I’m all for making Christmas easier for all the family, as all too often, time can be spent being stressed, so anything which lessens that has to be good for all of you. When it comes to the kids unwrapping their presents, have a couple of black bags handy so that they can throw their paper straight in there instead of it ending up on the floor.
The squeals of delight from happy children on Christmas morning are definitely one of the highlights of the year for me and always have been. Even if you haven’t managed to get them everything that they wanted, most kids are still grateful for what they do have. If money is in short supply then don’t be scared of sharing that with your kids; they need to know that things have to be worked for and that money doesn’t fall from the sky! I think it makes them all the more grateful to be honest when they know that things are hard to come by, and it’s also a valuable lesson for them for the future.
No matter how tight money has been, I’ve always managed to put on a lovely Christmas spread and the secret to that is preparation and getting things in beforehand at the right price. Don’t wait until Christmas Eve to purchase what you need…not only will the shops be crammed but you will also end up paying top price. I always buy all my veg before and prepare, part-boil and freeze. Not only does this save money, but also saves stress on the big day as you won’t be running around peeling those darned mini cabbages, (this is what I had to call sprouts in order to get my kids to eat them!) You will be free to enjoy the kids opening their presents instead of being stuck in the kitchen.
Pigs in blankets and sausage-meat stuffing can also be prepared in advance and frozen, and then fetched out of the freezer on Christmas Eve, ready to be popped in the oven on the day itself. To make an inexpensive stuffing I use a packet of budget dry mix, add a chopped onion which has been part cooked in the microwave in boiling water, and 6 pork sausages which I’ve skinned. (Sausages skin easily if you make a slit along one side and then rinse under a cold tap; you’ll find the skin just slips off.) Squash the sausages with a fork, stir everything together, add a sprinkle of extra dried sage if you like and cook in an ovenproof dish. I sometimes use the cheap foil baking trays which can be thrown away after use to save time on washing up as well!
I also set the dinner table on Christmas Eve to save time on the day and am a great believer in placing all the veg etc. in dishes in the middle of the table so that people can help themselves. This means the food stays hot as well, rather than taking the time to plate everything up yourself. Beg or borrow an extra gravy boat or two and let everyone have what they want. This means you can also enjoy your dinner instead of worrying about everyone else.