EAT, DRINK AND BE MARY!

Good Housekeeping (UK) - - Gh Spotlight -

MY FAM­ILY TAKES CHRIST­MAS IN TURNS.

I’ve been known to cook a free-range bronze tur­key and gravy to per­fec­tion at home, then drive it over to one of the chil­dren’s! I put the gravy in a con­tainer and the tur­key in a clean roast­ing tin and cover it with foil. I put a cou­ple of tow­els on top, and it will keep hot for two hours. It means their oven is free to do the trim­mings.

IF IT’S AT MY HOUSE,

I do ev­ery­thing. Some­one will bring cheese, some­one else will bring truffles. Or you could ask them to bring can­dles for the ta­ble. I’ll choose the nap­kins to go with the ta­ble. Good things to ask guests to bring in­clude choco­lates, cheese, wine, soft drinks or canapés – they’re a bore to pre­pare at the last minute.

ON NEW YEAR’S EVE,

there are so many things to be done – dogs to be walked, chil­dren to be amused, guests to spend time with – so the more prepa­ra­tion you can do, the bet­ter.

CHRIST­MAS IS AL­WAYS BUSY,

but make sure you take time to get ready for New Year’s Eve as well. If you’re cook­ing for a big group, choose a sim­ple menu you know every­body’s go­ing to en­joy – it doesn’t need to be too so­phis­ti­cated. Don’t do some­thing like a stir-fry be­cause you’ll be stand­ing in the kitchen all the time. If you’re go­ing to have a first course, it’s a good idea to have it all ar­ranged and ready in ad­vance. If you’re serv­ing some­thing like a huge pot of soup, just plonk it in the mid­dle of the ta­ble and give ev­ery­one a shout. That way guests can just help them­selves to it.

FOR A MAIN COURSE, go for some­thing ba­sic, like a good cot­tage or shep­herd’s pie, which is some­thing you can make ahead. I like to make the top­ping on the day and then sprin­kle the cheese over it. Or you could do two lasagnes – a mush­room or roast veg­etable one and a meat lasagne. Peo­ple never say no to that.

FOR DRINKS,

make sure you have plenty of ice. You can make a batch, pop it out of the trays and keep it in a bag in the freezer. For a non-al­co­holic drink, try el­der­flower with cu­cum­ber and mint.

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