3 Christmas Skills Every Man Should Master

Be a man of action this Christmas with these essential techniques

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.

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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

Christmas Skills 2

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.

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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

Christmas Skills 3
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

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