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Noche Buena Hacks To Make Your Christmas Dinner Run Smoothly

Don't spend the whole of Christmas Eve (or New Year) slaving in the kitchen!

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Photography: At Maculangan (Main Photo)

Oh, modern holidays—you’ll probably find yourself in line, doing last minute shopping, stuck in a massive traffic jam, or slaving over a hot stove.

But we could help out on the last part, because if you’re hosting Noche Buena for the entire family this year, you should enjoy the party, too! Here are six tips on how to do a stress-free Christmas Eve prep. 

1. Decorate your dining area way in advance.



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If you’re not hosting a formal dinner—just a casual Noche Buena—you can get your dining area ready in advance. Arrange your centerpiece the day or night before. On the morning itself, bring out all the dinnerware, silverware, table napkins, and other accessories you'll need and place them on the buffet table or counter next to your dining table for easy setup an hour or so before guests are expected to arrive. 

READ: Set The Dinner Table in Less Than 30 Minutes

2. Mix, don’t match, your dinnerware.


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Christmas Eve is not the time to search for that missing, 24-piece blue-and-white set. If a saucer or dinner plate is lost, don’t fret—just mix it with complementary plate or charger for a boho touch. Or opt for an all-white look, with rustic glassware for a carefree, casual look.

READ: Minimalist Table Settings for a Calm Christmas

3. Stick to three easy dishes.


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Are you thinking of lacing up a dozen morcon rolls again? Stop right now! According to Trixie Zabal Mendoza, editor of Yummy.ph, Noche Buena is not the time to attempt to cook several dishes in one go. “You can cook three simple dishes, and then possibly buy dessert instead,” she advises. Check out their fast but delicious “Noche Buena Feast Under 3 Hours” story here.

4. Make a no-cook appetizer.


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If you’re serving cocktails for family members who will come in early, opt for a no-cook recipe. Try these Smoked Salmon Cucumber Rolls from Electrolux’s Taste of Christmas Event: in a medium bowl, mix together ¼ cup cream cheese, paprika, a bit of cayenne pepper, and dill. Mix in 100g of smoked salmon, and a teaspoon of honey. Spread over thin cucumber strips and roll, secure with a toothpick or skewer.

5. Use faster cooking techniques.


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Forget making an eight-hour stew or doing a multi-step casserole. Go for faster cooking techniques, like indoor grilling, microwave cooking, or stir-frying. An induction hob heats up food faster and more evenly than traditional gas or electric cooktops.

6. Refrigerate all your leftovers immediately.


Don’t throw away your leftovers—that chicken or sliced steak could be used for sandwiches on Christmas Day! Cool, then seal your food in plastic or glass containers and refrigerate immediately.

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READ: 4 Ways To Keep Your Refrigerator Clean and Organized

STYLING: Eric Paras and Kristina Nakayama (main photo and decorating tip), Dagny Madamba (mix and match tip) Tala Singson (easy dishes tip) 

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