My flat is currently in a state of pre Christmas chaos (so much as it always is, but with cards hiding books, a fine layer of glitter over everything making me worry about micro plastics and, fairy lights). I have hunted high and low for Jerome K. Jerome's ''After Supper Ghost Stories', which I know I saw recently, but cannot currently put my hand to.
It's annoying me because I know everyone gets roaring drunk in the main story, but I can't remember what they were drinking (I think there's a list) and I'd like to know. I'd also quite like to read it again generally. I was a little bit disappointed by this book first time around because it wasn't all ghost stories, after dinner or otherwise. That wouldn't really matter, but that the 'ghost story' bit is so very good that I wanted more of the same rather than Jerome's general observations (although also funny).
We have rather lost the tradition of telling ghost stories on Christmas Eve, which is a shame, especially when they're more funny than frightening. In this case there's much talk of murdering Carol singers that I'm sure anyone ever subjected to bad carol singing will feel some sympathy with. I ended up reading most of this to assembled family last year (not on purpose, but they kept asking what I was laughing at) which makes me think it would make a great party piece.
I don't recommend getting as drunk as Jerome's characters do, the resulting hangover would be a terrible way to spend Christmas Day, and would probably see you into the new year, but for the purposes of a family gathering, with or without ghost stories, hot punches or mulled drinks are a very good idea.
This cider one is low enough in alcohol to be fairly benign, and can be scaled up or down. Start with enough cider to go around (not very precise I know, but it depends on how many people there are) and stick it in a pan to warm it through, add a couple of cinnamon sticks, some cloves (3-6 depending on how much you're making should be plenty) star anise, and a good grating of nutmeg, bring up to simmering point and keep just below boiling. At this point you want to add some fruit juice, and there are options. I've seen pineapple, cranberry, and orange all being touted. I'd go with a mix of pineapple and cranberry, but it's a matter of personal taste. If you use pineapple you probably won't need to add any more sugar, but taste, adjust to suit, and keep on the heat for 10 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until everything has infused nicely together. Drink.
The other good thing about this is that it's just as good made with apple juice instead of cider for an entirely alcohol free, child friendly, version.