With only a few days to go until the big day, Christmas Day hosts might be starting to panic. But it needn’t be all high blood pressure and low tolerance in the kitchen.

Trump Turnberry Chef de cuisine, John Maltby, understands a thing or two about working in a busy kitchen and says a bit of planning and some tricks of the trade will make Christmas much more enjoyable.

“People leave everything to the last minute and when they are all running around daft in the kitchen, that’s when it gets stressful,” he says.

Here are some easy time savers that will help your Christmas dinner sparkle.

The Herald:

1. A magical mulled wine welcome

Offering a warming cup of mulled wine is a great way to greet people and if you make it the day before it won’t add to chores on Christmas morning. Combine red wine and fruit juices with sugar and Christmassy spices such as cloves and star anise, then simmer for 40 minutes. Cool and cover with cling film to store in the fridge. “Then all you are doing is bringing it back to the boil again to serve,” says John.

2. A trendy gin and tonic

This tip is from Grand Tea Lounge and Bar Manager Caroline Kennedy. She finds an easy way to add sparkle to G&Ts is to use herby ice cubes. “When you are cooking in the days before Christmas, save leftover bits of fresh rosemary and thyme … pop them into freezer trays to make pretty ice cubes that are perfect for gin,” she says. You can also create frozen lemon or lime slices to add a zest and save time when serving drinks. 

The Herald:

Make your own herby or fruity ice cubes for G&T

3. Get the starter out the way

John advises that starters can be a doddle if you are prepped properly. Make a Marie Rose sauce for prawn cocktail the day before … or whip up a soup and reheat it just before serving. 

4. Think ahead with the roast veg

Peel and chop parsnips and carrots the day before, rub them in oil, honey and thyme and set aside. Leaving potatoes in cold water overnight removes more of the starch and results in much fluffier roast potatoes. John adds: “The turkey or roast is your centre piece so just focus on that on Christmas Day.” 

The Herald:

Prep all the roast veg the day before

5. An easy fix for great gravy

Meat needs to rest for at least 15 minutes so use the time to make a great gravy. Deglaze the roasting tin on the heat with a glug of brandy and red wine - add this to an instant gravy for a burst of extra flavour. “Don’t worry about the meat going cold,” says John. “The hot gravy will warm it up again.”

6. Hot plates buy you extra time 

“If you’re carving and taking all the veg out the oven it can get quite stressful,” admits John. Making sure plates are nice and hot means more time to serve and less need to panic. “Once the turkey is out, leave the oven door open and put the plates in … they will only need two or three minutes,” he says.

The Herald:

7. Feel like you're in a movie

Rather than plate everything in the kitchen, serve chipolatas, veg and all the trimmings from big bowls on the table. “I think it’s a nice thing to do,” says John. “Everybody can help themselves and it feels like a scene out of Home Alone.”

8. An easy peasy Christmas dessert

John’s Christmas Pudding Ice Cream is an easy but “really tasty” pud. It can be made in advance … or enjoyed as a treat on one of those impromptu get-togethers during Twixmas. To make it, just let some vanilla ice cream soften then beat in the Christmas pudding leftovers and refreeze. 

The Herald:

9. A ‘perfect pear’ for cheese 

Add a professional touch to your cheeseboard with this simple trick. Peel a couple of pears and leave them sitting in the leftover mulled wine while it cools down and you enjoy your Christmas dinner. Then when it is time for cheese, just slice the pears for a showstopping accompaniment to cheese and crackers.

10. And finally … 

Get everyone to chip in. You may be hosting but that doesn’t mean you have to do everything. Put someone else in charge of a course or two … it will ease the pressure and help the rest of the family to feel involved. “Ask someone to bring a starter or a Yule Log,” advises John. 

The Herald:

Let someone else bring the pudding