The greatest Christmas gift is time

Friends celebrating Christmas around a table
Bottoms up: festive entertaining is all about spending time with friends and family

One of the best things about the festive season is tucking in to fine food and drink with friends and family, so keep the fridge well stocked and enjoy some festive fun, says Judith Woods

If there are three little words guaranteed to raise a cheer at Christmas, it is these: “Just come in!” For me, they perfectly capture the Yuletide spirit: spontaneous, inclusive, celebratory. 

Hand on heart, inviting friends and neighbours to join us for an off-the-cuff drink or a nibble (ideally both) is my favourite sort of festive gathering. Not just because it’s a great incentive to keep the house tidy – although it does help. I’d also be lying if I didn’t admit to a glow of Good Samaritan virtue. 

There’s something rewarding about providing a restorative pitstop to frazzled friends who have spent the day ferrying children and delivering presents. And on my watch they can all come in. “Yes, yes, grandpa too! Plenty to go round.” 

My blithe invitations used to give my husband heart failure – until he realised that I had it covered. And then some. Ironically (but practically) it takes forward planning to appear so gloriously unplanned. 

I’ll have a fridge full of bottles, including interesting non-alcoholic tipples for designated drivers so they don’t feel they are missing out. My freezer will also be groaning with enough straight-to-oven canapés to sustain a small army – quite literally so, if there are lots of hungry children in tow. 

I used to spend hours crafting my own mince pies, but – well, as a working mother, I think I don’t need to explain why I stopped. Nobody minds. Nobody notices. At Christmas the greatest gift of all is time, and I’d far rather lavish that on those I love. Especially when they turn up unexpectedly on my doorstep and… just come in. 

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