There are many guides to the “perfect” Christmas doing the rounds at the moment. Here’s my guide to a “real” Christmas
Start making the food you can freeze in advance in November.
This should ensure that by mid-December you have no idea what’s in your freezer nor whether it’s for general consumption or for Christmas. On Christmas Day be prepared for left over chilli instead of your carefully prepared stuffing.
Update your Christmas card list.
Be sure and send that round-robin letter that everyone finds so adorable. Ignore the fact that no one sends Christmas cards anymore because they are sending emails and donating to charity instead.
Shop for cards and wrapping paper.
You know you remembered to buy stuff in the January sales but now have absolutely no idea where it is, so have to buy more. The stuff you bought in January will miraculously appear on Boxing Day when you will put it in “a safe place” until next year.
Make a gift list and budget for each person.
This is just a guideline of course and when you start actually shopping both will go completely out of the window as you alternately mutter “HOW much?” and “Oh my god I haven’t spent enough on X” and then blow the budget on something completely inappropriate.
Wrap your gifts as you buy them.
This ensures that you will completely forget what you have bought someone and necessitate unwrapping to jog your memory before yelling “Oh my god I haven’t spent enough on X” (see above)
Wonder whether it’s too early to open the Christmas Baileys.
It's never too early
Order your Christmas tree.
Don’t bother measuring whether it will fit in the house, that’s for amateurs. Buy the biggest tree you can. When it arrives cut the top off and any lower branches that prevent it from fitting in your 12 x 12 foot lounge and you will be left with the tree you should have bought in the first place. Scatter this year’s tasteful Scandinavian decorations across it and make sure to hide any embarrassing homemade decorations round the side where no one can see.
Leave it and forget to water it for the rest of the Christmas period.
Start boiling your sprouts now.
Don’t forget to put the crosses in the bottom of them in case they’re not cooked through by the 25th
Plan your big day menu
Watch Nigella videos on how to make perfect turkey/roast potatoes/Christmas cake.
Order everything from Sainsbury’s/Waitrose/M&S/Fortnum’s (delete as appropriate)
Realise you’ve left it too late and the only delivery slot remaining is 3am on 24 December.
Book it anyway.
Shop for that perfect outfit
Spend hours schlepping round your nearest shopping centre becoming more and more fed up as the day goes on. Increasingly you realise that the perfect dress that covers your bingo wings, fits your cellulite-addled-thighs and creates the most fabulous cleavage only exists in your dreams. Or it’s £2500.
Mail your cards.
This will cost the national debt of a small country and you will now wish you’d just sent emails instead. Or copied and pasted that message on Facebook
Wrap any last minute presents
This is all of them because you failed to “wrap as you buy”. You will spend five hours one evening wrapping gifts whilst drinking Baileys and keeping one foot on the door so no one barges in and sees anything they shouldn’t. You will be sick of the taste of sellotape after 30 minutes because you can’t find the dispenser that you bought in the January sales and put with the wrapping paper you still can’t find. One or more tags will be attributed to incorrect gifts due to the Baileys consumption.
You will also realise that you have completely forgotten someone which will mean you must dip into your stock of…
Last minute gifts
Those little things you have collected over the past few weeks which will make do if someone gives you a surprise gift. You didn’t do that? Ok, scrabble around with the dust bunnies under the bed until you find the Body Shop gift set you received last year but never used and re-gift it. Hope and pray that you are not giving it back to the person who gave it to you.
Take delivery of your groceries
Which you forgot were being delivered at 3am so went to bed only to be rudely awoken by the delivery van at 3:59. Count the number of substitutes and wonder what you will do with the 3 bottles of white wine vinegar that has apparently replaced the wine you were due to enjoy with your turkey on Christmas day.
Deep clean the house
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha wipe the mantel piece and hoover. Kick stuff under beds and in cupboards. Check bedlinen on guest bed is clean. Realise it isn’t but as it’s the same people staying over as last time, a quick burst of Fabreeze and all is well
After your beautiful children and other half have serenely opened their presents with happiness and gratitude, whilst sipping bucks fizz (you) and hot chocolate (the kids), lay the Christmas Dinner table.
At this point you will remember you dropped and broke 3 plates last year and 3 people will have to make do with a Thomas the Tank engine melamine plate and two paper plates left over from a summer BBQ. Run turkey under hot tap because you didn’t allow enough time to defrost it properly.
Check the sprouts
Sweep up pine needles
Drink wine meant for gravy
Rue the day you thought getting a child a light sabre for Christmas was a good idea.
Eat dinner surrounded by your nearest and dearest, ignoring the fact that your gravy has soaked through the paper plates and dripped onto your new (ill fitting) dress.
Drink the brandy reserved for lighting the Christmas Pudding which you forgot to put on to steam and now are trying to cook in the microwave without rendering it completely to the texture of cardboard.
Fix tree lights for 5th time
Stop the cat eating the turkey carcass
Stop the dog eating expensive chocolates
Stop child eating expensive chocolates/drinking vodka shots (delete as appropriate) before vomiting occurs
Play latest totally incomprehensible board game/Cards against Humanity (delete as (in)appropriate)
Fall out with family
Make up with family
Fall asleep in chair thankful that you don’t have to do this for another year.
Remember that it is Boxing Day tomorrow and you will start all over again. Know that you will also find the wrapping paper you bought in the January sales and the frozen stuffing you couldn’t find yesterday.