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Christmas dinner for first timers

(I'm very aware this is the second blog post in 2 days after a blog drought! Do you remember my previous posts about motivation ebbing and flowing? This is a case in point :))

I have seen a huge number of people asking slightly panicked questions about Christmas dinner this year. Due to COVID restrictions more people than ever are cooking their very first Christmas dinner this year. And it can seem like a very difficult proposition particularly if you are not much of a cook otherwise. But let me tell you, in 2003, I was living with my then boyfriend and we were going to have Christmas on our own. It was first time ever for me away from my parents. I wasn't much of a cook then, but it was great! So I know exactly that feeling of potential overwhelm. You will all know by now that I am a BIG fan of learning and using other people's experience. So here are my top 3 resources if you are cooking Christmas dinner and feeling a bit nervy about it!

Deliah Smith’s Christmas Guide. I bought mine in 2003 and it got my through my first Christmas dinner with ease. Although I don’t use this now, some of these recipes are in my stock Christmas fare and I just love to sit down and read it. If you like a magazine in your hand, you can’t go wrong! I’m not sure the magazine itself is still in print but I guarantee a large number of your friends and family have a copy! There is also this much bigger affair available now The best thing about the original for me was the advice to set aside a couple of days/mornings in the run up to Christmas to get your act together. No, of course Deliah Smith didn't put it like that, but you get the gist! Setting time aside to plan, then take action is definitely something I get on board with! I also liked the tip about getting rid of stuff lingering at the back of the fridge or cupboard, freeing up space for new items. I feel like this is something well worth thinking about in terms of other areas of the house and in our mind, too.

Nigella’s Christmas. This is a far weighty tome with ideas for all kinds of feasts as well as the Christmas meal itself. As well as Turkey, you get great recipes for goose, beef, pork and stuffed pumpkin with the thoughtful addition of ideas for leftovers. With a lovely chapter on making gifts (ranging from Christmas spiced salt - literally chuck ingredients in a jar and gift - to the fiddly Christmas puddinis which I now make every year and have made twice this year already for Christmas in July), there really is something for everyone! What you would be most interested in as a first time Christmas dinner maker though is the chapter 'The Main Event' which gives a really comprehensive timetable to the whole she-bang.

I love this book so much it is where I keep my mum's letter with the recipes she gave me for two Christmas cakes back in 2003. (This year I've made the booziest cake ever, with a couple of modifications!) I also keep my shopping list that combines ingredients for the cake and the pudding. This pudding is a staple in our family and I usually make several so everyone in the family gets one and they're having to do without again! I MUST mention there is also a really gorgeous chocolate pudding recipe, which I've made many times for those family members that don't like dried fruit. The best bit is you can combine all the dry ingredients ahead of time so on Christmas day, you just chuck those and the wet ingredients in a blender and you're ready to go. Super easy, it looks lovely and it's nice to offer those that don't like dried fruit something a bit more impressive than ice-cream. (Nothing wrong with ice-cream, obviously!) (Oh and last, last thing about this book, great recipes for Christmas cocktails).

If you're more interested in an internet resource, look no further than Jamie Oliver's How to Survive Your First Christmas Dinner. With everything from an equipment checklist to how to carve a turkey, this is a hub for all the things that you'll need. I assume this is going to tie in with Jamie's new Christmas tv series that starts on Sunday (6 December 2020) in the UK on Channel 4. I'm not sure we will be able to see it here in Aus, but if I can find it that might be a nice thing to feel a bit more festive in the summer!

As a coach, I see lots of people that get overwhelmed with information into what we call analysis paralysis. A great way to overcome this is to limit where you get your information from. So pick the one that you think is most appealing and stick to that. Incorporate existing family traditions, lose the stuff you're not interested in and you already have your blueprint for how to manage Christmas dinner!

I'm going to be doing a LOT of posts between now and Christmas all based to help you avoid overwhelm, panic and Christmas related drama. There will be tips and hints, recipes, craft ideas and a whole lot of coaching recommendations so that you enjoy the kind of Christmas that you want, regardless of external circumstances. I'll combine a lot of these weekly into the newsletter so if you'd like it direct to your inbox, make sure you're signed up! Otherwise, subscribe to the blog and you'll be notified about the goodies when I post.

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