Choose things that can be prepared in advance and if possible with no bread or pastry to go soggy. Stuffed cucumbers, stuffed tomatoes, baby potatoes with salmon tartare. Oysters, mussels, prawns, spread with lots of garlic butter. Tomato salsa or relish, pesto, tapenade, things that can be dips or spreads. Always have chips, parsnip, beetroot, carrot, olives and nuts.
To make a turkey easier to carve and keep the meat moist, remove the wishbone before you cook it. This leaves an easy entry into the breast meat that you stuff with plenty of seasoned butter. Once your bird is cooked, turn it upside down on an angle so that the legs and parson’s nose are up in the air. This way all of the juices will run through the breast, making it more flavoursome.
Don’t try to cook all the vegetables at the last minute. Boil vegetables individually, then once cooked refresh them in iced water and lay out on a tray lined with kitchen paper. This is perfect for all green vegetables, also carrots and turnips. Before serving, heat them through with a drop of water and a dab of butter, either in the microwave or on top of the stove.
Go for a Christmas buffet:
A big dish of roasted yellow and red peppers, some aubergines with feta cheese and chilli, roasted tomatoes with basil, a really good potato salad, some Parma ham, prawns and mayonnaise.
An alternative pudding:
Make some fat pavlovas a few days ahead and roast some bananas with brown sugar and rum. Serve both smothered with thick cream, ice-cream and a selection of mango, papaya, pineapple and passionfruit.