Some people can’t abide the use of “Xmas” for Christmas but certainly a big “X” in the calendar that no doubt lies on the back of your kitchen door reminds us all that indeed, Christmas will soon be upon us. Suddenly, the notion of inviting the whole family around to yours doesn’t seem such a terrific idea. Will everyone get on? Will the food be OK? Will the crackers be up to scratch? Well if you’re starting to panic, don’t worry, because this short 7-point guide will help walk you through some of the things to think about regarding your kitchen space… leaving you with more space to enjoy it.
1) The Christmas Spirit (not necessarily the Christmas “spirits”!)
Firstly, get into the spirit as early as possible. If you’re feeling festive, the tasks before you will feel more an integral part of the season, rather than a chore. Many households focus the decorations – quite understandably – on the living room. However, if you also spruce up the kitchen, perhaps with Christmas lights along the shelves, candles, or a glass vase full of baubles – it will give that most important of rooms its own seasonal lift. It can warm the soul simply to walk into a room that looks that Christmassy… it certainly takes the edge off peeling the parsnips and sprouts!
If these seasonal additions don’t quite cut it, why not use the holidays as a time to reorganise the kitchen itself? Hopefully you will have more time at home at this stage of the year, and that might allow the space to finally sort the room out, ahead of the festivities and associated preparations. There’s always “that drawer” in every kitchen that contains the tea towels, Chinese takeaway menus and assorted hammers and nails… why not finally open it, sort it, and use the contents to address those DIY jobs around the room? For instance, are all uplights and ceiling lights working? A little more illumination will literally brighten up the room… and might reveal where it needs some TLC!
Christmas is for “best”: the best food, the best grog, and the best china. So if you do have people coming around (especially, dare we say it… if it’s the in-laws), take an inventory and make sure you have enough crockery, and cutlery, for everyone you are expecting. Better to do that now, and therefore have time to make replacements, than miscalculate and have guests eating their Christmas dinner from spare cereal bowls or paper plates.
4) Pots and pans
Equally, take stock of what you’re cooking, how many you’re cooking for, and what will be entailed with the preparation of that food. You will need enough pots and pans to accommodate your needs, or else make sure you have the necessary stainless steel reinforcements.
5) Plan ahead
You are, undoubtedly, a domestic god or goddess. However, Christmas dinner is different – there will very probably be more diners around your table and greater expectations. So strategise – plan your schedule, see what can be prepared ahead, what needs to be cooked on the day, and in what order.
6) The oven
If you haven’t used it for a while, fire it up and make sure it’s working perfectly. We’ve come a cropper in our own house when we’ve realised the fan has come on in our large double oven, but it hasn’t been warming up at all. Why not turn it on early on Christmas day and make sure it heats up properly through the morning? That way the bird can go into a properly pre-heated environment, and you can always turn it back down to low if it is working correctly. In addition (and you may not want to hear this) but the holidays might also provide an opportunity to give the oven a clean and ensure it’s in tip-top condition for its big day of the year.
Finally, depending on the number of people you have round, make sure your oven is big enough for the turkey itself. In our home, the problem wasn’t the oven, but the freezer space. Our way around that was to buy two medium turkeys rather than one massive one. More legs and wings for everyone!
7) Chairs and Tables
OK, so back in August it made perfect sense to invite 27 round for Christmas dinner. But at this stage of the proceedings, it’s about the logistics. Is there enough table space? Are there enough chairs? Could the children, perhaps, be offered their own table, to make space? Also, make sure all chairs are sturdy, and the table is secure. You don’t want Great Uncle Albert’s chair collapsing under him half way through the cheese board!
So, whilst you are very probably across all of this, we hope some of these ideas might be helpful, in terms of helping you organising this magical – but sometimes stressful – period of the year. So we wish you all the best of luck with shopping and preparations. Now fix yourself a sherry and r-e-l-a-x….