I'm a working mum writing about life in Edinburgh (and anywhere else we go) with two curious, adventurous, and imaginative children. Visit my blog at www.linzertortes.blogspot.co.uk. Follow me on Twitter: @LinzerLaw
Published November 10th 2012
Have a relaxing Christmas
Christmas always seems to sneak on me, almost as if it isn't at exactly the same time every year. However, I have come up with a few ways to save time, money, and relationships in your preparations for the festive season.
Here are my top ten tips:
1. Save money and be kinder to the environment by reusing old Christmas cards for gift tags. Start by cutting out the Christmas images, then punch a hole through the corner and finally, tie with ribbon or thread.
2. Buy and wrap a few extra presents for Christmas - chutney, a scarf, or some sweet-smelling soap - then if someone drops in or gives you a gift unexpectedly, you'll be prepared with something for them.
3. Don't underestimate how manic it will be when you are preparing the meal on Christmas Day, or how long the cooking will take. If you know what time you want to eat then you can plan the timings in advance. It'll then be easier to have a break and time to relax without worrying about what needs done when - it also means that you can easily get other people involves in helping out.
A beautiful Christmas table. Source: Wikimedia Commons
4. Set the table the night before - chances are you'll take more time to make it look really special and Christmassy because you won't be rushing in and out of the kitchen. It's also a lovely sight to wake up to on Christmas morning.
5. Make home-made stuffing and stock in advance and pop it in the freezer. Them you won't be in such a rush you need to rely on a salty packet mix on the day itself.
6. Try a different kind of Christmas cake - an Italian panettone is a soft, fruity bread that will appeal to children more than a dark, traditional fruit cake. Or try Stollen, a buttery German cake which is traditionally eaten for breakfast on Christmas morning. Not only do they taste delicious, but other culture's Christmas customs also make an interesting talking point.
Stollen, a traditional German Christmas cake. Source: Wikimedia Commons
7. If your Christmas decorations are looking a bit tired,why not make your own? Here's an easy one: take some white modelling material (like Das Pronto White, available from craft stores), knead it into a ball, then roll it out like pastry. Cut out dove shapes using a cookie cutter, making two holes, one for eyes and one for hanging. Leave to dry for 48 hours then stamp them with potato-print hearts. Then link the shapes with jewellery wire and then hang them on the tree.
8. Keep a Christmas Eve check-list of things you shouldn't forget to do: like a last run to the shops to pick up: milk, bread, butter and cream, taking anything prepared out of the freezer, and the tedious task of prepping potatoes and sprouts. All of the above are very easy to forget.
A Christmas bauble on a Christmas Tree. Source: Wikimedia Commons
9. Invest in a meat thermometer. That way you can be absolutely sure that the turkey is done, and won't waste time worrying about whether you're inadvertently going to cause a bout of salmonella. Likewise, you won't end up with a turkey that's overdone and dry, because you've been too cautious.
10. Finally, do remember: Christmas is about having fun with your family. If your children don't like parsnips for the rest of the year, they're not about to start now. Instead of turning Christmas lunch into a stand-off over the sprouts, why not involve them on planning the menu? Sweet potato and carrot mash is just as good for them, and so what if it's not traditional? Children love eating things they have made themselves, and serving them for other people too.
I hope this helps you prepare for a relaxing and fun family Christmas. If all else fails, you can always try again on Boxing Day!