Christmas countdown 2016

Take the stress out of Christmas by following our weekly checklist of time-saving, stress-busting festive cookery tasks, all designed to help you get ahead and swim through the feasting season with poise and aplomb.

Tasks for this week...

Your ultimate Christmas countdown planner

Five weeks to go...

Take care of your bakes, mincemeat and puds on Stir-up Sunday
Stir-up Sunday is the last Sunday before Advent and traditionally a day when Christmas cooks create their pudding, cake and mincemeat, before leaving it to mature and reach peak flavour in time for the big festive feast. If that's not your style, why not make a homemade Advent calendar instead?

Four weeks to go...

Prepare to get shopping on Black Friday and make a start on edible gifts.
December is upon us and wise cooks use the opportunity to make Christmas dishes ahead of time, and ones that can be cooked from frozen work best of all. Now’s the time to make edible presents that keep well. Jams, chutneys and pickles are great in this respect, plus infused spirits need a few weeks to develop their flavour.

Three weeks to go...

Get shopping, decorating and planning your festive meal.
If you still need to buy your Christmas presents, you’d best get your skates on and do a few laps of our bumper Christmas gift guide. You’ll find ideas for those pesky secret Santa gifts, plus presents for children, fun-loving foodies and serious chefs alike, all available to buy online in just a few clicks. But be quick, delivery times may take longer at this time of year! If you haven't already, it's time to head to the butcher and order your bird. Plus, sit back with a glass of mulled wine and select the recipes you want to cook.

Two weeks to go...

It's party time!
Nail the festive lunch with a pre-Christmas cook-a-thon so you have time to enjoy the fun when the Big Day arrives. Sauces, stuffing and sides can all be frozen so clear some space behind the fish fingers and partake in some batch cooking. With supermarket grocery shopping deadlines edging ever closer, avoid a last-minute rush and start your big list by consulting our portion planner – it’ll help you gauge how much to batch cook.

Five days to go...

Put the finishing touches to your hamper and get into the party spirit.
You should already have your spirits, jams and chutneys ready to tag up and nestle into your homemade hamper but now’s the time to knock up more perishable goods, like biscuits, truffles and sweets. You can also bundle your hamper together and if it’s looking a bit scant we have ideas for quick, last-minute presents too…

Two days to go...

Breeze through the next few busy days by getting super-organised
The eleventh hour is upon us, and the key to seamless execution of your Christmas dinner is plotting everything out, piece by piece. Our Christmas timeplan will tell you what to do when, plus our roast calculator will ensure you put your meat on at the right time. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re sure to have some Christmas elves milling around who’ll be happy to help so read our guide to delegating tasks to take some of the pressure off… Merry Christmas!