With many of us juggling work with chores and social obligations, Christmastime can be truly chaotic. We wouldn't blame you for letting something slip – especially if you're bravely taking on the gargantuan responsibility of cooking a dinner for the extended family.
If you are, indeed, hosting this year, compile a to do list that you can work through with military precision. Got those wrapped presents under the tree? Good. Bought the turkey and veg? Excellent. Stocked up the liquor cabinet? 'Course you have. But what about those all-important condiments, crackers or Christmas Day games? Here are seven big-day essentials you don't want to forget...
1. Extra chairs... and gifts
If you're worried about being caught out by an impromptu visitor or two, ensure you have a few spare chairs. While you're at it, there's nothing more mortifying than a one-way gift situation. Should your neighbour surprise you with a present, have a nice box of chocolates or bottle of plonk to hand.
When you've digested your food and had your fill of Christmas telly, it's time to dig out a game that the whole family can get stuck into. Cue 'Speak Out Kids vs Parents' or 'Speak Out Showdown' which are almost guaranteed to raise a laugh. You can't beat the classics like Monopoly, Jenga and Scrabble – and, of course, Twister. Maybe jigsaws are more your jam? We've got that covered, too.
If ever there was a time to go a bit nuts with the condiments, it's Christmas. If you're preparing dinner for any sort of crowd, you'll want to be armed with enough mustard, cranberry sauce, bread sauce and gravy to satisfy anyone and everyone. If you'd rather try your hand at making cranberry or bread sauce, consult our recipes and make sure you have the ingredients on standby. But it doesn't stop there – Boxing Day requires yet more condiments. A turkey sandwich without the pickles would be a sad affair, indeed. Tangy piccallili, fruity chutney, crunchy cornichons and vinegary pickled onions will breathe new life into sad leftovers.
5. Festive CD mix
A little background music goes a long way in creating a festive atmosphere. Make sure your home is guest-ready with a good compilation of tunes – Now That's What I Call Christmas is the obvious choice if you're after an assortment of festive bangers (Mariah Carey, Wham!, Elvis et al). Unchained Melodies: Roy Orbison with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is a great alternative if Christmas songs make you grimace, or (another oldie but goodie), True Love Ways by Buddy Holly with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. You can't go wrong with the late, great Aretha Franklin at Christmas, while The Ultimate Classical Collection (3CDs) by Various Artists intersperses well known classical favourites with newer arrangements. But if you'd prefer something more current, George Ezra's Staying at Tamara's is packed with mellow, feel-good tunes that are cocktail party-appropriate.
When you're stuffed with food and too exhausted to make conversation, there's nothing like putting your feet up in front of a good movie. A handful of family-friendly DVDs will keep both adults and kids entertained – The Greatest Showman, for example, Sherlock Gnomes or that Christmas favourite, Elf. Jurassic World: Lost Kingdom will tick the action-movie box, while anyone who missed tv series Bodyguard can gleefully get stuck into the boxset.
Anyone buying toys for kids this Christmas will know you'll need batteries to avoid any tears or disappointment. Make the sensible call and stock up by choosing some from our range here.