Eight great festive feasts to help you celebrate ... whichever way you choose.
Menu 1: On the barbecue
For a Christmas barbecue with a real sense of occasion start with barbecued scallops with a lively green chillinahmjim and herb salad.
A butterflied turkey cooks quicker than a traditional roasted one and brining it first keeps it succulent (see recipe below). A dish of stuffing can be cooked in the oven to be served alongside, completing the roast.
We've served our mains with balsamic glazed potatoes and roasted pumpkin with candied carrots and yoghurt dressing. Add your favourite green salad to accompany.
There's a striking chocolate and raspberry semifreddo for dessert, which you will love even more because it can be prepared well ahead of time.
-Barbecued scallops with green chilli nahm jim and herb salad
-Barbecued butterflied turkey with nut stuffing
-Roasted spiced pumpkin with candied carrots and yoghurt dressing
-Balsamic glazed potatoes
-Chocolate, raspberry and grand marnier semifreddo
Menu 2: Traditional celebration
Begin your family Christmas dinner with a ginger-cured salmon gravlax that can be refrigerated for up to a week beforehand. It’s great with pumperknickel or crostini.
For most Kiwi families a ham is a must and if you like a warm glazed ham we have four unique glazes for inspiration (see recipes here).
Partner your ham with roasted potatoes and festive peas with pancetta and parmesan.
There's a Kiwi Christmas pavlova to finish – of course - with a bit of a twist as it is topped with a raspberry and apple compote and finished with a drizzle of butterscotch sauce.
Menu 3: Asian-inspired buffet
Spices and tropical fruits enliven Christmas ham and roast chicken, the centrepieces for our exotic help-yourself meal.
There's kumara gratin and a cabbage slaw to accompany
To begin: caramelised Thai pork on pineapple and also prawn skewers with chilli lime. Lastly, a fresh mango and blueberry trifle.
-Caramelised Thai pork on pineapple
-Barbecue prawn skewers with chilli lime
-Asian roast chicken with spiced peaches
-Spicy Asian glazed ham
-Mango and blueberry Christmas trifle
Menu 4: Alfresco picnic
Grab the chilly bin and the Champagne flutes for a special, transportable celebration.
To accompany the bubbly, a cranberry and apple jelly-topped chicken liver pate which can be made ahead of time, stored in jars and the jelly topping added later. Serve with crostini.
To follow: a simple, delicate side of salmon lightly flavoured with dill. (Don’t forget the lemon wedges.) The homemade mayo in our classic potato salad is perfect with the salmon and there's a simple summery tomato salad and a shaved cabbage salad with hazelnuts as well.
To finish, a tin of spicy eccles cakes topped with slices of buffalo blue cheese. Then chilled pots of raspberry and strawberry cream.
-Christmas pate with cranberry and apple jelly
-Side of salmon
-Potato salad with classic mayonnaise
-Quick tomato salad
-Shaved cabbage salad with roast hazelnuts, parmesan and balsamic
-Eccles cakes with buffalo blue cheese
-Raspberry and strawberry cream
Menu 5: At the bach
They might be casual but no one's going to say no to a crayfish burger or to one or more of these snapper, mushroom and scallop skewers from the barbecue that both form the mains for our Christmas at the bach menu.
You’ll have to beat the kids to herby stuffing rolls to serve with drinks. They swap sausage meat for chicken or turkey mince. Make at home, freeze and take them away with you to cook later.
Pack jars with turkey rillettes and bring those with you, too. Perfect with fingers of toast. Our recipe calls for turkey wings and make 6 pots, enough to see you through your stay and the hungry hordes that descend.
We add a shaved asparagus salad and summery corn with Mexican butter.
To finish there are more make-aheads - a berry merry Christmas cake to be served with berries and Christmas cream, jars of boozy fruits and a tin of white chocolate and cranberry biscuits.
-Snapper, mushroom and scallop skewers
-Shaved asparagus salad
-Corn with Mexican butter
-Boozy fruit jars
-White chocolate and cranberry biscuits
-Berry merry Christmas cake with Christmas cream
Menu 6: Vegetarian
Sausage rolls may be off the menu but these pecan, cottage cheese (or tofu) ones, flavoured with herbs and encased in flaky puff pastry, will go down well with drinks, along with make-ahead blinis, to be topped just before serving, with goat's cheese, honey and micro greens.
To follow: a beautifully balanced main from Jimu Abraham, executive chef at the Heritage Auckland. His chickpea cakes are served with avocado mousse, a silverbeet and fennel saute and tomato salsa.
To finish, a luscious gluten-free dark chocolate, cherry and coconut cheesecake (the base can be made the day before).
Menu 7: Seafood stars
We begin with gooey gruyere (choux pastry) beignets with drinks and offset the richness with fresh and quickly assembled pickled salmon and tarakihi nestled in chicory boats.
Then there's rich crayfish and new potatoes in chive butter sauce and Sid Sahrawat's school garden salad.
To finish: summer berry pudding with rosewater cream and sea salt, chocolate and pistachio truffles.
-Pickled salmon and tarakihi
-Crayfish with new potatoes and chive butter sauce
-Sid Sahrawat's school garden salad
-Summer berry pudding with rosewater cream
-Sea salt chocolate and pistachio truffles
Menu 8: Make it brunch
Something for the grown-ups, something for the kids ... our special brunch will keep the whole family happy as you take your time unwrapping presents.
A rhubarb syrup in a glass of bubbly makes a festive start (the kids could have the syrup in sparkling water) then there's baked eggs en cocotte with smoked salmon, Warren Elwin's Christmas-spiced breakfast sausages (that can also be bought from Westmere Butchers if you run out of enthusiasm to make your own) and a breakfast berry crumble and Christmas mincemeat drops to nibble on with your coffee later.