Okay now, I know (somewhere deep, deep in my subconscious) that it's too early to make Christmas cards. I also know that it's too early to put up Christmas decorations - after all, I haven't even finished putting up fall decorations completely yet. But maybe it would be time to start thinking about Christmas decorations..? I've been F5-ing Ikea's website to find out if they're already selling those. I also went to one to check if they already had them but had just neglected to update their site. (I've also raided the local equivalent of Harrods a couple of times.) Because past experiences have shown that if you don't buy the decoration you like the moment you see it for the first time, there won't be any of it left later if you decide to sleep on it. So I need to get it asap! (Anyway, I'd just like to see the selection of different stores to make a decision on the colors.)
But enough rambling on the decor you can't affect yet - I'll get to that later. Instead, let's focus on what you can do next. Assuming you've already started to grind on projects you want to finish before the holidays and begun making a list of gift ideas, the next logical thing to do is starting to collect Christmas menu recipes. You can do that as early on as in October, and it's good to get it going so you'll have time to prepare for last minute changes.
So: where are you spending your Christmas this year? If at a friend's or a relative's place, you only need to ask what food they want you to bring, and make that. You can pass on all the trouble. Or you can offer to help them in everything from cooking to decor at their house, which I'd suppose is a far better idea (depending on the friend/relative of course. Some people genuinely don't like extra help in their homes).
But if you're spending Christmas at home, and maybe even have guests over, you have to do all this:
- Gather information of possible food allergies and diets, and take them into account when finding recipes.
- Count the heads and do the math - how much food do you need?
- Do you enjoy cooking and baking? If yes, then by all means, make everything you want, use all the time you like, gourmet-chef the crap out of the entire menu.
- Do you dislike cooking and baking? Then consider asking all guests to bring something to eat, or buy everything ready from the store. The latter option will decrease the Christmas spirit a little in my opinion, but it's better than being cranky and stressed at the party because you've had to strain yourself in the disliked cooking for the past days.
- Do not, ever, underestimate the effect Christmassy beverages have on the spirit. So make sure you make or buy or ask people to bring eggnog and mulled wine, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions (and if you ask me, the latter contributes more to the Christmas spirit).
Once you've decided what kinds or dishes and beverages you want to serve at the Christmas dinner, and calculated how much you need it, start browsing the web or your favourite cookbook for recipes. Print them, pin them, write them down. If you can, have a notebook for this purpose only - you can glue the printed recipes on the pages. Every time you find a new and interesting recipe, print it and glue it in the notebook, even if the amount of recipes starts to exceed the amount of food you can make. Then, when December rolls around, you can (put on Christmas carols and) open the notebook and decide which recipes to make.
All in one place, all planned before - a recipe for success!