My top tips for an easy traditional Christmas lunch + a giveaway

brought to you by ALDI

CONGRATULATIONS SUE S WHO WON THE GIVEAWAY. THANK YOU EVERYONE FOR ENTERING

Not long to go until the big day of Christmas arrives and if you’re hosting a Christmas lunch or dinner then your thoughts are probably turning to the menu. What to eat? Maybe you’re like me and host Christmas every year. I love it and have been hosting since before I was married. How else do you think I’ve mastered my rum balls or fruit mince pies.

Are you a traditional hot Christmas lunch family or more of an aussie seafood? We are an aussie cold lunch kind of family with a few hot traditionals thrown in over the years if we’ve been living overseas or at Grandma Jill’s house. And I love that if you type in ‘Aussie Christmas’ into pinterest it will bring up this photo from one of my Christmas lunches. Well actually that was boxing day as we usually have more than one Christmas lunch to do to make sure we see most of the family. According to a recent survey run by ALDI, we’re all doing Christmas entertaining for longer these days with parties, functions and carols before the big day and all involving a lot of food.

an aussie christmas feast  by retro mummy, via Flickr

Now I’ve done some of the hard work for you this year by putting together a simple traditional Christmas menu as well as my top tips for hosting a Christmas lunch because I’ve been hosting for many years and love to share a tip or two. So how do you like the sound of champagne cocktails served with some extra large Australian tiger prawns?. Then we’ll move on to a delicious three bird roast (the americans call this Turducken) with stuffing, homemade gravy served with roasted baby potatoes and pumpkin. And for dessert we’ll finish with luxury champagne Christmas pudding and homemade brandy custard.

And the best bit is that everything came from ALDI. I have to confess that when I think of ALDI I don’t think french champagne, king prawns and luxury Christmas pudding. Nope. I think more nappies and budget groceries. But ALDI have gone all out with luxury items for your Christmas menu at great prices with their ‘Specially Selected’ range. You can have a beautiful Christmas lunch without spending a fortune. Look at the delicious hamper they sent me full of delicious goodies. Try keeping this unopened with the kids on school holidays.

OK I’ll admit it. We photographed the fruit cake and chocolates and ate them the same day! deliciously gourmet and gobbled up. I think the cake lasted 2 days and the tin is perfect to keep your cake fresh if it lasts longer than the 2 days that it did here. A beautifully rich fruit cake that even the kids enjoyed and they aren’t really fruit cake people. It would make a lovely gift if you are visiting someone over the Christmas holidays too.

And so here are some of my favourite tips to help you host a traditional but simple Christmas lunch

have a couple of drink choices on offer for your guests

Let’s start with champagne cocktails. ALDI have an award winning premier cuvee champagne from France for $29.99 a bottle. I love to do a few things with Champagne. An easy one is just a drop of a nice spirit in the bottom of a flute before you pour in the champagne. Cointreau or Creme de Cassis are lovely choices. Or for a traditional champagne cocktail try a sugar cube, a few drops of angostura bitters and pour your champagne over the top.

And for the non alcoholics just put lemonade in a champagne flute instead of champagne. Plenty a non alcoholic Christmas for me over the years. Another great tip is to ask one of your guests to bring a bag of ice with them as no doubt your fridge will be full and drinks can be kept cold in an esky full of ice.

have all of your platters, dishes and cutlery out the day before 

I empty my buffet of the good china and big platters and get it all out the night before. And don’t forget the bowls for the prawns bits which you’ll need. We love prawns at Christmas time. My dad always organises them and we just serve them with a dipping sauce and some lemon wedges and you peel them yourself on your plate.Have the bowls out on the table before everyone gets to your house because I can tell you that in all of the rush it’s the last thing that you think of. The kids loved these prawns from ALDI and you’ll find them in the freezer section for $36.99 for 1.5kgs. No queing up for your seafood on Christmas eve if you have these stored in your freezer at home beforehand. They were delicious and tasted fresh. Just defrost them in your fridge the night before you want to serve them.

for the love of turkey defrost your turkey

Yep. I made a rookie mistake of not defrosting my turkey the day before I wanted to cook it for this post. So my tip is write a post it note to yourself, stick it on the fridge and work out the day you need the turkey (or prawns or whatever is frozen that needs to be defrosted) and then you won’t forget. 2 days and 1 night later my three bird roast was ready for the oven. It’s almost like out of a Christmas movie when someone forgets to defrost the turkey.

The great thing about this roast was that it was 2 hours in the oven and I popped the vegies in the oven for the last hour. No need to spend hours and hours checking if your turkey is read or freak out at the thought of cooking turkey. We followed the time on the packet and it was perfectly cooked. I left the meat to rest for about 10 minutes on the counter before removing the string and it was just delicious. I also had to keep my big boy from eating the leftovers so that daddy got some when he got home. ALDI has a fresh Three-Bird-Roast available in store at $16.99 per kg. Big thumbs up from us and  definitely buying this again.

you don’t have to make everything from scratch

it’s easy to plan a big full on menu with all the trimmings and homemade cranberry sauce and stuffing and then you spend all of your precious day in the kitchen and not with family. I love the taste of homemade cranberry sauce but I know that on the day that there is no time. So I like to buy sauces already made and store them in the pantry until the big day. This delicious sauce from ALDI was perfect with the turkey roast and will also be great on cold meat sandwiches the next day. $1.99 from ALDI.

 keep your sides simple

I just love roasted veggies or a simple potato salad. Just keep it simple. For this menu I grabbed 2 small bags of washed baby potatoes and half a butternut pumpkin from ALDI and all up it was easily less than $10. Cut the pumpkin into pieces, chucked it all in a roasting dish with olive oil, salt, pepper, dried oregano and rosemary and rolled it all around. Baked for the last hour or so that the roast was in and we had beautifully cooked vegies.

don’t forget the serviettes and Christmas crackers

who doesn’t love a beautifully set table for Christmas with festive serviettes and some crackers. It wouldn’t be Christmas if we didn’t wear our silly hats and pop crackers together. ALDI have luxury Christmas crackers for $10.99 a box with lovely silver items in them that will really make your table look beautiful.They matched the tablecloth perfectly.

