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Christmas dinner

(76 Posts)
Loulou31 Sun 09-Dec-18 06:40:18

I dread Christmas dinner. I cook for about 10 and always get myself flustered. What is the best way to serve up dinner please? My kitchen is not tiny but I don't have enough room to lay out 10 plates to serve up so I usually put serving dishes on the table but there isn't a lot of room and there always seems to be arms stretching everywhere waiting for dishes, especially with having to sort the children. I get so stressed and this is after we seem to sit around waiting for youngest son and family to arrive who are always late. I know we always expect too much and perfection isn't possible but I would like a smoother day for once.

aggie Sun 09-Dec-18 07:33:50

I hate getting a plated meal and always use serving dishes , we tell latecomers that the meal is at 1 but do aim to serve at 2 ! . Tell them all to pass the veg round etc and all will be well

JackyB Sun 09-Dec-18 07:41:48

I recently saw a "lazy Susan" which was simply a large round tray which rotates, that you can put in the middle of the table. Usually these are built into the table at Chinese restaurants. Would save space, make for jolly conversation and save passing round dishes and reaching in front of people.

- get everyone to help (prepare veg, lay table) - delegate!
- have a buffet on the kitchen worktops or on a camping table somewhere.
- all the usual tips about preparing things in advance, freezing where necessaty and not being afraid to get ready-prepared food (pudding, stuffing, pre-prepared, even frozen veg)
- break with tradition and do something simpler. E.g. a tray of chicken breasts baked in sauce or roasted rather than a whole bird.
- don't do too large amounts, do at least one less vegetable but perhaps more of another.
- lay the table before you start anything else. This way you can do table decorations in peace and make it really festive. Doesn't matter if dinner is 5 or 10 minutes later.
These would be the first things that spring to mind. I rarely have more than 5 (4 this year) at the table so I have little practical experience of this. DH and sister-in-law are in church up until lunch so I have the kitchen to myself and can get organised and enjoy myself with a sherry and the sprouts.

JackyB Sun 09-Dec-18 07:43:52

Oh, and get up good and early, as much as it is an effort. Have a snooze afterwards while the others make you a cup of tea and do the washing up.

mumofmadboys Sun 09-Dec-18 08:10:12

Could you have an additional small table in the dining room to put the veg serving dishes on when you have finished with them?

kittylester Sun 09-Dec-18 08:26:45

I hate having a plated meal too so I would go down the buffet or operate table route. We have used a paste table covered in a sheet with then a Christmas paper tablecloth.

crystaltipps Sun 09-Dec-18 08:32:31

Plate up the kids meals on small plates and get them served and sat down first. Plate up the main dish - turkey/ beef/ veggie option/ whatever with accompaniments and get a relay of family to pass round as you plate up. That way you don’t have to lay out 10 plates, then on the table have the veg, gravy, sauces for people to help themselves. Why not aim to eat an hour or so later than you normally do and then you aren’t worried about latecomers. We can have about 10 - 16 people and don’t aim to eat till 2.30or even 3 pm. Canapés and champagne at 12 keep people going.

Luckygirl Sun 09-Dec-18 08:41:12

Little tip - if you have children at the meal, do not serve the drinks till everyone has served themselves to food - saves a lot of mopping up!

stella1949 Sun 09-Dec-18 08:51:14

A Lazy Susan is ideal. I always use mine when the family comes for dinner. It turns around and everyone can easily reach everything . No arms reaching across the table. It's the best thing I ever bought for the dining room.

Maggiemaybe Sun 09-Dec-18 08:52:51

I could have been the last person in the country to discover a few short years ago that the Hostess trolley is not just the butt of many a joke, but actually a fantastic help when cooking for a large group round a medium-sized table! smile]

As for serving up, I clear the work surfaces while the trolley keeps it all hot, then line everything up along them, with the dishes more likely to get cold quickly on the warm stove top and the electric hot plate. Our four DGS are all 5 and under so I get them seated safely at the table out of harm’s way first. We sort their platefuls out and stick them on one side to cool a bit then the rest of the party troop round to fill their own (heated) plates and squeeze themselves round the table. Any extras go back in the trolley in case anyone wants seconds.

