The best part of Christmas isn’t the ham, the roast meats, the pudding or even the presents. The best part of Christmas is, obviously, the family. So why would you want to spend your day attempting a Nigella in the kitchen?
A week ago I put up a post, Making a List & Checking It Twice, about planning our Christmas lunch. You might recall I have some very specific guidelines for when I host a Christmas – minimal preparation, disposable everything, any cooking must be on the BBQ and, most importantly, the Queen isn’t allowed over until Boxing Day (that last bit only makes sense if you’ve actually read the post). Well, I’m pleased to say we’ve now had our first of several Christmas gatherings for the year and it was, in a word, awesome. As you can see from the photos surrounding this blog post, it was relaxing for all and sundry and, thanks to a handful of mouth watering recipes I found on Taste, it was delicious.
Planning was two hours to look through recipes, work out what I needed to buy and find my thongs. Because I bought everything in Coles, shopping was just one hour (you could even cut this step out by ordering online). The night before I chopped, sliced and prepped for less than one hour while I watched QI on Youtube, and on the day of the lunch itself I probably spent one hour prepping before anyone arrived, which included scavenging around the house for chairs and setting the festive table. Everything else, all the cooking, was done on the balcony in the company of family with a cold refreshment in my hand. Perfect.
And because I stuck to my guns, I was able to spend a lot more time focusing on the things that matter. Things like those in this top ten list of stuff I’d rather be doing on Christmas Day than cooking:
- Playing with my new presents. And by playing I mean drinking. It’s okay, I’m over 18. And the best part of hosting a Christmas event is you don’t have to drive home.
- Watching the grass grow. Christmas is always a day to stop for a few minutes and admire the grass my wife made me mow earlier in the week because we were having guests and, to quote her, the place was, “one car body short of being a feral trap”. Seriously, on Christmas morning the lawn is worthy of awards. It’s beautiful, green and all of an even height. In the lead up, with all that Summerness around, the yard is usually so out of control we take to talking about grass trees. But, of course, already the wretched stuff will be growing way too fast and I’ll need to mow it for New Years. But at least today it looks like I’m house proud. Fooled ya.
- Backyard Cricket. Anyone who knows anything about me knows how much I wouldn’t want to do this. I mean, it’s cricket – which some people even define as a sort of sport. It’s not. It’s a cruel trick devised by mothers in the 16th century to keep their kids outside long enough they can watch an entire season of Desperate Housewives without interruption. Worse than that, for me it’s a form of torture, usually involving balls to the nads, bats to the head and my children making a mockery of my bowling. They, of course, love it
- Playing with the kids’ new presents. Hey, I didn’t spend the last two months campaigning with Mrs Claus for the awesome new Xbox games just to have them sit in their cases all day! Eject that Dora dvd, kid, and move aside. Daddy needs to make sure this latest shoot ’em up game is suitable for children. It’s all part of the parenting skill set I bring to the relationship.
- Laugh. Specifically, at my wife. You see, she’s been tidying things up inside for weeks in anticipation of all the special people in our lives coming to visit. She wants to put our best foot forward, which means she’s been hard at it trying to move a year’s worth of dust off our furniture with a feather duster when what she actually needs is a belt sander. And sure enough, when she goes to bed on Christmas Eve, the place looks magical, like Dobby and his mates have been in. But then, at about 4am, the Gremlins wake up and start unwrapping presents and removing them from boxes and packaging before dumping the lot on the floor and following suit with the next present. So by the time everyone arrives the place looks like the first half of a Hoarders episode (while my lawn still looks lovely) and my wife is flapping about like Mrs Bucket and sounding like Mrs Brown. Trust me, it’s funny. Just don’t let her catch you laughing
- Being generous with my absence. In other words, I’ll be napping. Somewhere. It’s really important. If we got four hours sleep on Christmas Eve it was an unusually good lead up to Christmas morning. Therefore, napping is very important after Christmas lunch because it means my relationship stands a chance of making it to Boxing Day.
- Cleaning up. I don’t mean doing dishes – they’re disposable. I mean standing with the fridge door open and nibbling on leftovers. This is not gluttony, this is forward thinking. New Years is coming up fast and with so few faults of my own to call on it’s nice to be able to rely on the classic ‘I’m going to lose weight’ resolution.
- Re-hydrating. Keeping up fluids is important, especially mid-summer. Because I’m a stand out father I like to set aside all the soft drink and tap water for the kids and my wife and anyone else who turns up without an esky. Unfortunately, this leaves only bottled water polluted with barley, yeast and hops for me, but I’m prepared to take the hit for my family.
- My wife. There, I said it. Not that there’s a chance of that, of course. Firstly, as mentioned above, we’ll both be exhausted from having stayed up late waiting to play Santa’s little helpers and then from being woken up at the crack of stupid. And if it’s one thing I’ve noticed over the years it’s that when Tracey is tired I am as unattractive as a Christmas decoration brought home from daycare and made using toilet rolls bound together with snot. Secondly, and even more of a turn off, the house will be full of our mothers.
- Chillaxing. Playing cards or board games with the family and chatting: Grandma telling your kids about when you offered to give the dog the ‘bone’ and it ended up being the entire Christmas ham: Your nephew explaining what a Pikachu is: Your brother giving you shit, just like he did when you were growing up and shared a room. This is what Christmas is about – reliving and making memories with those you love.
What I really enjoyed about our lunch was how long it took to get everything done. As in, not long.
For some fantastic recipes (our family is still talking about this Salmon one and were scrambling for the leftovers of this Waldorf Salad) for your Christmas table, click over to Taste and get planning.
Remember, you can eat a meal any ol’ day, but catching up with those you love never happens often enough. Don’t waste your time in the kitchen.
“What do you want more of this Christmas?”
Coles , in conjunction with Big Family Little Income, The Organised Housewife, Love Life Hiccups, Fat Mum Slim, Sarah Todd and Souvlaki for the Soul , are giving away an awesome prize in the lead up to Christmas – they’ll take care of the Christmas buffet with a gift card of $1,000!! That’ll keep you in ham for a while. One winner will be chosen from all the mentioned blogs.
TWO WAYS YOU CAN ENTER:
Facebook – Share an image on of what you want more of this Christmas to the Big Family Little Income Facebook wall using the hashtag #ColesMoreChristmas
Instagram – Share an image on Instagram of what you want more of this Christmas using the hashtag #ColesMoreChristmas
This giveaway ends 11.59pm Saturday 20th December 2014. Terms & Conditions.
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It really does make a difference Thanks.
“Raising a family on little more than laughs”