Sauna sweats, drunkenness and furious chopping. We've felt your pain

If you've been brave (or silly) enough to fall on your culinary sword and volunteer to cook a Christmas dinner then you'll know the true strength of mind required.

People being 'helpful'

You've been up since 6am peeling. You've got mud under your fingernails and tears in your eyes because you can only be, what, three hours away from victory. You've made military plans for all your veg. You'll save the chopping, that's the easy bit. Everything is under control. You turn your back for five minutes and THIS HAPPENS:

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Auntie Jane has sidled over to the hob and is butchering your veg. In less than five minutes she has savaged your carrots and sliced every potato into unthinkably small chunks. But she is really very old and you can't shout at her so you weep instead.

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The alcoholism

There's a reason they don't give the chefs at The Ivy large glasses of cava while they are cooking: because wine and stress do not mix. But what with the high octane cooking pressure you've been knocking back the booze like there's no tomorrow. By the time dinner is served you can hardly remember your own name. Beware: a combo of hot gravy and a 32 glasses of fizz could well land you a date with your local A&E department.

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Other people's opinions

Everybody has their own very specific ideas about how Christmas lunch should be cooked, but never have you been less interested in their views than when you are at the helm. When the person in question is your mother-in-law casting her critical eye over the crispness of your potatoes, you feel yourself reaching for the chef's knives.


The turkey face sauna

Forget those expensive facials you were hoping to get for Christmas – you've got your very own right there in the kitchen. Every frantic opening of the oven is a fresh full-face blast slowly turning you into Mrs Tomatohead. If you're really lucky, you'll have the added bonus of a full eyebrow and eyelash removal. Who says you don't get pampered?

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Photograph: flickr/stereogab


Hungry people

Hungry people are the Christmas chef's worst nightmare. They come into your kitchen under the pretense of being a helping hand, when in fact, they are there to nibble on uncooked vegetables and ask you absent-minded questions pretending they care about what you've been up to this past year. It will take all your might not to scream them out of the room.

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That one forgotten thing

Amid the mountain of food you had to buy there will always be one thing you forgot and you'll be damned if you're going without. Cue a younger member of the familly being sent to the petrol station in the driving snow in a fruitless (pardon the pun) quest for cranberries.


If it's not one of the ingredients you've forgotten, it's a dish. The primal scream you let out when you realise you left the blood-sweat-and-tears-flavoured stuffing in the oven right after everyone has finished is quite something. The bread sauce! OMG, you forgot the bread sauce! This fact is so upsetting you can only be consoled with yet more booze and chocolate.

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bread sauce


It really is the turkey's fault

You turned it upside down, you gently gave it a back massage, you even sang it a bloody nursery rhyme, and yet the turkey is like ash in your mouth. Even drenched in gravy you can feel it crumbling on your tongue. You look around the room and the reactions are similar. A sort of stoical chewing rather than genuine pleasure. Do not, whatever you do, punish yourself. No bird that big was meant to be put in an oven that small. It was never going to taste that great.

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