keep some extra basics like potatoes, bread rolls, chips and cracker biscuits

There is always someone extra or a last minute invite so fill out your meal with extra veggies or hot rolls to make sure you have enough food for everyone and to avoid the shops of Christmas eve

Put people to work

kids love setting the table, my dad gets put on seafood or carving duties, retro daddy is on drinks and grandma betty watches the little ones. Spread the work between people and chat as you go with a drink of something lovely nearby.

time plan your day

I love a good time plan and to make sure that you don’t eat lunch at 3pm make a plan and try to follow it. It also helps you remember all the food that needs to go out!

gravy is so easy 

simply pour the juices from your roasted meat tray when your meat is done into a small saucepan, whisk in a tablespoon of flour and a few tablespoons of water from the tap, stir over a low heat until thickened. You can pour it through a sieve or serve as it is. Delicious and easy.

make a dessert platter

everyone is usually too full for dessert on Christmas day but that’s my favourite part of the meal! So why not slice up some pudding, put the custard in a pouring jug, cut up some Christmas cake, put out some rum balls, chocolate, some fruit and serve up a dessert platter. You take it to where everyone is sitting with some tea and coffee and just watch everyone who said they were too full now eating up your delicious platter. Works every time. Go on try it. I’ve been doing it for years.

simple Christmas fabric makes a lovely tablecloth

don’t spend a fortune on a festive tablecloth that you’ll use a few times a year. 2 metres of gold fabric from the craft store cost me $15 and made our table look special.

send people home with doggy bags

too much food? Take a bit of time and load up some of your guests with leftovers. they’ll have dinner that night and you’ll have less food to think about ‘eating’ in the fridge when you don’t feel like eating again until next Christmas.

And that was our delicious Christmas lunch thanks to ALDI. The food was all so delicious and tasty and you’ll find more food and gift ideas at your nearest ALDI store and on their Christmas website here. And I’ll let you in on a little secret. We ate all of this delicious food at about 2.25pm on  a friday afternoon in the school holidays while daddy was out at work. There was lots of excitement that I needed to contain, one person came to eat the food in just their nappy and a t-shirt but we had lots of fun….and I had lots of cleaning up so saved my dessert for after the clean up.

And now for a giveaway, thanks to ALDI I have a $200 gift voucher to spend at ALDI. All you need to do is tell me your top tip for Christmas entertaining. The best answer will win the voucher.

{ Giveaway is open to Australian residents, entries close 23 December 2014, one entry per person and full terms of my giveaways can be found here}

Comments

  1. Kimberley knowles says:

    My top tip would be to prepare as much as you can ahead of time! If you can do desserts on Christmas Eve, prep your sides for cooking or ready for assembly the night before & de clutter your fridge as much as you can in the lead up to xmas day. Above all relax & enjoy the family time.

  2. I’d love to enter on my daughter’s behalf. She lives in Melbourne and this would be something wonderful for Christmas.

    My own personal tip for a hassle free Christmas is to write everything down with timings for cooking and serving. When cooking time overlaps with no space in the oven things can get very hot in the kitchen.

  3. Don’t Stress is the most important, what will happen will happen, enjoy the day…on a more practical note,get the platters etc out and put post its in so that you know what goes in what bowl, you will be amazed at the difference it makes.

  4. We have my parents, two sisters with husbands/children & us for christmas lunch. We all bring something so that no one person has to organise it all. This year it will be held at my youngest sisters house, she has a pool just in case it ends up being a really hot day.

  5. When I’m entertaining I always get up early, and get myself ready first- hair and makeup done, that way I only have to change my clothes quickly before guests arrive! I’ve been caught out a few times slaving in the kitchen, only to have guests arrive early and I look and feel a mess!!

  6. My tip: spread the load. Ask one relative to bring a salad, another to bring nibbles, etc. Do a big clean (a room per day) in the week leading up to Christmas,so you only need to do a quick tidy before everyone arrives. And have a glass of champagne and relax!

  7. Mine is: don’t lose the spirit of Christmas in stress, sweat & tears. Keep calm by planning your menu in advance, don’t over cater, keep to your budget, delegate, prep in advance and outsource where possible – eg. Last year I outsourced the prep of my chickens to the butcher: they split and marinated them saving me lots of hard work. Have some fun activities planned: in my family it’s swimming and a game of bocce. Crack that bottle of bubbly and enjoy the people you love

  8. lesley Phillips says:

    My top tip is do as much as you can the day before, share the jobs with all the guests and most important take time to enjoy the company of your family.

  9. My top tip is to have everyone bring a plate of food. That way there are a variety of dishes and you are not stuck in The kitchen all day, but have time to relax and enjoy the time with your family and friends. Merry Christmas! X

  10. Belinda Catt says:

    My top tip is organization. I compile my menu and and write my grocery list and buy everything I need. A lot of it I can purchase in the weeks leading up to it at Aldi and I pick up all my last minute at Aldi and I’m always well set.

  11. Some of my favourite Christmas memories are of being in the kitchen chatting while you are cooking so my tip is: Ask for help, it makes it much more fun!

  12. dianne nunn says:

    I don’t drink any alcohol if I am hosting because I relax a little too much so a nice glass of sparkling water with some sliced orange,lemon and lime in the glass is really delicious and refreshing. For the little ones and the not so little I find chocolate covered icecream sticks are perfect when others are enjoying tea or coffee. Aldi has the loveliest ice cream treats all year round and it is just so easy when everyone is winding down.
    When everyone is gone I sort the left overs into meal size portions and freeze it all – that way you have some delicious meals for the holidays.
    I hope every one has a wonderful day.

  13. My tip would to be go out and have Christmas lunch at restaurant. No cleaning up. No preparing and more time to spend with family and friends

  14. This year it’s just my hubby and my two little beauties…. Off to the beach. We will pop champagne, peel prawns, crusty bread, tomato boconcinni salad and some ice cream or Christmas cske for dessert. No fuss. All about love peace and family

  15. My family of five have now become fifteen. I have my grandsons over a few days before Christmas to help me make the sweet treats. Making rocky road chocolate Christmas trees with me has become a little family tradition. Preparation is the key to our large family Christmas. I wish you and your family my best wishes for Christmas.

