Christmas Lunch Guide


Christmas Lunch Guide

Would you like to have an enjoyable Christmas Lunch without lots of stress? We have put together a Christmas Lunch Guide to help you prepare and have an enjoyable meal.

We would love to guarentee everything will run smoothly, but you can never predict what will happen and that is part of the enjoyment of the ocassion.

To have an enjoyable time as well as your guests, be less stressed and make everything run as smoothly as possible then preparation is the key.

This guide to hosting Christmas Lunch is to help you in preparing and hosting your guests. Adapt it as necessary to suit your own Christmas traditions.

Before Christmas

  • Choose the food you are going to cook, read the recipes and check timings.
  • Check the ingredients required, and make sure you have them in plenty of time.
  • Make life easier and choose dishes that can be prepared or part prepared before the day to reduce your cooking on the day. Starters and desserts are good for this.
  • If you have not cooked the dishes before have a practice and use family for guinea pigs.
  • Find out if any dietary / guest requirements - vegetarian, gluten free, diabetic, tee-total etc.
  • Don't invite guests too early unless you have other things planned eg opening presents. 30 minutes before serving is ideal allowing guests to arrive, relax before the meal starts, plus allows for a guest that could be running late.
  • Work out an approximate schedule for the meal so you know when to cook, eat etc. Allow time between courses and for you to get ready without rushing.
  • Have a seating plan, follow boy, girl, boy, girl where possible and don't sit couples together.

Christmas Eve

  • Check cooking times especially of the Turkey and any other meats you maybe having.
  • Prepare any dishes you can in advance ready for the morning.
  • Organise your remaining ingredients so you are ready in the morning.
  • Prepare the kitchen, make sure equipment you want to use is ready, dishwasher is empty etc.
  • Empty all the bins. You don't want to be emptying the kitchen bin in the middle of cooking lunch.
  • Lay the table.
  • Use a low centrepiece on dining table so guests can talk over it, not through or round it.
  • Prepare condiments - salt / pepper are full etc.
  • Make sure you set an alarm for the morning (if the kids don't get you up at the crack of dawn anyway).

On the day

  • If the turkey needs to go on early then make sure it starts cooking on time or the rest of the day will be delayed.
  • Put fresh soap, towels etc in the toilet - family members are good for this.
  • Use a low centrepiece on dining table so guests can talk over it, not through or round it.
  • Get drinks ready, white wine cooled, mixers for spirits handy etc.
  • Keep a clear path from the dining room to the kitchen so you can easily move between them. No presents, waste wrapping paper etc for you to trip over.
  • Leave time for you to get ready without rushing.
  • Don't drink too much.
  • Switch on Hostess Trolley, Side Server etc at least 20 minutes before the first dish is ready. If you are heating serving dishes, plates etc then allow an extra 10 - 15 minutes to heat up.
  • For Secrets to using your Hostess successfully visit here.

An hour before your guests are due

  • Light candles (if you are having them).
  • Adjust lighting to desired level.
  • If you are having music, switch on and adjust volume to background level, not loud enough to interfere with conversation.
  • Get other members of the family to prepare the canapés/nibbles if being served.

Guests Arrival

  • When guests arrive welcome them, put them at ease.
  • Put presents etc out of your way.
  • Give your guests a drink.
  • Offer canapés/nibbles to your guests - make sure they don't fill up on them.
  • Keep drinks topped up.
  • Don't drink too much yourself.
  • Don't apologise or be negative "I'm no good at cooking" - would you want to eat the food if your host was no good at cooking.
  • If you are using Hot Trays plug them in 15 minutes before serving so you can move them hot to the table just before serving. Alternatively plug them on in position on the table and just remove plug leads just before serving.
  • Move guests to dining table at appropriate time. Work to your schedule, guests will go with the flow.
  • It is a good idea to have your guests seated before you start bringing the food through.

At the table

  • Serve ladies first then the gentlemen.
  • If you are serving food in a bowl, you should have a plate or dish under it. This is removed with the bowl when finished.
  • Don't overload plates, allow guests to have seconds.
  • Do not collect plates until the last person has finished.
  • When you go to the kitchen ask a guest to top up drinks if you do not have a partner or second host at the table.
  • Clear condiments and spare cutlery away before serving pudding / cheese.
  • If you are having port, this should be served with the cheese and is passed to the left.

At the end of the meal

Many people will offer to help at the end of the meal. It is up to you whether you allow them to help pack the dishwasher or thank them politely and decline their offer. It depends on the type of guests.



Remember this is a guide to help you prepare and host your Christmas Lunch; you need to adapt it as necessary to suit your own family traditions etc.

If you have any tips you find useful then please let us know and we will add them to the list with full credit. Just email us.