The Good Food team's Christmas cheats, tips and tricks

There's no shame in a store-bought pavlova shell. Simply dress it up with fresh fruit, curd and/or cream.
There's no shame in a store-bought pavlova shell. Simply dress it up with fresh fruit, curd and/or cream. Photo: Marcel Aucar

Left everything to the last minute? Struggling for some easy inspo? We've got you.

Make someone the oyster boss

Set up a prawn sandwich station.
Set up a prawn sandwich station. Photo: Marina Oliphant

Ordered a sack of oysters for Christmas Day? Have a difficult family member you need to distract? Give them the job of Oyster Boss/Mayor of Oyster Town – they'll be so busy shucking they won't have time to cause a ruckus. MR

DIY prawn sandwich station

Take the headache out of pre-making sandwiches and supply a massive bowl of peeled prawns, white bread, fresh, crisp iceberg lettuce, real butter and mayo. Simple and delicious. Megan Johnston

One good chook, cooked fast and hard

This is a trick from the French Laundry's Thomas Keller – his basic roast chicken is so completely foolproof, even this fool has perfected it. Preheat your oven to 220 degrees.

While that's happening, take your chook, rinse it, dry it very well, salt and pepper the cavity and outside of the bird, truss the legs (tie them together modestly with a bit of string) and when the oven comes to temperature (about 40-60 minutes depending on your oven) pop the chook in a roasting pan, put it in the oven, and forget about it for 50 minutes.

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Once it's out of the oven, baste it with the pan juices and let it rest for about 15 minutes. The result will be golden, crisp skin and juicy meat. Easy enough for the most timid roaster. Myffy Rigby

Roast potatoes straight on the rack

This can be done while your chook is in. Rub whole potatoes in olive oil, salt and pepper and roll onto the bottom oven rack. By the time the chook comes out, the potatoes will be ready to be loaded with sour cream and caviar. MR

Shamelessly use supermarket mini blinis

Top with smoked salmon, creme fraiche or sour cream and a blizzard of green stuff (chopped parsley, dill, chives). Roslyn Grundy

Make it a picnic so there's less washing up

That doesn't mean you have to leave the house either. Just throw some nice blankets in your own backyard with some cushions and you suddenly have an excuse to eat from platters and drink straight from the can (you can get wines and cocktails in individual cans now, btw, so no excuses). Gemima Cody

Turn that panettone into a dessert centrepiece

Aaah, the old panettone albatross. Rather than stealthily regifting it, hollow out the middle, fill it with ice-cream with salted caramel swirled through it, maybe some chopped up cherries and candied nuts, and suddenly you have an Italian ice-cream sandwich share-cake. MR

No shame in a pre-cooked meringue shell

Cold hard fact: purchasing a meringue shell wrests back hours of cooking and mess and all you're left with is the fun bit – whipping the cream, adding the curd if you swing that way, and decorating with all those beautiful summer fruits we love so much. MR

Get your drinks delivered

Earlier in the year, Good Food pulled together an epic list of drinks delivery services that saved our sanity during COVID-19, and will be happy to do the same at Christmas. Check it out and let the likes of Made in the Shade and DRNKs do the heavy lifting. MR

Create a spritz salon

Throw a few bottles of OK sparkling wine, Campari (or any other bitter liqueurs you might like such as Cynar or Averna) and soda water on ice, prepare side-dish garnishes such as orange peel and green olives and let your guests do the rest. MR

Pita the action

Courtesy of my Greek friend Niki, this is the finest pita you will ever eat. It takes less than five minutes to make and contains three ingredients. Just measure 1½ cups of self-raising flour into a bowl, mix in a cup of Greek yoghurt and a big pinch of salt. Form into a dough ball. Split into roughly six smaller balls, roll out and fry in an oiled pan for about two minutes a side. Dip with alacrity! Ardyn Bernoth