"Maybe Christmas doesn't come from a store, maybe Christmas
perhaps means a little bit more."
- Dr Seuss
Christmas and stress go together like mince pies and mulled wine, but if you're panicked, don't be. It's the most wonderful time of year for a reason, so fake your way festive bliss with our Xmas SOS guide with last-minute tips to answer all your Christmas queries. From turkey cooking times to emergency gravy, we've got Christmas all wrapped up. It's our gift to you...
Three words: delegate, delegate, delegate. The canniest Christmas hosts know better than to do all the work themselves, especially if your Christmas gathering is on the large side. Ask one of your guests to bring stuffing (turkey tastes better if it's made separately), another to bring a Christmas dessert, someone else to bring mince pies and another to bring the cheese board. If their cooking skills aren't up to scratch, these shop-bought Christmas foods (all British) taste as good as homemade.
How to cook a turkey
A 5kg (10lb) free range turkey will serve up to 8 and is the size we recommend for our easiest EVER turkey recipe: turkey with pigs in blankets. It takes just 15 minutes to prepare and the flavour and texture is fantastic.
If your turkey is bigger or smaller than 5kg, use this How to Cook a Turkey guide, which has an easy recipe and handy chart for calculating turkey cooking times and how many people your turkey will serve based on its size.
How to make gravy
Forgot to make the gravy? Fear not - David Herbert, our resident food editor has this quick and easy gravy recipe to use in case of emergencies, which is ready in 15 minutes. All you need is the roasting pan, a large glass of red wine, flour and some stock or water.
Christmas dinner menu ideas
Now you've got the turkey timed and the gravy sorted, but what about the rest of the meal? These 10 easy Christmas recipes for Christmas vegetables, desserts and more should have you covered:
- Lemon Stuffing
- Rosemary Roast Potatoes
- Sprouts with Lemon, Bacon and Pine Nuts
- Stuffed Butternut Squash (for vegetarians)
- Christmas Chocolate Brownies
- Christmas Cookies
- Gingerbread Tree
- Xmas Bombe
- The Great British Bake Off Mince Pies
- Mulled Wine
The best wine for Christmas
Fizz for canapesGo British with the Decanter World Wine Award-winning Three Graces 2008 Sparkling Wine, £149.94 for a case of six (£24.99 per bottle) at Chapel Down. Alternatively, our resident wine expert Fiona Beckett recommends Waitrose Italia Prosecco Collezione, £11.99 for an affordable substitute.
White wine for a fish course"Nothing fits the bill better than white burgundy," recommends Fiona Beckett. "Try the well-priced, creamy Cave de Lugny Mâcon-Villages Chardonnay 2011, £7.99 at Sainsbury's."
Red wine for turkey"It's not the turkey you have to match so much as the trimmings like the stuffing and cranberry sauce," says Fiona. "These call for a fruity red, rather than an oaky one. It's hard to beat a crowd-pleasing Côtes du Rhône, such as Pierre Perrin's Meridion 2010, £10.99 from Laithwaite's."
If you need a red that's reliable yet still special, look no further than this Bordeaux: Berrys' Good Ordinary Claret 2009 (£4.80 for half a bottle at Berry Bros & Rudd) which is the failsafe option for wine critics and discernable drinkers in the know. From meats to cheeses, this wine will keep all feeling merry and bright.
PuddingA perfect partner for Christmas puds and chocolate desserts is the tWilliam Pickering 20-year-old Tawny Port, £26.95 at Berry Bros & Rudd). Or, "rather than a dessert wine, try an orange-flavoured liqueur such as Grand Marnier (from £18 for a half bottle)," advises Fiona.
For a festive tipple, there's also sloe gin - we like Sipsmith - who also make a divine Damson vodka.
Christmas decorating ideas
From trimming the tree to fairy lights, we have 75 CHhristmas decorating tips, many of which are free and easy - not to mention super stylish.
Good-quality scented candles are the kind of luxury you would never buy for yourself and make a great last-minute gift. Alternatively, we've never known anyone who hasn't loved Fortnum & Mason's Chocolate & Macadamia Nut biscuits, but any locally-sourced food gift or good quality sweet treat is usually a safe bet.
How to wrap a present
Run out of wrapping paper? Newspaper or glossy magazine pages taped together make a last-minute alternative. Use brown paper, ribbons and string for this cheap and chic Christmas wrapping idea, or try these 8 amazing wrapping paper ideas.