  16. Sandy Norman says:

    My best tip is to make the gravy, dessert and anything ahead of time. This year I have already made my gravy and dessert.. it is in the freezer. Using disposable plates and cutlery is a great idea. You won’t need to wash up!! My best tip is to get everyone involved….. so then everyone can enjoy the day with the family.

  17. My top tip is to take time to enjoy the day. Don’t worry with intricate if it’s not your usual style – make it easy for you and enjoy the people you are sharing the day with!

  18. I started this only last Christmas but will definitely be doing again this year and that is to put a small label in front of each dish as to whats in the dish/bowl/platter. People loved it ! You could use mini blackboards, pretty post it notes or go all out and theme up some Christmas ones

  19. Vintage Mummy says:

    With a big family I like to be prepared, I always cook my turkey the day before and I make my glutten free plum pudding a few weeks in advance. I plan my menu in advance also and start buying my hams, turkey and other christmas goodies early to avoid a huge shop at the last minute. I have been shopping at Aldi for many years, it is very budget friendly, I always buy my turkey and hams there every year! Great post, glad to see others supporting Aldi! I just love to get as much out of this time of year, I love Christmas,…. Have a happy and blessed Christmas xx

  20. Alicia Webster says:

    Even though I love the potluck approach (where everyone is asked to bring a favourite dish), I have found that some of us who aren’t the best cooks in the world (that would be me in this scenario) are reluctant to expose our culinary inadequacies. So we either obsess about it for days (weeks ?) beforehand, before bringing the ol’ boring, “tried and true”, or we–gasp–try to peddle off something that we didn’t make as our own. But I discovered something interesting. If you assign some crazy theme to the invite, you take all the pressure off. For example: If you assign a “Bring a Purple Dish” theme, then you can say, “Oh, I was GOING to bring my famous quail in balsamic reduction with baby turnips and couscous, but she said PURPLE, so I brought a beetroot flambe’ instead. Gee, I hope it works.” You see ? You can blame it on the host afterwards (in private, on FB), but in the meantime, you have everyone, at least for the moment, on the same culinary playing field, and that makes for less stress, and more fun. At least for me, anyway :)

  21. Keep it simple and enjoy the family that Christmas brings together. Christmas Day is NOT the day to waste in the kitchen!!

  22. My top tip is to buy a new Christmas themed DVD as a stocking stuffer so that when you’re busy preparing and serving the meal, the children are happily occupied until Xmas lunch or dinner is ready.

  23. try to do a lot of the prep before hand. have salad ready to just add dressings. I even chop and cryvac Vegas and salads ready to assemble. Then you not in the kitchen all day. have table set the night before. enjoy.

  24. Melissa Curtin says:

    My top tip is prep and make sure you have everything you need the day before! Also we love doing the ham on the BBQ with the lid down with a lovely glaze yummmy

  25. We have cold meats and salads and desserts you can make ahead of time . Christmas is so busy as it is without being trapped in the kitchen cooking ! It is about catching up with family and about the kids for us ! Ps everyone brings there signature dish which helps a lot . This is our first Christmas with a aldi in our town so can’t wait to see what they have on offer :-)

  26. Be prepared have a timeline and prep as much as possible done, table settings, any prep for dishes all the night before so you get to spend time with the kids and their new toys on the day. Relax and Enjoy. I love cold meat and salads or a BBQ for Xmas as too hot in QLD for a full hot dinner.

  27. I like to be prepared with lots of lists running to keep things organised BUT I also am conscious that nothing in the kitchen is worth stressing about so much that I can’t enjoy the day :) It’s a balance! LOVE Christmas cooking!

  28. Love Aldi. We invited friends over last Saturday for lunch and had the Aldi Australian prawns for entree with a mango and chilli homemade chutney (we love how Aldi stands by firmly on only sticking to sustainable caught seafood – huge tick from us) . Then for mains we cooked the Aldi 3bird roast which has yummy stuffing rolled in it, it was sensational! did I say yummy already I mean yuuuummmyyy. We served with scrummy Donna Hay squashed crispy baby potatoes and a huge bowl of crispy sugar snap peas & brocolli with butter of course! Then for desert a nice and easy chocolate and date homemade Torte with cream, as well as Aldi shortbread and white chocolate macaroons. There was 6 of us the meal was so yummy but so easy the only tips we ever stick to is anything we cook has to be minimal preparation and baking away no intervention needed so we can sit and chat more to our lovely guests. The Aldi Christmas is a go. This was our first year buying from Aldi and I think it’s awesome plus our friends asked which amazing butcher we got the roast from so it was definitely a winner .

  29. My tip is if there is more than eight people, share the load, work out a menu and give each family a dish to make/bring along and the best tip is to try to relax and enjoy this beautiful time of year with family and friends.

  30. Mel Kroeger says:

    I hate that feeling of eating waaaay too much on Christmas Day. Our new family tradition is having a ‘Christmas Brunch’. We skip breakfast- who has time with all of that present unwrapping?! Then we eat our Christmas feast at around 10.30am. This way we have the whole afternoon free to swim, play cricket & have fun. Then by dinner time we’re all starving again & can stuff our faces with all of the leftovers! Too easy!

  31. Plan your menu
    Prep as much as you can a few days ahead
    Assign tasks to family members
    Sit back and enjoy the day
    Merry Christmas to all ho ho,ho

  32. Prepare early, make lots of lists, don’t stress, Set the table the night before, and first of all remember it is time to spend with family and friends.

    We have a Aldi store just opened within 2 minutes from me so will pop in and get some goodies.

  33. Just like Santa, make a list (and check it twice) for glancing at and crossing off as you go. Keeps everything ticking along while you sip happily on some Christmas merriment.

  34. Yes! I’m from a big family also and we share the load! All bring a dish or two and there is plenty of yummy food. And the busy/travellers bring nibbles and or drinks. My tip is the way we plan the day- we do the main course for he midday meal, and dessert for tea/dinner. Its evolved from having dessert after presents, and once someone had planned a big treasure hunt to find gifts, then it seemed wise to wait just a bit longer until the evening meal. The kids (and big kids!) love skipping the savoury course and going straight to dessert!

