Aga Wypych is the Easy Food, Easy Gluten-Free, Recipe Lab and Custom photographer at Zahra Media Group. In this blog post, she visually guides you through 12 easy steps to make your Christmas not only look beautiful, but also build joy and meaning into your celebrations. (This post features Aga’s beautiful photos and covers the first six steps, with the rest following tomorrow.)
1. Plan ahead
Make the old-fashioned to-do-list on an A4 sheet of paper (I just find it more tangible than something hidden in my Notes App). Divide the page into three sections and name them ‘Must do’ (e.g. write a shopping list, buy presents, hang decorations, send cards), ‘Might do’ (e.g. deep-cleaning of the house, custom wrapping the presents) and ‘Extra touches’ (e.g. goodie bags for each guest, hand-made ornaments).
Stick the sheet on the wall in the kitchen so that you will keep track of what has been done. You might also print a calendar page to set and colour code a date for each task. Make sure to pick a date for the ‘Have to do’ items first, and then work from there depending on how much time you have available in between lunches, dinners and other get-togethers. Don’t forget that it is the ‘Extra touches’ that really make the magic happen.
2. Know Your Menu
Plan the Christmas menu two weeks in advance of the date you schedule to do your last big food shop. Be smart about how and when you go shopping – buy non-perishable and hard-to-find items first, to spread out the cost, and consider when is the best time to go shopping to avoid frustration and panic, which are quite common when standing in long lines. It is also worth considering online shopping, but be sure to book your slot in advance to avoid disappointment. Remember you can order goods from the butcher and fishmonger to arrive straight to your door, too.
3. Share The Work
Don’t feel guilty asking for help, especially if you have the whole family over for dinner. A pot-luck feast is usually the best idea if you don’t have an army of helpers. Delegate the jobs on the day according to each person’s skill set. There will always be someone to help you with the most time-consuming tasks which usually won’t require your supervision.
4. Shake It Up
Do not be afraid to be adventurous with old, classic dishes, giving them a ‘new look’. Swap boring mashed potatoes for potato gratin, mashed potato and cheese muffins or potato stacks. Check out the Easy Food website and get inspired!
5. The WOW factor
You will be surprised how much excitement a showstopper cake can bring to your Christmas feast, with very little effort on your side. Simply make or buy three sponge cake bases, moisten them with a generous amount of Irish cream liqueur, make the icing with Mascarpone, cream and a drop of vanilla extract and then decorate everything with pre-made gingerbread figures and some greenery. Trust me, it will be gone in a blink of an eye!
6. Make It Pretty
Pick a colour scheme of 3-5 colours and build your décor based on that. Remember, less is more, so avoid day-long decorating sessions by placing your decorations only in the main focal points in the house, e.g. the front door, fireplace, table and Christmas tree. You can make it super special by baking edible treats that will vanish throughout the feast.
Check back for part 2 with the next 6 steps tomorrow…