Planning your Christmas menu needn't be a headache, especially when you're armed with a round-up of Christmas recipes and tips that are perfectly suited to the Australian Christmas. Whether you're doing a casual poolside gathering on Christmas Day and need a menu of dishes that people can graze over or you're planning a more formal spread of roast meats, ham and all the trimmings, you'll find something here to suit.
Need some cocktails to kickstart proceedings? Or perhaps some entertaining tips from our favourite chefs? We can help you out. And if you're looking for a more thoughtful way to spread the Christmas cheer this year, why not check out our ideas for homemade gifts from the kitchen: cookies, slices and preserves are just the start. Make it the best Christmas ever with these stellar recipes and helpful hints.
First things first: your Christmas ham. Once you've chosen your ideal ham (Bone-in? Bone-out? Local favourite or national prize-winner?), there's the decision of what glaze to go with this year. You could try a recipe from a top chef such as Kylie Kwong or Guillaume Brahimi, or else browse our round-up of ham recipes from past issues of GT. Need tips on preparing your ham? This step-by-step explainer should help.
Then there's the question of whether to turkey or not. Whether you go the whole hog (or should we say bird?) or you opt for rolled turkey breast, we've got a turkey recipe for gatherings of all sizes. Perhaps this year is the year you try another roasted meat for the main course. Duck is always decadent and pork shoulder wins over guests every time but what could be more Australian than a roast leg of lamb done on the barbecue?
Speaking of which, seafood is hard to go past when it comes to a summer Christmas. Whether barbecued, poached, tossed through salad or assembled into a classic prawn cocktail, seafood will undoubtedly enhance your Christmas Day menu. So, too will a couple of cocktails. Try a chilled version of the classic eggnog or, to keep hosting duties to a minimum, make a big batch of rum punch.
Got vegetarians at the table? It's not hard to create a meat-free spread that feels just as festive with a few of these stellar Christmas-ready vegetarian recipes.
We don't need to tell you that side dishes are just as important as the main event. Avoid a double-up on potato salad with these recipes for noteworthy sides such as grilled peas or pickled beetroot and heirloom carrot salad.
Got room for pudding? Of course you do. Embrace tradition with a boiled plum pudding or slice of Christmas cake, or be inspired by the homegrown tradition of ending Christmas with pavlova, trifle or another chilled dessert. Alternatively, you could go all out with these decadent chocolate desserts, a fitting end to even the most lavish Christmas feast. If gluten's a problem, these beautiful gluten-free desserts will keep all your guests happy.
And while you're in the kitchen baking, why not make some sweet treats to send your guests home with? Squares of White Christmas, classic nougat, Philippa Sibley's Christmas biscuits or Adriano Zumbo's gianduja Christmas crackers are the kind of Christmas gifts that will be remembered long after they've been devoured.
If you want to know how the professionals handle the heat in the kitchen, read up on these chefs' tips for a tears-free Christmas, including the essential items for the table and how to avoid the last-minute rush for produce. Alternatively, try one of our 12 Christmas shortcuts, from the best store-bought custard you can get away with to the ham glazes we'd recommend if you're not making your own.
Finally, remember that a relaxed host is a happy host. Cheers to that.