas sweetie box once the washing up is all done. :)

    I always felt that I had far more time on christmas day to spend with the this is my main stress buster.

    Even now the children are all alot older we still keep to this custom.

    Every other year we have all my family over on christmas tea and the other year we meet at my sisters home (I'm one of five by the time we have oh's and children plus childrens girl/boy friends its pretty hectic). I'd never be able to do that and have a christmas dinner lol

    So we always have decent sausages and bacon with thick farmhouse bread for brekkie, normally nothing for lunch and a HUGE buffet at about 4.
    It makes it so much easier this way.

    In fact next year we've decided to hire a hall for the sunday before christmas and have our family gatherings there as there is far too many of us now to all meet together at someones home.

    So if you have a hectic christmas day trying to see friends/relatives etc add an extra day to your festitives like us. :)
  • meerustarmeerustar Forumite
    8.6K posts
    Part of the Furniture Combo Breaker
    What a great idea ... it's too late for me to change arrangements now (already got xmas eve and boxing day booked, lol), but does sound a lovely way to spend xmas eve.

    I also love xmas tele. I know they churn out the same old stuff year after year, but I love the Santa films, and the carols and all the lovely kids films they put on.

    It takes me back to my xmas's when I was younger and reminds me of happier times .... oh I wish I was 6 again :)
  • BeclesBecles Forumite
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    Don't stress!

    When I was younger, I can remember my Mam being in tears on most Christmas Days about stupid things because everything had to be perfect. She would cry about trivial things - even things like the roasties getting a bit overcooked once.

    In the great scheme of things does it really matter if something goes wrong? We're all clever cooks and we can all improvise and make the best of a bad job, so just laugh it off as you would any other day.

    We have Christmas here now, as I don't like dragging the children away from their presents. I'm a laid back Christmas cook. It's a joint effort with husband and our children come first. If dinner is running an hour late because we were playing with the children, then guests just have to accept that and go with the flow.

    Please don't stress - just do whatever makes you happy and enjoy the day :beer:
    Here I go again on my own....
  • IvanOpinionIvanOpinion Forumite
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    I am the nominated Christmas cook in our house and would offer the following advice for a stress free Christmas day .... GO TO SOMEBODY ELSES HOUSE AND LET THEM DO THE COOKING.

    On a more serious note, I found that much of the problem was not in the prep or the cooking (which I enjoy) but actualy in the cleaning up. I no longer buy a turkey but opt for a crown or those turkey breasts sold by supermarkets. They are easier to manouvre in an oven. I also clean up s I go along. reducing the final burden. For the evening I simply keep it simple salad stuff (assuming people are still hungry which is unusual in our house).

    On boxing day the entire family goes to a hotel for a big Christmas meal. It is not overly expensive (probably less than a full family get togther .. especially since everybody pays for their own) .. we have great converation, a few drinks, a lot of food and there is no cleaning up

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  • MrsTinksMrsTinks Forumite
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    In Denmark we celebrate it on the 24th too. Everyone gathers during the afternoon and help out with cooking dinner... dinner usually starts early and in our house at least people help clearing up etc. After dinner we go to the living room with coffee and chocs and loads of sweets if anyone has room (or can manage to force themselves to eat any) and then we send the youngest child round the christmas tree to pick out random presents for everyone and we unwrap them one at a time :) once the kids are worn out and have falled asleep it's usually near midnight if not later and everyone is ready to sleep. Thankfully most kids are so knackered they have a bit of a lie in and when they DO wake up they have all their toys from the night before to play with ;)
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  • newMS wrote:
    my top tip is to not do christmas...............

    i dont have any guests, i cook for 2 kids, myself and OH....

    kids go to their dads on boxing day so leaves me and OH (if hes not working) on our own enjoying the quiet :)

    I wouldnt do christmas at all if it weren't for the kids

    Are you sure your are on the right thread ?
    ....another happy bug.........sorry,blogger embracing the simple life
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