Make some jelly. (What kind? Well, colour is more important than flavour in this case so go for red and green to be traditional, blue and purple to wow the kids or your favourite colour.) You might like to make it in wide, flat tin so that you can cut it into small cubes.
When the jelly has set, choose a serving bowl – glass with straight sides is perfect but you can use anything really.
Cut a cake into one centimetre slices and layer it on the bottom of the bowl. (How much cake? Depends on the size of your bowl. What kind of cake? Whatever you have on hand or buy one from the shops.)
Sprinkle the cake with sherry. (Or brandy. Or liqueur. Again, whatever you have on hand should be fine.)
Add fruit. (Fresh fruit cut into smallish chunks is great but you can use any frozen fruit or drained, tinned fruit that you have.)
Cover with custard. (Supermarket custard is perfectly adequate.) Whip some cream and spread on top.
Decorate the trifle with jelly (a generous ring of jelly round the edge always looks good and you don’t have to cut it into cubes: you can spoon it out into small quenelles or just fork it out freeform).
Cover and leave it in the fridge overnight. (Or two nights. It can take it.)
You can see how easy it is to ring the changes on this trifle:
- Upgrade the cake.
- Match the liqueur, the fruit and the jelly to increase the sophistication. (Eg: coconut liqueur, mangoes, and pineapple jelly for a tropical trifle. Peach schnapps, peaches and peach jelly for a (wait for it) peach trifle.)
- Make your own custard.
- Change the decoration. (Piles of strawberries sprinkled with pistachios look impressive.)
Christmas Day 1970: When we had changed out of our good clothes, we found Nanna was busy with the turkey and the aunts were chopping pumpkin and peeling carrots and the uncles seemed quite content to wait. So we showed our Mallee cousins what Santa had brought and eventually the dinner was On and surely the presents were too.
 And hence have more time on the Day.
 My brother Matthew can’t go past trifle either: it’s his favourite dessert. ‘Please put it at the far end of the table,” he asked me last year, “And that will give me a bit more exercise with each serving”.
 To be honest, colour is more important than flavour for jelly nearly all the time.
 Sponge fingers are classic and jam roll works well and looks pretty too.
 Well, nearly anything. My nephew Ben made a trifle with his home brewed beer and it was a failure on every level. (Even his brother Jack refused to eat it.)
 I think most people would rather wait if the alternative was chopping pumpkin.
 Linda suggested we use my new textas to turn little Felicity into Rudolph by colouring her nose red and Felicity was willing but I wasn’t (but, I’m sorry to say, it was the textas I was concerned about and not the two year old).