Well, it’s over. All the thinking, planning, shopping, cooking, cleaning, wrapping, unwrapping, eating, more eating and drinking and clearing up. It’s all pretty much done with, and all our guests bar one, Bertie-blackcat, have left.

It went well. We were a large group on Christmas day, nine plus one baby, one toddler, two lively dogs and Bertie-blackcat, who held his ground despite terrier provocation.

What helped?

I created a Facebook group where I posted suggestions for a menu and a secret Santa. Instead of everyone buying for everyone and it being stressy and somewhat pointless we each contributed a short list of things we’d like and we all then received something we wanted. 🙂 In my case a hyacinth in a jar and a small John Lewis watering can.

It came down to asking for what you want: basic assertiveness. You have a right to ask for what you want and equally others have the right to refuse you.

I was lucky. I had a cooperative group who played by the rules, but the principle applies. People don’t know what you want unless you ask. Don’t assume they do.

I could have provided all the food and drink and negotiated presents between every member but I didn’t. We all contributed and felt like adults.

What else worked? Masses of cooking beforehand. Including this:


A Tunis cake, including chocolate ganache. Get me!

And this: – much easier and more tasty than normal mince pies.

And the slut jelly things which went down very well in shot glasses.

And finally this:

Yum. (I left out the chestnutty bit.)

So, a fair bit of self congratulation but I’ve still got a lot to learn. When I get old and start wearing purple and being much more difficult I am going to emulate William (18 months). If you offer him a biscuit he nods vigorously and says, “Two”. I plan to do that with gin.

If you give him something he doesn’t fancy or begin a song or a book he doesn’t want right now, he just comes out with it. “No”. With an o as in ‘orange’. Very clear.

If it’s food like a sandwich, he either palms it off or just takes it and drops it immediately. “No”

No games. No ambiguities and very funny for Granny. Not great for mum and dad who have got to establish routine and discipline.

This was still funny but probably because he was leaving in the next five minutes;


Where did those beans come from?