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The ultimate guide to preparing your Christmas feast

Christmas planner

Let’s have no tears on Christmas Day! Check out our foolproof Christmas cooking guide that ensures no little details get forgotten in the kitchen come December 25

Prepare your Christmas cake or pud well in advance.
Prepare your Christmas cake or pud well in advance.

1 month before

• Stir-up Sunday is an English tradition that harks back to Victorian times when the family would gather together to stir the Christmas pudding five weeks before Christmas. Take this date as a hint to get your Christmas cake or pudding under way.

• Write down how many people are visiting you on Christmas Day so you can plan how much food you need.

• Pick out the recipes you want to use and write up a shopping list. Keep an eye out for sales on bubbly and stock up.

• Give your fridge a good clean-out. You'll need plenty of space in there and it's a good chance to check the use-by date on your condiments.

• Decide what size bird and ham you will need and then order them from the butcher.

Homemade stuffing can be frozen - just simply defrost on Xmas eve.
Homemade stuffing can be frozen - just simply defrost on Xmas eve.

2 weeks before

• Sauces, stuffing and sides can all be frozen. Make your cranberry sauce and stuffing for freezing.

• Plan your table setting if you want to try something a bit different. Try this gorgeous copper and navy theme for a modern, contemporary Christmas twist.

5 days before

• Plan your drinks: make sure you have mixers for cocktails, non-alcoholic options and something for the kids.

• Make perishable edible gifts such as sweets and biscuits.

• Buy extra containers to square away your leftovers.

• Shop for non-perishable items.

You can mull wine up to two days in advance.
You can mull wine up to two days in advance.

2 days before

Mull wine if you're going for a traditional-style Christmas.

• Make brandy butter for your Christmas pudding and refrigerate: combine unsalted butter with double its weight in icing sugar and a good whack of brandy.

• Try to buy all your fresh fruit and vegetables on this day. To save time later, begin breaking it all down and storing it in snap-lock bags. You don't want to be doing prep like peeling potatoes on the day. Peel and chop root vegetables like potato, pumpkin, kumara, carrot and parsnip. Cut your broccoli or cauliflower into florets, wash and trim your beans, pod your peas

• Think about defrosting your turkey if you've got a frozen one. You need it at room temperature before you cook it.

Partially roasting your veges in advance can save time on the day.
Partially roasting your veges in advance can save time on the day.

1 day before

• Make a vinaigrette if serving salad.

Make custard and refrigerate (place plastic wrap hard against the surface of the custard to stop a skin forming).

• If you're worried about timing on the day, roast root vegetables until almost done, then finish them on the day in a hot oven with a bit of duck fat.

• Chill your cold drinks.

• Defrost stuffing overnight.

Turkey takes a long time to cook - get it going early on the day.
Turkey takes a long time to cook - get it going early on the day.

On the day

• Get your turkey on if you are serving it. Remember: you need to rest your turkey for at least 45 minutes before serving so make sure you factor that in.

• Heat ready-prepared dishes like veges and sauces plus plates at least 20 minutes before serving.

Feature photograph by: Katie Quinn Davies.

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