Get Ahead, Make Ahead Christmas (Stress Free Christmas Secret #3)

Cranberry sauce with Ginger Wine
Cranberry Sauce – a great make ahead recipe

Get Ahead Christmas

To have a stress free Christmas, you absolutely must get ahead. And notice I said Christmas, and not just Christmas Day. This is because depending on how big your circle is, and how sociable you are, Christmas can be anything from 2 days to 2 weeks!

So a get ahead Christmas will encompass any entertaining you do at home, whether that’s on Christmas Day itself, or New Year’s Eve. Or even Christmas eve, as many cultures get together on the eve.

I am also including visits you may make, that means any gifts you might need to take with you, so we’ll look at some homemade gifts too.

Stock Up Early

Whether you’re hosting the big do on Christmas Day or a get together on another day, think about what you need.

We covered utensils and kitchen equipment in quite a bit of detail in Secret #2. So if you missed it, click here to read up on it.

The best thing to do, when stocking up (whether it’s tools or cupboard ingredients), is to start well in advance. As soon as you know you’re hosting a meal or party, start shopping SLOWLY.

Look for Sales and Offers

I’m not asking you to buy Christmas lights in August, although if that’s your thing hey, why not. What I am asking you to do is to look out for kitchen and dining items that you don’t have and start picking them up gradually.

Build up your supplies, whether inedible or otherwise, when you see offers and sales. Of course, if it’s food, check the use by date. This way, you save money, and also don’t go all broke trying to get things in all at once.

Make Space, Find Space

Closer to the day (a few days – to 2 weeks), take a good look around your kitchen and dining room, and ask yourself how is it all going to work.

Do you have enough work surface? Because when hosting a meal, you will need that to prep and also to spread out ingredients, crockery and finished dishes.

Can something be moved out of the way temporarily, to give you more space? Or perhaps you have a foldable table somewhere, or that you can borrow, or buy cheaply (think second hand stores).

We have a few foldable tables that I use to conduct classes, so I always bring those out when I entertain. One of them goes in one corner of the dining room and becomes the drinks table (if only I had space for a home bar!).

Chorizo stuffing on board
stuffing should be prepared the night before

Make Ahead Christmas

My philosophy is this: whatever the occasion, always make as much ahead as possible.

So you’re not working your socks off on the day, and have the time, and more importantly, the energy, to enjoy yourself.

This is never more true than on big sit down meal days like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Chinese New Year.

I gave you my Christmas Day Schedule in Secret #1. Today, you’ll be getting the Christmas Eve planner/list. It is of course a little more chilled and spaced out than the former.

Sample Christmas Menu

Anything that is highlighted as a link, can be clicked for the recipe.

I’m in the UK and celebrate a very English Christmas, so I’m working with a Christmas menu that will look something like this:

And then, there are the extras, for nibbles as well as drop-ins. This will very much depend on what is traditional in your part of the world:

sausage rolls freeze very well

Fill your Freezer

For a stress free holiday season, start filling your freezer up with extras 2-3 weeks before the big day.

So all those goodies you see above can be made before hand and placed in the freezer for guests, unexpected or otherwise. I freeze cakes all the time, because I’m always baking them for classes and have so many extras.

Make Ahead Christmas Recipes

While most of our recipes will be cooked or finished off on Christmas Day itself, all of them can be prepared or started earlier. If your fridge isn’t big enough, your garden shed makes a marvellous storage space for Christmas.

No garden? A balcony, no matter how small, works for storing things overnight. Just make sure everything’s wrapped up tight. Assuming it’s winter where you are. If not, hit me up for ideas, I spent the first 28 years of my life in the tropics after all!

Make Ahead Christmas Dessert

Christmas dessert (or any other big occasions) should always be made ahead. Here in the UK, the traditional desserts is the Christmas pudding, whish is made weeks ahead on Stir Up Sunday, which is in late November.

Unless you are making my Alcohol Free Christmas Pudding, that can be made up to 5 days earlier, or frozen if made earlier than that.

Here are a couple of great make ahead Christmas Desserts:

Poached Pears in Red Wine with Vanilla (an Easy Dessert)
Poached Pears in Red Wine recipe, such an easy, yet elegant dessert, you’ll be wanting to serve them all the time!
Get the Recipe!
Poached pears in red wine
Lemon Posset (an easy, 3-ingredient, old British Dessert)
Lemon posset, a super easy, chilled creamy dessert, flavoured with lemon juice, and made in minutes, then placed in the fridge.

Get the Recipe!
Lemon posset with berries

Christmas Drinks

As mentioned in Secrets #1, don’t forget your drinks. In the Western culture, you tend to turn up with drinks at parties and get togethers. This is always great, as far as the finances are concerned.

But you still need to come up with a small amount of the drinks yourself, the bare minimum plus 1 more bottle.

