EAT, DRINK AND BE MARY!
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.
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.