Party Planner’s Guide to a Stress Free Christmas Lunch!

In a heartbeat Christmas Day will be upon us. With so much to do and so little time, what can you do to prevent waking up on December 25th in a panic driven mess? I am here to provide my top tips to planning and hosting a stress-free Christmas lunch.

Christmas day should be a day to put aside all thoughts of work, and enjoy some quality time with family and friends. You don't want to be stressing about having to make your home spotless for the onslaught of guests, along with shopping for food, cooking and being a perfect party host/hostess.

So, let’s break it down into my top tips to reduce stress and enjoy your holiday.

#1 Decide what type of Christmas celebration suits you

First, it's important to determine what type of festive feast you wll be serving up. Will you be hosting friends and family all day or just for one main meal? Once you know, it's time to flesh out the details.

Make a guest list, so you know if you are having to set a table for 12 or 25. It's also important to consider any special dietary requirments your guests may have.

Then, determine how much food will you need. If you are feeling overwhelmed, consider asking your guests to bring a dish along, most will be happy to contribute!

Don't forget the nitty gritty details. If you’re planning on a picnic in the park, how are you going to keep the food cold or hot? Christmas can either be really hot or unseasonably cool, either way, make sure you have a solution in place.

#2 Start planning now

Take a note from Santa this Christmas and make a list and check it twice. Plan what type of day you want to have and make yourself a handy to-do list of everything that needs to get done before the day. This way, when Christmas rolls around, it will all be ticked off and you can sit back, relax and enjoy!

#3 Set a budget

As boring as numbers can be, setting a budget is the most important element for a stress-free festive season. Set budgets for both money and your time so you have realistic expectations.

When planning your festive budget, consider quality over quantity. Quality always wins, hands down.

It’s also a good time to place your orders for prawns, hams, puddings and other items that you need to order. Be sure to plan a good time to do the pickups and plan it in a way you go from one task to the next, instead of running around all over the place and wasting time. Remember, budgeting your time is just as important as budgeting your money.

#4 Planning the meal

For me, this is the fun part. For others, it can be what stresses them out the most.

Much of the meal planning is done at the same time you are preparing your budget. This determines not only what you need to purchase, but also what time you will need to shop, prep, cook and be ready without flapping about the kitchen like a mad-person, leaving your guests wondering if you will ever be ready to enjoy their company. Don't forget to consider fridge and oven space in this step!

So, take some time to think out and plan your nibbles, meal(s), treats and drinks and remember... quality over quantity. It may be Christmas, but you do not have to serve every festive food item ever conceived. I always say... when in doubt, keep it simple!

So here are some simple tips to make your festive hosting go smoothly:

  • Have water bottles or water jugs on-hand, ready to go. You can never have enough water served at a celebration.

  • Put your drinks in the fridge two days before. On the morning of your celebration, if you need the fridge space, take them out and put them in the esky with ice.

  • Consider making gift purchases each week leading up to the big day, instead of cramming it all into one day. Last minute shopping is never fun and almost always stressful! Plus, this way you can take advantage of the pre-sales that pop-up in the lead up to Christmas.

  • When it comes to what size pork roll or piece of beef you need, talk to your butcher. He/she will let you know what size (kg) of meat you need to feed the number of guests you have. I always error on the extra side, as you never know when an extra table setting may be needed. Plus, everybody loves Christmas leftovers... who wants to cook again on boxing day?!

  • If you can, do a mini trial-run a couple of weeks before to see how long it takes to prep everything. I recommend this, especially if you are trying something new. A trial-run will help you realise if it will work or not, this also helps for you know how much time you need to budget on the day.

  • Set your table the night before. Pull out all of the serving plates you will be using and make sure everything is clean and ready for use. Place a note on each plate as to what it will be used for, then on the day you are not searching for what you need, which reduces the stress and rush of finding the perfect size plate.

  • If you wish to have your main plates with the chill off them, consider placing the plates in a rinse cycle of the dishwasher or place them in the sink and fill it up with hot water. Dry them off and the chill will be gone.

  • Break down your food shopping list after your budget is done and celebration food has been chosen. See what can be purchased weeks before and what needs to be purchased in the days leading up. If you need to order in advance, do so to avoid disappointment.

  • Write out a time schedule as to what needs to be done and when. Include things such as when you will start your pickups, what time you need to cook your baked vegetables and when you can do a mini trial. Plan you cook times and factor in when you need to be dressed and ready as well. This way you know what to expect and should be able to enjoy yourself and not be stressed out.

  • Prep, prep, prep! What can you do the day before? Chop and marinate vegetables? Salad prep? Set the table? Plan out your outfit?

  • Consider using your BBQ as either an element you cook on or use as an additional heating device if it has a lid, low slow heat works just like your oven.

  • Do your research. Choose to serve things that take less time to prepare. If you can reduce your time in the kitchen, do it!

And there you have it, my insider tips! If you budget, plan and follow the tips, you should be able to achieve a stress-free day with all the trimmings.

If you're still feeling overwhelmed, why not start with a new tradition and enliste Lisa Loves Events to plan your whole festive celebration for you. Yup, that means no planning, no stress and a great day for you and your guests. Just send me a brief and I will do the rest!

Cheers, and Merry Christmas to all. xx

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