I’ve worked on Christmas Eve for many years, so our Christmas Eve dinner was always something like a soup I left in the crock-pot while I directed the choir at church. Or it might have been a made-ahead casserole like cassoulet that finished up in the oven while “Silent Night” was sung. One year I made a fish stew base early in the morning, heated it around 9pm, and threw in the seafood and fish for a few minutes until it had just cooked through. On a rare occasion we’d go out for dinner before the first service or in between services if I had to direct an 11 o’clock. (at left: PPUMC Choir, Minneapolis)
I’m home and don’t have a church job this year as I’m cheffing for Jenn-Air and DACOR, so have the opportunity to make a fancy dinner. As I’ve had the chance to cook several lovely meals this season for friends and neighbors, instead I think I’ll still stick with something easy-to-serve–which will give me the chance to spend the evening with my family. In fact, I bought the ingredients for beef stew the other day and it sounds wonderful to me; we all love it. I could move it up to beef burgundy and, since I have tiny onions frozen and a great couple of bottles of Oregon Pinot Noir, I just might do it. The dogs might even get a tiny bite…
If you’re in the mood for a bit more than stew (or have a few more coming), try my make-ahead Christmas Eve menu, which is a collection of totally tried and true recipes tested this year in my favorite way–cooked by me and then eaten by Dave and good friends. The best part is that you truly can make everything 1-2 days (or more) ahead and have it all ready to serve or heat and serve. Don’t feel like buying lasagna? Buy a tray from the Italian deli or local red sauce joint. Make sure to order ahead. Just for fun I’ve added the wines/drinks we’ve tried with these dishes. There’s easily enough food for 8, with extras for those big appetites who go for a second serving of lasagna. Otherwise, you could squeeze 10 or maybe 12 servings if you’re very careful and throw a ham in the crock-pot four hours ahead of dinner, increase your salad and bread accordingly.
A few days ahead, spend a few minutes locating your serving dishes and checking on your dishes, silverware, and glasses. There’s nothing worse than running around the house trying to locate the green Christmas tree platter at 7pm. Wash anything that needs it, borrow what you don’t have (or run up to your local thrift store and buy it), and if you have no soft fabric napkins (many of the new ones are made of expensive, horrendously stiff or unabsorbant fabrics), buy some good and attractive large, thick paper napkins. You can put a candy cane in the middle and tie up with green ribbon, or get kids to decorate a small corner of each–no more than that.
THINGS TO DO TOGETHER
At home Christmas Eve service: Listen to King’s College Lessons and Carols on the radio if you’re home in the morning on December 24; they’ve been worshiping thus since 1918 and it’s one of the best parts of Christmas! On at 8am on KCME (88.7 FM) here in Colorado Springs, I’m guessing it should be on 9am CST and 10am EST in the U.S. Download booklet and read about it here. Listen to another year’s service here.
Have kids coming? Print up some coloring sheets; click here. Check out crafts, etc; click here.
Christmas sing-a-long; click here.
Pinterest Christmas game page; click here.
Christmas stories to print and read; click here.
Cooking together; click here. Or make the chocolate crinkles together (recipe below) as they’re best fresh.