As if Christmas isn’t stressful enough every year I get hell-bent on making hampers for my family & friends. I agonize over what to put in them. How to improve on previous years whilst avoiding everyone’s allergies. What will travel well? Everything must have a minimum shelf life of week outside a fridge. What ingredients to order? How much it will all cost? How to get everything done in time? What to make first? How to package it all? The list of questions is endless, what will follow over the next two weeks is my guide to Christmas Baking & Making or how to create a production line Santa would be proud of with minimum fuss &/or stress. My day job probably has a lot to answer for in everything that follows. Monday to Friday I currently produce photo shoots for advertising & design agencies, people approach me with, what more often than not, sound like ridiculous ideas supported by little to no budget &/or time to implement them. I then run about desperately trying to source the moon on the stick before some helpful soul will point that actually they’ve had a meeting & now it really needs to be the sun on a rope, can we change it? The only way to guard yourself against this variety of non-sense is to thorough, organized & most important of all to create a production schedule. And that ladies & gents is exactly how I approach this.
Once you know what you’d like to make & you’ve got the recipes you desire, create a spread sheet. In the first column write a list of everyone whose getting food for Christmas, in the top row write each item you intend to make. Now allocate items by placing the quantity in the cell which relates to the relevant item & person i.e. Mum, Chutney, 1. Create an auto sum at the bottom each column & voila we now have our quantities.
The next step is to create our shopping list. Create a second spread sheet copy paste the top row from the first document into the top row leaving 2 blank cells at the beginning. Start with the first recipe run through the ingredients writing them in the first column placing the total quantity needed in the relevant box ie. if you are making 5 Panforte which require 125g almonds each you would write 625 in the cell which relates to Almond, Panforte. Once you’ve been through all the recipes for each item & input all the ingredients set an auto sum in the currently blank 2nd column. You now have the total quantities you’ll need of each ingredient as well as a shopping list which you can copy paste directly into most online super markets.
The final step is to create a timing plan & not take too long about it. Anyone who has ever made a revision timetable in the run up to exams can tell you exactly how easily you can procrastinate over this. Workout a timetable based on postal dates, who you’re seeing when & any other restrictions then work from the item with most longevity back towards that with the shortest shelf life. If you can double up on tasks then do, it is much easier if you weigh out all the dried fruit first & leave it steep in the relevant booze rather than start each day with more dried fruit. Once you have a timing plan stick to it!
If you’d like to download my spreadsheet to use as a template please click here.
Here’s some links to help along the way:
This site allows you compare the cost of a trolley full of shopping across 4 major UK supermarkets.
Now we are all set, make yourself a stiff drink, order everything, crack out “Ella Wishes You A Swinging Christmas” & away we go…