Jayne Dawson: Resist all the pressure to gussy up Christmas dinner

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And we’re off. The Final Phase of Christmas has begun.

The presents have been bought and they are nestling, gloriously festive, inside special seasonal bags, each with a different snow scene and each carrying a beautifully embossed name tag. Now for the ...what? What’s that you say?

Not nestling? Not gloriously…? Not embossed? Well, for goodness sake. Where have you been since October?

If your presents are still in the shops, still sitting unloved in the online warehouse or still stuffed, decidedly unfestive, in the back of the wardrobe, I can’t help you.You have failed Phase One of Christmas.

Next you will be telling me that Phase Two of Christmas, the turning of your home into a winter wonderland, is incomplete. That you haven’t picked your theme and run with it, run all through the house, twirling and sprinkling until every surface has been turned into Trad Christmas, or Scandi Christmas, or Seventies Christmas, whatever.

By now your home should be shimmering, positively shimmering, it should be like a grotto, like the inside of a snow globe, it should be prettier than a Disney princess...what’s that? Well there’s no need to be rude.

Look, I’m here to help. We can do this. If you have failed Phase Two of Christmas, don’t panic. There is still time to pull it back.

Here is what you must do: gather together anything you have made of glass, except your actual drinking glasses, and shove a candle inside. Light the candles, pour a big drink into your actual drinking glass and before long everything will start to shimmer nicely. That’s better.

But now, here is where you must not fail. Phase Three of Christmas is upon us, and this is crucial for it is the Final Phase.

The adverts will have given you a clue, for they have left gifts behind and moved on to all things edible. Yes, this is the phase where you must Gussy Up the Christmas Dinner.

Don’t even pretend to me that you think turkey and all the trimmings will do nicely. You know it won’t. What you need, what you must have, is turkey and all the trimmings WITH A TWIST.

That twist can go any which way you like. You can let your ingredients take you across any continent. Scandinavia is top of the trend list in everything right now, so feel free to Scandi up your sprouts with, oh I don’t know, a bit of raw salmon and some pickled blackberries. Yeah, I know but this isn’t about taste, it’s about twist. Do you see the difference?

Or you could go Nigella, because Nigella is beautiful and has done a fabulous photo shoot this year where she looks like the best ice queen ever.

To give your turkey dinner the Nigella twist, you mainly need to think chocolate. Add chocolate to everything and you won’t go far wrong. Or treacle. This year Nigella is roasting her ham with treacle instead of simmering it in a vat of Coca-Cola. This is my suggestion not hers, but you could try adding both - I think that would make your Christmas ham sort of fireproof.

Or you could go Chinese because that’s another trendy festive twist. I’m thinking star anise in your carrots - they’re woody little blighters so remember to discard before serving - and maybe a bit of ginger shoved up your turkey. Perhaps some Five Spice in your gravy. All available from a supermarket near you, assuming they haven’t been snapped up by others determined to do the Chinese twist too.

There is another option, but it’s only for the brave. What you could do, is serve up your Christmas dinner as it comes. You know, plain boiled veg, plain roasted potatoes, plain old bird with plain old stuffing, bit of bread sauce - all of that. You could say defiantly that you only eat it once a year so why change it.

It will mean complete failure on the Third and Final phase of Christmas - and you lot don’t seem to have done great on phases One and Two - but at least you might actually enjoy it. Just a thought.