Puffin authors share their most hilarious Christmas disasters

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the odd disaster, or two. From turkey-crazed pooches to elf-sized Christmas trees, our Puffin authors share their most calamitous Christmas catastrophes...

Puffin team
Author Christmas disasters

"My funniest Christmas disaster was when I served everyone whole peaches bottled in brandy for pudding.  The peaches proved impenetrable and rolled all over the tablecloth when we tried to eat them...."

"I was cooking a traditional Christmas Turkey and I wanted it to be particularly good because my parents-in-law were coming to have Christmas dinner with us. I had also prepared a large ham on the bone. Yummy! All the preparations had taken hours of course. Our visitors arrived (with their uninvited dog) and settled in. My mother in law went straight to the kitchen and started interrogating me. Had I done this first, had I done that? Had I put this on at the right time? What had I used for the stuffing? She spoke to me as if I was about five years old and had never even seen a turkey, let alone cooked one. (I had - many times!). I was about to take the turkey out and get it ready for carving when my mother-in-law started to insist that it hadn’t been in the oven nearly long enough, that I didn’t know what I was doing, and how many turkeys had I cooked because she’d cooked hundreds - and so on. She insisted that the turkey stayed in the oven at least another hour. For the sake of peace and quiet, I obliged. When the turkey came out it was overcooked and as dry as the Sahara Desert. It was all my fault, according to mother in law. I should have basted it more and in any case, the stuffing was too much so the heat couldn’t get right inside it - and so on. I said never mind, we’ve still got the ham I prepared and I tried some earlier and it was really tasty. I went to get the ham and found mother in law’s dogs chewing the last bits it on the kitchen floor. Some Christmas! I never invited mother in law round for Christmas again."

"Last year I ordered one of those ethical living Christmas trees because I live in north London and that's what you do. When it arrived it was about the size of a handbag and I could only get about three baubles on it. We ended up getting another one because many, many people told me it was the most pathetic tree they had ever seen. It's dead now."

Dave Rudden, author of the Knights of the Borrowed Dark series

"I lived in Egypt for a year and, as I'm not much of a home bird, thought I could definitely do a Christmas away from home. I was wrong and spent the day sitting on a balcony in 28-degree heat eating a turkey sandwich as my social media feed filled up with talk of snow and presents and family. Never again."

Jonathan Stroud, author of the Lockwood and Co. series

"...My wife came down with proper flu early on Christmas morning and retired to bed, forcing me to take command of preparing Xmas dinner for a houseful of hungry relatives. My theory was that nothing much could go wrong – surely all I had to do was put things on to cook at the correct time? Sadly a series of miscalculations ensued, the worst of which was underestimating the heat needed for the main oven. Come one o’clock, and the turkey was still half raw; meanwhile, everything else was already over-cooked. As the potatoes grew steadily more shrivelled and the parsnips wilted, I ramped up the heat, only to promptly burn the sausages, causing the smoke alarm to go off, sending elderly relations stampeding like wildebeests while I clambered on chairs trying to turn the wretched thing off. The eventual meal, which appeared halfway through the afternoon, contrived to be both charcoaled and unpleasantly underdone and was disposed of as hurriedly as possible, mostly on the compost heap. Since then I approach all Christmas dinners with extreme caution."

Robin Stevens, author of the Murder Most Unladylike series

"One Christmas my family adopted a rescue dog called Rhys. Rhys had not been treated well by his previous owners, and for several weeks we could not convince him that we were going to feed him properly. Somehow he worked out how to open the fridge and all of the kitchen cupboards, and so we kept on coming into the kitchen to find him covered in flour and jam, eating all of the food we had been meaning to have for dinner. Once he actually stole a box of Christmas chocolates off of my lap, and he managed to pull the Christmas turkey off of its plate while it was waiting to be cooked. It was not a great Christmas for food, but Rhys was so lovely that he made up for it."

David O’Doherty, author of the Danger is Everywhere series

"Florence, the incredibly disobedient but perpetually forgiven cocker spaniel opened everyone's Christmas presents one year. She neatly removed all of the wrapping paper, leaving - well what do a bunch of unwrapped Christmas presents really amount to? - a pile of random junk. She didn't even chew any of them, I think she just wanted to remind us that Christmas is all well and good, but she was still the boss. Mum was furious and put her out into the garden. But she cried so much, after an hour, I let her in. She was good for a while, but then got up on the table and ate the turkey."

"I cooked Christmas dinner last year. Everything had gone well until the last moment when I ruined the gravy! Gravy is the most important thing as it goes over all the food on your plate, it made everything taste disgusting."

Jeff Kinney, author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series

"Last year I got some scooters for my kids that were electronic and I could not figure for the life of me how to turn them on. So we had these useless scooters with locked wheels… and crying red-faced children on Christmas."


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