Do you remember waking up on Christmas day, filled with excitement and joy? Did you jump out of bed and rush downstairs to see if Father Christmas had successfully navigated the chimney/central heating system and delivered that all-important toy on your wish list?
Good times. The chances are your first waking moments of Christmas Day are sprinkled with slightly different thoughts these days. Has the turkey finished defrosting? Will the kids like their presents? Is there still time to barricade the house to prevent the in-laws gaining access?
Well, worry no longer. In the guide that follows, our team of experts answer all you anxiety-ridden prayers. There's an etiquette coach to make sure there are no Christmas faux-pas to worry over; a stress expert to prevent any familial bust-ups; and a top party planner, who has more tips and tricks to keep everyone happy on the big day than Santa Claus himself.
How to prepare for Christmas day
- Don't leave it all to the last minute. Wrap Christmas presents as soon as they're bought, and start cooking the lunch the day before.
- Do invite people who make you laugh. If you find them entertaining, chances are so will everyone else.
- Don't overdo it. There's no need to stuff your cabinet full of exotic spirits – it'll only ramp up the pressure to serve fancy cocktails all day long.
- Do make a list. It helps you stay on top of everything you will need.
三级成人视频"Anything you can do in advance, makes you a better host when your guests arrive," reveals Ruth Lawton-Owen, managing director at luxury party planners,
Wrap your presents as soon as you buy them or get them gift-wrapped at the store. This way there will be no sneaky children (or adults, let's be honest) sticking their nose into your shopping bags. And Christmas Eve will be that bit less stressful.
三级成人视频In terms of who you invite round on Christmas day, close family are a must – sorry to be the bearer of bad news – but you could decide to mix it up this year and invite an old friend or a more distant relative. When making this decision take one important thing into account. "I would always invite people who make you laugh," says Lawton-Owen. "If they’re fun and entertaining, then they’ll be fun and entertaining with everyone else you know."
三级成人视频At the same time, you want to be careful not to go overboard and invite the whole village. "The principle of good hosting is that you would invite a suitable amount of people that would suit your circumstances," says , etiquette expert and author of . "So you can feed and water them and they’ll be comfortable in their surroundings."
If you've got a partner to co-host the day with you then great, if not, draft in a good friend who can share the burden. "You always need someone to keep the drinks refreshed while you’re checking on the cooking," says Lawton-Owen. "People are coming for your company, so they would rather sit and chat to you then keep seeing the back of your head as you run off into the kitchen."
Check that you've got enough drinks in but don't worry about jamming your drinks cabinet full of exotic spirits. It'll just put a ton of unnecessary pressure on your head. "Have a simple cocktail that you can whip up a big batch in a jug and bring that out for people," recommends Lawton-Owen. "Something that would work equally well with a slosh of gin or without. Then add a little bit of a garnish – a cinnamon stick or some berries, a novelty Santa stirrer – depending on the tone of your party. After that, just serve wine."
As with the Christmas gifts you want to do your food prep as early as possible – midday on Christmas Eve is a good time for this. Scour the carrots, cut the potatoes and submerge them in cold water to stop them going brown, peel the Brussels sprouts and put them in a plastic container in the fridge ready to pop into the oven or on the hob in the morning. Put a little bit of water in the vegetable containers so that they stay moist. If you've run out of room in your fridge, just leave them in the pantry or the coldest room in your house.
三级成人视频You really want to be doing as little on Christmas Day as you can possibly get away with, so set out a game-plan.
"I’m a big list maker," says Lawton-Owen. "I make a big timeline of what needs to go in and when - and then you can set a discrete alarm on your phone that will just buzz when you need to pop something else in and you can quietly make a discrete exit and you don’t have to make a big fuss about it."
recommend drawing a quick plan of where your different pots and pans will go on the hob. Measure your oven and turkey with a tape measure so you know it will fit. The only surprises you want on the day should be wrapped up and stuck underneath the tree.
How to lay the table for Christmas lunch
- Don't set the table on the day. Lay everything out the night before – apart from the glassware.
- Do pick a theme for your Christmas table. Traditional, winter palace or Scandinavian are recommended.
- Don't forget to allow room on the table. You don't want people knocking over candles on their way to the gravy.
- Don't feel like you need crackers. Instead attach a little charm to your guests napkin ring, which are back in vogue after years on the Christmas style rubbish heap.
