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18 Easy Tips to Prepare for Christmas Day Dinner

18 Easy Tips to Prepare for Christmas Day Dinner
Holiday table

By Wanda Lopez, My Sweet Zepol   

Preparing for a Christmas dinner this year will look different. But whether you’re cooking for two or 10, preparing a Christmas dinner can be an overwhelming task no matter what dish.  Here are 18 tips on how to help make Christmas Day dinner easier.   

How to Prepare Three Weeks Out

  1. Plan your menu. Make a list with your Christmas dinner menu. We love these cute notepads and notebooks.  
  2. Determine the size of the main dish. Whether it is a turkey, a ham or pork roast you’ll need to purchase.   
  3. Craft ideas for kids. This is a wonderful time to start looking for craft ideas for kids to do in order to keep them entertained while the Christmas dinner is being prepared. My kids love drawing and this glue watercolor artwork idea is one of their favorites. Make a list of any craft items you may need to purchase.  
  4. Assign dishes. If you’re having Christmas dinner with your family, make sure you’ve assigned them food or drink items to bring, potluck style. Have them bring a dish they love and want to share with everyone. This is a wonderful way to learn more about them and share a dish that brings them joy. It’s said that food brings people together and I believe that’s what the holidays does best. 
  5. Select your Christmas table dishware. Make sure you have enough serving dishes, plate settings and silverware.   
  6. Christmas home decor. Pull out your Christmas décor, if you haven’t done so yet and purchase any additional decorations you may need. We change things up every other year. This year, our Christmas decor colors are red, green and gold, featuring round ornaments that are glossy, and others that are matte. Golden ornaments come in a variety of shapes; we have a few, doves and tear drops. Consider your theme and place your Christmas decor throughout the house, including in the tablescape and centerpieces. 

One Week Out

  1. Create your shopping list. Write out your ingredients list for your recipes and see which you already have in your pantry and which ones needs to be purchased. Start purchasing the non-perishables first.   
  2. Plan your Christmas tablescape decor. This may be my favorite part of Christmas day dinner – making the table pretty for everyone to enjoy. We have selected some of the most beautiful Christmas-inspired dishware and decor items. Festive platters and dishware transform a plain table into a happy, festive one.   
  3. Start purchasing kids’ crafts. Keep in mind the ages of the kids you’ll be having over. We have some supplies ideas for crafts for kids that you may find useful.   
  4. Thaw the turkey. If your main dish is turkey, make sure it’s thawing properly and safely, with enough time to spare. When thawing your turkey consider its size. The larger the bird the longer it takes to thaw.  It can take days – make sure you’re following proper guidelines. 
  • Thaw time in the fridge requires about 24 hours for every 5 pounds in a refrigerator set at about 40 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius).   
  • Thawing time in cold water requires about 30 minutes per pound, refreshed every 30 minutes.  
  1. Clean the house. Make time to clean your house as thoroughly as possible. Later, you’ll have some time to lightly dust anything that needs to be cleaned. But deep cleaning should be happening around this time.   

Three Days Out

  1. Season your turkey or main dish. We usually have pork roast on Christmas day. Properly seasoning the main protein dish is especially important.   
  2. Cook dishes that can be fully cooked ahead of time. Make food that can be kept in the refrigerator like pies, gravy and cranberry sauce. One of the holiday desserts we’ve been making for years is our luxurious Cream Cheese Pecan Pie.  
  3. Double check your needed shopping items. Complete the final shopping trip. There is nothing more satisfying to me than heading to the grocery store with a list of all the ingredients I need in hand. This minimizes the time I need to go back and forth because I’ve missed any items for the Christmas dinner. Saving time tips are some of the best tips anyone can give and receive.  
  4. Prep what you can. Chop ingredients early to eliminate steps. A few of those items can include: carrots, onions, peppers, potatoes, parsnips, sweet potatoes, lettuce, mushrooms, yams, beets and celery. Clean, chop and store those vegetables you’ll be using for dinner. This can save you a few hours of work. Other ‘prep ahead of time’ dishes we’ve cooked prior to Christmas day have been hard-boiled eggs and boiled potatoes for our potato salad.  

Christmas Day!

  1. Cook your main dish. This could be a turkey, ham, pork roast or a vegetarian dish of your choice.   
  2. Set the table. Grab some of these simple table decor ideas we used during Thanksgiving and easily translate them into Christmas table decor ideas.   
  3. Finish any last-minute items. Finish those dishes that need to be done the day of, like potato salad or a fresh green salad. If you enjoy a pasta dish or risotto during the holiday, this is the day to make them.   

Christmas dinner can feel overwhelming for many of us. Preparing for Christmas day dinner ahead of time is one of the best ways to help you make this year feel joyful once again. Our goal is to help you feel prepared for your Christmas Day dinner, so you can enjoy the celebration.    

Let’s recap: 18 easy Tips to Prepare for Christmas Day Dinner

  1. Plan your Christmas dinner menu.  
  2. Determine the size of your main dish.  
  3. Plan some craft ideas for kids.  
  4. Assign dishes.   
  5. Select your Christmas table dishware.  
  6. Plan your Christmas home decor.  
  7. Create your shopping list.  
  8. Plan your Christmas tablescape/centerpiece decor.   
  9. Start purchasing kids’ crafts.  
  10. Thaw the turkey.  
  11. Clean the house.  
  12. Season your turkey or main dish of choice.  
  13. Cook dishes that can be fully cooked ahead of time.   
  14. Double check your needed shopping items.   
  15. Prep any food items you can.   
  16. Cook the main dish.   
  17. Set the table.   
  18. Finish any last-minute steps.   

Once you’ve done this once, you can write up some notes to help you year after year. You can be ready for all of your gatherings, whether for a holiday or a celebratory dinner. Preparing ahead of time for Christmas dinner is one of the best tips we’ve been following for years. It saves us time from being stuck in the kitchen all day and allows us to spend quality time with family members, opening those beautifully wrapped Christmas presents and making new memories.  

We want you to enjoy a wonderful holiday season, however it will look like this year. Plan ahead… and then make your own new memories and spread some joy.    

About The Author

Casey Christiansen

Casey supports the PR team at Zulily.

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