A Christmas meal is synonymous with stress and anxiety, which is why I love a Christmas braai.
My parents are the traditional type, a Christmas meal for them is Sunday lunch on steroids – roast with all the trimmings and a myriad puddings.
But one Christmas I noticed that the families in the neighbourhood were braaiing, and soon my family did the same. It’s quite an adjustment when you break from tradition, but it has been a welcome change – it has now become a tradition in my own home.
Like all good meals and gettogethers there are pros and cons. But with the right attitude and the right preparation, a Christmas braai is a joy.
Don't cut corners
Braaiing doesn’t mean your meal has to lack anything. In fact, you’re probably going to make more of an effort with the braai sides and meat.
This is probably the one time in the year that you can splash cash, so buy a nice cut of meat, ribs and quality sausage.
Add extra crunch to salads with walnuts or cashew nuts – and you can still do traditional desserts, so don’t pack away your trifle dishes or pudding bowls.
Make it a team effort
It’s great when you braai because inevitably all your guests chip in.
This doesn’t have to be limited to a bring and braai – you can get them to lend a hand elsewhere. It’s great if you leave the table setting for everyone to join in and help.
Keep things simple, stick to a neutral colour scheme with just a few touches of the traditional green, red and gold.
This is also a great way to keep the kids entertained.
Plan the day
Getting the meat from the braai can feel like forever, so plan your fire with clockwork precision.
Maybe start the fire and get a few things on the coals by the time the guests arrive.
Also, don’t forget snacks and nibbles, these are lifesavers if you’re waiting for your food to come to the table.
Keep the fire burning
There’s nothing wrong with keeping the fire burning for the Christmas afternoon.
In Cape Town, Christmas Day is usually quite windy, so the fire tends to itself once the food is done.
It's easy leftovers
Braai makes for the perfect takeaway and is great for leftovers.
My family dish takeaways separately – braai meat and salads in one container and puddings in another.
You get the best of worlds on Christmas Day and the next day when you just want to chill