"Plans are nothing; planning is everything." Dwight D Eisenhower
I always create a Master Plan for Christmas Day.
It is roughly based on the plan at the end of Delia Smith's "Christmas" cookery book - timings for turkey in, foil off, turkey out to rest for 45 mins, potatoes in, potatoes out, make the gravy, set the table, open the presents, blah blah blah...
The trick is to have several sheets of paper, a pencil, sharpener, rubber, and finally a biro all to hand.
You put in the fixed points;
9:30 leave for church
10:00 - 11:00 Church service (that was a guess as we have a new vicar - in previous years I would have added half an hour. In fact we gained 15 minutes at this point as the service was only 45 minutes long)
11:00 - 11:15 chatting with friends before we leave
11:30 back home
next fixed point:
2:30 sit and eat
from there you can work backwards and forwards working out what happens when, scribbling revised timings here, tearing out some hair, trying again, having another slurp of sherry - did I not mention sherry as one of the things needed for doing the planning? - going and making a coffee, and then, suddenly, the whole thing falls into place. Ink over the scribbles with a biro, write it out in neat, get someone to check it through. Done. The Perfect Plan.
This year's plan had to include visiting the hospital with smoked salmon before the meal,
8:30 slice and butter bread, top with salmon, add lemon wedges, pack pepper mill
9:00 choose and pack presents for opening at the hospital
11:45 hospital visiting hours start
12:45 home in time to take foil off the turkey - we were l bit later than planned for that, but it was fine.
We were going to eat the first course at our house, visit the hospital again at about 4:30, then back to my father's flat for pudding and more present opening afterwards.
9:00 am choose suitable presents for opening at the flat (get things done ahead if possible!)
3:45 make turkey sandwiches, prepare plate with sandwiches, mince pie, Waitrose stollen bites
4:00 pack mince pies, apple pies, jam tarts (the last two being a family tradition), Christmas Pudding, cream, brandy butter, rum butter, stollen
4:15 leave for hospital
The Master Plan ran like clockwork; perfect, every detail dovetailed. We even had a 15 minute breathing space early on, thanks to the church service being shorter than expected.
Perfect - until the electric cooker stopped working, fusing all the electrics in the house just I was taking the turkey out to rest. Now what? I stood and surveyed the par-boiled potatoes, par-boiled parsnips, frozen sprouts (actually, they were rather nasty and I won't buy them again), turkey stock to be made into gravy, raw carrots, ingredients for bread sauce all sitting in a pan...
Quick phone call to my father - "we're coming over in 10 minutes - could you put your oven on at 200C!"
While the turkey was being carved and put into a serving dish, I packed everything into containers and pans and bags, and we decamped with the whole lot to my father's flat.
And there we had a Good Enough Christmas Dinner. We had good food, and family, and fun, and we have the pictures to prove it.