Christmas dinner checklist to keep your lunch prep in check

We've got the ultimate checklist and the best tips for seamless Christmas dinner prep.

xmas dinner

by Eleanor Weaver |
Updated on

Christmas dinner is undoubtedly one of the best parts of the entire festive season – but if it’s your job to make the magic happen, it needn’t be a huge chore. We've put together a seriously epic list of everything you'll need to prepare Christmas dinner. We're talking a preparation checklist, Christmas table checklist, and the all-important food checklist - we don't scrimp on the details here.

Plus, we've included some handy tips and hacks that will not only save you time on prep but give you the perfect festive feast.

Time to dig in.

Christmas dinner preparation checklist

First and foremost, you've got to have all the necessary preparation tools in advance so the big day can go off without a hitch.

Just so you know, while we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this page, we never allow this to influence product selections.

Turkey Baster: OXO Good Grips Angled Baster with Cleaning Brush
Price: $16.48
Alternative retailers
Sur La Table$14.95View offer
Sur La Table$14.95View offer

Get your turkey extra juicy with a baster for a delish main dish - no dry turkey complaints here. This OXO baster is angled to pick up those hard-to-reach basting juices with easy-to-read measurements too.

We'd definitely recommend a mixer for preparing your Christmas desserts and sweet treats. This non-stick Kenwood kMix stand mixer is reliable, easy to clean, and we love the cute, retro design.

You need a roasting tin for your roasties! This non-stick roasting tin from Lakeland has a contoured base for even cooking and we love the pouring lip so you can reuse the juices in sauces or pour away excess fat. Plus, it's a fab size for both potatoes and meats.

Oven Trays: Prestige Inspire Non-Stick Large Oven Tray
Price: $30.00

What else would you roast the veggies on? You'll need a trusty oven tray like this Prestige Inspire Baking Tray that's non-stick, easy-cleaning, and a good size. Plus, this tray comes with a CushionSmart interior to enable air to flow around your food for better browning. Extra yum.

You can use a cupcake tin to make the mince pies and even use it to form your homemade Yorkshire puddings too - another must-have for the Christmas plate.

Wine and beer are almost a guarantee at Christmas, even if it's non-alcoholic. The John Lewis & Partners Winged Corkscrew Deluxe can handily get both open, multi-purpose for whatever you're drinking.This multi-tasking hand blender will help make meal prep a whizz. Sauces, meringues, homemade ice cream, stuffing, nuts, and onions, can be chopped, whisked, and pureed with just the press of a button.

This multi-tasking hand blender will help make meal prep a whizz. Sauces, meringues, homemade ice cream, stuffing, nuts, and onions, can be chopped, whisked, and pureed with just the press of a button.

If you want to cook your centrepiece and sauces to perfection, a digital thermometer will help make sure you cook your food with precision. Chef's kiss

Carving Knife and Fork: Professional X50 Carving Set
Price: £29.99 (was £69)

www.procook.co.uk

Get the most out of your roast with a carving knife and fork which will help you slice through your meat with ease to share around the Christmas table. This set comes with a 25-year guarantee and at an amazing price.

Pots and Pans: Tower Cerastone T81276 Forged 5 Piece Pan Set
Price: $149.29

Sure, you probably already have your pots and pans to hand to boil vegetables and make gravy and bread sauce. But, if you're in need of a new set then this 5-piece from Tower is complete with a quality non-stick Cerastone coating. It'll definitely make the post-dinner washing up easier.

Christmas lunch is not the time for guesswork when eager mouths are waiting. A measuring jug like this classic Pyrex jug is ideal for measuring for stuffing, sauces, gravy, batter and pastry mixes, and more.

Christmas Apron Cath Kidston Shine Bright Easy Adjust Apron
Price: £15.50 (was £22)

www.cathkidston.com

We always wear our best for Christmas Day, so the last thing you need is to be splashing sauce or getting flour on your finest clothes. We love this Cath Kidston apron that'll have you looking like the hostess with the most-est.

Use a rolling pin to roll out pastry and gingerbread dough. This one is a little pricier than your standard rolling pin, but look at just how beautiful it is. We love this vibrant floral rolling pin that adds a charming touch to the baking process.

