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Making the Christmas meal

Christmas Eve meal

credit: Jenny Turknett

I’m in the weeds.

I’m writing this a few days before it will post and I know that by the time you read it, I’ll be in the weeds. Each Christmas Eve, we have a group over for a meal that I spend several days preparing.

While I often cook, this is different. At Thanksgiving, Christmas and a few other times a year, I can selfishly indulge my passion for cooking and get lost in the kitchen for hours at a time. Growing up, my parents didn’t cook on a regular basis, but you could be sure to find my mom in the kitchen for the several days prior to holidays making all of our favorites.

For the first time this year, I didn’t get to cook our Thanksgiving meal. We ate our way through Disney World instead. So, I’m really itching to get my Christmas Eve meal started.

First, I spend the better part of a day planning the meal. I have boxes of saved holiday magazines — Martha Stewart Living, Food & Wine, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Savuer, etc. I happily thumb through each looking for inspiration and devise a plan. Of course, family favorites will be made. But this is my chance to try out a number of new ideas, as well.

Typically, my prep list is more ambitious than I can manage — a few dishes will get cut in the time pinch. Even starting two or three days ahead, there is never enough time. I make enough food to feed 50 people, but it will be eaten in the days to come.

Next, I spend a day shopping for ingredients — many stops required. My husband kindly neglects to ask what was spent.

And then comes the best part — the cooking. No one asks where Mommy is. Mommy is in the kitchen. Little mouths pop by for a sample when the white cookies come out of the oven — the cookies that will be left for Santa.

Christmas Eve morning is the last push. The adrenaline pumping, I scramble to get all the food plated and on the table moments before guests arrive. Cue Christmas music. Once guests have their plates, I can relax. The rush is over.

But right now, I’m in the weeds.

And I’m loving every minute of it.

Do you make a large holiday meal? Do you love it?

Jenny-Turknett-Tagline–by Jenny Turknett, Food & More blog

– Jenny Turknett writes about Southern and Neighborhood Fare for the AJC Dining Team. She also publishes her own blog, Going Low Carb.

8 comments Add your comment


December 23rd, 2010
4:13 pm

Shut the oven off and back away from the stove. I am right there with you. I’ve got the recipes spread out across the kitchen. I’ve been cooking for two days and another two days to go. All this for two people. Monday will be good for the people in the office lol.

[...] more: Making the Christmas meal | Food and More with John Kessler Uncategorized atlanta, cookies-come, kessler-discuss, kitchen, mouths-pop, near-malls, [...]


December 23rd, 2010
9:55 pm

When we spend Christmas at home to me is more relaxing and I love that I get a chance to cook. Being far from any family and from Puerto Rico where I grew up it is a nostalgic time for me. But the way to get festive is to bring to my Atlanta table the traditional foods I had for the Holidays. Almost every year I serve the same menu with a couple of variations, but it is a big part of the celebration and I definitely enjoy it. Rice, pork, mofongo, potato salad, guava paste, and in our home we don’t put cookies out for Santa, we leave for him a plate of rice with sweetened coconut and the next morning it is all gone.

[...] may have read my blog post last week about preparing my Christmas Eve meal, which we refer to as our “brunch.” We call it a brunch [...]

Making the Christmas meal | CookingPlanet

December 28th, 2010
9:40 am

[...] Cooking News : Making the Christmas meal [...]


December 29th, 2010
1:33 pm

i too do tons of cooking for only two people. thanksgiving was jerk turkey breast that marinated for 2 days and was absolutely delish! christmas was 2 different roasted chickens – one cajun and one like mama used to make seasoned with lawry’s lol. both stuffed with fresh rosemary lemon garlic and onion. dressing for both holidays – new recipes liked the christmas one much better.

alot of fun and calories later – we had a great holiday season.

and oh i make coquito too (puerto rican eggnog) that was delish too!!

happy new year everyone!

The Happy Cooker

December 29th, 2010
10:17 pm

Jenny, your article touched my heart! I am very much the same way. Weeks before Thanksgiving and Christmas I am pouring over my recipes and searching for even more online to tweak to come up with the perfect Thanksgiving and Christmas meal. For Thanksgiving, there were only 2 of us and for Christmas, just 4 of us, but the menu must be perfect. I am an organizational freak and love the challenge of getting it all prepared on time. I wish I had a bigger and better equipped kitchen, but still manage to get it done and love every single minute of it.

I am a very healthy eater all year long but on Thanksgiving and Christmas, I pull out all the stops, not one grain of sugar or stick of butter is spared. Everything should be wonderful and decadent to be celebrated by all. I write a health and fitness blog, but encourage people to enjoy themselves for the big holiday meals. Thank you for your lovely article!

Jenny Turknett

December 30th, 2010
4:16 am

I’m glad to know that there are others who go a little crazy with the holiday cooking like me! ;)