Cooking a traditional roast meal is pretty straightforward. You could say it’s all a matter of timing. That’s the theory, anyway, put forward by members of the population who have never had to knuckle down and cook Christmas dinner for a dozen people or more.

But there are so many other things – besides the timing – that contribute to cook’s state of weariness and heightened anxiety on the big day. The sheer volume of potatoes, vegetables, trimmings and everything else that go with a traditional Christmas dinner can turn this into a military operation. People’s expectations will be high, too, and comparisons with previous efforts are inevitable.

But there are many ways to avoid going the whole hog, with the advent of already-prepared elements of the Christmas meal.

Let’s face it, your guests will take no pleasure from seeing you living life on the edge, looking all hot and bothered and on the point of whacking the other half if asked: ‘Is it nearly ready, Love?’ Nowadays, ready-made meals have swung from being a definite no-no to actually being quite fashionable.

You can either go for the basic, ready-washed and chopped vegetables option, or can step up a category to packs that are ready-herbed and sauced and which simply need popping in the oven or microwave.

It’s then a simple process of working back from the time you want to sit down to eat, note the timing of each element of the meal and you’re in ‘pinger heaven’.

However, a ready-made Christmas dinner is likely to cost you a lot more than one you have prepared yourself, but you will save a lot of time and stress.

If you want to stamp your personality on the meal by saying “I made that”, you could just concentrate on one special element and proudly announce, for example, that you made the cranberry jelly, or something else that will be a standout.

With cranberry jelly it’s something you can prepare ahead of the day, you’ll have plenty of time to get it right, and it will be a talking point, too.