Remind family members to top up the ice tray when they remove cubes - not put it back in the freezer half-full [or even empty] And don't forget that if you cut up some lemons and open freeze them, before putting into a bag, you have ice-and-a-slice all ready to go!
If you have one of these 'cheese planes' you will find that they are brilliant for making quick, thin, cucumber slices for salads or sandwiches [or decorating your side of smoked salmon, should you be working at Downton Abbey] Also for shaving thin strips of pear [for James Martin's treacle and pear sponge pudding]
There seem to be fewer Christmas cards this year - certainly I have not sent as many - partly for budget reasons, and also because I am able to email lots of friends. But I do have a basket by the Christmas tree to put the 'Christmas letters' in. I cannot always take in all the information when the post arrives, so if I have a designated place for them all, they can be read at our leisure later.
Do remember to get the priorities straight. Some things matter more than others - relationships are more important than fine dining, the gift of time is more valuable than the gift of diamonds. When a minor domestic 'disaster' strikes, tell yourself "it's only stuff" Sprinkle grated cheese, or breadcrumbs over burnt savouries, create a snowstorm of icing sugar [or cocoa powder] over collapsing puddings - thus disguising the faults. Be truly creative and make a feature of the culinary crisis
My final tip - totally original, [at least, I have not found it anywhere else] buy a large jar of pickled gherkins. I have some in the pantry already [as Steph likes them, and she arrives very soon] The other night I was putting together a last minute meal with leftovers, and the potatoes and pasties just looked boringly brown on the beige plate. Remembering Shirley Conran's advice in Superwoman 'always try to add a touch of green, it adds a look of freshness' I hunted for something to throw on the plate. Bob grinned at the three large gherkins nestling beside his spuds and declared that 'gherkins make any meal more amusing'
So if you do not have plastic dinosaur, when calamity occurs, I think gherkins are a useful alternative. And you can use them to make mini Christmas Trees too!