Festive Tips

Souped-up turkey leftovers
Turn your Christmas leftovers into a hearty soup. Just make a base of softened onions and garlic then add any leftover veg. Cook down with some lovely stock (made from your turkey carcass) then whizz it all up and stir through any leftover turkey.
Roasting tray health check
Remember to check your roasting tray is big enough for your turkey and small enough to fit in your oven. If it doesn’t, go and buy one before it's too late!
Plan the big day
Make a time plan for the couple of days leading up to Christmas and for the big day. You will find you can prep most things in advance, leaving you time to enjoy yourself on the day.
Keep sprouts cross-free
Putting crosses in the bottom of your sprouts is an old wives’ tale to ward off the devil. It actually makes them go soggy, so don't do it!
Spice up your sprouts
Spice up your sprouts by frying them with some smoked streaky bacon tossed through.
Make the big day easier
Don’t worry about putting everything in the oven at the same time. Your turkey will be the better for a good hour’s resting if it’s kept hot under foil and tea towels, and it leaves space in the oven for your veg and potatoes.
Make stock out of peel
Don’t throw away your vegetable peel when preparing for the big day. Keep it all in a bag in the freezer then, once all the meat has been picked from your bird, roughly chop the bones so they fit into a big saucepan, add all your peelings and fill with water. Bubble away for a few hours to make a rich stock, then transfer into airtight containers and use for soups and stews over the next month or so.
Freeze your stuffing
Make your stuffing mix a week or two in advance, transfer it to a freezer bag and store it in the freezer. That’s one less thing to do on the big day!
Pimped-up mincemeat
Jazz up some shop-bought mincemeat to make your mince pies the envy of your friends. Just add some extra lemon and lime zest, dried cherries and a splash of good brandy.
Leftover herb butter tip
If you have any leftover herbs that you’re not sure what to do with, make a selection of herb butters. Finely chop the herb of your choice then stir it through soft butter, roll it in greaseproof paper then pop it in the freezer to harden. Carefully cut into rounds and keep in a freezer bag ready to melt over veg, roast meat or anything else you fancy.
Roast don't boil the veg
Save on the washing up and instead of boiling your veg on the hob, wrap them in foil with a lovely herb butter and roast in the oven. It will save on cooking space too.
Popcorn tinsel for the tree
Toss some of your spiced sugar with fresh popcorn then, using a needle and thread, attach the corn in long strands. Quick as a flash you’ll have edible tinsel to decorate your tree or walls.
Sweeten up your season
Make some flavoured sugars, which are great scattered over stewed or grilled fruit, porridge, cereal or even as a glaze for pork chops. Just whizz up the zest of a citrus fruit, a spice like vanilla (or a herb like mint, thyme or basil) in a processor and blitz with granulated sugar. Leave on a tray overnight until hard, then smash it up and put it in an airtight jar ready to go.
Cookie cutter decoration idea
Once you’ve finished with your biscuit cutters, tie them with ribbons to use as impromptu tree decorations, or hang them from your windows.
Making leftovers magical
Make the most of your store cupboard ingredients and give them a festive twist. Whizz up basil, garlic or roasted red peppers with mayonnaise to create quick condiments that spice up your leftover meat.
Glorious Christmas starter
For a quick but super delicious starter, make a quick mackerel pate instead of spending money on smoked salmon. Remove the skin then put into a food processor with some crème fraîche, dill, lemon zest and juice, a helping of capers and plenty of black pepper. Pulse until combined then adjust to taste and serve with little toasts.
DIY Scented Christmas Decorations DIY Christmas decorations
For some scented decorations, thinly slice some oranges, lemons and limes and lay them on a baking tray. Sprinkle with a little sugar and pop them in the oven at 100°C for 2-3 hours until dried. Either thread a little string or ribbon through for hanging on the tree, or link them up and place them around your house.
Gingerbread tree decorations
Make ginger bread tree decorations with the kids – get them mixing the dough, cutting the shapes and piping the icing, then thread the biscuits with ribbon and hang them from the tree.
Fill up your Christmas senses
Stud a few oranges in your fruit bowl with cloves – they will give off a lovely spiced Christmassy smell
Festive Christmas table tweaks
Turn old Christmas decorations into personalised place settings.
Easy and spicy mulled cider
For a quick and warming mulled cider, heat through some quality cider, add a couple of cinnamon sticks, the zest and juice of a clementine and a lemon, a vanilla pod, a pinch of cloves and a sprinkling of sugar. Once hot, leave to cool and infuse for 30 minutes then reheat, strain through a sieve and serve.
Make your shopping simple
Order your food online this year. It will save you time and you’ll miss the last minute scramble in the supermarket on Christmas eve.
Give the gift of warmth!
Make your own gifts this year. Chilli jam is an easy one and everyone loves it with a good cheeseboard for a real festive treat.
Beautiful festive napkin rings
Make your own napkin rings by attaching chillies, rosemary, flowers and thistles to ribbon then tying them around your napkins.
Give light with Christmas candles
Turn your empty jam jars into beautiful tea-light holders by tying festive ribbon around the top with an ivy leaf or cinnamon stick.
Edible presents in a jar
For a thrifty but charming present, fill some kilner jars with your own hot chocolate or cookie mixes. Just label them or wrap them up and give them to friends and family.
Easy DIY gift wrap
Use newspaper and colourful magazine paper to wrap your presents this year. It’s cheap and people will appreciate your creativity!
Decide on your meal in advance
Whether you’re having turkey, goose, beef, pork and ham, make up your mind up early and order it ahead from your local butcher or have a look online to find great suppliers that deliver to your door, such as Kelly Bronze and Laverstoke Park Farm.
Make your own decorations
For a creative money-saver, make your own decorations – cut out colourful pages from Christmas magazines or newspapers, old Christmas cards and even wallpaper to create paper chains or cut-outs to decorate your house.
Homemade Christmas Wreath
How to make a Christmas wreath
Don’t spend money on expensive wreaths – make your own using wild holly, ivy and mistletoe you can pick yourself. They will make your house smell fresh and Christmassy, and are also perfect for wrapping around pictures and staircases.
spiced drinks
Spiced Christmas drinks
It’s not all about mulled wine and cider. Just get a bottle of your favourite spirit and drop in some aromatic spices like star anise, cloves, cinnamon, bay, peppercorns or juniper berries. You can also add clementines, pomegranate and cranberries – but bash them up a bit first for more flavour and colour. It’s best done a few months in advance, but works straight away too.
hanging chillies
Beautiful dried hanging chillies
Sew your chillies together and hang them around the house to dry – they will look beautifully festive and come in handy when you need a bit of spice in a recipe.
frozen pie and lasagne
Quick meals for unexpected guests
Before the festive season really kicks off, why not make a couple of versatile cooked dishes such as fish pie and lasagne and freeze them ready to be whipped out when people pop round at late notice.
Christmas card materials
Homemade Christmas card ideas
Save money and get crafty this Christmas by making your own Christmas cards and labels. Use scrap paper, card, newspapers or even old books for a quirky design. Glitter, ribbons, stamps and buttons are great to give them a fun feel too, and it’s also a great thing to do together to get in the Christmas spirit.
Christmas spices
Fragrant Christmas decorations
Cut out some small squares of scrap fabric or muslin and fill them with your favourite Christmas spices. Gather up the material around your spices and secure it with a peg, string or some festive ribbon. Then hang them around the house for a cheap way of spreading some Christmas smells!