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A Hygge Christmas Eve & The Perfect Christmas Dinner Recipes

by Laura Donnelly on November 21, 2023

Christmas is fast approaching, awakening that magical feeling inside as the new season sweeps in. This weekend marks the official start of Christmas preparations in the Donnelly household. Out come the time-honoured decorations packed away since last year, waiting to transform our home into a cosy, festive, hygge haven once more.

We'll fill the rooms with all things festive - evergreen garlands draped atop the fireplace mantel and banisters, the twinkling tree dressed in nostalgic ornaments, such as the kids' 'First Christmas' ornaments and their laminated paper ones from their nursery days taking centre stage. My Hygge at Home 'Jul' and 'Danish Vinter' candles will flicker amidst the greenery while Christmas tunes play softly and the comforting scents of cinnamon and fir mingle.

Jul Scented Candle

Outside gets just as much Christmas attention. Crimson bows for the lampposts, flickering luminaries lighting the doorway, candy cane stakes lining the driveway. And of course, the wreath taking pride of place on the front door as a Christmas welcome to all visitors.

As the last ornament gets hung with care, we'll step back and let the magic wash over us. The village too is coming alive - silver bells in the distance heralding the season's change as homes glow from within, awaiting the Christmas arrival just as we are. The most wonderful time of year begins now!

Eva and I spent yesterday evening baking this year's Christmas Cake. With 5 weeks to go, we're cutting it fine but there is still enough time to feed it once a week with a few tablespoons of brandy! Rich, fruity and perfectly aged, it's the ideal dessert. A week before Christmas, we will decorate it in royal icing and candy ornaments in red and green.

Jane's Patisserie Christmas Cake Recipe

Here is where you can find our favourite Christmas Cake recipe.

To welcome visiting friends and family, I'll serve up mugs of mulled wine infused with cinnamon sticks, star anise and oranges studded with cloves. The simmering pot fills the house with the scent of Christmas. When I have a quiet moment, amidst the flurry of gift wrapping or while relaxing by the glow of the Christmas tree, I'll sip on a glass myself and let the warmth of the spiced wine usher in the Christmas spirit.

Jamie Oliver's Mulled Wine Recipe

Click here for our favourite Mulled Wine recipe.

We'll also offer a Christmas Punch, filled with sweet clementines, cherries and whiskey. Eva also likes to bake a treat to gift her teachers. This year she has chosen Christmas Stollen, a German Christmas bread loaded with sultanas, cranberries, orange zest and almonds. The sweet yeast dough gets dotted with butter before baking and then brushed with melted butter once cooled for a gloriously rich finish.

Christmas Stollen Recipe

On Christmas Eve morning, a beloved tradition awaits. We'll head out to see the yearly Christmas pantomime put on at our local theatre. This year it's Beauty and the Beast and we cannot wait to see what madness and hilarity the infamous 'Annie Fanny' has in store for us this time! The pantomime is a highlight for the whole community, getting everyone into the Christmas spirit.

Annie Fanny

After the show, we'll enjoy a festive lunch together at our favourite, local restaurant, reveling in the Christmas Eve excitement. When we return home, we'll carry on our traditions - changing into matching Christmas pajamas and popping on the classic films Home Alone followed by Elf. Then we play board games, sing along to our favourite Christmas tunes, and indulge in an early-opened box of chocolates. Joyful memories in the making!

Paul has a time-honoured tradition on Christmas Eve (somewhere in between returning from lunch and changing into our Christmas pjs!) of brining the turkey, which keeps it incredibly moist and full of flavour. You may look at this recipe and think "What a faff" but it's an absolute game-changer....trust me!

Brining a Turkey

On Christmas day, our feast is always delicious and one to remember. We usually start with either a light mushroom or prawn dish but this year we have spiced things up a bit by straying from the usual garlic mushrooms and prawn cocktails; our starters of choice being Mushroom Sourdough Bruschettas and Skagen Toast.

Paul puts his expertise to work on roast potatoes, carrots glazed in honey, buttery peas, pigs in blankets, sage and onion stuffing and the ultimate gravy. With the turkey carving done, we'll gather around the table for a meal filled with tradition, love and more than a few celebratory toasts.

Perfect gravy

Check out Paul's trusted roast potato recipe here but I warn you, you will not be able to stop eating them! Make sure you save a few, along with some delicious gravy, turkey and stuffing to make sandwiches the next day! (Yes it has a gravy moist maker - if you know you know (Friends!)).

With mistletoe hung, Christmas treats baked, stockings waiting expectantly and our Christmas playlists queued up, we are ready (well we have the turkey still to order but its on the to-do list!). Christmas, we gladly welcome you and the merriment you shall bring!

May your days be filled with the lights of the season – not just atop the tree, but sparkling in the eyes of loved ones gathered close. Here's to a hygge-filled few weeks during the build up to the most magical time of year! I hope you have some lovely plans in the pipeline and also some time set aside for rest and relaxation. 


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