Christmas table checklist

Next up, you'll want to get the table looking extra festive for the main event and have all the necessary serveware so the family can help themselves to gravy, sweet treats, the abundance of veg on offer, and more. Though we won't blame you if you skip the Brussel sprouts.

And if you're wondering about how to decorate your Christmas table, we've also included a video for some inspiration:

Sure, you could stick to regular table settings and use an old jug for the gravy, but this is Christmas! It's the perfect time to get a little fancy and you can use these pieces year after year for Christmas days to come.

Deck your Christmas table out with Christmas decorations or a centrepiece for that festive 'wow' factor. This gorgeous 'Winter Wonderland' centrepiece has a collection of tea light holders nested among bushels of real foraged pine cones.

As well as being handy for helping to direct friends and family to their placemats, place setting cards can also serve as decoration, especially if you're limited on table space. These fun little Christmas pudding place settings will add some festive cheer.

Christmas Tablecloth: La Redoute Interieurs Nordic Star Patterned Tablecloth
Price: £15 (was £30)

www.laredoute.co.uk

A tablecloth is an easy way to add some festive spirit to your table and protect it from stains and spills. We love this Nordic Star Christmas printed tablecloth available in red and gold, white and gold, and eucalyptus and pink gold. They've even got it as a table runner if you just want the cloth to run down the middle or a contrasting colour scheme.

Cloth Napkins: La Redoute Interieurs Forest Polycotton Napkins (Set of 4)
Price: £5.60 (was £7)

www.laredoute.co.uk

Cloth napkins make a nice change from standard tissue napkins and really help to elevate the Christmas dinner to the next level. Plus, it's more eco-friendly to use re-usable napkins which we're all about. This set of four polycotton napkins is covered in festive fir trees and snowflakes.

A good Christmas wine needs decent glasses to serve it in, and we think these gold rim glasses add a touch of elegance and glam.

Everyday crockery can be used for Christmas lunch, but we think it's fun to have decorated pieces to mark the occasion. This 12-piece porcelain dinner set has a subtle Robin and Holly design and is dishwasher safe.

Placemats will help to set the table and protect it from inevitable gravy spillages. This pair of festive, wintry fir tree design placemats is inspired by the Scottish Highlands with soft blue, white, and silver hues.

We're a big fan of cheese and crackers to follow up on the main course or indulge in mid-afternoon. This chopping board with a lovely Christmas engraving will make for a great cheese board, or as a gift for fellow cheese-lovers.

Decent-sized serving bowls are a must to be host to carrots, Brussel sprout, potatoes, parsnips, and alike. This 25cm fine china serving bowl is beautifully suited for the Christmas table with a lovely winter foliage design.

If you want your guests to pour their gravy with the least amount of spillages or resistance, a gravy boat is a serious shout. Designed with a classic gold band, this stylish gravy boat will look stunning on your table at Christmas and all year round.

A serving jug will be needed for sauces, or for dessert to pour custard on your Christmas pudding. This Villeroy & Boch Toy's Delight Creamer will do just the trick and looks way better than a regular plastic jug would.

Snack Serving Platter Habitat Christmas Joy Ceramic Serving Platter
Price: £5 (was £7.50)

www.argos.co.uk

Everyone loves Christmas nibble so a serving platter will help keep your snacks or hors d'oeuvres in place and will be easy to top up when necessary. This joyful ceramic serving platter is super cheery and seasonal.

Christmas dinner food checklist

Everyone does Christmas a little differently, but here's a fab checklist that is sure to have your back covered so you don't miss any major food groups on the day.

Absolutely no one wants to do a last minute shop run - it's chaos.

Christmas turkey
©Getty Images

Choice of centrepiece

• Turkey

• Gammon

• Beef

• Duck

• Goose

• Lamb

• Vegan or vegetarian options/ alternatives

Sides and trimmings

• Yorkshire puddings

• Potatoes

• Brussels sprouts

• Pigs in blankets

• Carrots

• Parsnips

• Peas

• Red cabbage

• Cauliflower

• Stuffing

Cranberry sauce
©Getty Images

Sauces and condiments

• Cranberry sauce

• Bread sauce

• Apple sauce

• Mustard

• Gravy

• Horseradish

• Chutney

• Butter

• Mint sauce

Desserts

• Christmas pudding

• Christmas cake

• Fresh cream

• Brandy sauce

• Panettone

• Stollen

• Fresh fruit

• Pavlovas

• Trifle

• Mince pies

• Yule log

• Cheese and crackers

• Ice cream/ Vienetta

Child eating gingerbread
©Getty Images

Sweets and nibbles

• Nuts

• Crisps

• Dips

• Biscuits (including gingerbread of course!)