We are sorry to keep harping on like this, but preparation before the day is really the key to hosting the perfect family Christmas. Therefore ,set the table on Christmas Eve. Easy.
三级成人视频"Pick a look, or a feel for your Christmas table," proposes Lawton-Owen. "You might want to have a very traditional Christmas and use lots of red and gold, or you might want to use what is known as the winter palace look, which is lots of turquoise, silver and peacock patterns. Or you might want to go with the Scandanavian Christmas which is still really popular. It’s a little bit more rustic, using white and green and frosted colours and a lot of pine decorations."
"It's a very stylish look and doesn’t feel particularly Christmassy so it’s great for if you’re entertaining or having parties after Christmas day."
Sometimes less is more when it comes to your dinner table decorations. Bear in mind that the table will be full to the brim with all those trimmings you prepared on Christmas Eve, so don't over-clutter.
Now, our next point may get us in trouble with the Christmas secret police... but have a long, hard think about whether you genuinely want crackers this year. "They are kitsch and fun and people expect them at Christmas," says Lawton-Owen. "But I don’t think a post Christmas day table is necessarily bare without them. If I was entertaining post-Christmas I probably wouldn’t recommend crackers. They can become one of those silly things that you just end up spending an absolute fortune on."
Instead, says Lawton-Owen, napkin rings make a tasteful substitute. "Napkin rings are making a big comeback. They were considered to be terribly old-fashioned a few years ago, but statement napkin rings are becoming popular again and they work well for Christmas. You can attach little place cards onto them.
"One of my personal favourites is tying a ribbon around a napkin and attaching a little silver charm. It's a little something for guests that they can take away. You can either buy festive ones – little snowmen, or Santas, or you can personalise them to the things your guests are interested in. They don’t have to be expensive – you can buy them in department stores.
"I would rather do personalised charms and then ask everyone to come with a joke or the worst cracker joke you’ve heard this Christmas than actually getting the crackers out."
If you're brave enough to make the controversial step of ditching the crackers三级成人视频, then consider adopting the complete minimalist Christmas look and do away with the table cloth altogether. It shows off that oak table you spent a fortune on, and a set of colourful and festive place mats can look very classy, according to Lawton-Owen.
However if there is one steadfast rule to keep to when laying your table, it's this: always light some candles. They make the table look inviting and nothing feels as festive as staring into a dwindling flame as you tuck into the turkey.
Christmas morning game-plan
- Do be democratic at Christmas. It should be about what everyone wants and not the minority.
- Don't worry about when you open your presents. But make sure that kids and the elderly open theirs first.
- Do pour a little bit of Champagne 15 minutes before your guests are to arrive, then top up with fresh bubbly once greetings are made.
"Christmas has so much hype and it costs a lot of money," says Byrant. "Unlike it being somebody’s birthday where they can inflict their own rules, with Christmas it is all about everybody who is there. You really need to mind your manners and think about other people as a guest and a host."
W三级成人视频hile all year long you may have acted as an authoritarian dictator ruling from the kitchen with an iron fist, turn the family dynamic into a friendly democracy for Christmas Day. Majority rules, so if the kids want to open their Christmas presents at eight in the morning then it looks like you'll be crawling half asleep into the living room with an espresso and a glass of bucks fizz firmly planted in both hands.
Regarding who opens their presents first, a nice way of playing it is by age, according to Bryant. "Children should be given a certain priority to control their excitement," Bryant advises. " And certainly on the other side of things, the elderly can feel quite side-lined at Christmas. They might feel a bit stuck in the armchair, and not in the thick of it. So you have to make sure they are being given presents as well so that they also feel involved."
三级成人视频If you are having extra guests over for lunch, the morning might be a good time to open presents between close family. Before these guests come over, Lawton-Owen recommends using a little trick from the party planning industry known as a 'wet down'. "If you’re serving some fizz, and you think guests are going to be quite prompt," she says, "we would just pour about an inch into each glass, 15 minutes before you think your guests are going to arrive. Unless your organising an absolute feast, they won’t all arrive at once and there is nothing worse than flat champagne. So a wet down allows you to very quickly top up their glass when they arrive and and still have that freshly poured taste."
During Christmas lunch
- Don't stay in one place. Move around the table so everyone gets some time with the host.
- Do have Christmas lunch earlier rather than later. It gives your guests a chance to leave without being rude.
- Don't think you constantly have to be serving drinks. Invest in a drinks trolley and let everyone get jolly.
