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Christmas for beginners

wine christmasI have never cooked Christmas lunch in my own house but I have always helped my Mother out on the day and for the past couple of years I have taken over proceedings – a balancing act that can sometimes drive me mad.

It’s quite a complicated affair in terms of timing and there is always the risk of getting it wrong –  either over-cooking the vegetables, under-cooking the turkey or forgetting to put the spuds on.

If you’re cooking Christmas lunch/dinner for the first time this year, here is a guideline to help you get it right and take the stress out of the day.

Early December

  • Order your turkey or buy a frozen one now. If you are getting a free-range organic bird, it must be ordered well in advance. To work out what size you need, count on serving 450g per person.
  • Make the Christmas pudding.

One week before Christmas

  • Make your mince pies and freeze them.
  • Purchase all the non-perishables – this way you can get the best deals and not panic buy at the last minute.

Christmas week


  • If you are using a frozen turkey, put it in the refrigerator to start defrosting. Surprisingly, the average bird takes three to four full days to thaw.


  • For the stuffing you will need stale bread so set it aside on a baking tray.
  • Check that you have all your cookware, serving pieces, utensils, etc.
  • Do your shopping for all your fresh produce.

Christmas Eve:

  • Defrost the mince pies.
  • Make the cranberry sauce.
  • Make the stuffing – don’t refrigerate, but leave covered in a cool place – the stuffing should not be too cold when you stuff the turkey.
  • Prepare the vegetables – peel potatoes and put in cold water in the fridge, prepare other vegetables and store in plastic bags in the fridge.
  • Christmas Eve evening – take the turkey out of the fridge, cover with foil and allow it to come to room temperature. Do the same with the stuffing and butter so that it softens for the morning.
  • Set the table up.

Christmas day:

  • Preheat the oven and prepare the turkey, pop it in for roasting in the morning if you’re having a Christmas lunch – the average bird take 3-4 hours.
  • Pour yourself a glass of wine.
  • While it cooks, make the roast potatoes.
  • When the bird comes out to rest, put any pre-made sides back in the oven to warm up.
  • Pour yourself a glass of wine.
  • Boil the sprouts and other vegetables.
  • Leave the gravy to last.
  • Before sitting down to lunch; start steaming the Christmas pudding for later.

Alternatively, you can do nothing; go to the pub on Christmas eve, drink like a sailor, wake up face down on your doorstep and do everything on the day with a massive hangover and endure shameful looks from your family.

Do you find Christmas day a stressful affair or is a day you look forward to?

One Comment

  1. Excellent guide, only change I’d make is in the morning whilst preparing the bird for the oven I would substitute ‘champagne’ for wine. Or perhaps a fino… Or bloody mary, depending on how Christmas Eve went.