Christmas at Aperitif Towers

Every family has its own traditions, and one of the nicest things about setting up a new household is forging the new traditions that that family will keep. The Beloved and I first came together in 2003 from opposite sides of the country, with teenage children on one side and a strong tradition of family visiting on the other. With so much potential for disappointments, we decided that our tradition would be to change our pattern each year. Over the years, that has modified. We now have grandchildren living nearby, and my parents are less able to jump in the car on Christmas morning, so we’re happily settling into a routine of being the home people come to on Christmas Day. We love having people visit, so this is no hardship, and we usually invite other friends to join us for lunch, too.

There is one family tradition I’ve brought from my childhood home that I particularly value, and that’s a family supper on Christmas Eve to mark the beginning of Christmas. My Mum had a habit of cooking the turkey on the afternoon of Christmas Eve. Sensible woman; only a maniac would roast a 16lb bird on Christmas morning. Consequently, the house was filled with the aroma of roasting poultry and herb stuffing by the time evening came. Once my sisters and I were old enough to stay up late, the family would go together to night-time Mass (not quite at midnight) and, on our return, enjoy a turkey sandwich for supper. Over the years, uncles and aunties got wind of this treat, and a turkey butty became sandwiches, sausage rolls, cheese & crackers and several glasses of whisky with members of the extended family.

Mum & Dad having fun

We’re looking forward to our grandchildren coming to see us on Christmas Eve and spending time with my Mum and Dad. It’s not often they see them, so any time I have with them together is precious. Where I live now, Mass is at midnight, and the Beloved struggles to stay up so late, so we’re discovering the pleasure of having supper & a drink together quietly and going to morning Mass to sing carols with children. We’ll have opened presents over breakfast and already filled the recycling bag with wrapping paper by the time we go out. 

The cooking of lunch starts when we get home. Any preparation that can be done in advance will have been done on Christmas Eve, and our starter is a cold one. That just leaves the main course and pudding to cook. This year, The Beloved is cooking and has chosen goose as the centrepiece. I’ll be making a forcemeat stuffing with minced veal, goose liver and truffle. We’re very lucky to have an excellent wine merchant in town, who has supplied a 1998 Château Musar to drink with that. I made the pudding last month, so that can just be put in the steamer and forgotten about.

"as relaxed as possible"
We try to keep the whole day as relaxed as possible, and our timings reflect that. ‘Lunch’ starts quite late and drifts into the early evening. We’ve asked our guests to arrive in time for the Queen's speech (3:00pm), which we'll watch together over a glass of Champagne and some nibbles. While I’m a great advocate of the Champagnes sold in the discount supermarkets, I do think it’s worth cracking open the best you have for Christmas. Thanks to the generosity of a wonderful friend, we’re able to serve Gosset Grand Réserve this year, and our friend is bringing a supply of home-made pistacchio sablé biscuits to go with it. These delicious biscuits are perfect to go with Champagne and are very simple to make. You can find the recipe on Delia Smith's site:

If I’m being honest, I can be fairly confident we’ll open a second bottle of Champagne before sitting down to lunch. It’ll give the Beloved a little more time to get the food just right. By the time we’ve grazed our way through a smoked fish starter, the goose, a Christmas pudding & rum Chantilly and given due consideration to the temptations of port & stilton, the evening will have firmly set in. There’ll be no need for another meal, and an early night could well be in order: we have guests coming on Boxing Day afternoon!

This is my last post for 2018. Thank you to all friends who have supported me and to my readers for your encouraging comments. However you celebrate the festive season, may it be filled with joy and bring you closer to those you love.

Things to look out for in the New Year: whisky galore, alcohol-free aperitifs and more canapé ideas.


  1. I read your latest post and think it is wonderful that you decided to create your own Christmas traditions. Family is obviously very important to you both, and throughout the years we all find ourselves adapting at Christmas to circumstances we may find ourselves in. I also know from experience what a kind and generous host you both are, to friends as well as family. May you all have a peaceful Christmas and I look forward to reading and enjoying your 2019 posts. With much love Sue X

    1. Kind and generous is exactly how I would describe your comment, Sue. Thank you for taking the trouble to post it and for reading my blog. Have a happy and peaceful Christmas and New Year.


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