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Keep your party simple

As the host, you want to enjoy it too – there’s nothing worse than being stuck in the kitchen all night. Make big pots of mulled wine or cider and keep them gently ticking along on a very low heat; leave out a stack of mugs and cups so guests can help themselves. The same approach goes for food: avoid fiddly nibbles and instead prepare piles of toast and chopped vegetables so everyone can tuck into easy cheese fondue or classic chicken liver parfait.

Plan ahead

There’s loads that you can do before the big day to ensure that everything runs smoothly. Make yourself a list and tick things off as you go. Checking simple things – like you have the right kitchen kit [link to other story] – will save you time later on. One slip up I hear about a lot, is people not having a roasting tray big enough for their bird – or that actually fits in their oven. Sort that out well in advance.

Make your own crackers

This will get the kids in the festive spirit – and keep them occupied for a few hours! They’ll love choosing different treats to hide in the middle and getting creative with the designs for the outside. Check out our step-by-step guide and craft patterns from the lovely guys at Jamie Magazine.

Declutter your kitchen

Get all your festive fare stashed away in your cupboards, put the decorations up and out of the way, then have a scout round the kitchen and think about what you actually need to have on the worktop. You should only have the equipment you’ll use, so get rid of anything that will just get in the way, including that flashing Santa…

Get the kids cooking

I love cooking with my girls and you can’t beat that proud smile on their faces when they see the results of their hard work. Check out the blog my foodie team have written, it’s full of inspiring ideas to get the kids cooking, including a brilliant gingerbread house.

Prepare for unexpected guests

I can’t remember the last Christmas when I wasn’t surprised by the extra visitor or two. Get ready to impress by having food prepped and on standby. Knock up a jar of chocolate mix ready for epic hot chocolate, have cookie dough in the freezer ready to slice and bake off, while a scoop of marathon semifreddo in a cone will keep any kid happy.

Think of the veggies

Don’t forget your vegetarian guests, because they deserve a bit of love too. Check out our delicious meat-free options, guaranteed to go down a storm with veggies and meat-lovers alike. Why not take a break from those hearty roasts and have a meat-free day or two this festive season? It’s good for you and for the environment.

Love your leftovers

Leftovers are one of my favourite things about this time of year because it’s a chance to get inventive and make the most of them. Embrace those uneaten roast veggies and that last lonely wedge of Christmas pud – pull out a gorgeous pan of bubble and squeak, followed by a Christmas pudding sundae and knock everyone’s socks off. With a bit of thought, the possibilities are endless.

Cook outdoors

All the lovely site users from the southern hemisphere will agree that you can’t beat cooking outdoors. It may be on the chilly side in the UK, but I’ve been known to get my mates up and huddled round my wood-fired oven to tuck into a hearty breakfast on a frosty winter morning. Sometimes when you’re still feeling the effects from the night before, that blast of fresh air is the best way to go.

Enjoy yourself

Remember that so much of Christmas is about spending good time with your nearest and dearest and having fun! Delegate the big jobs, and get the kids helping you out on smaller tasks. If everyone chips in and does their bit you’ll have dinner on the table with minimum stress and, most importantly, a room full of happy, well-fed faces.

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