Some biscuits freeze well so, if you’d like to get ahead on the perishables for your hamper, you could cook them today, freeze them and then package them up just before Christmas.
Here’s a recipe for orange thins that you can cut into any shape you like, so why not go for some kind of animal and put stripes or spots on them with chocolate when you thaw them in December? (Or, of course, go with a Christmas shape, like a star or a camel).
Spiced Orange Biscuits
Preparation time 1 hour 20 minutes
3 cups (450g) plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cardamom
1½ cup (300g) brown sugar
3 tsp sweet sherry
Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Grease 3 baking trays.
Zest the orange. Sift the flour, baking powder and spices into a large bowl.
Cream the butter and sugar. Mix in the sherry and zest, and then fold in the dry ingredients.
Knead the dough lightly and roll out to 2mm thickness. Cut into shapes and place on trays. Bake for 8 minutes until golden brown and crisp.
The picture Dad took of that Christmas dinner forty years ago is now mine and it hangs on the photo wall in my dining room, a frozen moment of a perfect Christmas. But it wasn’t the presents or the pudding or the carols that perfected it: we set aside this day to be joyful and then we set about being joyful all day with the people we loved. Joy, I think, is a product of what’s in your heart rather than what’s in the world around you. But it still helps to be in a safe environment with a happy family, and I was blessed with both of those.
 This does require freezer space, of course, which was at a premium in my cousin Russell’s friend Yan’s house: he was an amateur taxidermist and if he found an interesting specimen of roadkill during the week, he’d put it in his freezer until he could work on it on the weekend.
 It’s not just sheep and donkeys – camels are nativity animals too. (And my sister Wendy’s favourite Christmas hymn when she was a child was “Oh camel, ye faithful.”)