Wrapping gifts to festive music adds to the excitement

A woman holding a wrapped Christmas present
Present company: the wrapping ritual is all the more fun if you’ve not run out of time

The build-up to Christmas Day is fun, and music and festive TV add to the ambience, says Shane Watson.

Christmas kicks off officially, in our house, after the last-minute panicked wrapping paper run, when the candles on the mantelpiece are lit, and the TV is switched to BBC2 and the Nine Lessons and Carols broadcast live from King’s College Cambridge. No-one is quite settled, someone is always out of the room looking for sellotape, and then, right on cue, are the spellbinding opening notes of Once in Royal David’s City sung by a single angelic choirboy. 

That’s the starter gun: early evening Christmas Eve. Within the hour there are people coming and going, dropping off presents or picking them up, and the first platter of blinis, crème fraîche, salmon and salmon eggs is being handed around. This canapé is a Christmas-only luxury, so we load up on the salmon caviar, but try not to overdo the brandy in the prosecco cocktails, served in our tiny saucer glasses that only come out once a year and everyone complains about because they need constantly topping up. 

From this point on, it’s a drink and food free-for-all. The kitchen table is covered in a whole ham, slabs of cheese and clementines (leaves on, because they’re the posh ones) and all the Christmas goodies from Turkish Delight to figs. (When I was young, these only came out on Christmas Day, but now everyone’s always too full after Christmas lunch, so we start early.) 

The rule is only “Christmas music” from this point on (which obviously includes several 1970s chart busters), only Christmassy TV (or Planet Earth II). It’s the best bit really: it’s all ahead of you and the devils on horseback are in the oven.

Enjoy the finest Christmas

The Tesco finest* wine and food range is in selected stores now UK-wide. 

For more Christmas wine and food inspiration and information, or to order from the Tesco finest * range online, visit tesco.com