Pulling Off the Perfect Last-Minute Christmas Dinner

You don't need days of prep time; you just need these few simple slacker's tips.
Jack Arthur Smith
Published on December 15, 2014

in partnership with

Christmas movies and daytime television may suggest pulling off the perfect (or near to perfect as humanly possible) Christmas dinner is one of the seemingly simplest tasks of the season. That, friends, is bullshit.

But, on the flip side, these days you don’t need a managerially trained brain, a through-the-generations-tried-and-tested menu and days upon days of free time to ensure your St. Nick celebrations are just that: a celebration. If you’re leaving your plan of attack to the last minute, here’s how to hit the mark, in style.




We’re hoping you have at least 24 hours of preparation time with this one, as you probably shouldn’t be hosting a dinner if you think Christmas day is a suitable time to go shopping. But, saying that, it’s definitely a case of earlier the better when it comes to getting the good quality meat in.

Hudson Meats (available in both NSW and Vic), have a super simple online ordering form that takes a few minutes to fill in and offers a whole range of their genuinely delicious produce. Christmas cut-off will be dependant on individual butchers (the Sydney Surry Hills store, for example, tells us they’ll take orders up until Monday 22nd), but definitely call ahead as they will be totes biz. Queenslanders out there will do well to get in touch with Jack Purcell Meats: these guys have special maple-infused hams and turduckens available too.

If, however, you’re opting for the supermarket frozen bird or pig, then all you need is a decent recipe. Google comes up with some brilliantly simple ones, but in the name of tradition, sometimes it pays to get a little help from our neighbours.

British culinary icon, Delia Smith, or Saint Delia to many, offers a fail-safe turkey recipe that not only addresses the potential trauma of cooking with an audience but also guides you step-by-step until serve-up. Her five-ingredient chocolate torte is also mind-blowingly rich and just as simple. For veg, this recipe from another Brit, Jamie Oliver, has a built-in Woolies app so you can shop for the goods at the same time. Too easy.




Of course no Christmas is complete without breakfast Champers and (responsible) drinking. Anyone stockless out there needs to turn their attention to WineMarket.

This national wine producer specialises in all kinds of alcohol from top-of-the-range Penfolds to pale ales and mixed cases in the single-digit price range per bottle. Plus, these guys have just launched their FastCase shipping, which on certain selections means delivery in as little as one day or less for Sydney metro and two days for Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide.

The Christmas Stock-Up packages are unsurprisingly your best bet, as not only are there gold medal winners in there to tipple on but you can also get a free bottle of Mumm Champagne or Johnnie Walker Blue Label all for less that $100. But don’t let us take all the fun out of booze shopping; there are heaps of decent offers available as well as individually presented gift sets so any unexpected visitors or forgotten recipients (hey, it happens to us all), can get something nice, already packaged (for delivery cut-off times, see their website).




Now all that’s really left is the table, and mark our words, this is just as important as the food and drink. But you don’t have to have a passion for interior design or flair for festive macramé to ensure your guests feel at home and happy. All it takes is a little creative thinking.

If you’re entertaining in the double figures and have to push tables together, think about a T shape instead of one long table, as this allows conversation to flow better. We also suggest keeping all the food in the kitchen and serving up buffet style (leaving more room for glassware on the tables).

For décor, simple is the best, especially for the time poor, so try to keep the theme easy. Avoid Christmas-themed crap at all costs, saving both money and time, opting instead for an ironed tablecloth and a beautiful bunch of flowers in the centre of the table. If you have nice napkins, pour yourself a glass of bubbly and iron them too (from damp). This speeds up the pressing process and honestly, ironed Manchester speaks volumes about your hosting skills.

Personalisation also rules so write down everyone’s name on those extra gift tags lying around. Then simply tie them to something delightfully Christmassy, like a tree decoration (warning, baubles will roll), and hey presto: cute little place tags.

And finally, Christmas crackers are undeniably fun, but they’re always full of something cheap and nasty. Why not do something a little more meaningful this year, and before dinner, take it in turns to say something you love about each other? It might seem a little corny, but hey, is there really a better time to share the love than old Noel?

Now all that’s left is to turn the Sufjan Stevens Christmas playlist on loop, throw some tea lights around and wait for the guests to turn up. Christmas dinner done, without the fuss.


Published on December 15, 2014 by Jack Arthur Smith
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