Oh no, it's Christmas next week and if you're like 99.9% of the population who has to cook Christmas Dinner, then I've no doubt that you've an acute case of The Fear. The Fear is normally reserved for mornings after the night before when you've overindulged on the grape juice but at this time of year, it includes the thought of cooking for a crowd. Relax, it's just a meal. You manage to cook loads of them throughout the year, so why are you getting your knickers in a knot over another one? I've loads of tips to help you get through the next week without pulling your hair out in chunks.
First things first, channel your inner Santa Claus and make a list. This is a godsend as you can take your time, write it all down on paper and start prioritising. I know it's a bit old school, but use your tablet or phone if it makes you feel better. Once you've made a list, have a good read through it and make sure you cover everything you need. Think about what you're going to cook and if you're missing any ingredients, write a shopping list. Don't do what I did one year - forgot to buy red cabbage and there wasn't one to be had in Dublin or Wicklow on Christmas Eve. I had my little brother running up and down Moore Street with strict instructions to not return home without it. He eventually got one and Christmas was saved!
Here's a list of recipes for you with lots of delicious variations on the traditional ways and plenty of shortcuts to prevent you becoming a frazzled mess!
Ham : cook it the day before to save time. A bit of booze helps the flavour!
Sprouts: a Christmas essential but most people aren't fond of the over-boiled green bullets. Change how you cook them and you'll never turn your nose up at them again.
Potatoes : don't always have to be mash or roast. Hasselback Potatoes are really impressive and can hide out in a low oven if you're running late.
Stuffing : make your own. You can add whatever you want to it and it makes sensational leftovers. Here's three different recipes for inspiration.
Dessert : Make this Boozy Yule Log the day before. Have some decent icecream in the freezer and pour an expresso over it for Affogato (one of my favourites). Get guests to bring dessert. My lovely Mammy in Law is bringing her amazing Apple and Almond Cake, which makes me very happy indeed.
Don't forget to delegate. Anybody eating your food should be setting tables, cleaning kitchens, tidying up after you and washing up or filling & emptying the dishwasher!
So, what are your tips to keep Christmas simple?