The Essential Guide to Hosting your First Christmas

first christmas

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Hosting your first Christmas is super exciting, but it can be a bit daunting. It might seem like there’s too much to plan and organise, especially if you’re hosting for a large group, but don’t worry! We’ve put together this ultimate guide to hosting your first Christmas dinner which will take you through everything you need to do and when to do it. This way, it’ll be a stress-free process, so let’s get started!

Here’s a quick timeline to keep you on track.

4 Weeks Before

  • Decide who’s coming
  • Set a budget
  • Make a master plan 

2 Weeks Before

  • Make your shopping list
  • Shop for essential supplies

1 Week Before 

  • Prepare some games
  • Wrap the presents
  • Get the turkey

A Few Days Before 

  • Finish the food shop
  • Check all your supplies

Before Christmas Dinner

  • Cook the food
  • Offer your guests some drinks
  • Open the presents

After Christmas Dinner

  • Clean-up
  • Play some games
  • Relax!

4 Weeks Before Christmas Day

Okay, so first of all, congratulations if you’ve managed to start planning your Christmas day a whole month in advance! It can be hard to think about Christmas before December starts, but if you’ve thought ahead, it’ll help to keep things a lot less stressful when it gets closer to the day. 

But don’t panic if you’ve left things a little later. Stick with us, and use this guide as a checklist and to help you prioritise the tasks. So what should you be thinking about first? 

Who’s Coming?

The very first thing you need to think about, is your guest list. Speak to your family and ask their plans so you know exactly who to cater for from the off. If some people are being a bit vague and not committing to an answer, try and push them to make a decision sooner rather than later if you can. It’s a lot better than having some surprise extra guests that you need to think about catering for close to Christmas day.

Set the Budget

Now you know who’s coming, it’s time to think about your budget. Hosting Christmas day can be expensive, so it’s important to set a strict budget and stick to it. We’ve got a post on the best budget tips that will give you some great ideas to keep the cost down and how to track your spending so you don’t go overboard. 

Make a Start with the Master Plan 

The next thing you need to do to keep things stress-free, is to get a plan in place. So what do you need to plan? 

  • Decorate your house! The more festive the better!
  • Decide what gifts you’re getting and where to get them

2 Weeks Before Christmas

Now you’ve done the ground work, you can get into the proper planning! Here are the main things you need to tick off your checklist a couple of weeks before Christmas day. 

Sort your Food Shopping List

You don’t have to actually buy all your food yet, but it’s a good idea to start thinking about what ingredients you need and how much you should get.

Here’s a rough guide of how much food your need for each person at Christmas dinner. 


Amount per Person



Roast potatoes






Other Vegetables




Cranberry sauce


Bread sauce


Pigs in blankets


Christmas pudding


Custard/ brandy sauce


Get your Christmas Supplies

You’ll also need to start thinking about what supplies you need for Christmas day. Here’s a quick checklist to keep you on track. 

Online party supply stores are a great place to pick up your essential Christmas day supplies. Shindigz is a great online party supply store that you can use to find great decoration ideas with over 34,000 party supplies for every occasion and next day delivery! This is the perfect idea if are looking for excellent value and variety. 

  • Glasses
  • Place mats
  • Napkins/ serviettes
  • Bowls
  • Baking trays
  • Celotape
  • Table cloth 
  • Chopping boards
  • Crackers
  • Plates
  • Candles
  • Cutlery
  • Carving knife
  • Wrapping paper
  • Gift tags
  • Wine glasses
  • Champagne flutes
  • Table centrepiece 

1 Week Before Christmas

Now it’s time to start thinking about the details and getting organised to make sure you keep the process as hassle-free as possible in the lead up to Christmas day. Get ahead now, and your future-self will thank you!

Think about the Games 

Having some games is a great way to keep your Christmas day fun and make sure your guests have a great time. Here are some classic Christmas games to keep in mind. 

  • Charades
  • Pictionary
  • Christmas quiz
  • Classic board games
  • Cards Against Humanity 

Game Idea: Stocking Relay

What you’ll Need:

  • Stockings
  • Candy

How to Play:

  • Split your guests into teams.
  • Each time will have a small stocking at one end of the room.
  • Have tubs full of candy at the other end of the room.
  • The players must race to fill their stockings full of candy first in a relay.
  • The first team to fill the stocking wins! 

Wrap the Presents

It’s a good idea to get everything organised as early as you can to avoid stressing at the last minute. So think about wrapping your presents so they’re ready if things get a bit more hectic closer to Christmas day. 

Get the Turkey

You don’t need to get all your food shopping done a week before Christmas, but getting your turkey ahead of time can be a good idea, just in case the shops let you down with their stock closer to Christmas day. 

