It comes but once a year....so get it right. Here's how to nail three essential Christmas skills.
Building A Log Fire
Whether lighting a fire outside or in, the mistake everyone makes is forgetting they need oxygen and overcrowding it. Build it gradually, or the big logs may never catch: start with balls of newspaper, scrunched up loosely rather than screwed up tight, and then lay on kindling of small, thin pieces of a light wood such as pine in a crisscross.
Once you've got a good flame, add wood in stages, getting a bit bigger each time until you reach the Yule logs. And remember, it's like cooking - you have to watch over it.
By Kris Miners of Greenman Bushcraft www.greenmanbushcraft.co.uk
Mixing A Champagne Cocktail
A Champagne cocktail or two is very good before Christmas dinner, but there are a few little details that make all the difference. First, rather than putting the sugarcube in the glass and pouring the bitters on, put it on a cocktail napkin and pour a couple of drops of bitters on it there, so the napkin soaks up the excess and it won't overpower the drink.
Then put it in a 175ml Champagne flute and add 10ml of Rémy Martin VSOP, which will give it a bit more depth, and then a splash of Grand Marnier - 5ml, maybe. Then top up with Laurent Perrier or another good Champagne - it needs to be quality, because you're adding quite a lot. Finally, cut the peel of an orange and squeeze the oil into the drink for a hint of citrus. It goes well with smoked salmon.
By Denis Broci, Bar Manager at Claridge's, London W1 www.claridges.co.uk
Lighting The Christmas Pudding
Everyone has difficulty lighting their Christmas pudding because they light the brandy from cold - it has to be warm. Pour plenty of cooking brandy into a small saucepan, get the flame up high and then light it in the pan.Then, pour some gently into a ladle, which should be warm as well or it'll go out quicker, then pour it slowly over the pudding, directly onto the top.
By Antony Worrall Thompson from ITV's Christmas Cook