How To Prepare For The Perfect Christmas Eve
T’was the night before Christmas ... and all through the house, there’s ... well, there’s plenty of stirring, actually. The kids have fallen asleep on the sofa watching Home Alone and covered in mince pie crumbs, after a heroic effort to stay up late enough to spot Father Christmas coming down the chimney.
There’s still presents to wrap, and veggies to chop but you’ve got your newest pair of festive pj’s, tea by the gallon in your Christmas Cath mug and an almost-full tin of Quality Streets – you’re good to go.
Christmas Eve is perhaps the most magical day. The big crescendo of the festive build up, where the whisper of Christmas is a tangible tension in the air. The excitement. The joy. Oh, it’s just the best.
To set you up with the most magical Christmas Eve of all, here’s our top tips for the perfect day.
MAKE SOME FESTIVE BAKES
There’s nothing more festive than the smell of something sweet wafting through the house. Plus, there’s nothing like baking to get you in the Christmas spirit – whether you’re blissfully alone, swaying to Buble or desperately seeking a fun activity to do with kids to burn off some excess energy.
Personally, we will ALWAYS suggest mince pies. You can get the mince-meat ready in a jar from pretty much any supermarket (though, top tip, give it a bit more zip with your spices of choice, we love adding in extra cinnamon and nutmeg) and you can even cheat with the pastry, too. Here’s a super easy recipe that only takes an hour.
- 225g cold butter, diced
- 350g plain flour
- 100g golden caster sugar
- 280g mincemeat
- 1 small egg, beaten
- icing sugar, to dust
(to make vegan, just swap out the butter for a dairy-free alternative – violife is great – and brush with almond milk instead of egg)
To make the pastry, rub the butter into the flour, then mix in the golden caster sugar and a pinch of salt.
Combine the pastry into a ball and knead it briefly. Don’t add liquid, you want the dough to be fairly firm, like shortbread dough. You can use the dough immediately, or chill for later.
Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. You’ll need two 12-hole cake tins, as the pastry will make 18 pies. Press small balls of pastry into each hole.
Spoon the mincemeat into the pies. Take slightly smaller balls of pastry than before and pat them out between your hands to make round lids, big enough to cover the pies.
Top the pies with their lids, pressing the edges gently together to seal – you don’t need to seal them with milk or egg as they will stick on their own.
Brush the tops of the pies with the beaten egg. Bake for 20 mins until golden. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 mins, then remove to a wire rack. To serve, lightly dust with the icing sugar.
CHRISTMAS BATH & NEW PJ’S
The best, BEST part of Christmas Eve is pulling on a new pair of pyjamas. And not just any old pyjamas, they have to be festive ones. The cuter and more novelty the better.
But not before getting an early bath with a festive drink (or two), with plenty of pampering and sweet, festive scents. Think candles, think bath bombs, think Mariah in the background. In the mad rush that is Christmas, take that time to relax and enjoy it, too.