Fallen Christmas tree caused by pet cat

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LONDON — ‘Tis the season – for holiday mayhem? The top 50 most common Christmas disasters include burnt turkey, a fallen Christmas tree, undercooked roast potatoes, and forgetting the gravy. A study of 2,000 British adults who celebrate the festive season found many of the things that go wrong are centered around food with soggy vegetables and undercooked greens both in the top five.

Other top mistakes made on Christmas Day were forgetting vegetarian and vegan alternatives, not having enough plates to serve all guests, and running out of wrapping paper.

It also emerged that while 44 percent of those polled think mishaps are simply part of the big day, 62 percent prefer to stick to what they know to avoid mistakes.

Conducted by OnePoll and commissioned by the bakery brand, St Pierre, the study found disasters especially leave people feeling frustrated (41%) and embarrassed (41%). Although looking back, they now feel entertained (42%) and nostalgic (39%), with 43 percent claiming many of their fond festive memories center around food.

The study also found people have typically hosted nine Christmases, experiencing three disasters each time, but 55 percent are confident they’ve made fewer mistakes over the years. Another 43 percent admit such catastrophes create amusing stories to retell years later and hearing about other people’s mishaps makes 45 percent feel better about their own.

“It’s safe to say the majority of us have experienced some sort of unplanned mishap at Christmas,” a spokesperson for St Pierre says in a statement. “A lot of the list of disasters are food focused because food is such an important part of the occasion and it’s something everyone wants to get right to impress others.”

“That said, it’s always useful to have something in the cupboard as back-up and there are clever ways to cheat your way to a magnifique Christmas spread.”

“No matter how bad it might feel messing up on Christmas Day, those who have experienced such a thing agree that it’s all part of making memories.”

Christmas joy revolves around food!

For 40 percent, food is a central part of Christmas and 68 percent have had a “practice run” before hosting — with 60 percent of them admitting the trial was better than the real deal. Keeping track of the time (45%), chatting to others (44%), and music being on (40%) are among the scenarios which impact the success — or lack of — festive dinner.

In order to avoid mishaps with Christmas dinner, 62 percent prep some elements the night before and 56 percent write a to-do list. Eighty-six percent of those polled believe food is an important aspect of Christmas and 60 percent even have “back-up” ready to eat items in case something goes wrong. Assuming it all goes to plan, leftovers are typically enjoyed in a sandwich (47%), for breakfast (38%), or even given to pets (38%).

Some of the most memorable Christmas disaster scenes from films and TV shows also feature food, including the turkey exploding when being cut into in “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” The family forgetting Kevin in “Home Alone” and Bart burning down the Christmas tree and presents in the Simpsons also proved popular.

“The festive season is about making memories with friends, family and unforgettable food – with 86 percent of Americans admitting food is important to their Christmas. Good food is more than just a meal on your plate. It’s a get-together, it’s sharing, it’s family – and this is never more true than at Christmas,” the St Pierre’s spokesperson adds.


1. Soggy vegetables
2. Undercooked roast potatoes
3. Hard, under-cooked vegetables
4. Lumpy gravy
5. Burnt Yorkshire puddings
6. Running out of wrapping paper
7. Burnt stuffing
8. Presents ordered online not arriving on time
9. Food being served cold
10. Forgetting gravy when serving up
11. Burnt turkey
12. Christmas tree falling over
13. Not putting name tags on gifts and forgetting who it is for
14. Watery gravy
15. Forgetting to put food in the oven at the right time
16. Not having enough chairs to sit all guests
17. Christmas lights blowing a fuse
18. Having to cook when hungover
19. Forgetting to defrost a dessert
20. Waking up late, meaning dinner will be late
21. Forgetting Christmas pudding
22. Undercooked meat
23. Presents going missing
24. Oven breaking
25. Giving someone a gift intended for someone else
26. Forgetting to supply vegetarian/vegan alternatives for guests
27. Writing the wrong person’s name on a card
28. Power outage
29. Leaving presents at home when visiting someone else on Christmas Day
30. Breaking a Christmas present immediately after opening it
31. Arguments over politics at the dinner table
32. Forgetting to turn the oven on
33. Fridge/freezer breaking so all food is ruined
34. Not having enough plates to serve dinner to all guests
35. Pet cat climbing and getting stuck up the tree
36. Microwave breaking
37. Kid’s seeing me wrapping presents intended to be from Santa
38. Finding gone off bread when making a Boxing Day sandwich
39. Caught cheating at a board game
40. Not buying enough food for guests
41. Forgetting to defrost the turkey
42. Not having enough cutlery for all guests
43. Someone choking on the coin in the middle of a Christmas pudding
44. Dog eating someone’s Christmas dinner
45. Presents being stolen
46. Breaking down in the car en-route to a relative’s
47. Table centrepiece catching on fire
48. Christmas pudding catching on fire
49. The oven setting on fire
50. Dry sprouts

About Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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