Every year students attempt to create the perfect Christmas dinner, and no matter how carefully you plan it, things will inevitably go wrong. Last year I did two Christmas dinners, one with my flat and one with a group of friends, and although they were both pretty successful, neither of them ran perfectly smoothly. Between the chicken in a bag that wouldn’t defrost, the pigs in blankets getting soaked in the rain, and my boyfriend disappearing into the night without his phone just to find some paper plates, I was just about ready to burst into tears. However, last year was a great learning curve, and I now feel much more confident to make Christmas dinner for my housemates this year – and hopefully the lessons I’ve learnt will help you too become the Nigella Lawson of your flat!
- Make a list of what you need and divide up the responsibility: Christmas dinner is a large affair and obviously you can’t expect to afford and organise it all by yourself especially when you need to feed upwards of 5 people. Make a list of all the different components and give your friends one or two things to contribute: someone can do the veggies, someone else can do the roast potatoes, someone else can provide dessert etc. This way you split the cost and the stress!
- Timings are key: There are lots of components to a Christmas dinner and these all take different times to cook – you don’t want your veggies to be ready while your chicken is still cooking as half your food will be cold by the time you get to eat. On your list, note next to each item how long it will take to cook, next decide what time you want to eat, then work backwards noting the time each part will need to go into the oven to be ready on time.
- Prep in advance: Cooking dinner itself isn’t too difficult but much of the work and the stress for a Christmas dinner comes in the form of preparation. Most things can be prepared in advance and kept fresh until they are needed later. If you’re having Christmas dinner in the evening, then I recommend spending the morning or afternoon doing all the difficult bits so later on you can just shove it all in the oven and relax. Potatoes, Carrots, parsnips, and most other veggies can be peeled and chopped in advance and kept in some cold salted water, so they don’t go brown, stuffing can be made then covered and left in the fridge, as can pigs in blankets, and if you get a chicken in a bag then your meat will already be prepped and seasoned. (just don’t freeze it!) Make sure you’re prepared on the non-food side as well: paper plates, plastic cups, plastic cutlery, crackers, napkins may all be needed.
- Relax and have fun: Try not to get too stressed out, you’re not a professional chef your friends aren’t expecting a Michelin starred meal, so it doesn’t matter if a few things don’t turn out perfectly! Just enjoy spending time and sharing food with your friends at Christmas and trust that they will enjoy themselves too and everything will turn out fine.
~ by Emma Hewetson