Tuesday, 13 November 2012

getting organised for christmas


before you put up your Christmas decorations, have a good clean as once they are up it may be harder to clean around them, take a look around the room, and remove anything that wont be needed or you can do with out and store it in the garage or in a spare room. you can bring it all back out after christmas so you can be ruthless. with all your christmas decorations out your rooms may look cluttered with your normal ornaments, so this helps.

take a look around and decide where you want to put your decorations, you dont want to put your tree somewhere which makes it hard to walk around or get to frequently used plug sockets as by the time christmas comes you will be fed up with them.

putting up your tree

if you are using a faux tree then assemble it and pull all the branches out in different directions this makes the branches look fuller.
make sure your lights are untangled and check the bulbs. then gather them loosely around then start winding them around the tree unravelling them as you go. this way you can get your lights up in 5 minutes.

if your like me then you will have a selection of your best tree ornaments, i always put these on first and then build up the other decorations around them, this way you can see where you need to add the others to fill out the tree, i dont use tinsel i like to just use ornaments.

 i always organise my tree decorations on the table so i can see them all


decorating the table
if you have guests coming over its always nice to decorate the table, you can get really creative here so think about the place settings and even chair decoration, depending how many people you are having you may need to remove the centre table decorations while your eating in order to fit the plates on so think about this when deciding your table decor. you dont want to work really hard making a beautiful table then have to dismantle it in order to sit down and eat. it seems pretty self explanatory but sometimes you forget you will have plates, bottles of wine jugs of gravy and sauces, so you will need space you dont want your guest cramped.

craft ideas for table decor
table runners
place cards
napkin rings
centre piece
chair back decorations
homemade crackers

alternatively if you are buying a real tree
heres some tips to care for it

make sure you buy a fresh tree, you can tell its fresh by running your fingers along the branches and the needles should not fall off.

saw of the bottom inch of the trunk and place the base of the tree in a bucket of water to avoid dehydration

treat your tree like you would a bunch of flowers and keep it topped up, trees will drink about two pints of water a day

dont put your tree near a fire or radiator or any warm lighting as it will make it dry out and droop.

cooking for your guests

make sure you know well in advance how many you are having over. this way you can plan for your shopping list, also find out if you have any picky eaters, theres always one lol yes grandad im talking about you. we always have a selection even if there is just four of us. once you have decided what you are going to cook, write a list and think about what will keep so you can get it in early, the shops are always mad leading up to Christmas.
if your not fussed about getting up early and cooking on the day you could always cook your meat the night before, then you have your oven free to cook the other stuff on christmas day, we always do this. we cook and carve the meat, then once its plated on the day the gravy warms it up. but this may not be ideal for you if you have children you will probably be up at the crack of dawn anyway. you can always prepair the veg the night before too.

if you are cooking on the day here's some tips to avoid a culinary crisis

 defrosting a turkey
remove all the packaging, and place the turkey on a large covered dish at the bottom of the fridge, before you cook it check there is not any ice crystals in the cavity, check the thicker parts of the meat with a fork to see if its still frozen. if your still unsure place the turkey in a bowl of cold water to ensure all parts of the turkey are properly thawed

avoiding soggy potatoes
it your roast potatoes are looking a bit soft, remove them from the tray of fat and put them in a clean tray to finish them off and make them crispy, heat the grill on high and put them under until they are crisp.

thin gravy
dont be tempted to just add some flour straight into the gravy as it will be lumpy. mix equal quantities of flour and butter to form a paste then whisk it in. if you do end up with lumps sieve it into another pan. theres nothing worse than lumpy gravy.

if your turkeys to big for your oven dont panic, take off the legs, you can cook them in a separate tin and put them half an hour before the body of the turkey goes in and then you can place them back on when you are going to serve. make sure you calculate the weight of the main bird based on its weight after its been stuffed, ask your butcher if your unsure.

if you are going to try out new recipes, do a trail run a few weeks before to make sure you become familiar with the ingredients and cooking times,

keep your store cupboards well stocked so you have everything at hand
to save time on washing up you could buy some throw away foil trays from the dollar store.

if you are having guest staying with you during christmas freshen up the rooms, you can use diffusers or you can make your own by adding a few drops of orange essential oil in a spray bottle of water

change all your bedding, do your laundry the week before as the week of christmas you will be busy with other things even if you dont put it on until the day they arrive its all clean and ready to go on.
dont wait till Christmas morning to check you have enough chairs, my mum always does this and one person ends up eating their dinner on a foot stool lol (me usually) to be fair she does cook for about 13, even if you use camping chairs or garden chairs you want to make sure you can provide them with seating.

christmas diary

beginning of November
make a list of family members staying and plan the menu, for christmas and boxing day.
order your turkey and make a list of other food you will need.
clear out our freezer.

end of November
start adding non perishable Christmas items to your shopping list to spread the load.
start buying presents, if you are buying some online make sure you check the estimated delivery time
buy wrapping paper.
check you have enough cutlery and plates.
if you have children then keep note of important dates like schools plays or christmas parties.
buy cleaning products like carpet cleaner, stain remover and cloths in case or emergencies
make a note of the last posting date and put it on the calender
check the state of you decorations from last year to see if you need to replace any.
make a list of who you want to send your christmas cards to and check your address book to see that you have the correct details

three weeks before
hang your advent calender,
send your christmas cards,
wrap your presents and keep all your receipt's together
make a note of the garbage collection dates as they will be different during the holidays

two weeks before
make sure you have enough bed linen
if you want a real tree now is a good time to buy it to keep it looking nice over Christmas, store it out side for a day to acclimatise it before bringing it inside to be decorated,

week before
bake some christmas foods, and freeze half.
clean and declutter the house,
make up the guest beds
wrap any last presents
think about any christmas games you want to play to keep every one entertained,

Christmas eve
prepair the vegetables
put wine or champagne in the fridge
arrange the christmas table


got a smart phone download a note taking app like ever note to help you remember everything on the run up to christmas
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sisters of the wild west

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