Plan the Drinks Menu

So you know what food you should be buying, but what about the drinks? Well you need to make sure you have a good selection of soft and alcoholic drinks to keep everyone happy. Don’t overdo it and get tonnes of different choices, but have the essentials like wine, beer, fizzy drinks and juice. Maybe think about getting the ingredients for a couple of cocktails or mocktails if you’re feeling adventurous!

Here are some great drink recipes to help get you started. If you need some more ideas, check out our list of the 10 best party drink recipes

Drink Idea: Mulled Wine

Ingredients for 5 Servings

  • 750 ml red wine
  • 60 demerara sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • A few dashes of grated nutmeg
  • 1 orange cut in half
  • 1 dried bay leaf

Heat all the ingredients in a saucepan on a low heat for around 15 minutes, stir frequently and strain into wine glasses.

Drink Idea: Candy Cane Cocktail

Ingredients per Serving:

  • 25 ml strawberry vodka
  • 12.5 ml sugar syrup
  • 12.5 ml lemon juice
  • A few dashes of creme de menthe

Mix all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice, strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a candy cane. 

A Few Days Before Christmas

It’s almost the big day now! There are just a few things to think about the a few days before Christmas to keep you on track. 

Do the Food Shop

So you already know what food to get and how much you should be getting, now it’s time to do the big shop. Try and do this a few days before Christmas dinner to avoid panicking if your local supermarket doesn’t have everything in stock if you’ve left it too last minute. 

Double Check Everything 

Double checking that you’re plans are in place before the day is the best way to avoid stressing on Christmas day. So check that all your presents are sorted, that you have all the food and drinks, and that you’ve got your essential supplies. 

Christmas Morning

It’s the big day! We all know that Christmas day is one of the best days of the year, so remember that today. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the planning and organise and forget to enjoy yourself. Just remember that you’ve done the majority of the work already, and let yourself relax a bit and accept help if it’s offered. 

But even with that said, you can’t sit back and relax completely yet. Here is a list of things you need to do before you serve the Christmas dinner. 

  • You’ll need to allow your turkey to cook for 20 minutes per kg plus 90 minutes and allow it to rest for 30-45 minutes before serving. 
  • 2.5 hours before: Start making the stuffing
  • 2 hours before: Prepare the pigs in blankets and sauces
  • 1 hour and 45 minutes before: Start making the roast potatoes and check the turkey
  • 1.5 hours before: Prepare the vegetables
  • 1 hour before: Start making the gravy and cooking the pigs in blankets
  • 30 minutes before: Take the turkey out and re-heat any food and keep warm
  • 15 minutes before: Carve the turkey 

Don’t forget to make time for welcoming your guests, serving drinks and opening the presents too!

Leave around 30 minutes from finishing Christmas dinner to serving the pudding to make sure your guests have enough room to enjoy it!

After Christmas Dinner

Now it’s finally time to relax! Once Christmas dinner has been served, the pressure if finally off. There are still a few things you can think about though if you want to host the perfect Christmas. 

  • Do some of the clear up between Christmas dinner and pudding if you aren’t too tired, and accept help if it’s offered.
  • Set up some games and activities to keep everyone entertained.
  • Serve some drinks and keep an eye on them and offer top-ups if anyone’s drink is running low. 

Tips to Hosting the Perfect Christmas

Here are our favourite tips for hosting the perfect Christmas.

  • Get organised! Don’t leave things to the last minute and stay on top of the planning.
  • Accept help if it’s offered, you don’t have to do everything all by yourself.
  • Make sure you serve a variety of drinks.
  • Have some party games planned to keep your guests entertained.
  • Make sure you rest your turkey properly to make sure it’s tender. 30-45 minutes is typically enough time.
  • Make sure you do your food shopping a few days before to make sure the shops don’t run out of essentials.
  • Clear out the fridge before the big shop to make sure you’ve got enough room.
  • Keep on top of your Christmas shopping to avoid rushing before the day.
  • Don’t forget the music! Put on a Christmas playlist to keep everyone in the festive spirit. 

Apple Music is the perfect way to create a Christmas playlist. It’s intelligent recommendation feature makes it really quick to add songs to create the perfect track list and it’s cross fade feature makes seamless song transitions. It’s only $9.99/ £9.99 per month and you can get a free 3 month trial to check it out. And don’t worry, you can use it on Android devices too!

Join over 50 million subscribers and sign up for your 3 month free trial today! 

So there you go! Now you have plenty of ideas to plan the perfect Christmas dinner. We hope you have a great time!

Don’t forget to take a look at our ultimate Christmas party guide too! It’s full of great food, drink, game, entertainment, decoration and music ideas. 

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