Christmas staycations are increasing in popularity as people look to combine festivities with idyllic settings. However, moving Christmas day to a whole new location comes with its own challenges.

Travel experts at Dream Cottages have shared their top tips and spoken with expert chef, Mark Hix to ensure you have a smooth Christmas away from home.

Prepping for Christmas Dinner

A highlight of Christmas day but often the most stressful task, you may feel daunted taking on Christmas dinner in an unfamiliar kitchen but there are some ways to ease the stress.

“I would recommend buying ingredients for your Christmas dinner before you travel to your staycation destination where possible,” Mark advises. “This is purely because you know where the shops are around you and you’re comfortable with shopping there, so there will be no last-minute panic if you reach somewhere else and shops have different opening hours, or you can’t find any mince pies or Brussel sprouts!”

He adds, “I would also not only advise buying ingredients beforehand but also prepping ahead where possible.”

Cooking Before You Leave

“If you have some cool boxes and timings work out, I would say you can prep almost everything before you head off, meaning you can truly relax when you arrive” Mark advises.

He adds “I would always definitely recommend prepping your gravy and bread sauce ahead of the day, along with your pudding and brandy sauce. I would always say to play it clever because if you haven’t visited the property before you won’t know what the kitchen is like.”

Cooking in a New Kitchen

“If you are planning on cooking in a kitchen that isn’t yours then I would recommend turning on the oven as soon as you get there and working out how best it will work for you on the day. For getting Christmas dinner right on time, I would always blanch any vegetables in advance and either heating in boiling salted water last minute or cooking and draining, and then popping in a dish with butter, salt and pepper and butter and microwaving last minute before you serve. I would also recommend cooking roast potatoes the night before and then put them in a baking tray, with dripping or duck fat and then putting them in the oven first thing.”

“Sharing the stress of cooking where possible is a great idea,” adds Aislinn Peters, Owner Relations Manager at Dream Cottages. “If this is all down to one person it can often become quite stressful, however if you can share this between friends or partners this is advised. If there is a large group of you going away together, then splitting costs would also be advised. Or, if prepping ahead, everyone can bring a dish or two!”

Stay Entertained

Going away with children can be stressful but Aislinn says it’s always advisable to have plenty of entertainment options to hand.

“I would always recommend bringing a couple of your Christmas films to settle down with and going back to basics and making sure you’re stocked up with board games and packs of cards if all else fails! This is a great way to spend some quality time together and bring the festive atmosphere” explains Aislinn.

Keeping Presents Hidden

Hiding presents from loved ones in the run up to the big day can be tricky and this can be made even more difficult when you are away from home.

“If you’re parents staying in a separate room from your children then keeping their presents in the top of your wardrobe in that room is a good idea. Whilst usually suitcases would make for a good spot away from prying eyes, if you’re away from home then you may be in and out of your suitcase and children may go in looking for something else and find their gifts – therefore, somewhere high and out of reach is a much better plan for when you’re away!”

Ultimately, whether at home or on a staycation, Christmas is about making memories and spending time with your loved ones. Even if everything doesn’t go completely smoothly, being around friends and family makes it a special time of year.

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