I have been off-line for the past month, moving house and preparing to demolish our old house, and now that’s out of the way it’s time to prepare for Christmas. And it’s coming in fast!
Last year I did lots of baking and preparation for Christmas, but there’s no time for that this year. Plus my kitchen in the flat we are living in at the moment is a lot smaller and I couldn’t bring much with me. My mixer and food processor were a must (which doesn’t leave much bench space), if only I had a Thermomix! I’m sure my creative juices will kick in again in the new year and I’ll adapt (yet again).
As Christmas really is fast approaching I thought I would repost my Christmas preparation post form last year. I have a lot of new readers this year, so I think it’s worth re-posting, plus it’s always good to be reminded of the things, as Christmas can be quite stressful.
- Set your limits. Decide in advance whether you are prepared to stray off your current dietary restrictions. This is a personal decision and will depend on the consequences of a reaction and what kind of trade-off you are prepared to make. If you are on the strict elimination diet, this maybe as simple as adding a few moderate salicylate or amine foods to your menu, such as carrots in a salad or salmon, or letting the kids have a few lollies or use natural food colouring to decorate biscuits.
- Don’t try to cook for everyone. If you are getting together with family and friends you don’t need to cater for everyone. If you are hosting, provide food that your family can eat (and can be shared) and ask others to supplement with a dish of their own. That way you will have a variety of dishes without all the work. If you are the guest of someone else bring some dishes your family can have, it’s easier than trying to make sure someone else caters, and the host/hostess will appreciate the contribution.
- Put it on the side. It’s quite easy to cater for multiple tastes and diets by having dressings, sauces and vegetables on the side. Don’t add the Failsafe dressing to the salad, put it on the side and have the option for people to use other dressings as well. The same goes for sauces. With vegetables and salads you can always include extras, such as a bowl of cherry tomatoes, or a platter of sliced avocado and let people build up their own salads. You don’t have to provide all these yourself, ask someone else to contribute them.
- Presentation. Even if you are preparing food and dishes that you’ve had before or that don’t seem very Christmassy, presentation can easily change that. Christmas tablecloths, napkins, platters, decorations, etc. can be picked up quite cheaply and can easily transform a dish (see my Carob Syrup Cake and Bite-sized Meatloaves). On the other hand, you can make the most delicious dish and poor presentation can detract from it.
- Don’t tell. No-one else needs to know what is or isn’t in your dishes (unless they have their own food intolerance or allergy), so don’t tell them. If you’re hassled, just tell them you’ve been trying out some recipes from a really popular website. (I’m not just blowing my own trumpet here; you can use this line regardless of where you found the recipe!)
- Practice. I always try new recipes in advance for special occasions This is a lesson I learnt after Oscar’s First Birthday party when a couple of recipes didn’t turn out as planned. If you don’t want to spend between now and Christmas eating Christmas food share it with your family, friends, neighbours and co-workers.
- Go it alone. This is may be a pretty drastic decision, but sometimes it may be the only solution. I love Christmas and getting together with family, but there was one year when it was all too much trouble , so we had Christmas lunch at home, just the three of us. It was wonderful – one of my favourite Christmas days. We ate exactly what we wanted, it was a chilled, stress-free day. We caught up with that side of the family after Christmas when there was no family politics involved.
- Have fun. Whatever you decide to do, have fun, enjoy yourself and enjoy the day with your family.
There are some great Christmas recipe ideas on my Christmas Page.
Last year I made Domestic Diva’s Christmas Tree Dip, it was so simple and was a big hit, so I thought I’d share it today as a bit of additional inspiration.