What’s Your Most Memorable Holiday Mishap?

Festive occasions can go horribly awry, as these tales from Real Simple readers prove.

Photo by John Kernick

My in-laws were having Christmas dinner at our house for the first time, and I wanted everything to be perfect. I cooked my turkey and the giblets before we left for the family Christmas Eve party. Both were left on the back of the stove to cool. Imagine my shock when we returned to find that our boxer had eaten the turkey and we had to find a replacement at 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve.
Carol Beck-McCullough
Lacombe, Louisiana
Cooking goose for Christmas dinner. The butcher neglected to tell me about the reduced net weight of geese as they roast. When the final timer rang, I looked into the oven to see two roasting dishes full of fat and approximately two pounds of goose meat to feed 11 people. What was intended to be an elegant feast turned out to be a bit of Dickens gone awry.
Barb Bloom
Fenton, Michigan
When I was first married, I didn’t know that when making mashed potatoes, you were supposed to use the hand mixer, not the blender. When I put the hot potatoes in the blender and shut the cover and turned it on, they exploded everywhere, including the ceiling.
Lisa Rakowski
Mayville, North Dakota
Christmas Eve, 10 days early, at the home of my grandparents. Don’t even think of bringing any presents for Grandma and Grandpa or they won’t speak to you for the rest of the year. The children will be getting socks, underwear, and sweats that are three sizes too big, probably wrapped in birthday wrapping paper, which you will leave behind for next year. Grandpa and the uncles will watch a sporting event the entire time and not speak to you about anything but said sporting event. The TV will be cranked to a maximum volume so Grandpa can hear the commentators. Cousin Kay will be wearing an inappropriate outfit, and Aunt Em will be a loud talker. Everyone will bring an appetizer; premade cheesecake and greasy meatballs will be provided. Aunt Em will be whipping up some type of grub. Eat at your own risk! If you try to throw any food away, Grandpa will put you in a headlock, then talk about the Depression.
Jane Pendergast
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
When I was younger, it was tradition to get a new pair of sneakers for Christmas. We also bought my grandfather a new pair. Needless to say, my pair was accidentally sent to him. Come Christmas morning, he opened a brand-new pair of tiny purple Nikes. He tried to act excited.
Fran Pfrimmer
Birmingham, Alabama
I desperately wanted to find the perfect hostess gift to impress my husband’s aunt and uncle. We settled on a poinsettia, but the only one we could afford had clearly seen better days. His aunt accepted it at the door and proceeded to place it in a beautiful bay window filled with gorgeous poinsettias. I hoped it was the thought that counted.
Amy O’Dowd
Caledonia, Ontario
When my children were young, I was the typical mom, shooting tons of holiday photos for the scrapbooks. One year, after many agonizing photo setups with props (tree, decorations, etc.) and after having taken dozens of photos of my family, I discovered that I hadn’t loaded film into the camera. I didn’t have the heart to tell everyone that all the time spent on setting up the perfect photo opportunities was for naught.
Audrey Whitley
Charlotte, North Carolina
It was one of the first Christmases my husband and I spent together. We had been invited to several family dinners and decided to attend one later in the evening. We arrived at the chosen dinner to find that the couple had gotten inebriated and therefore hadn’t cooked. My husband and I wound up eating hot dogs at a gas station as nothing was open on the 25th. And to top it off, while I ate my Christmas dinner, the hot dog landed on my blouse and got mustard all over me. The holiday meal is always at our house now.
Tracey Kinnaman
Thermopolis, Wyoming