What I learned last Christmas

A moment of festive reflection

My husband and I hosted Christmas for the first time last year. In previous years I had always helped the hosts – obviously preparing food, and helping with lots of wrapping and decorating – but putting on the whole show unsupervised, as it were, was a different experience. And here’s what I learned.

Do not cook everything.

It was my “first” Christmas and I was so excited to finally be the one hosting. I wrote out lists upon lists of every Christmas food I wanted to feed others and eat myself, and I insisted on making everything. Then, as I found myself staring disdainfully at seven dishes of homemade chicken liver pâté – a gargantuan quantity that was absolutely not intentional – it dawned on me: do not cook everything.

The time, energy, and frankly, expense of making everything from scratch just wasn’t worth it, and this is coming from a person who revels in her time in the kitchen.

Now there is a set list of items I am very happy to buy, because the cost/time/reward ratio just isn’t there for me. Those items include – you’ve guessed it – pâté, bread sauce, mincemeat, chutney, pre-cooked ham, roasted chestnuts and pre-made pastry, to name a few.

With that said, some things really are worth doing yourself. Sausage rolls, stuffing, freshly de-seeded pomegranate, gravy, Christmas pudding and custard, for example, all have convenience counterparts. But for me, they don’t hold a candle to the real thing.

My advice to you, and to myself, is to pick the things that really matter to you and prioritise. If you can buy it and live with yourself, do. It’s your Christmas, too, after all.

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