  35. Susan Leach says:

    Top tip is to remember to have fun, share the load and have party games ready to play

  36. Christy Franklin says:

    My top tip is to prepare as much food as you can the day before. Chop up salad items, cook the bacon or chicken or boil your eggs that will go in the Caesar. Prepare as much as you can so that Christmas Day isn’t frantically spent in the kitchen trying to make all your different special dishes. Plus, by preparing beforehand saves you from having to deal with a huge washup! So chop, peel, wash, cook and boil!

  37. My top tip is delegating to guests a little something to bring to help smooth out the whole event for the host! So if one set of guests brings some drinks and another some dip and bikkies to eat while the food is cooking, its one less stress for the host which is always nice lol. Also good to have an idea of any guests allergies etc, nothing worse than making a delicious feast for everyone and someone has to miss out or worse.

  38. Dianne Whittle says:

    My top tip is – everything does not have to be perfect. Keep it simple and, to quote THAT song “Let it go”. I have always stressed about Christmas, the perfect presents, the perfect gift wrapping, the perfect tablecloth and table arrangements, the perfect turkey, the perfect wine, the perfect dessert. I was so stressed that I never enjoyed it. I forgot the real reason we were celebrating Christmas and I spent every year just a little bit upset and disappointed and feeling a little empty because the day didn’t meet my lofty expectations. Then I learnt to let it go, to relax, to care a little less about the ‘things’ and a little more about the true meaning of Christmas and the people around me. Now, I look forward to Christmas and enjoy it rather than feeling burdened and stressed. So, let it go.

  39. After a long, terrible year where everything went wrong and tragedies occured left, right and centre, I’ve taken a much more relaxed approcah to Christmas. I feel the gathering of family for a nice meal is much more important than the hype of presents and the stress surrounding ‘perfection’.

    Having said that, here are my top tips for the year:

    -When you do the grocery shopping, grab a few ‘special’ things to put away for Christmas. I usually pick up a pudding weeks ahead of time and each week grab something like the cranberry sauce, or the turkey roll or the choc melts and dried fruit needed for rum balls etc!
    -Select a dessert that needs some ‘rest’ time so that it can be made a few days before the big day. I usually choose a tiramius or trifle so that the dessert can soak up all the flavour and be deliciously perfect on the day, plus this removes the stress of having to get it together last minute.
    -Set the table on Christmas Eve so that you can get it looking the way you want. And don’t go crazy with the number of plates and glasses. As long as everyone has a plate to eat off and a glass to drink from, all is well!
    -When it comes time for lunch, cook your meat (usually a turkey here, sometimes a pork roast) on the BBQ! You’d be surprised at how well it turns out. This method will leave you with perfect meat and the house wont be 100 degrees because of the oven! You can also do your veggies in the BBQ too if it’s REALLY hot and you just can’t stand the thought of the oven raging.
    -If possible, eat outdoors! It makes it much more relaxed and the house doesn’t end up looking like a bombsite. An easy post-Christmas clean up is always a bonus!
    -Avoid the temptation to go crazy buying fruits and vegetables for the big day. Buy what you really need and remind yourself that in the Aussie heat, most of your beautiful fruit will perish! Buy it as you need over the slower holiday period.
    -Freeze your leftover veggies and turkey straight after lunch. These bits and pieces can be turned into fantastic nibblies for your NYE celebration. Mini turkey and veggie pies anyone?

    I think they’re my top tips. Oh, and ALDI is fantastic for this time of year! I can’t wait to try the Three Bird Roast. It sounds so wrong, yet so right!

  40. I think the best tip is to delegate jobs and or dishes to people, otherwise one person gets lumped with everything and can get overwhelmed . Merry Christmas Retro family

  41. My top tip is to NOT try a new recipe on Christmas Day! Stick with what you know, keep it simple, and keep your mother-in-law away from the kitchen

  42. Charlotte E says:

    We had the Aldi Three Bird Roast last year and it was delicious. Have you tried their Speciality Fudge? OMG I’ve gone through more than a few boxes since it was on the shelves last month :-) Anyway my top tip for Christmas entertaining is to do as much as you can before the big day and then on the day to delegate some of the responsibilities. For example I put my husband on drinks duties making sure glasses are refilled and eskies iced and restocked. I also get family members to help out with entertaining the children (or the other way in some cases!) and to bring a few no cook bits and pieces that can be put out straight away.

  43. My top tip is to have all veg and salads out on a side table/tables and make it a serve yourself.
    That way finicky eaters can choose their own, parents can serve the littlies what they know they will eat and it is so much quicker
    With the turkey that can be served up so their is plenty for all then the rest can be put out for seconds. Some can get their meat first, others get the veg first so a quick process to keep all hot.
    Then everyone can sit down together and say Grace, pull the bon bons and start all together as one.
    Fairer on all the ones that have slaved over the stove and it is not some starting/finishing before others.
    Gratitude and all together is the aim.

  44. Be like a boy scout…..ALWAYS BE PREPARED FOR ANYTHING! Have everything prepared in advance if it is possible, be organised, have a back up plan should something go wrong (food dropped/burnt etc) and just go with the flow. The nicest Christmas meals are ones where you get to spend the precious time with your loved ones. And my loved ones are not my kitchen and oven but my family :)

  45. I, too have just discovered Aldi, loving the quality and prices. (And of course that tempting middle aisle) My top tip is to set up a mini station for the drinks. Have wine glasses, stubby coolers, and Christmas themed paper cups, straws, etc in that area to help keep the traffic down in the kitchen and it’s displayed so everyone can help themselves.

  46. Go cold. Everything we eat on Christmas Day – including the ham – is cold. This allows me to prepare everything beforehand, as well as avoid using the oven (which can be a little stressful with everything else going on!). Even with air conditioning the oven heats up the kitchen – not something I want on a hot Christmas day! I find that I actually spend very little time in the kitchen and enjoy the company of my family. Going cold also allows me to delegate more (not something I’m terribly good at!). I even provide the recipe to the family member I delegate to!

  47. My top top is to come up with family traditions and enjoy them each year as a family. Make an advent calendar that has activities to do together to celebrate Christmas. Singing / writing carols, lights viewing, Christmas baking, putting up the tree together, wrapping gifts, making cards etc.. Christmas isn’t just about having a fabulous meal on the dinner table… (although we certainly enjoy that too

  48. Anne Smith says:

    My Mum always said…Keep it simple but have plenty.

