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A simple Christmas

I recently bumped into a friend who seemed to have a spreadsheet mentality for her Christmas planning, she was amazed that I had not ordered my turkey, filled my freezer and had the tree up and decorated. She asked when I would do it and I am sure she broke out into a cold sweat when I said shortly! There's no need to lose sleep and hours shopping, tussling and jostling with everyone for what I see as family time, a relaxing break from routine and the shops are only shut for one day!

Perhaps I am a bah humbug for not having my tree up, crikey until yesterday 10 minutes before the garden centre shut we'd not even bought it but we have and when it's done we will admire it before wondering when we can take it down again! No I don't really mean that but once it's up then the magic and sparkle loses its shine as the dog knocks against it and sends everything flying and the room, albeit large, seems smaller and cramped.

Big Welsh is having his ankle ligament reconstruction this week so we are keeping it low key, thereby avoiding the squabbles and the insane driving to see family. Instead they are coming to us. We are just us on Christmas Day, then family and friends are nipping in, some are planned invasions and some will be impromput popping in. There will always be a warm welcome and plenty of sustenance. I am ready but not with spreadsheet mentality!

Last weekend I cleared the kitchen cupboards out, chucking out what was long past its sell by date, binning what was in an unidentified bag wondering what it was and writing a list of what is needed. Curiously the only thing that we don't have in abundance is dried chilli flakes but we've got plenty of beans, pulses, pasta, rice, flour, tins of tomatoes, coconut milk, sweetcorn, kidney beans, baked beans, bamboo and water chestnuts so I can cobble something together with some meat or fish! Now everything is stored neatly and with easy accesibility and my beautiful new Ella's Kitchen Company cabinet is full!

I also gave the freezer a detox and steam treatment,. When we open it now we can see what is in it AND it shuts properly!! Who knew! I now open and shut it just to remind myself.

We are lucky that I pass 3 supermarkets on the way to school, there's a fabulous selection of farm shops and indepdent shops that I can nip into, I can phone ahead and ask for something to be put by, if someone says they are going to somewhere that I would like to go but only need to pick up 1 thing from then I can ask them to pick it up, by the same token if I am going anywhere I will always ask if I can bring anything back.

Everyone has their traditions and routines for Christmas but I prefer to have a more laid back approach:-

- Put a garden table by the back door for extra space and storage.

- Keep drinks outside in a bucket with some cold water, saves on taking up valuable fridge space. If you have a milk or wine crate then you can stack them.

- Put cheese into a lidded and airtight container, with a tray of jams and pickles and leave outside overnight if the fridge is groaning.

Much like throughout the year I keep basic stuff in the kitchen ....

- My fridge and freezer essentials are: milk, butter, cheese, ham, smoked salmon, yoghurt, creme fraiche, bacon, cocktail sausages, mince, chicken breasts, frozen herbs picked from the garden throughout the year, salad leaves

- My fruit & vegetable essentials are: apples, satsumas, potatoes, carrots, cucumber, peppers, sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, parsnips, oranges, lemons and limes.

- My storecupboard essentials are: tins (of what you use and need), gravy powder, eggs, olive oil, balsamic, salt, pepper, chilli flakes, bread (part baked), UHT milk (that's a real emergency and rarely gets used), digestive biscuits, crisp breads, pasta, rice, beans and pulses

- My drinks essentials are: wine, beer, gin, tonic, whisky, ginger ale, vodka, port, orange juice, carbonated water.

We don't have a freezer full of ice - we fill up the ice trays each night and then use what we've got.

Get your tin foil now! I'm not a big fan of clingfilm so use Bowlovers from Hunter Gatherer.

If someone is coming and is desperate for something then suggest they bring it, chances are everyone will tuck in anyway but if it's only going to be dragged out for one person then it's not a necessity.

When anyone is coming round and asks if they can bring something then say YES and give them a list of things to bring. I can't go empty handed to anyone's house and once turned up with some loo roll, little did I know that it was needed!! I've asked my mum to bring apple sauce and a treacle tart, my brother will bring a cheeseboard and no-one is allowed past the front door without a bottle of wine!

A friend was getting into a tizz about everything she needed to do and all the things she needed to get and I said to her "stress less princess" which lead me to write this.

So I wish you a very peaceful and relaxed Christmas, may the joys of the season fill your heart with happiness and contentment, may your dishwasher be emptied regularly and above all you get the chance to have a calm, warm and safe Christmas with your loved ones.


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