Plan Your Christmas Meal With This Comprehensive Checklist

The reality for everyone is that there aren’t enough hours in a day for usual day-to-day life – so how could there be for Christmas? All of your effort from meal planning, grocery shopping and even getting friends and family over concludes on Christmas Day, so the pressure is high and the time is definitely tight.

Whether you’re having a Christmas lunch or prefer to have your dinner ready by the afternoon, use this guide for as a timeline to keep your tasks and time in check for the feast. You’ll find that it’s easier than imagined as long as you start early!

The Night Before

Set the table ready with all your serving platters, bowls, serving utensils and glassware ready for the big day. Make sure there’s enough oven space for your planned menu. If you’re cooking both a turkey and a ham, save space by cooking one in the barbecue!

First Thing In The Morning

Preheat the oven! Most turkeys will take about 45 to 50 mins per kilo to cook, so it’s important your oven is heated and ready. Take your turkey out of the fridge 30 mins before roasting to allow it to slightly come to room temperature, which will help it cook more evenly.


Once the turkey is in the oven, get your salads into bowls with the dressing to the side (only toss dressings through just before serving).


Dessert is a while away but that doesn’t mean you can’t get organised. Pre-slice puddings, ice-cream cakes and even pavlova slabs so they’re portioned and ready for easy serving. The best desserts are ones that can be completely prepared ahead so you don’t have any last-minute tasks late in the day.


If there are roast veggies on the menu, get them in the oven now so they’re deliciously tender and golden for lunchtime.


Once your turkey is cooked through, loosely cover with foil 15 to 30 mins, then carve. Arrange your meat on a platter and cover with foil to keep warm. If you’re serving ham, carve and arrange on a plate.

WATCH: How To Make Roast Turkey With Chestnut & Cranberry Stuffing


It’s serving time! Reheat your gravy, dress the salads, pop up the roasted veggies on a platter and load up the table.


Lunch is done, the table is clear and it’s time for desserts! If you’re serving frozen treats, nominate someone to pop any leftovers back into the freezer once everyone has been served so you don’t end up with melted leftovers!

But wait, there’s more…

Check out celebrity chef Curtis Stone’s top five tips to keep your day running smoothly:

  1. Make a list and check it twice
    Don’t wing your Christmas meal — plan ahead to make sure that you make detailed shopping lists of exactly what you need. This helps you breeze through the market and get everything you need in one trip without wasting time.
  2. Spread the love
    You don’t have to go at it alone. Delegate some side dishes or desserts to your guests so that the cooking responsibilities don’t fall solely on you.
  3. Make it ahead
    Choose recipes for your Christmas menu that can be made or prepped ahead or time. Frozen desserts can be made up to four days ahead.
  4. Choose a cold starter
    Free up oven, stove top and barbecue space for your main and sides by serving cold starters.
  5. Stretch it out
    Fill up your Christmas spread not with expensive protein, but with side dishes. Stuffing and salads are classics, filling and budget-friendly.

Text: / Photo: Pexels