I’m sure you’re all aware that Christmas is fast approaching, and what better way to relax into the festive spirit than to host a flat Christmas dinner? Although it may initially seem daunting that there might be up to ten people all trying to cook with one stove, fear not! The Mancunion is here to provide Freshers with a list of ten top tips from veteran fourth-year students on how to nail the Christmas do.
Let’s start simple: first of all, you’re going to need ingredients. To supply food for up to ten people is pretty expensive, especially on a December student budget when we’re all clinging on until our next loan. So, my advice would be to go to fresh grocers like Wimmy Foods in Fallowfield, as the meat and veg there is considerably cheaper than your average supermarket. If you’re living a bit further out, Aldi or Lidl tend to do the trick. Additionally, for ease, Splitwise is always handy. If you create a house Splitwise, you can easily split the cost equally between all those eating, without having to add up all the ingredients and divide it. This could alternatively become really complicated when one person doesn’t want carrots and the other doesn’t like Yorkshire puddings. Just split it all equally on the app, and it will save any arguments!
The second of the tips accumulated from my peers is to stock up on alcohol. No one wants to have to nip to the shop to get more beer or wine mid-meal, so buy as much as you can before the day has begun (it’s impossible to buy too much, really). If you don’t drink it all during your flat Christmas dinner, you’ll surely finish it off a different weekend down the line. And for those who don’t drink at all, stock up on the fizzy drinks – maybe even treat yourself to some schloer!
The third tip is to purchase paper plates and plastic glasses. Let’s be honest; you’re going to have a lot of washing up to do, and not all flats have dishwashers. To save you the hassle, we recommend grabbing some paper plates and plastic cups. They’re never too expensive and after a couple of drinks, washing up is the last thing anyone wants to do. However, if you can, make sure to still recycle as much as possible and stick to your regular cutlery.
Following this, upon asking my friends for their advice, a repeated answer was to prepare as many dishes as possible the day before. Oven space is limited, as is general kitchen surface space, especially in student houses and flats. So maybe pre-prepare dishes like stuffing, your Yorkshire pudding batter, and wrap your pigs in blankets. You can even marinate your chicken or meat of choice the night before. Really let those flavours develop and soak into the meat. This, as a whole, makes the day run a lot smoother and reduces the overall stress of it all.
My housemate told me that last year, it was helpful for their house to assign roles to different people. Ever heard of the saying, “Too many cooks spoil the broth?” Well, the same goes for flat Christmas dinners. If everyone has something to oversee, the kitchen is less crowded and thus, the day flows seamlessly. For example, one person is in charge of potatoes, another is responsible for setting the table, etc. It’s also a lot more fun if everyone gets involved, even if you can’t cook. Myself, I like to go for the dictator of the dinner. I know how to do everything and just like telling people what to do!
Get some starters, as having something to snack on whilst you’re cooking is always nice. Get some cold meats or cheese and crackers to keep you going because it’s not a quick dinner – and being surrounded by food always makes me hungry.
As I said before, oven space is always going to be an issue, but make sure that equipment isn’t. Check that you have enough trays before you start cooking. There’s nothing worse than getting to the day of the dinner, everyone’s ready, and then there are not enough trays for the chicken and the roasted veg. We often just buy the foil disposable ones for ease.
A simple one, I know, but make sure to clean up as you go. If a pot is finished with, quickly wash it up. This saves a stack of pots and pans building up because no one wants to even begin to tackle that.
Make it festive
Another common recommendation was to make it festive. Have fun jumpers or glasses you can all wear. Buy some cheap Christmas crackers, create a shared Spotify playlist and play some games! (Charades is a classic) This just adds to the whole festive atmosphere and makes the day so much more fun.
Last but not least, enjoy and have a lovely flat Christmas!