1st December: Have yourself a very real Christmas.

Well here we are! Day One of my Christmas Cookery Countdown on day two of December! It really feels like no time at all since last year's advent calendar blog posts. 

Regardless of how much you like Christmas cooking it is impossible to avoid the onslaught of slightly unsettling advice that subconsciously tells us how disastrous our Christmases will be if we don't plan ahead and get organised. Whether it's top tips for a stress-free Christmas, prep-ahead party dishes that ensure we're not slaving away all night or countless recipes for 'the best' or 'the most delicious', being bombarded with all this seemingly helpful advice can actually put us into a state of panic and paranoia. Similar to the fashion and beauty industry and its constant messages of how to achieve 'perfection', food magazines, television programmes and all forms of social media are luring us into feeling like our Christmas has to look or be a certain way in order for it to be successful. 

Now I adore Christmas cookery programmes. Watching them is one of my favourite pastimes this time of year, but how realistic are they really? Food and drink aside; groups of glitzy folk making small talk in decorated barns or candlelit balconies, swilling apparently uncomplicated cocktails and eating 'fancy yet stress-free canapés'. Is that what our parties should be like?! 

This year I am the least organised I have been in a while (hence my first daily post on day 2 of December!) and I am actually loving it! I don't know if it's a confidence I have from doing Christmas a few times now and knowing it will ultimately turn out ok or if I just feel comfortable in my own skin and who I share the special moments with that it just doesn't matter, but I am glad of being able to step back from it all and go with how I really want it to be rather than how I think it is supposed to be.

A couple of years ago I did a completely homemade Christmas Day. The only things I bought were custard and cheese and everything else I made myself. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed making it all and it was all delicious but at times I overstretched myself and I don't think I enjoyed the day as much as I could have. I was exhausted by the time the meal was done.

If it's your kind of thing then make sure you put the time aside over the coming weeks to make and bake but if it's not and you're feeling overwhelmed by all the suggestions out there (including what you might see here on this blog - oh the irony!) then rather than listing out what you're going to do, why not list out what you're NOT going to make this year? It doesn't take much to enhance a 'bought-in' spread with a few choice homemade dishes or items. It's only one day, don't forget! 

We're going to be fourteen at ours on Christmas Day so we'll definitely need plenty of food but everyone's doing their bit and that will make the day more manageable but also more fun. I'll do my best. It'll not be gourmet but it'll be good and tasty and what will matter will be that we're all together enjoying each other's company. It's a special day but not because it all looks like something out of a Christmas cookery programme!

In my opinion, sausage rolls are one of the best Christmas party foods: simple, tasty & seasonal.

In my opinion, sausage rolls are one of the best Christmas party foods: simple, tasty & seasonal.