  49. If people offer to bring a plate of something, always say yes! It’s not only helpful but also adds to your guest’s feeling of inclusiveness and warmth. The day is not about showing off what an amazing cook you are, it’s about everyone feeling welcome & part of the celebrations. As a host I think it’s lovely to be able to ooh & aah over something that someone else has thoughtfully contributed.

  50. Belinda Wade says:

    My tip is to RELAX…. as much as possible….. Try not to worry if things don’t go completely to plan or time…….. Try not to stress too much if the food does not turn out quite how you planned – enjoy it anyway…….. Try to be loving, kind & forgiving and not get too upset if someone annoys you or says something hurtful – let it go, it’s Christmas…….Have fun, laugh lots, celebrate your family & the birth of Jesus. What a blessing to be living in this amazing country…….. We have so much to be thankful for.

  51. Susan McGuire says:

    My top tip for Christmas is to remember not to over spend. For many people Christmas is a stressful time worrying about how much it is going to cost. I highly recommend that everyone only spends what they can afford. No one wants to feel worried later on when they realise they do not have enough money to get through January and the school holidays.

    Christmas Day is a very special occasion but it is not worth going broke over. No one should spend more than they can afford. Even the simplest of meals and gifts can be enjoyable, special and fun :)

  52. My top tip is to plan so you can prepare lots beforehand, allowing you to enjoy the celebration of Christmas without being stuck in the kitchen all day! Alternatively, go out somewhere where you can all enjoy being spoiled!

  53. Natalie Heymans says:

    I try to keep it simple with cold meats and salads but I try to do a knock out dessert. Last year was bombe Alaska, it was ready the day prior and just needed blow torching at the table. It’s still being talked about.
    I also have a stash of small gifts for any unexpected guests.

  54. Rachel Kriss-Newell says:

    Have everyone bring along a plate of food. Plan who is coming, what you need and assign each couple/family one of those meals. For us we go a la cold. A few bring a plate of entree choices, others cold meats ,some differing salads (green, pasta, rice) some desserts. Use people’s strengths and if someone is a super dessert maker ask them to do the dessert. If they each bring their own plate/bowl it then goes home with them. No washing up. Use paper tableclothes and put out textures/crayons for everyone to doodle. The little kids especially love this. Throw over some Christmas stars/glitter of course. Decorate some lifesaver lollies or similar as part of the decorations. Rolling them up in coloured cellophane like a bonbon. They are both decorative and edible. And everything you need is at your fingertips at Aldi. Some of the delicacies coming through this time of year are mouthwatering. The range is extensive and so your meal menu can be also.

    Having a relaxed approach to Christmas dinner or lunch also flows onto the overall atmosphere. Have your dishwasher clear ready to load as the night continues. There are some great craft decorations the kids can get busy with. This not only keeps them occupied leading up to Xmas but makes the table look great. One example is below.

    Then sit back and enjoy the frivolity, good company and laughs. Merry Christmas everyone.

  55. Kristie Matt says:

    Best entertaining tip……Ask the kids!
    Christmas is all about the children and you’ll find they have the most merry and simplest ideas for food, decorating and entertainment even if it means a plate of cheerios, some weeds from the garden and a ridiculous mock up play under the kitchen table for entertainment. Memories and less stress for all!

  56. I get everybody to bring a part if the meal usually getting different people to do different courses so everyone gets to sit and enjoy a large portion if the day.

  57. My top tip for Christmas is …… go to someone else’s house for Christmas! Save on the mess and clean up. :-)

  58. Charmaine Campbell says:

    I love to set the dining table the night before, while I watch Carols by Candlelight. When it comes to lunchtime, everybody brings something so I don’t have to do it all. The men carve the meat while us ladies set up the food up like a buffet and everybody helps themselves, then heads to the table for bonbons and lunch!

  59. Michelle English says:

    My top tip is simply be kind…. To yourself and everyone who comes into your home at Christmas. Love and laughter are contagious so aim to make every guest feel loved. Put aside your differences….if you can do this in your own family, you are contributing to world peace. And that would be the best gift of all!

  60. My top tips are to set the table the day before (so that you can enjoy doing it and don’t have to do it on the big day), as well as plan your menu a few weeks beforehand so that you can buy the groceries over the course of a few weeks, therefore spreading out the cost, as well as the workload :-)

  61. My top tips for Christmas (and all other) entertaining….

    Have arms ready for hugging (No phones or electronic devices).
    Bring hearts of gratitude. (Not envy or self-criticism).
    Serve all with smiles and food. (Don’t wait to be waited on)
    Leave no mess – in your relationships AND the kitchen!

  62. I love to make personalised bon bons. It’s not cheaper or easier but it’s so much fun! Everyone loves their special gift and I love the challenge to find minature items to fit in that each person would like!

  63. Open spaces. If kids are coming they want to play with their new toys. Move the coffee table out of the way, mow the lawn. Open it all up!

  64. My tip would be to get your husband or someone else to taken the kids out for a big play at the park on Christmas Eve to wear them out and so you can get as much preparation done as possible for the big day!

  65. What a great giveaway – thanks for the opportunity!
    My top tip would be to relax and enjoy yourself – you deserve to socialize with everyone there and have a good time too….just because you’re hosting doesn’t mean you should miss out on catching up with everyone because you’re in crazy uber hostess mode! (at the end of the day, they are there to be with you, not to judge you for your entertaining prowess! Happy relaxed hosts are the loveliest and make for te best parties!)
    On a practical note,achieving te above is easier if you can prepare ahead of the day as much as possible, and try wherever possible to keep things simple and relaxed so if it doesn’t go according to plan, you can laugh and smile and have some bubbly and figure out a plan B!

  66. georgina pritchard says:

    Master the art of simplicity. Prepare early, in the months leading up to Christmas and utilize your freezer.
    Ask for help to lessen the load and a glass or two of champagne on the day doesn’t hurt either.

  67. Plan what’s going in your fridge and clean it out so there’s plenty of room for when relatives arrive with things that “just need to be popped in the fridge”. Using an esky with ice for drinks and making a few salads or dishes that don’t need refrigeration helps.

