Making a List & Checking It Twice

Sponsored by Coles

If you don’t like Christmas, turn away now, because I am about to go all Santa’s Elf on you.

I have been planning this Christmas for 364 days. Every year, after Christmas lunch, even as I’m lounging on the daybed with my eyes shut watching the kids, I’m thinking about next year and how I will make it better.

And by ‘better’ I mean ‘less work’. Because less work means more nap time.

With both our families mainly residing in the area, there’s always at least one gathering at our house. Whether it’s the Devereaux family Christmas, the Lawrence family Christmas or, as happens when everyone is trying to balance all their commitments and neither of these falls on Christmas day itself, the family Christmas for whoever is around on Christmas day, we always end up hosting something on our big balcony.

I remember the first time I took over the reins from my mother and attempted to host Christmas. It was a disaster, despite solid representation from all the different animals in both Babe and Finding Nemo. The food was awesome (naturally), but by the end of the day my blood pressure was under serious consideration from NASA as a means to launch the next generation space shuttles into orbit.

So now, every year, I assess what worked and what didn’t, and make changes. As such, I now have guidelines.

  1. If I’m cooking I’m using the BBQ. I want to be with my family, not sweating it out in the kitchen in the middle of summer. Roasts with all the trimmings are nice but so is catching up with the people I love and don’t see near enough. I want to be with them. I’ll eat ham sandwiches if necessary (fortunately I can do a little better than that).
  2. Preparation must be minimal. Again, it’s Christmas so I want to be with my kids, not acting like I’m a contestant on MKR. Anything which can be done the night before, in those six hours between when the kids go to bed and before they actually settle down to sleep so we can put the presents out, is done then.
  3. Plates and cutlery are disposable. I have solar panels and worm farms so I figure I have enough green credit to warrant a little more landfill than usual. We buy the nice ones too – no one wants their plate to collapse under the weight of their gluttony – but when the meal is done they are straight into the bin. Bins.
  4. Remember, it’s only Christmas. Heaven knows the pressure poor Kate is under every year, but for the rest of us, just relax. The Queen isn’t coming for dinner . And don’t base your Christmas spread on those in movies. The perfect little Tinseltown Stepford wife didn’t whip that spread up Christmas morning – the props people did. We usually feed around 20 and I simply make sure there’s basic stuff for the kids and, because I actively seek the adoration of my peers, something a little more fancy for the adults. Job done. I bags the daybed.

My favourite part of preparing for Chrissy is eating our way to a fairly empty fridge and freezer in the weeks leading up to Christmas – no use coming home with a nice leg of ham to find there’s nowhere to store it. It makes for some odd meals, but hey, what’s not to like about a meal of fish fingers with mango chutney and a side of peas. Step aside, Heston.

The other thing I do now is hold back on putting out the snacks before the meal, because otherwise people fill up on them. I do this for their sake. If someone has filled up on Brazil nuts and dried apricots they’re going to hate themselves when the Salmon arrives at the table. And anyway, the pretzels and the cheeses are for the board games and card games and chats during the long, lazy afternoon.

With all that in mind, my menu for Christmas 2014 is as follows:

Cold meats

Roast chickens, two, cut up into pieces

Coles Brand Australian Half Leg Ham, sliced as required

2kg cooked prawns


Salmon Brochettes With Lemon-Caper Sauce

Thai BBQ Prawns

Coles Grill Honey Soy Wings


Lettuce, tomato and cucumber salad – French dressing

Waldorf Salad

Potato Salad


Coles Brand Christmas Pudding, served with custard

Coles Brand Fruit Mince Pies


Cheese platter

Fresh fruit & a nut selection

Chips & pretzels

Okay, granted the pudding will take three minutes in the microwave, but that is the extent of my ‘slaving over a hot stove’ in the kitchen while our guests are here. Even the nom nom buttery caper sauce for the salmon is being cooked on a portable gas stove next to the barbie.

Now you may have noticed I used the word ‘Coles‘ a lot in the above menu. Good reason for that – I’m buying everything there this year. They even have the festive extras, like tableclothes and tinsel, to do up the table – and with our mob it’s a loooooong table. I don’t see the point in tracing all over town fighting the Christmas crush when in one hour I can have everything I need, plus only have to go through one checkout. It’s my gift to myself.

Finally, here’s a couple of ideas I’ve decided to incorporate this Christmas which you might like to try as well. They haven’t made my Christmas guidelines yet, but they’re under consideration:

  • If your writing is as poor as mine try  Taste’s shopping list – you can add all your recipes’ ingredients to their cart and print your shopping list out to take with you to the supermarket.
  • Avoid disappointment by pre-ordering the ham, turkey, seafood, pork and platters. It just makes good sense. Sure as baubles, if you arrive to find the shops are out of leg ham it’ll be the one thing your Great Aunt Beatrice, or equivalent, bleats on about all day.

So there we go. My Christmas is organized and ready to roll out. I’ve got my list and I’ve kept it deliciously simple. Nothing left to do now except decide what to fill the kids’ Santa sacks with. Which, pleasingly, is my wife’s job, so that’ll leave me plenty of time for some pre-Christmas napping.

Now that is worth celebrating.


“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.


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”


  • Great tips, Bruce! In our family, we’re the ‘have to run around to please everybody on the one day’ people so we just turn up – yay (although that can be a challenge in itself)! I know we’ll have to take the reins eventually, so remind me of this stuff when that happens!

  • Sounds like your kids will have a wonderful Christmas Bruce. I used to love the excitement that builds with so many little ones. The kids in my house have grown with only two teenage boys left so it will be very quiet this year. Saw the fancy Heston puddings at Coles last night and a black forest one too. Loving the mo – really suits you. PS: I used to hide my presents at work, must be a big job hiding for so many!

  • Thank you Bruce for reminding me that the Queen will not be in attendance and that the Christmas Spread in the movies is just plain unrealistic. I love to cook but let my imagination go wild with all the things I could try to do but at the End of it all I just want to spend time with my family not a week in the kitchen. We will be having season fruit, homemade banana bread, pancakes and bacon and eggs for breakfast selection. Lunch will be A selection of roast pork, lamb, chicken all done in the weber along with a zuchinni cous cous salad, plain salad cinnamon roasted sweet potato. Dessert a selection of homemade health balls and chocolates by Michelle and homemade banana date and macadamia ice cream or mango sorbet. Dinner…. If anyone wants to eat it will be help yourself

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