- Do sit the person who can talk to anyone in the middle of the table. Say goodbye to awkward chit-chat.
I三级成人视频f you're hosting a large Christmas dinner with disparate family members and groups of friends, think about partaking in a metaphorical game of musical chairs."If you have a mixed group of people," Lawton-Owen says, "who don’t all know each other, then have the host move around the table after each course. With your co-host you might each start at either end of the table and then subtly move round so that everyone around the table feels like they’ve had some of your time. I would normally seat the host next to the people who knew the least people in the room. That way they will feel more comfortable and you can introduce them to people from the starter."
D三级成人视频on't actually start up a game of musical chairs though – this isn't a four-year old's tea party.
三级成人视频Take advantage of your guests' strengths. Everyone has that one friend or family member who can start a conversation in an empty room. You want the Christmas table to be buzzing with chatter so stick them in the midst of things, and make them the last person you come round to. That way you'll have tactically added a third member to your hosting team.
As far as the beverages are concerned, unless you have invested in waiting staff, no one is expecting you to go round the table every five minutes topping up their wine glasses. Lawton-Owen recommends you jump on the drinks trolley bandwagon and embrace the 1970s kitsch. Have one set up in the corner of the room and invite people to pour away to their heart's content. That way you'll have added a fourth member and your hosting dream team will be complete.
- Do make sure everyone is involved in at least one aspect of the day. Doing it all yourself will cause undue stress.
- Watching TV on Christmas day is fine. But switch it off if people are becoming anti-social.
When it comes to Christmas day activities, each family has their own rituals and traditions. Some will evacuate the house after it's been set on fire by a flaming turkey and shuffle off to the pub. Others will grab a box of Kleenex and put on something sickly and romantic and most likely written by Richard Curtis. The kids will be dying to run off to their room and stick their head in the freshly bought video games, but try to emphasise to them that Christmas is but one day of the year, and that new Playstation isn't going to crawl off anywhere.
Jo Bryant emphasises the need for everyone to be happy and doing what they want to do on Christmas Day as long as everyone is spending the majority of the day together. "If something like watching the TV is becoming anti-social," she says, "then perhaps its time to think about getting the board games ou三级成人视频t. The danger of the host is inflicting too many rules on other people. Which can become stifling and take away from the fun and spontaneity of the day. But if people aren’t coming to the dinner table because they’re watching the TV then perhaps it’s not in the proper Christmas spirit."
T三级成人视频he lack of co-operation among certain family members can be a source of great stress at Christmas, according to Mike Fisher, founder and training director at the . "Christmas is about getting as many people to participate in the process," he says. "Bearing in mind it is only one day of the year."
三级成人视频If people are not co-operating with that family time then it can make the day less special – especially if everyone goes straight to the mobile or TV screen once the meal is finished.
三级成人视频Instead encourage the family to go for a walk after lunch. "People often choose to go for a walk to avoid rows," says Fisher. "They put up a wall to any potential issues because they don't want to do it and Christmas is about being happy." Try to make sure any dirty laundry (and/or plates) are cleaned up and left at the house before you trundle off to the pub.
How not to have a Christmas day bust-up
According to a survey by the British Association of Anger Management (BAMM), more than half of all Britons have family disagreements at Christmas, and it is often the case that the festive season is the only time you will see certain family members all year.
That means in the lead up to the big day you want to make sure you resolve any pre-existing issues that may have carried over from the Christmas before. The problem is not many people know how to facilitate this conversation.
Whether its a hen-pecking mother, a grumpy teen or a lazy hubby, resolve any issues with a family member that you have anger towards, with the help of the BAMM's "rage gauge"...
- REACTION - identify what it is you are reacting to in someone else's behaviour.
- ANGER - express how angry they are making you.
- GRUDGE - if you are feeling angry and also holding onto a grudge then tell the person. If you have no grudge then follow Elsa from Frozen's lead and "let it go".
- EXPRESS - what you want from the person if you are holding a grudge - "I need you to stop picking on me", "Come with us on a family walk just one day out of 365", "Can you please clean the dishes, it will make me feel a lot better".
Most importantly, take the time to thank the other person for listening to you, admit your own shortcomings, and then if they also feel anger towards you, make sure you acknowledge what they say in an empathetic manner. You can have this conversation on the day as well, to make sure there's no lingering resentment – just do whatever it takes so that Christmas doesn't leave a bitter taste in the mouth.
This article was originally published in 2017 and has been updated.