• Satsumas

• Savoury snacks

• Tin of chocolates

• After dinner mints

• Canapés

READ NOW: Christmas party food on a budget

Drinks

• Champagne

• Wine – red and white

• Spirits

• Eggnog

• Cocktails

• Beer

• Cider

• Low alcohol Christmas drinks

• Tea and coffee

• Hot chocolate

• Soft drinks and mixers

Top Christmas dinner tips

• Before you start your meal prep, get a plan of action sorted so you know exactly what you're dealing with. Find out numbers, dietary requirements, and make sure to get anything out of the freezer that needs defrosting the night before.

READ NEXT: Alternative Christmas dinner ideas to fit all dietary requirements

• Make a note of all the cooking times, taking into consideration oven space, in case you need to get food prepped in advance and so you can deliver all the food to the table at peak temperature.

• Employ the help of (hopefully willing) kids and family members to set the table while your hands are full. If you pre-select all the Crimbo decorations, cutlery, and settings, they can’t go too wrong.

• If in any doubt on numbers or appetites, get a little extra grub to save a shortfall on roast potatoes or stuffing. Worst comes to worse, they’ll make delicious leftover sandwiches.

• If you don’t have masses of room in your fridge/freezer, you can pre-order food from your favourite supermarket to be delivered in the days leading up to the big day. How easy and convenient is that?

Here are the supermarkets allowing you to pre-order Christmas food:

Sainsbury's Christmas food to order

Marks and Spencer Christmas food to order

Morrisons Christmas food to order

Waitrose Christmas food to order

Tesco Christmas food to order

Christmas cooking
©Getty Images

Christmas dinner cooking hacks

Turkey

• The breasts of the turkey cook quicker than the rest of the bird. To stop them from overcooking, cool them down with ice cubes before cooking.

• Stop the bird from burning by covering it with tin foil – this will give you a perfectly golden brown turkey.

Roast potatoes

• Those all-important roasties are a job on their own, so stay one step ahead by cooking them the day before! This will definitely save you time on your Christmas prep.

• Use goose fat to get them deliciously crisp on the outside and fluffy in the middle, and simply reheat the next day. We promise nobody will be able to tell.

Gravy

• No Christmas dinner is complete without some beautifully thick gravy. A top tip for achieving the perfect consistency is to mash one of the roast potatoes into the gravy and stir. You’ll be wondering why you’ve never done it before!

Vegetables

• Make the usually boring veg one of the most exciting parts of Christmas lunch by cooking your carrots in orange juice. Throw in the zest, some butter, and a pinch of cinnamon and you’re in business.

• As for those pesky Brussel sprouts, roast them – boiling them to death it the reason they always taste so bad. Add a bit of pancetta, maybe some chestnuts, and you’ve transformed everyone’s least favourite side dish.

Stuffing

• Prepare your gorgeous stuffing and cook it in advance. Freeze it and then all you’ll have to do is defrost it on the big day before warming it through.

Desserts

• Make these as far in advance as possible – and make a few. This way, there’s no unhappy faces at the table and you’ve got loads leftover.

We've also included a little video that can further help make your Christmas dinner seamless.

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How long can you keep food in the freezer for?

If you've bought frozen food ahead of the celebrations, you may be wondering how long it'll last. Or maybe you still have some bits and bobs in the freezer from last year's Christmas flop and are wondering if it can still be put to use?

According to FoodSafety.gov, fresh poultry (chicken and turkey) can be placed in a freezer 0°F or below for up to one year, in contrast to fresh, uncured, uncooked ham, which should only be frozen for up to six months.

We recommend veg and potatoes be stored and frozen between eight and 12 months, and of course, keep an eye on those use-by dates!

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us