  68. Wow Corrie what a beautiful post, thinking a trip to aldi may be in order looking at all those delicious products.
    I don’t think I can narrow it down to one top tip but here in this neck of the woods a Christmas event isn’t complete without a wheelbarrow used as a garbage bin for all the recycle stuff especially those beer and wine bottles (a tradition my late pop started about 20 years ago), but try and have those garbage bins in general as empty as possible.
    Another is set the dining table/area up a few days in advance (I do it when the kids have gone to bed).
    If you run out of room in the kitchen use the laundry sink too.
    Have some citronella candles handy for outside evening entertaining.
    Make sure everyone’s outfits are planned in advance (especially if you have little people)
    Make a big list and cross off as you go!
    Xx

  69. Kathy Woods says:

    My tip is to write list of all the things you need to do. There is something very special about crossing jobs off the list!!

    Kathy

  70. I have a couple of tips, lists of what needs to be done and when, food wise and cleaning. And allocate your guests to bring a plate! KISS-keep it simple stupid!

  71. Lucy Michaela says:

    CHRISTMAS
    C lean gradually in the week before,
    H ave your home filled with Christmas bling galore!
    R aiding the supermarket freezer section is not a crime,
    I nvolve the kids in this magical time!
    S hare the load with family and friends,
    T ap into the individual talents of everyone who attends!
    M ake friends with the disposable foil oven tray,
    A few spare gifts for surprise guests never go astray!
    S avour the time with people special to you and celebrate another year through!

  72. Amanda Kimlin says:

    Make a list, check it twice, then establish which of your guests are naughty & nice…..put the naughty ones to work so you can keep and eye on them & set the nice ones up with a glass of champas and the remote to choose their favourite carols and the best water pistols for when the tea towel & water fights start during the washing up. Put up a sign on your front door saying Merry Christmas, we have one rule, smile, be happy, be thankful and don’t forget to dance!

    Merry Christmas everyone, stay safe & hug your loved ones tight!

  73. Sarah Kennedy says:

    Try to do as much as you can the days before, so all you do on the day is get it all out and put it on plates. We do most stuff cold as it’s quite hot here in Summer, and when it’s time to eat prawns, it’s fun and social to all go outside with a few blankets to sit on and eat the prawns in the shade on the grass with a nice cold beer, no mess in your home and it’s a relaxing and informal way to enjoy a rather messy treat. 😉 My other tip is I know, it is a bit full on having all your family at once in your home! Remember some people don’t have this kind o overwhelmingly crazy madness,and Christmas just does not feel the same without the noise and activity of your loved ones around you, filling your home and your heart with joy.

  74. Create a Master List on a big sheet of paper with everything you need to buy or get someone to bring. List the ingredients for each recipe, dinner wear, napery, batteries, ice, decorations, sunscreen, simply everything you will need. With so much to do it is so easy to forget vital elements. xx N

  75. Bree Vallance says:

    My top tip is set a table for the kids adjoining the adults, make it special nice plates and lots of Christmas trimmings, we give plastic flutes of apple cider. There own bonbons and platters of food. This way it avoids any spills and sillyness from the adults table, the kids love it and feel very special and grown up.

  76. My top tip is to include as many dishes that don’t have to be cooked. It really takes the stress out. I love smoked salmon with creme fraiche mixed with dill and capers.

  77. barbara woods says:

    Would love to win, thanks

  78. Put on some festive Christmas music to get everyone in the festive mood!

  79. Plan ahead. Start early. Buy presents at sales during the year. Make lists in an exercise book and refer to them to keep you on track. List ingredients to be purchased, and jobs to be completed. Ask for help. Delegate as much as possible and record who will be doing or bringing what.
    If you can, to get into the spirit of Christmas, get out into your community. Volunteer at a foodbank or other charity for a few hours. Join in at a Carols by Candlelight, or check out the Christmas lights in your neighbourhood.
    Above all, decide to be happy.

  80. lara brown says:

    My best Tip is start planning early, know how many people are coming. Starting saving early in the year. I often buy presents when they are on special and write it down so i know who and what i have bought for someone. IN terms of a menu Keep it simple and ask everyone to help out. Use one note and Pinterest to keep your ideas etc

  81. Ros McFarlane says:

    We traditionally always have a hot lunch. I prepare the desserts the night before and have home made lollies prepared a few days before. I shop in advance and have the majority of food stocked up before. I also get up early and prepare the potatoes, pumpkin, sweet potato as well as the onions before the grandchildren and family get up. Preparation is the key to a easier lunch time with organisation.

  82. Brooke Smith says:

    My best Christmas entertaining tip is to write a timeline for what can be made ahead of time etc and to let guests help! Let them bring a dish – many hands make light work 😉

  83. Dawn Malone says:

    Every one has to bring either a salad and a sweet or a cold meat (chicken ham seafood) and an entrée that way it all becomes stress free and more enjoyable.

  84. My top tip is to do like Santa and make a list – the mother of all lists : )
    Check it more than twice, make sure there are plenty of naughty items and plenty of nice – for me that’s lots of chocolate and bubbly, and as much summer fruit as I can squeeze in the fridge. The list also includes all the jobs and especially all the people I don’t want to forget in the crazy lead up to December 25. Happy Christmas!

  85. The biggest thing for us is to share the load. We all bring something for Christmas lunch and help out on the day. It’s not fair when one is stuck in the kitchen all day and misses out on all of the festivities.

  86. Amanda Gorham says:

    My tip is just to “fake it until you make it” and definitely “chill out”! Keep a smile on your face and encourage spontaneous laughter so much, that eventually it will cut through all the stress and be infectious to all those loved ones around you! There is too much stress on perfection these days: perfect presents, perfect platters, perfect food and perfect manners that we are all forgetting the reason for the season. And in actual and forgotten fact, the reason for the rest of the year! Be your beautiful self, relax and everything will fall into place…

    True story, I did this last year as we hosted Christmas at our house and everyone still talks about how simple and beautiful it was and how much the children enjoyed themselves xx That really is how I live my life and what people still keep saying about our wedding 8 years ago!

    Blessings to all xxx

  87. 4 sleeps till Christmas, my kids remind me almost on the hour. Aldi have me covered, from “frozen” presents to frozen dinners and deserts. Ive already got all the food and gifts wrapped up and ready to go. Why wait until the day before to buy up when you can do it all early and spend more time with the people you love. Merry Christmas everyone.

