Making Christmas Bright
Start early and be rewarded with a meal that comes together easily.
5 Days Before
- Plan your menu. See related recipes below for suggestions; many can be prepared in advance.
- Acquire equipment, dishes, linens and other items needed for the meal.
- If you've not had time to bake, come to Thrifty Foods and pick out some tasty items such as cookies, cakes and pastries. Enjoy some now and store others away for Christmas dinner.
- If buying a frozen turkey, do so now and keep frozen. If you're unsure of what size to buy, check out our Turkey Tactics guide.
- Buy cranberries to make sauce, or buy tinned sauce if not making your own. Also, buy any holiday snacks, beverages and nonperishable items required.
4 Days Before
- If you have a frozen turkey, set in a deep container and place in your refrigerator to thaw, the safest way to do it. It will take at least three to four days for the bird to thaw completely.
- If making cranberry sauce, do so now, cool and refrigerate until needed
- Make a list of remaining items needed for Christmas dinner
2 Days Before
- Do remaining shopping. If you've bought a fresh turkey, set in a deep container and refrigerate.
The Day Before
- Prepare side dishes that can be made ahead and reheated
- If serving stuffing with the turkey, cut fresh items (such as onion, celery etc..) and cubed bread needed for it. Bag the bread and keep at room temperature; store fresh items in the refrigerator.
- Decide what time dinner will be served tomorrow. Once that's known, visit Roasting Turkey 101 to look at the cooking chart and decide what time you'll need to start the turkey tomorrow. There you'll also find other information that should put your mind at ease about cooking the bird.
Early Christmas Afternoon
- Set the table, including serving utensils.
- Place your Christmas sweets on serving platters, cover and set aside until needed. Place cranberry sauce in a bowl and refrigerate until needed.
- If serving side dishes you'll cook just before dinner is served, do some preparation now; such as peeling potatoes for mashed potatoes or trimming the Brussels sprouts to be boiled later.
Christmas Day - The Dinner
- If stuffing the turkey, make stuffing an hour before needed and stuff the turkey just before roasting. If making dressing cooked separately from the bird, also make now, spoon into casserole, cool, cover and refrigerate until ready to bake.
- Start roasting turkey at the appropriate time.
- If making mashed potatoes, boil the potatoes about 10 minutes before the turkey is cooked. Also, if serving Brussels sprouts, put on a pot of water to boil them.
- When cooked, remove turkey from oven and start reheating the side dishes you've made ahead. Remove turkey from pan, tent with foil and set aside while you finish the last minute preparations, such as making gravy, and if serving them, finishing the mashed potatoes and cooking the Brussels spouts.
- Carve turkey, arrange on a platter and set on the table. Pour gravy into a sauce boat and serve it, cranberry sauce and other side dishes alongside the turkey.
- Pour drinks, make a toast and enjoy dinner.
- Tidy up before serving your Christmas sweets. Brew coffee or tea to enjoy with them.
- Refrigerate leftovers the moment they've cooled to room temperature.