Come Christmas Eve, the aim is to be able to enjoy time together with friends and family, sip mulled wine, eat a delicious meal, put your feet up and look forward to the Big Day itself
However, if you’re hosting Christmas dinner, the 24th can feel more like a mad-panic of last-minute baking, wrapping, sorting and tidying. In order to ensure that this last day goes as smoothly as possible, follow this checklist for guidance on last-minute tasks and those all-important finishing touches.
1 Write your cooking plan for Christmas Day
2 Keep children entertained with Christmas Eve baking
Everyone knows Christmas cookies fresh out of the oven are the ultimate indulgence, and they will make your home smell delicious.
If you’re planning to bake on the 24th, get your baking ingredients and equipment organised in advance. Ensure you have enough flour, sugar, sprinkles, decoration, yeast, baking powder and anything else you may need stored in an easily manageable system. Colour-coding and labels are particularly useful (and fun) if you’re going to have lots of little helpers in the kitchen.
3 Write letters to Santa (or last minute cards)
This is a tradition that your children, nieces and nephews will remember for years to come. Also keep a stash of blank Christmas cards to hand, for any neighbours or friends that have been missed off the list.
4 Stock up on firewood
A roaring fire on a cold, snowy night is a classic Christmas image. An open fire gives any gathering a relaxed, toasty feeling (if you don’t have a fireplace, plenty of candles grouped together will look just as effective). Clean out your fireplace, and stock up on plenty of firewood to get you through the evening. Store your firewood in a dry place to ensure it burns with a satisfying glow.
5 Water the tree
6 Add last-minute cosy touches
Christmas Eve is the time to cosy up at home with family and friends and plenty of good food and drink.Create an inviting and warm atmosphere by piling up throws and blankets, and leave plenty of cushions and rugs stacked up in wicker baskets so that you and your guests can snuggle up and get into the Christmassy mood.
7 Make preparations for the little ones
Whether you have small kids at home or whether your guests will be bringing theirs, you should be prepared. Set aside a space for kids to play and draw once they get tired of all the grown-up talk on Christmas Eve. On a small table, lay out a selection of toys, paper, ribbons, glue and coloured pencils and pens. An ornament-crafting station or a stationery set for writing letters to Santa are good ways to encourage kids to participate in the seasonal festivities in an engaging way. A designated kids’ corner will also give them a great space in which to play with their new toys come Christmas Day.
8 Prepare cosy Christmas Eve drinks
If you’re hosting on Christmas Eve, welcome friends and family into your home with unique touches, such as a DIY hot chocolate station. Leave out plenty of marshmallows and candy canes for both young and old to enjoy, and perhaps set out some Amaretto for those adults who like their hot chocolate with a bit of a kick.
9 Get the wine ready
10 Set the table for Christmas dinner
To save yourself one more job on Christmas Day, try and set the table on Christmas Eve, before you go to bed. That way you can spend time and care making it look beautiful, rather than rushing it on the big day.
11 Put the presents under the tree
If you’re celebrating with kids, make sure they’re truly asleep before Santa puts the presents under the tree. Go to bed with a warm glow, anticipating the delighted faces and excitement on Christmas Day!
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