  88. Step 1. Hop into the car
    Step 2. Drive to your nearest Aldi
    Step 3. Buy a prepared roast and anything else you need
    Step 4. Enjoy.

  89. Careful planning. If you know what you need & how much, where it is and when it needs to be prepared you can save yourself a lot of pain (meaning last minute crazy busy trips to the supermarket).
    Delegation is also key. You can’t do everything on your own (even if you think you can) so plan to share the tasks around. If everyone has a little bit to do then no one is too exhausted and stressed out to enjoy time with Family & Friends which is what really matters.

  90. Penny George says:

    Barbecued prawns, a christmas must,
    made ahead of time add a salad with crunch.
    Forever a favourite with mum’s special sauce,
    and best of all …no washing up of course!!

  91. my top tip would be move to Tassie where you know no one and will be haivng Christmas just the 3 of you and the 2 dogs! But, my other top tip would be nut out the menu well in advance and do a trial run of any new dishes. Then you can iron out or modify if it isn’t liked. And if the recipe says serves 4 and you have 8 for dinner but have 12 dishes, don’t double the recipe as everyone will have a bit of everything, better to not have any go to waste and have a request for ‘that awesome dish you did last year but there wasn’t enough for seconds’.

    Merry Christmas Corrie, Justin, Keira, Flynn, Tilly, Elodie, Emerson and Lawson. I hope 2015 is filled with lots of love and happy memories xx

  92. Amy Petersen says:

    Rope in as many people as possible to help with the cooking, if someone cooks a lamb, someone does seafood and someone does a turkey your half way there. Each prepare a salad or roast vegies and it’s all done and easy on everyone.

  93. Michelle Payne says:

    My top tip is to make sure each of my family have a favourite dish or drink to enjoy on the day. It makes menu planning fun and I love spoling everyone. Merry Christmas.

  94. Glenda Booth says:

    I try to shop early in the week before and have everything at hand to prepare as much as possible the day before so that you have some time to relax and enjoy Christmas Day too.

    PS I LOVE Aldi , their quality ingredients and especially their prices!

  95. Keep the kids entertained (and ultimately out of the way) while you prepare Christmas lunch or dinner. Try getting them to make “Dried Fruit Ornaments”: Get large pieces of different types of dried fruit, pierce a hole near the top of each one, thread a piece of string or ribbon through and tie end. They can now be hung around a small Christmas tree centrepiece for guests to help themselves to or to be purely admired. Use your imagination and you could hang them anywhere! Even hiding them around the backyard and house and making the kids find them. Not only is this fun for the kids but they get a healthy treat at the end of it!

  96. Mary Preston says:

    Have fun!! I start planning early. A lot less stress involved. Time to experiment with recipes & ideas.

    Most importantly have fun!!

  97. SANDY HORSFALL says:

    MY TIP IS TO SIMPLY NOT GET OBSESSED WITH PLANNING EVERY MINUTE DETAIL! A LITTLE SPONTANEITY NEVER HURT ANYONE!!

  98. My tip is…. Remember you are cooking for your family and if something doesn’t work out like the picture, dont be hard on yourself.

  99. Delegate! Have everyone bring a dish, their personal specialty. It takes a bit of pressure off you, the hostess, and adds variety to the meal.

  100. Samantha cole says:

    My top tip would be to buy things throughout the year, I layby where I can and pick up bits and pieces each shop

  101. Give everyone in the family cooking to do, I’m doing the pork and the Desserts,. Everyone complains at first but I see it all falls together, arriving at the daughters with all of the food in tow, she of course is supplying the seafood, makes for a great Christmas lunch

  102. My top tip is family planning ahead and have each family bring one of their favourite dishes, if you are lucky and have an ethnically diversified family, you will be in for a treat! This will be a brilliant chance to learn about another culture and sample some of the tasty delights.

  103. Delegate and share the preparation of the food! One person does the meat, another does the veges, another dessert and then all come together for a stress free, family prepared delicious feast! Best thing we ever started a few years ago. All I have to do is clean and decorate the house and put out a few nibblies… and make sure the champagne is on ice!

  104. I think it’s important to remember that Christmas is more about spending time with loved ones and people you don’t get to see very often, and less about having perfect food and perfect everything. With this in mind, try to prepare as much beforehand so that when your guests arrive you can spend time with them, rather than getting all bent out of shape in the kitchen!

  105. Enjoy the day if I’m relaxed everything will fall into place.
    It’s not all about the food and presents but my family and how lucky we are to have one another.

  106. Rosslyn Tadd says:

    Being a vegetarian family Christmas is easy. Most of our salads and dips are prepared the day before with only our roast vegetables to be cooked on Christmas Day.Our day is a constant flow of food rather than the pressure of one major meal.

  107. My top tip would be a sneaky early glass of champagne to calm the nerves and reduce stress levels. Helps with those last minute preparations before guests arrive run a little smoother!

  108. Belinda McLeod says:

    Keeping things simple

  109. KISS, keep it simple sister! Don’t go overboard, there’s usually way too much food, and relax :-)

  110. Amanda Gorton says:

    Christmas is about relaxing, spending time with family and enjoying the moment, you don’t want to be stressed or too busy preparing the days meal……….so the best advice I have is don’t be afraid to rely on ready made foods like salads, plum puddings, marinated meats, pavlova bases, custards etc Supermarkets cater extensively in areas like these so you wont be short on choice or variety.

  111. “Bring a plate, a bottle and a chair”
    We have 4 generations together under one roof on Christmas day. No one family is burdened with the job of catering the day – everyone brings a significant, pre-allocated dish, a bottle of bubbles or red, and enough chairs for their members of their family. Pretty simple but it works so well.

  112. Keep it simple, prepare as much as you can beforehand, share the load & expense with those you celebrate with, my extended family do boxing day together and each family brings a meat and a salad, we provide made ahead desserts. Most of all remember Christmas is about Christ’s birth, not about the food, enjoy your day with your family, friends or loved ones don’t stress about it being perfect.

