The perfect Christmas lunch does not have to be a chore as long as you plan ahead and do a little research into what your guests generally prefer. A good host will always take the trouble of making a list of items and then researching online to what is available. Do this before hitting any of the specialist supermarkets or food stores.
Going to the local store to handpick all items yourself will undoubtedly get you into the cooking and hosting spirit, although there are a good number of online assortments of luxury foods that you can order to round off your main dish or side dishes elegantly.
A proper table setting goes a long way in making your Christmas lunch memorable. You can do this before or after you have prepared the menu. Here are some ideas:
Ah, the best part of hosting a Christmas lunch: what to put on the menu. Have a conversation or two with your guests a few weeks before the big dinner. Perhaps your Uncle Bob is a huge Turkey fan while Aunt Hillary just can’t seem to live without her gourmet coffee. Sorry Cousin Albert, better luck next time with the Chipolatas, there’s only so much we can have on the table.
No Christmas lunch is complete without crackers, is it? Give the Prosecco and Wine Christmas Crackers a go. After all, Christmas comes only once a year. It is all about that “feel good” indulgence, so live a little. Some of your guests might prefer to have their dinner go down a lot smoother; consider putting the Drinks by the Dram Gin Crackers on offer?
How about a little “next level” indulgence? Go ahead and spoil yourself with organic fruit jam and honey to wonderfully complement those crackers.
However, bear in mind that going with the 'keeping it simple' rule and “reacting to season” generally works well. You are going to have your hands full so might as well make it easy on yourself. If in doubt, cook something you have before – simplicity can win a lot of hearts (and appetites) as long as the food is “finger-licking good”.
If friends and family offer their help, suggest bringing the usual Christmas goodies like the family’s heart-warming pudding, champagne, shortbread and perhaps some of that pure, organic fruit jam that your boss could not stop raving about the other day.
Generally, you cannot go wrong with these menu items: a mountain of seafood dominated by prawns, appetizing salads coupled with exotic sauces and dressings – something as simple as a potato salad with mint, lemon and parsley can work wonders – and an ice-cream dessert with your favourite fruit, topped off with pure dark chocolate.
The big day arrives! Cook first whatever takes the longest to cook. Yes, we are pointing fingers at you ham/turkey. Here is a tip though: glaze the ham or roast your turkey a day earlier as long as the guests don’t mind having a main dish that is not straight out of the oven.
There is a workaround, however: why not make a memorable relish of nectarines or cherries for the cold turkey? There… no more complaints out of your nit-picky next door neighbour.
You need to be time-savvy, friend. Make your dishes well ahead of time whether it is the mince tarts, potted crab in red chilli or steamed spiced fruit pudding with custard and cream.
Prosecco jelly in a cup with some sliced seasonal fruit seems to be catching on fast as a Christmas dessert trend. In fact, why not give Jamie Oliver’s infamous alcoholic jelly with redcurrants and fruit recipe a go?
For quick reference, if you are still unsure about what to have on your Christmas lunch menu, consider some or all of the following:
The better half of the day is still young – serve freshly whipped Kopi Luwak, beans of coffee berries that come as a direct courtesy of the Asian palm Civet cat (don’t ask) and Densuke watermelon, which is a delicate seedless fruit grown in an island in Japan.
In case your guests are too stuffed to move around, let alone make a decent conversation with, go ahead and rejuvenate them with some of the best organic teas you will find in the UK today.
After a hearty meal and joyous laughter, guests are sprawled across couches, enjoying the festive aftertaste, which means you might have to deal with some leftovers after they leave. Use containers and zip-lock bags to send our guests home with some of that delicious food or donate it to your local charity.
Good to know: casual supermarket shoppers can pick up everything they need for Christmas dinner for eight people at £25 or less, according to a survey done last year. So even if you like to have lavish Christmas lunches, you can always pick up a few something for the less fortunate. Did you know last year, 4.2 million Christmas dinners were wasted across the United Kingdom, according to Unilever?
Christmas (or Xmas) is the most memorable time of the year especially in Europe, North America or Canada. It doesn't mean it needs to be the overly stressful; if some time to plan ahead and get ready before the big day, you'll have more time to enjoy it all with those close and dear to you. Merry Christmas!
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