Anja Sun 09-Dec-18 08:57:01

Maggiemaybe I tried that for the first time last year and it worked a treat. Will do the same again this year.

janeainsworth Sun 09-Dec-18 09:04:55

No Maggie I was!
I got a hostess trolley (a tabletop one) a few years ago when we had a big party & although it’s not used very often, it’s been worth every penny!

My method is to have mrA serving the turkey and 2 or 3 people going round the table with the vegetable dishes like waiters so people can have what they want but can choose their own quantities.
People then only have to help themselves to gravy, bread sauce etc.
We will be 8 this year including 2 DGC so not as onerous as some occasions in the past.

OP try to see it as other people’s responsibility not just yours. Make them help you.
And a glass of sherry at 11.30 may make the process more relaxed!

Anja Sun 09-Dec-18 09:05:46

I don’t have a hostess trolley, but I do have a 3-section buffet warmer.

oldbatty Sun 09-Dec-18 09:41:51

Don't bother?

GabriellaG Sun 09-Dec-18 10:58:38

Have all the serving dishes side by side on the kitchen counters with a stack of 10 plates at the start end. People line up and you give them a serving of everything and they sit down. That, or get another small table for the children near the adults.

mabon1 Sun 09-Dec-18 11:00:35

Get a bigger table!!!! We never ever have plated food always warmed serving dishes with lids.

moobox Sun 09-Dec-18 11:03:25

I thought at first the arms stretching everywhere were going to be to dry the dishes with a tea towel afterwards. Obviously wishful thinking?

mokryna Sun 09-Dec-18 11:04:21

I like the way of serving when everyone is seated at the table, putting the different vegetables in their hot bowls and the cut up bird plus trimmings on a hot plate at the table. They are then passed around and everyone serves themselves and helps the younger ones. When everyone has their food the wine is served. We are about 10/13.

Elrel Sun 09-Dec-18 11:15:13

Mabon - just like that, eh? That would assume spare money, and a big enough room. Since it's only one annual meal OP may prefer some of the many more practical solutions already suggested.

missdeke Sun 09-Dec-18 11:18:33

Reminds me of when I had 14 for Christmas dinner, including 3 smaller ones who were seated round a coffee table as it was too squashed around the dining table. they were given small serving dishes to be like the grown ups but it was only about halfway through the meal that we realised my 6 year old, in trying to copy us pouring the wine, had helped himself to a bottle of sherry which he was liberally sharing around his table!!!

mancgirl Sun 09-Dec-18 11:21:54

Ooh, Maggie what a great idea! We are 8 adults, a baby and a toddler. I have a buffet warmer and that's what I'll be doing this year now! Serve the pre prepared cold starters and then form an orderly(?) queue for the main course. Love it!

mokryna Sun 09-Dec-18 11:41:21

I deal with the main meal but 3 daughters each bring starters, pudding and wine!

ReadyMeals Sun 09-Dec-18 11:41:49

You could try something you often see at banquets but rarely with family meals. Choose a responsible adult helper. Make everyone else sit down at the table in front of their empty plates (or plates containing their share of the carved turkey). You and your helper each go around the table with one of the side dishes allowing the seated diners one at a time to say yes or no to each dish and you place some on their plate, remembering your own. Then both helpers go back into the kitchen for another two sides and so on till it's all served. Kind of pretend to be waiters at a banquet. That allows everyone to choose what they want on their plate but without the stampede.

winterwhite Sun 09-Dec-18 11:45:11

This is our first Christmas in the new house with open-plan kitchen and dining room. There’s enough space, but I still haven’t got used to having saucepans, colanders, roasting tins etc visible piled up round the sink while we eat, and then there are the used large plates and pudding serving paraphernalia. I used to disappear to the kitchen and load up the dishwasher and no one minded waiting for pudding. Here it would make quite a clatter and produce offers of help just when it isn’t needed. It’s this last minute faff that’s getting me hot and bothered in advance.

Leah50 Sun 09-Dec-18 11:48:30

Similar to GabriellaG but with more than a dozen different dishes as half of us are vegetarians, our stack of 14 plates is at the start of "the pass" in the kitchen & we all line up & serve ourselves. The meats are at one end.Leaves plenty of room on the beautifully set dining table for the wines &crackers. We have at least four desserts & a cheeseboard, so same thing goes when the mains are cleared away.