Christmas Day should be easy enough, as you have a fair idea of how far a bottle will go, given the abundance of food.

What you should do a couple of days before (so that not all prep work falls on Christmas eve), is wash all your drink glasses that don’t see regular use. Turn them up side down, and put aside somewhere out of the way. I place a tea towel or two over them.

The same goes with coffee cups and anything else you need for hot drinks (milk jug etc).

A Cheat’s Christmas

These days, it is so easy to get ahead for a stress free Christmas by filling your freezer and fridge with ready made, shop bought sides. Now I know you can order the whole shebang from supermarkets and specialist retailers, but where’s the fun in that?

You have to cook something on Christmas Day, don’t you? There are so many choices these days with the ready-to-cook options, one can just get everything that falls in this category, including roast of your choice.

I know here in the UK, there are some fantastic freezer potatoes, parsnips and carrots, all seasoned, that you just have to cook on the day, straight from the freezer. They are so handy throughout the year, why not use them at Christmas?

The same goes for your desserts, whether it’s Christmas pudding or not.

The choice is yours. Do the whole thing yourself, including the Christmas pudding and homemade gifts (see below), or do a bit of both.

Make Ahead Christmas Gifts

There are so many things you can make at home as Christmas gifts, if you are so inclined. There are some people for whom you buy stuff, and there are some, for whom homemade is better.

My favourite homemade Christmas gifts are infused liqueurs or spirits, mini Christmas puddings, chilli pastes and spice mixes. These are perfect for friends and certain family members.

Get Ahead Christmas Gifts


Homemade Limoncello Recipe
The most comprehensive limoncello article EVER! Get the authentic recipe PLUS I help you make perfect limoncello even if you can only get 37% vodka!
Last Updated May 2023.
Get the Recipe!
Homemade Limoncello
Christmas Cranberry Gin (A Red Christmas Gin)
A Christmas Cranberry Gin recipe. Deep red, a touch sweet, a hint of bitter, this is the most delicious Christmas Gin there is! So easy to make! (Total time does not include the 1 month of infusion time.)
Get the Recipe!
Red Christmas gin in a glass
Anya’s Krupnik, a Polish Liqueur of Spiced Vodka and Honey
Krupnik is a smooth and fairly potent Polish liqueur of spiced vodka and honey, popular during the winter months.
Get the Recipe!

Chilli Pastes and Spice Mixes

Homemade Chipotle Paste
Chipotle Paste recipe. It gives a wonderful, smoky flavour to fish and meat, is perfect for grilling and barbecuing and adds depth to stews and chilli con carne.
Get the Recipe!
red chilli paste in spoon on glass jar
Za’atar – a Middle Eastern Spice Mix
A quick and easy homemade Za'atar recipe with suggestions on how to use it on flatbreads, with yoghurt and so much more.
Get the Recipe!
Za'atar Lebanese Spice Mix
Berbere, Ethiopian Spice Mix
Recipe for homemade Berbere, an essential Ethiopian Spice Mix, that fiery red mix that gives Ethiopian wots (stews) their characteristic flavour and, without which, a wot is just not a wot!
Get the Recipe!
Red spice in black bowl

There are so many Christmas gift ideas online for a make ahead Christmas, just do a search and you’ll be swamped with ideas.

Here is a super simple gift idea that my kids have been making since they were little. These are sugar shapes for hot drinks, made with just white sugar, food colour and a tiny amount of water.

sugar shapes

Set the Table

Setting the table the night before is definitely a must for a get ahead Christmas! If you have kids, this is perfect for them. Get the oldest to supervise.

And as mentioned in Secret #1, place cards just add a touch of class to your Christmas table, even if it’s in your little kids’ handwriting.

Christmas Eve Tasks

These are all the things that can/should be done on Christmas Eve.

  • gravy (can be made earlier and frozen)
  • cranberry sauce (can be made up to a week earlier)
  • par boil the potatoes and parsnips, prep, and keep somewhere cool
  • par boil the carrots and prep
  • trim the brussels sprouts, place in a bag
  • stuffing – get it all ready and place in the fridge
  • pigs in blanket – get them all ready and on a tray
  • prep the turkey and keep somewhere COLD
  • set the table
  • get your glasses and serving dishes, crockery, etc ready
set the table the night before

So there you have it, a run down of how to get ahead and make ahead Christmas!

Even if you are planning to do all the things yourself, it’s very doable. What better time to practise than in these stay-at-home days?

Phew, that was rather comprehensive, wasn’t it? Longer than I was expecting! Look out for Secret #4 – a much shorter experience all around!

But if you are too impatient,

All my Christmas Secrets!

Let me know of your Christmas experiences, and if you found this useful. Tag me on Instagram @azlinbloor with anything you fancy!

Lin xx

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