How to plan Christmas

We've put together a handy guide to help you navigate the Christmas food prep, breaking down all of the essential steps and spreading them out over a four-week period.

Dualit's step-by-step guide to preparing your festive Christmas menu!

Navigating the festive season can be a stressful time for many - there's so much to do and such little time, and worrying about whether Christmas Day dinner, desserts and nibbles will be ready to enjoy is not on anyone's wish list this year. To help save time, we've put together a handy guide to help you navigate the Christmas food prep, breaking down all of the essential steps and spreading them out over a four-week period. From planning your menu and writing your shopping list, to freezing condiments and prepping side dishes so that they're ready to go on the day.

Four Weeks Before

1. Begin by writing your menu for the Christmas period - this will allow you to focus on which elements require preparation and identify any ingredients that you may need to buy. If you're struggling to decide which delicious recipes you want to use, we've created three separate options for you to peruse which may offer some inspiration for your own.

2. Write two shopping lists (based on your menu) of all the ingredients that you require - one featuring all the non-perishable items that you can buy before the Christmas rush, and another of perishable items that will be purchased closer to the time. Be sure to check your cupboards for any items that you may have already have, ensuring that you have enough for the recipes you plan to use.

3. Whilst you're out shopping for your store cupboard ingredients, we'd recommend purchasing a couple of fresh herb pots. Place them on your kitchen windowsill and nurture them - you will be surprised at how useful they are to add last minute flavours to your dishes. Just think how smug you'll feel when the supermarket shelves are empty nearer the time!

4. Pre-mix the herbs and spices for all your Christmas dishes - these can be stored in small, air-tight pots that have been labelled and dated so that they're ready for use. Mix or shake and ensure that individual flavours are well combined to prevent any dominating tastes or aromas.

5. Save any crusts or unused slices of bread - blend these into breadcrumbs using the Chopping Bowl attachment of the Dualit 700W Hand Blender. Once fine and even, transfer your breadcrumbs into a plastic bag, add a label, date it and then freeze.

Three Weeks Before

Three weeks to go! Now that you have all of your ingredients prepared, it's time to get cooking. We're starting simple with condiments and sauces, plus your dried fruit to allow the flavour to fully develop.

1. Soak your Mixed Dried Fruit for Christmas Cake, Christmas Pudding and Mince Pies - try our Rum and Citrus Soaked Fruit Recipe for a fresh and zesty twist. Remember, Christmas Pudding matures with time, giving a richer and fuller flavour so you may also wish to start this even further ahead of time!

2. Make Sweet and Savoury Butters that can be stored in either the fridge or freezer in an air-tight container. We love Rosemary, Thyme and Garlic Butter for delicious Roast Potatoes, Chicken, Pork and Lamb Roasts, as well as Brandy Butter to go with a Mince Pie or two. You can also whip up Vanilla and Chocolate Frosting using the Dualit Hand Mixer with Flat Beater Attachments, perfect for our Chocolate Fudge Yule Log recipe!

3. Make flavoured sugar syrups for your coffees, cocktails and desserts. These make delicious additions and can spice up any drink or dish.

4. Purchase 2-3 large cooking apples. Peel, core and stew your apples until broken down, then freeze in a labelled bag. Stewed apples can be used to replace eggs or some of the butter/oil in baking and also make a great sweet or savoury relish to enjoy alongside your main meal.

Two Weeks Before

Two weeks to go and we're taking things to the next level. Think baked goods, puddings and pastry - plus, some optional time and space savings tricks.

1. Weigh out the dry ingredients that you need for the Cakes, Pastries and Puddings that you are planning to make - place into a bag and label with both the recipe name and all the ingredients (plus weights) that have been included. This will stop any confusion over remaining ingredients that need to be added (for example, eggs, butter, milk etc.). Store in a cool, dry place until ready for use.

2. Buy your pastry. For any desserts or snacks that require pastry - whether this be filo, puff or shortcrust - you can either buy ready-made sheets or make your own ahead of time and store in the freezer. Remember to defrost the night before use and keep in the fridge until you're ready to bake - cold pastry gives a much better bake.

3. For Mince Pies, pre-cut circles (don't forget the lids!) and lay between sheets of baking parchment. Place in a plastic bag or airtight container, label and freeze. This is a great time saver and means that you can bake your Mince Pies whenever you like.

4. If you are limited for oven space and planning on cooking or roasting a whole bird or large joint for Christmas dinner, this can also be done ahead of time. Cook your meat, slice into portions and allow to cool fully. Once cool, place into plastic bags and then store in the freezer until the day. This can be reheated in Gravy on the day to prevent the meat from becoming dry but saves lots of space in the oven for other dishes.

One Week Before

Only one week remains before Christmas hits. Excitement is at its peak and final preparations are starting to be made!

1. Make up your stuffing - we'd recommend our Sage and Onion Stuffing - roll into balls, place into a labelled bag and freeze.

2. If you're making your own Pigs in Blankets, make these up and place into a foil dish so that they're ready to go straight in the oven on the day. Place your tray into a bag to cover the dish and keep your Pigs in Blankets in place, then freeze.

3. Using your ingredients list of perishable goods, do one last Christmas shop for any items that you still need. These are most likely to be fresh fruit, vegetables and cream, but may also include foods for your favourite family traditions, like smoked salmon and bagels to be enjoyed on Christmas morning.

4. Have a go at making Mulled Wine - this is a fun way to get all the family involved and fill your home with the smell of Christmas spices, setting the mood for the rest of the week!

5. To save time on the day, prepare your vegetables on Christmas Eve and leave in water overnight. This saves time and effort peeling, coring and chopping vegetables amongst all the other festivities on Christmas Day.

On The Day

Just like that, Christmas has arrived! Relax and unwind knowing that all the hard work and preparation has been done.

1. Use your pre-prepared ingredients or elements of dishes and snacks that need to be baked last minute - whether this is shaping your pastry and making Mince Pies or adding wet ingredients to partially mixed cake batters so that they're ready to go in the oven.

2. Cook or reheat any food that you had previously prepared and frozen, including your Pigs in Blankets, Stuffing and meat (or meat alternative if you're hosting a vegan or veggie Christmas this year). Ensure that all food is well cooked and piping hot before serving.

3. Enjoy!

Top Tips:

  • Label, label, label! Do not forget to label any bags or containers that you've placed in the freezer with the date that it was frozen and what it contains. Though we're sure Christmas will be a little more interesting, we're not sure that you're dishes will taste quite the same with the wrong ingredients added!
  • Remember to remove any frozen foods that need to be defrosted from the freezer the day or night before, particularly if you need to add further ingredients on Christmas Day, or items that do not need to be cooked (like Savoury Butters).
  • For an added touch of festive fun and Christmas 'spirit', use our Christmas Coffee Advent Calendar in a game of coffee roulette! Pull a number from 1-25 out of a hat and try your hand at making that drink.

Dualit Products Used

Here are some of our favourite products to help you with your Christmas Food Prep!

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