Embracing the Christmas chaos

Too soon?

Not according to the retailers and advertising executives.

The Halloween costumes are barely back in the wardrobe before the Christmas countdown begins these days. And this year I’m hosting 13 people on Christmas Day, so I do have to start thinking through my survival tactics.

I LOVED Christmas as a child. Who doesn’t? I’d wake up at 5am on Christmas Day and along with my two sisters, we’d make tea and toast for mum and dad, before bursting into their room to open our presents.

Our smoked salmon breakfast would be accompanied by Last Christmas, originally sung by Wham! but drowned out by our wailing.

Mum would busy herself in the kitchen, while Dad moved furniture around, to accommodate the three generations of relatives who were about to invade our house for the day.

Dad would treat himself to a little snifter of something potently alcoholic, which usually led to one of his famous impressions of the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Or a dance with one of his daughters around the living room.

Christmas doesn't have to be perfect. My fondest memories are of the slightly chaotic, unpredictable Christmases of my youth. Embrace the Christmas chaos.

Lunch was always spectacular, with multiple courses served on the best china. But it was also slightly chaotic, which made it so much more fun. 

Mum usually had a little tipple herself during the canapés, resulting in a fit of the giggles, making the serving of the soup a messy affair.

She has three stages of drunk: sober, hysterical and asleep.

After lunch, the kids watched The Wizard of Oz (again), while the adults talked and laughed in the other room, the elderly relatives usually taking it in turns to snooze.

I’ve had a few chaotic Christmases since becoming a host of the big day myself. We had 10 over for Boxing Day a couple of years ago and I made a big leg of lamb. We had a small galley kitchen at the time with a tiny oven, so the timing of each element was crucial.

Sticking with tradition, I’d tucked into the wine before we sat down to eat. When it was time to serve the main course, I had to decant all the gravy from the roasting dish into a gravy boat. The dish was heavy and hot, the gravy boat was small and I was drunk. Predictably, I poured all of the gravy onto the kitchen counter.

No one saw, and bless my family for not complaining that the lamb was a bit dry! But I did nearly cry.

Still, not as bad as that time my then-boyfriend’s mum roasted the turkey for 3 hours with the giblets still inside, in its plastic bag. I can still recall the smell.

Christmas doesn’t have to be perfect. My fondest memories are those occasions when something unpredictable happened.

This year, I’ve decided to delegate. With 13 coming, and only one chef in the house (although the hubster is an excellent tidier-upper), I’ve asked each family to bring a dessert with them, and the hubster is organising a Secret Santa so that I won’t have to buy 12 presents.

My friends at Primula have put together a booklet, filled with tips, hacks and anecdotes about embracing the chaos, along with some recipe ideas. You can download it here. And if you’d like to get involved and tweet your own tips, there’s a hashtag: #LittleMomentsOfChristmasChaos. Join in!

So do you have any tips that help you prepare for the big day? I’d love to hear them, please leave me a comment below. I always reply and I’ll tweet about the best ones.

Much love, Vx

[Disclosure: Sponsored by Primula Cheese]