Christmas dinner doesn’t have to be perfect, but here are 9 mistakes you’ll know how to avoid once you’ve read our list of most common mistakes. One of the best parts of Christmas Day is the Christmas dinner and everyone will have big expectations, including you.
But cooking the Christmas feast doesn’t always go to plan and a little mistake here and there, and you could end up with dry turkey, soggy sprouts or watery gravy. Or all of those things… But never fear! We’re here to help you get organised and avoid the most common mistakes that everyone makes…
1. Not making a shopping list
Christmas dinner is all in the planning, especially if you’re cooking for a bigger crowd than you’re used to. Take your time to browse Christmas recipes, then decide on a starter, main and dessert for the big day and work out exactly what you’ll need. Then write it down!
2. Trying to do everything yourself
There’s a LOT that goes into making a traditional Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, so don’t expect to make it all by yourself. Grab a couple of helpers, who can keep you company as well as help you tidy up as you go along. Once dinner is on the table, the cook’s work is done. Don’t even think about washing up!
3. Making your starter and/or dessert on the day
Don’t even think about trying to cook your whole Christmas dinner on the day. There’s so much you can make ahead, especially when it comes to simple Christmas starter recipes and impressive Christmas desserts, which you can just pull out of the fridge when you need them. The same goes for many of the trimmings; braised red cabbage, cranberry sauce and bread sauce can all be made in advance.
4. Letting the kitchen get in a mess
We know it sounds super sensible, but wash up and wipe the surfaces as you go along and it’ll be much easier to make the biggest meal of the year (and keep your sanity!). Plus, there will be a lot less cleaning and tidying afterwards and more time for family games and Christmas telly!
5. Not checking dietary requirements
This is one oversight that can leave you in hot water, especially as you’ll be hard pushed to find a shop that’s open on Christmas Day… Double check any allergies, intolerances or preferences, especially if you’re hosting extended family and haven’t cooked for them since last Christmas!
Psst! Get ahead with our vegetarian Christmas recipes.
6. Setting the table at the last minute
Take your time over the Christmas table and you’ll be happier with the look (and less flustered!). Lay the table the night before and it gives you a bit of time to deal with the unexpected, like if you realise you need to find another chair… Don’t forget to include some touches for young children, like crayons and A3 paper place mats to keep little hands busy scribbling.
7. Not leaving the turkey to rest
This isn’t optional; you’ll really taste the difference if once cooked, you leave the turkey to one side, wrapped in foil, for at least 45 minutes. This lets the meat relax, but also frees up valuable oven space for your trimmings.
Make sure you cook your turkey properly with our guide to cooking turkey, including our turkey timer.
8. Running out of essentials
This happens so much more than you might think, so don’t forget to stock up on washing liquid, cling film, foil – and maybe most important, loo roll!. You’ll need foil and cling film to wrap your leftovers before you pop them in the fridge, so make sure you have plenty so you can keep your food properly for Boxing Day.
9. Throwing away leftovers
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There’s no excuse for this! It goes back to the shopping list, but try not to buy too much in the first place – but of course, it’s good to have some Christmas leftovers as it saves you cooking again on Boxing Day! Leave leftovers to cool as quickly as possible, wrap securely and keep in the fridge for 2 days.
Take a look at our Christmas leftovers recipes for inspiration.
Merry Christmas everyone!