6 tips for combating chaos in the (Christmas) kitchen

We asked our readers how they managed to stay organised (and sane) in their Christmas kitchen.

Coming out tops was making sure you’re prepared and organised ahead of time and that you don’t try to do everything yourself. Forward planning and delegation is key!

Here are 6 of our fave tips which we are sure will help you get organised, stay calm and enjoy the festive season.

Combating chaos tip #1 — Always clean up as you cook!

Make sure your dishwasher is emptied before you start, stack it as you go, and when full switch it on.

Put things away after you have used them (especially pantry items) and wipe your bench as you go. Use clean tea towels and dishcloths constantly to prevent cross contamination.

-Debbie A

Combating chaos tip #2 — Beer fridges and barbecues

Oddly enough, this tip involves pork. And beer. 😋

For years we have taken advantage of our Christmas falling in summertime, reducing kitchen chaos by using the beer fridge and the barbecue. Sorry guys, you must surrender the beer fridge for the week up to and including Christmas Day. Assign to one of your guests the task of refrigerating the Christmas booze and mixers. Your precious fridge will have an important job to do, saving your sanity and possibly your marriage.

Your beer fridge will store the cold dishes that you and your partner prepare at leisure for two or three days before Christmas, leaving only the main event roast or whatever to do on the day itself, which is a relatively relaxed affair without the stress of trying to do everything at once.

And the barbecue? Use it to barbecue pork shoulder chops to supplement the main event roast. It costs very little and is very simple to do, and the flavour is so spectacular that our guests rate it up there with the ham, turkey, lamb or chicken which usually takes centre stage.

Our guests usually arrive, with chilly bins and the libations, as I am finishing off the chops. Weather permitting, we have our pre-dinner drinks on the deck before triumphantly taking the chops on their serving platter to the Christmas table.

Bon Appetit, and Merry Christmas!

-John J

Combating chaos tip #3 — Be prepared and delegate!

We plan our menu and prepare anything that can be chopped, cooked, smoked, or created before the big event the day before.

Tasks are allocated to those with the great strengths — children prepare the table, my wife always makes the gravy, and I always carve the meat or tend to the barbecue.

With ease, we have a bin of beverages for the guests to help themselves to and a well worked out event. Everyone has fun, no one person is doing it all and there are lots of laughs and music along the way.

Enjoy the moments, time goes so fast.

-Shaine P

Combating chaos tip #4 — Express yourself

I find Gordon Ramsey a great help….swear very loudly……😅


Combating chaos tip #5 — Think about timings

When planning your Christmas lunch or dinner menu, try to ensure different timings for the items you are making, for example:

  • Things that can be made the day or week before.
  • Things that can be easily reheated if required.
  • Things that can be made in the morning and set aside.
  • Things produced on the stove top / slow cooker / pressure cooker / microwave / BBQ or oven.

That way you are not all trying to use the same appliance at the same time (especially if you are producing a number of things at different temperatures).

-Paul W

Combating chaos tip #6— Create a run sheet

This might sound extremely nerdy, but I create a run sheet with times that things need to be in (and out!) of the oven.

I include an estimate of how long things take to be prepared and cooked. This helps keep life organised in the kitchen and ensures I don’t run out of time!

-Antonia V

Need some inspiration for your Christmas meal? Check out our New Zealand pork Christmas recipes here.