Your niece is suddenly vegan! How to survive the 12 disasters of Christmas

One guest is an antivaxxer, another is allergic to your cats, the turkey is still raw and your best friends are splitting up in the sitting room. Here is how to face down festive fiascos

It’s that time of year when you wake up sweating and can’t figure out why. Did you accidentally wear your thermals in bed? Do you have tuberculosis? No, dummy, it’s just that it’s almost Christmas, it’s your turn to play host, and the list of things that can go wrong on the 25th is long and wearying.

Can I recommend, before we drill into this list, a quick wisdom stocktake? Last year was the worst Christmas imaginable: every plan was kiboshed at the very last minute; non-essential shops closed before we’d done our shopping; people who thought they were going back to their families ended up at home and hadn’t bought Baileys and crackers and whatnot; people who’d battled solitude for a year were stuck alone; people living on top of each other couldn’t catch a break; people expecting guests were buried under surplus pigs in blankets, and beyond our under-or over-decorated front doors, the outside world was fraught with risk and sorrow, as coronavirus declined to mark the birth of the Christ child with any respite from its march of terror. I’m not saying it couldn’t be as bad as that again – just that it couldn’t possibly be as surprisingly bad again.

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