  113. My tips are make lists and prepare as much beforehand as possible, I am working up to Christmas Eve and we have 10 people coming for Christmas lunch this year, I spent 12 hours yesterday cooking and baking, quite a few things crossed off my list now. Just a few last minute things to do Christmas morning and I’m all set. Merry Christmas….

  114. jody buhagiar says:

    Keep the kids busy! Making the day special for the kids, they will get restless sitting around the table for hours, so have some fun activities planned for them. Try giving them cookies or cupcakes to decorate, or even plan a scavenger hunt to keep them entertained.

  115. Pre plan where you can, its the best,
    making dishes the day before, saves stress!
    Keep to a budget where you can
    Christmas is suppose to be happy!!!

  116. Susan Ikin says:

    My tip is to do a list of what you want to serve, who is going to provide it if you have guests sharing the load, when defrosting needs to occur, what time cooking needs to start. Tick off as required. Prepare as much as possible the day before, and try to keep things in the fridge together by requirement for example, keep nibbles together and labeled so you can delegate someone to get them for you, keep thawing items together, keep sliced meats and salads together etc. this way, if the menu items are stored together and labeled, you can ask someone to get these items. Relax – no one is marking your catering efforts I hope – they will however mark your mood and cheerfulness, or lack thereof. Families want your love and company.

  117. Cook something unique or different culture to mix things up of the day. I’m cooking Indian food this year!!

  118. KEEP IT SIMPLE!! The most delicious food is clean, fresh and simple flavours. Combined with some lovely champagne, family, friends and happiness. No better ingredients.

  119. Be prepared, I’d rather have too much food than not enough, you can always have leftovers.

  120. Keep the event as simple as possible (der). One event only so there’s no pressure to finish one and get to another. Have a relaxed boxing day celebration with the people that matter but aren’t insistent on Christmas Day obligations.

  121. My top tip for any entertaining is to make lists! List of prep required along with a full menu list and then match it all up with a time line! Helps you stay on task, know where you are upto and most importantly means you don’t forget to bring out the seafood platter or dessert you had stored in your fridge in the garage!

  122. Buy your fresh ingredients several days before Christmas. If you wait until Christmas eve you’re likely to find things sold out.

  123. Make sure you invite all of the Aunties……. they always pitch in to help and my house is often cleaner when they leave than it was when they arrived! The key to this is being able to let go and accept anyone’s offer to help!

  124. Renee Ballantyne says:

    if you have a huge family with everyone over get them to bring something to help out…it all helps

  125. Rebecca Baker says:

    Entertaining friends and family should be fun,
    Not a stressful pun!
    So relax, and enjoy,
    Kids will be entertained with there new toy.
    Enjoy a cocktail or two,
    Even quite a few.
    Aldi has it all under control <3

  126. Rachelle Placek says:

    My tip: think about your own childhood memories of special Christmas touches. If you can recreate just one memory & , explain to your children this joyous memory it will make Christmas special for you & the kids . Christmas croquet & grandmas gravy!

  127. claire evans says:

    make the tricky stuff the night before so xmas day is spent with loved ones and not loved in the kitchen

  128. matt warburton says:

    My top tip is to not go crazy. Just make it simple and make it taste good. That always seems to work for me.

  129. My top tip is to organise the tables the night before the day. It saves a lot of time, especially if you have a big family and delegation on the day is key! Also, don’t stress and enjoy the day.

  130. My top tip is to firstly acknowledge that many family members will have more than one commitment on the day, and some have possibly celebrated Christmas Eve as well. Therefore, rather than a table groaning with food, I serve just a few carefully selected items. Guests appreciate the simplicity, the focus becomes more on the conversation, and waste is minimised.

  131. Donna Dwyer says:

    Make it easy and fun!! Disposable plastic Chistmas themed plates, cups, bowls etc. Let everyone contribute according to their strengths – eg. appoint someone bad at cooking be “Christmas Musical Director” and let them chose the music for the day. Let little kids decorate. Let go of your own perfectionism and let everyone contribute the best way they can.

  132. My top tip is to cook as much as you can the DAY BEFORE you need them. Who wants to stress in a hot kitchen on Christmas Day when everyone else is enjoying the festivities?

  133. My top tip, is to make lists, i always do one of the week leading up to Christmas day and what jobs are to be done on that day such as baking what can be done ahead of time to getting tables ready. I find this keeps me on track and i can spread the jobs out and not have to rush a day or two before. Also so i get to enjoy the day and spend it with family instead of getting things ready because i forgot something.

  134. My friend used to host Christmas each year and was so welcoming so I’d say focus on the guests but she also instructed us to bring a main or dessert and it always worked a treat!

  135. Have the kids around to usher out any unwanted over-stayers… there’s nothing like the blunt candour of a five year old asking Uncle John and Aunty Meg “why are you still here?” hours after the last plates have been cleared from Christmas lunch!

    • congratulations Sue you are the winner! Woohoo I will be in touch for your voucher which will be mailed out next week! Well donexx You made us laugh so loud out loud here!

  136. My Top Tip is plan time to spend with family and friends. We get so caught up preparing for Christmas that we don’t spend as much time with our families. I plan my time so that I can spend time with my family and still have everything ready for Christmas day.

  137. Happy new year retro mummy!
    I love your blog!!!
    A couple of questions if I may…
    Firstly your Aussie Xmas lunch spread pic – I love it and am inspired to recreate it for an upcoming family function!!! Do you have the recipes online?
    Secondly I am inspired by your quilting and want to go buy some material from your shop, get out the sewing machine and start!!! But I have no idea what to do or buy!!! Any suggestions with how to get started? Have you already done an earlier entry on your blog for beginners???
    Thanks for your blog
    Jane x

    • oh lovely!

      I had to zoom in on the photo but basically it’s the changs noodle salad from the back of the pack of the changs noodles (let me check the type of noodle), I roasted 2 chickens, king prawns, hot rolls, pasta salad, potato salad, sliced ham off the bone! We pretty much eat that every christmas and boxing day here:)

      a very easy quilt is a charm square quilt following this tutorial but using 1 pack of charm squares which makes a nice size for a little girl, baby, lap quilt
      http://www.diaryofaquilter.com/p/beginning-quilting-series.html

      hope that helps and let me know if you need anything else:) always happy to help
      Corrie:)

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