1. Roast a magnificent turkey
With just a little extra love and attention (and the recipe below) you can end up with perfectly moist turkey. The key is to baste the bird in its own juices every 30 minutes or so to keep it succulent. A great stuffing will also help keep things juicy.
2. Don’t skimp on the stuffing
Yes, you can ditch the bread in your stuffing – it doesn’t matter what your mom says (and the Banters will feel so loved this year). The sausage meat binds the mixture to create what’s really a beautiful terrine. The combo of earthy, fruity, herby flavours is a winner.
Try: Sausage stuffing
3. Serve the juiciest gammon
4. Spoil the vegetarians
Because they are people, too – and the supporting act can make or break the show.
5. Embrace duck-fat potatoes
There’s a reason Woolies sells duck fat all year round. Used instead of butter or oil, it will lend a magical, festive flavour to the crunchiest roast potatoes you’ve ever served. Be brave! You can take up Pilates in January.
6. Make those pan juices count
If your roast bird does go south, a good gravy can work wonders. Take those turkey juices to dizzy heights with this recipe. The secret to the lump-free variety? Add hot (not cold) water to the pan juices after you’ve added the flour.
Try: Turkey gravy
7. Give the kids a cheesy side (just go easy on the chilli)
You know they’ll shun the Brussels sprouts but this super-easy, cheesy creamed sweetcorn bake will charm even the fussiest of kidlings. Expect to find yourself eating it straight out of the fridge the next morning.
8. Remember it is summer.
It’s hot out there (unless you live in the Cape, where, face it, anything can happen) so we’re betting your guests will appreciate a salad or two.
9. Go with a traditional twist.
Smoked salmon is a standard Christmas starter (nothing wrong with that) but you could also cure your own fresh salmon trout with beetroot and salt and serve with home-made pickles. It’s much easier than you think.
10. Frozen coolers
Make a beautiful bottle cooler to keep spirits cold and double as table décor. Just reinvent an old colddrink bottle filled with the prettiest fruits and herbs. Discover how to make frozen coolers here.
Alternatively, make fruity ice cubes to serve with cocktails by freezing berries in ice tray.
11. Make your own edible gifts & ornaments
Make a big batch of aromatic piccalilli and bottle half to give away as gifts – save the rest for your pantry. Our version is made with festive spices – cardamom and ginger – and chunky vegetables. Needless to say, this is what you’ll be eating on your gammon sandwiches all month long.
Try: Festive piccalilli
Not a fan of pickles? Make these five-spice Christmas biscuits. Wrap them in cheesecloth, tie with ribbon and attach a printed label.
12. Ace the chicken liver pâté
Because what is summer without great pate?
13. Reinvent mince pies
Make your Christmas baking much easier by filling a pastry-lined tray with fruit mince and adding star-shaped pastry cut-outs for the top. Then just cut into brownie-style squares and serve.
Try: Christmas mince pies.
14. Consider a different bird
Why not think beyond turkey and chicken and give the mighty duck its due this year. It’s festive, hearty and goes beautifully with red wine: try Grenache, Syrah or a Pinot Noir to match its richness.
15. Take trifle to the next level.
If there’s an annual trifle war in your house (to sherry or not to sherry? That is the question), one of these will settle the score.
16. Stock up on tomato juice for the next day
Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Try: This bloody Mary recipe.
17. Add a frozen dessert to the mix
Sure, that flaming Christmas pudding, with brandy butter is a tradition, but why not serve something cooler alongside? Offset – and cool down – a hot fruit pudding with a coconut semifreddo. Or just break with tradition and serve on its own in chocolate-dipped sugar cones.
Try: Coconut semifreddo, Christmas pudding semifreddo with white chocolate tree or one of these easy ice cream recipes. The options are endless!
18. Forget the stress & make a cheat’s dessert.
Feeling the pressure? Nobody’s got time for that. If the heat starts rising, try Abi’s short-cut Christmas cake made with Woolies’ traditional Italian panettone and a decadent, creamy filling.
How will you be celebrating the festive season this year? Share your tips, tricks and secrets in the comments below.