Christmas… a time of music, laughter, food and family. As we near that special day, guest contributor Ian has penned a Which?-style guide (sort of) to getting everything right and having a wonderful time.
Tip 1: Organise. It’s important to have a firm handle on how things will go across the four-day period. A box of pencils and a ream or so of foolscap will serve to make a simple plan and preserve that slightly antiquated feeling that we all know and love at Christmas – especially as there’s a good chance the power will go out when the tree lights plugged into that extension socket finally catch fire.
Alternatively, use Excel and format a multi-celled, cost-based optimisation spread sheet and consider investing in your own SQL server. That way, you can retreat to the computer as you watch the plan self-destruct in front of you.
Have a glass of wine.
Tip 2: Presents. The gifts are the main worry around Christmas (apart from whom to invite and how you’ll live through another Christmas Day with Henry’s mother telling you how good Christmas used to be in her day – which was when presents were probably stone chisels…) and remembering where you put the goose to defrost.
If you want to make a real impact this year (and witness first-hand what causes a revolution), tell your family that your present to everyone is to sit them down and tell them what they mean to you. Be sure to have the number of that nice marriage-guidance counsellor at hand.
Have another glass of wine – bigger, perhaps.
Tip 3: The guests. The main issue around any Christmas gathering: whom to invite, how many people and how you’ll survive the day without resorting to a machete-based solution (other implements of slaughter are available).
As well as the nuclear family (and never will that adjective seem as appropriate as it might on the big day), you need to consider which of the more extended tendrils of the clan you’ll want to see. Uncle Rufus, for instance (if he’s finally got that sherry problem under control), or Great-aunt Griselda, widely suspected of being the cousin of Lizzie Borden.
Have a sherry – the wine box has run out.
Tip 4: The food. The high spot (after present opening) of Christmas Day. There are a couple of strategies here. Christmas Day being the one time when it’s not openly frowned upon to drink Champagne before lunchtime (or just after breakfast, if the mood takes you), one fairly well-proven technique is to ensure the guests are sufficiently inebriated to eat warmed-up canine genitalia and still find it delicious.
Christmas dinner preparation can be life-threatening. Even if you choose to abandon the plan to immolate the figgy pudding with the bottle of brandy you found in the shed last week, there’s still the matter of coordinating the various strands of the process with the times required.
This is partly because – for some odd reason – we all want to experiment with ‘something special’ for the Christmas meal. Since you’ll probably have been imbibing since breakfast, this isn’t necessarily the best time to innovate.
Have a whisky.
Whatever Christmas you’re planning, tell us how your preparations are going, and if you have a funny story about a Christmas past, please share it with us.