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Catherine's countdown to a stress-free lunch

This is a guide if you want to eat at 3.30pm and it uses a 5.5kg-6kg turkey serving eight to 10 guests.


10.45am: Remove the turkey from the fridge to bring it to room temperature.

11.45am: Pre-heat the oven for the turkey to 190 C/Fan 170 C/Gas Mark 6.

11.50am: Stuff the turkey -- see the suggested notes.

12pm: Calculate the cooking time and put the turkey into the oven.

12.45pm: Prepare the dessert if you haven't done so earlier.

1.15pm: Prepare the canapés for drinks -- cover and set aside. Get the glasses ready on a tray.

1.30pm: Turn the oven down to 180 C/Fan 160 C/Gas Mark 4.

1.35pm: Take the time to have a cuppa or a glass of wine! You deserve it.

1.45pm: Place the potatoes and parsnips into the roasting pan. Turn the oven back up to 190 C/Fan 180 C/Gas Mark 6. You can peel the potatoes the day before and keep them in water in the fridge.

2pm: Place the stuffing balls or stuffing loaf in the oven.

2.15pm: Prepare the vegetables -- Brussels sprouts, etc -- if you haven't already done so the day before.

2.45pm: Prepare the starter and plates; set aside in the fridge. Or warm up soup if you are serving this (you would have all the components ready, prepared the day before).

2.55pm: Start steaming/cooking the Brussel sprouts or beans.

3pm: Serve the canapés/snacks with the bubbly.

3.10pm: Check the turkey is properly cooked -- see suggested notes. Remove from the oven. Place on a plate to 'rest' and keep warm by covering with foil.

3.15pm: Make the gravy using a giblet stock made the day before. Keep warm.

If you are having Christmas pudding, put it on to steam.

3.20pm: Check the potatoes, add herbs and rock salt. Spoon into serving bowl and keep warm.

3.25pm: Finish off the vegetable -- eg, hazelnuts or toasted almonds for the Brussels sprouts or beans.

3.30pm: Serve the starter or soup.

3.40pm: Reheat the gravy.

3.45pm: Carve and serve the turkey with the vegetables. Don't forget the cranberry sauce.

4.30pm: Remove ice cream or frozen desserts from the freezer and desserts such as trifle from the fridge.

4.40pm: Serve the desserts.