A sample plan for Christmas day 2023

This is my acual plan for this years Christmas.

With guests that range from little children, grown family, grandparents, family members new partners, neighbours, and friends. Hosting Christmas Day can be a lot of work with many moving parts.  A fabulous mish-mash of ages, young and old, new and familiar faces.

Here’s how I navigate it, the recipes I am using this year, what wines I will serve when and hopefully, a tip or two.

The days before: We have a small house on a hilly section, but we manage to accommodate our 17-22 family members with a serious clean-up and furniture shuffle that goes on over the days before.I set the table the night before, its outside and visible from the street so I hope no drunken teens decide it looks inviting. 

Menu planning: I will break down any recipes I am preparing into prep lists and make the day before parts that will hold well or improve with time.  I will have a, buy-fresh list and an on-the-day prep list written down too. I am buying desert this year except for a homemade compote and we always buy bags of ice.

Morning: In our house, the day starts early with the excited chatter of children checking to see if Santa Claus has been.  It’s not fun but getting protein into kids is paramount, after presents we feed the pets then sit down for boiled eggs with soldiers and smoothies that I load with protien powder and nuts.  The children run wild from here, consuming sugar, Christmas lunch, playing games and opening gifts that arrive with every guest.

Mid-morning: Our guests arrive throughout the morning, we serve each arrival with panettone soaked in cream and coffee, fruit platters, gifts and the option of prosecco. The stretch until lunch is served can be difficult and busy. This year I am planning a party game. An ornament treasure hunt in the garden, with low-value prizes, think chocolate Santas, I’ll hand this management over to an uncle while I race about doing food prep. 

For lunch: I serve a seated buffet-style meal, we cook a Turducken (turkey stuffed with duck stuffed with chicken) and about 3 salads from Ottolenghi’s book “Plenty”. My husband takes responsibility for the meat. I generally arrange, fuss and argue about things.   My mother-in-law brings a gooseberry tart each year and I tend to try a new dessert recipe to accompany this, last year I baked a NY Cheesecake, but it was only mildly successful, so I’m cutting the corner and buying a pav and my mother is bringing a vegan tart this year.

Afternoon: After lunch, I container up the food (I purposefully buy a stack of them), what will go home with guests, what will be frozen for use over summer, and what we need for toasted sandwiches. I bring out the sandwich press and a pile of paninis.  A big bowl of any chocolates we've been given and a cheese platter.  Now I am off duty.

I like to put a Christmas movie on in one room to nap in front of, many of our guests will head off for ferry connections or to see other family members.  This year my girls have asked for a swim in the sea, so we will pile in the van and head to our nearest urban beach for a much-needed cool off (fingers crossed for good tides and weather). 

Evening: The panini press covers dinner.  We often aspire to an evening walk up Franklin Road, perhaps we’ll manage it this year.  More likely its collapse afrer queuing up an audiobook for the kids and wake up at some point with a small child’s foot in my back.

Timed Christmas Day Menu and Wine List:

  • 6am girls up and gifts

Food: Feed pets, dippy eggs & soldiers with hemp seed and almond smoothies.

  • 10 am 6 guests arrive.

Coffee, Tea, Sparkling Water, Juice, Elderflower cordial

Food: Panettone with Pouring Cream. Fruit platters consisting of green and orange melons, cherries, raspberries and strawberries

Bottles Open: Bandini Prosecco with sliced homegrown peaches fruit, Hallertau 0% Beer

  • 11 am 4 more guests arrive.

Food: roasted aubergine dip, dressed hummus, rough guacamole (all with crudité baby carrots, asparagus, baby cucumbers, kiki crackers, tortilla chips)

Bottles Open: Bandini Prosecco, Mahi Sauvignon Blanc 2023, Dog Point Chardonnay 2021

(Coffee, Tea, Sparkling Water, Juice, Elderflower cordial, Hallertau 0% Beer)

  • 12.30 pm Final 2 guests arrive.

 Just before lunch:  Laurent Perrier Champagne NV Cuvée or Greystone Pet Nat

  • 1pm Lunch is served

Food: Turducken (this has been in the bbq with the lid closed for hours.)  Ottolenghi Green Bean and Mangetout Salad, this year’s baby red potato harvest, A giant green salad with pomegranate molasses dressing, A fodmap salad, cranberry sauce.

Bottles Open: Bandini Prosecco, Mahi Sauvignon Blanc 2023, Dog Point Chardonnay 2021, Gnarly Dudes Two Hands Shiraz, Hallertau 0% Beer

Food: Pavlova with homegrown plum compote and cream, Vegan Cheesecake from Tart Bakery (Grey Lynn and Central City)

We dont need any more but...

Food:  Burrata, Blue Cheese, Kiki Crackers, Wholemeal crackers, amaretti biscuits, chocolates, Panini press is out.

Bottles Open: Ferraton Cotes Du Rhone Samorens Rose with ample ice chips, Coffee, Tea, Sparkling Water, Juice, Elderflower Cordial, Hallertau 0% beer. 

3pm Most guests leave

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in Food tips for entertaining


Glasses can be such a unique identifier.  Perhaps you are of the made local camp, or handmade and French.  Or long to be effortlessly cool serving wine in a tumbler.  Having the perfect glass for the exact wine might be your preference.  Or perhaps you lean toward the crème-de-la crème and only the most bourgie will do.
Easy Mezze; Crackers and Dipper Suggestions

We all have our preferences when it comes to crackers and dippers, these are my favourites this year. I try to match flavour profiles and styles to what I am serving.  Otherwise, crisp fresh and robust are my watchwords when shopping for mezze accompaniments.
Food Styling and Presentation

Food styling and presentation are easy ways to impress your guests and make your home-cooked meals look more appealing. By paying attention to plate selection, cleanliness, food placement, fresh colours, and serving quickly, you can elevate even the simplest dishes to a work of art!