Christmas is coming – ask for help!

Whisper it quietly or shout it from the rooftops: “Christmas is coming.”

For many people that means parties. I am not talking about the office party, I am talking about parties with friends, parties with relatives and sometimes parties with both. Cocktail parties, dinner parties, wine parties, non-alcoholic parties and, of course, Christmas dinner.

Parties need to be organised. The hosts must get everything ready in preparation for their guests.

Or do they?

How many times have you asked “Can I bring anything?” only to be told to just bring yourself?

As I write this I can think of numerous times I have cheerily told people to “just bring a smile” and maybe something that their children will definitely eat and drink. I have happily organised everything and been slightly out of breath when it all comes together at the end.

Why do we do it?

I feel upset if I find out after the event that I could have,
should have, brought something with me.


Because we are almost all conditioned that if you are throwing the party, you are doing all the catering. It’s goes with the territory. Suck it up and get on with it.

But it doesn’t have to be like that.

Friends, and most relatives, like to help. I feel upset if I find out after the event that I could have, should have, brought something with me.

I am not a mind reader. You really do need to tell me if you want me to bring something. And I will be delighted that you asked me. I will feel useful and happy. If you tell me not to bring anything, I won’t bring anything in case I upset you.

So this Christmas, when you are getting ready to welcome Uncle Tom Cobley and all* to your house, remember that you can ask for help.

One person could bring part of the starter and another person another part. More difficult if you have lobster, caviar and smoked salmon in mind, but they could bring oatcakes and creamed cheese or sliced ham and melon.

Another person could bring bread sauce* or cranberry sauce to accompany the turkey. Yes, bread sauce is a thing – it’s delicious! Pigs in blankets* (they’re real too), red cabbage with apple and onion* or some other accompaniment of their choosing. Your guests may bring dishes that reflect their home country and you may all learn about new foods.

Just one suggestion. Have a list and know who is bringing what.

Otherwise you could end up with scraps for starter, nothing to accompany the main course and mountains of pudding.


* Notes:

“Uncle Tom Cobley and all” is a UK phrase meaning lots of people. It comes from the song Widecombe Fair (this version sung by the King’s Singers).

Bread Sauce is a traditional Christmas Dinner accompaniment.

“Pigs in blankets” are cocktail sausages rolled up in bacon. No good if you can’t eat, or don’t like, pork but heavenly to those of us who do.

Red cabbage, apple and onion cuts through the fat and tastes wonderful. You can eat this at any time of the year hot or cold.


A traditional Christmas Dinner when I was growing up was comprised of:




Roast potatoes

Boiled carrots

Brussel sprouts with roasted chestnuts

Roasted parsnips

Red cabbage, apple and onion

Bread sauce

Cranberry sauce


Christmas pudding

Ice cream (under 18)

Brandy Butter (over 18)

Pouring cream


Don’t forget the Christmas crackers!