What with basting the turkey every 30 minutes, painstakingly carving crosses into the sprouts, whisking the gravy until your arm goes dead, and keeping grandma topped up with sherry, taking up the gauntlet to be the head chef on Christmas Day is not for the faint-hearted. And before you know it, it's been polished off with barely a "thank you".

So to make Christmas Day something that the cook associates more with a tasty meal than sweating and a stress-induced headache, IBTimes UK asked some Christmas elves (aka chefs, cooks and food writers) for some unusual hacks.

The bird

First things first, take everything on the packaging with a pinch of salt (apart from the use-by date, obviously).

If you're serious about cooking the meat perfectly, calculate the cooking time using a tool like bbcgoodfood.com or britishturkey.co.uk. If you are cooking a large bird such as a turkey, take it out of the fridge around an hour or so before roasting to reduce the time in the oven.

To prevent dryness, brine the turkey first, suggests Natasha Cooke of Lupins restaurant in London.

Another option is butter muslin, where the fabric is soaked in melted butter and wrapped around the bird before it heads into the oven to create a crispy skin and moist meat.

74°C is the temperature you will need to hit all the way through to the middle of the thighs so invest in a thermapen, says former BBC Good Food editor Orlando Murrin.

Halfway through your cooking time, give the bird a quick check. If the breast is cooked before the thighs, cover the breast loosely loosely with a double layer of foil so the thighs can catch up.

A roast dinner
A roast dinner PublicDomainPictures

Feeling adventurous? Scrap all that and stick the turkey in a fryer, says Cooke. "It keeps the meat really moist. So tasty and you won't look back."

For those attempting a goose, make like Leon Smith, head chef of Mr Hanbury's Mason Arms in Oxfordshire, and cook the breasts in their own fat in a pan. Leave them to rest for a good 20 minutes before serving.

Stress-free veg

Yes, it is possible to cook vegetables that aren't utterly grim without losing your mind. Blanch veg the night before and stick them in the microwave with butter, herbs and seasoning before you serve them, suggests Vivek Singh, executive chef and CEO of The Cinnamon Collection.

The crispiest potatoes

"For crispy roast potatoes, preheat your oven to 200°C and have a tray of vegetable oil heating up until smoking hot," says Richard Bainbridge of Benedicts restaurant in Norwich.

Heavily salt some water, and boil them for around 10 minutes until they are just cooked. Agitate the potatoes in a colander - this makes them extra crispy - season well with salt and carefully place into your pan of smoking oil.

"Gently move them around so they are coated all over with oil, place back in the oven and leave for a minimum of 20 minutes before touching to allow caramelisation of your potatoes," he adds. To finish, toss them around and cook for another 20 minutes until golden and crisp.

Faultless gravy

If you are using a bird with giblets, use them to make stock as far in advance as possible.

Boil up the giblets, skim off as much fat as you can once strained, and simmer until it reduces by about a quarter to create a concentrated flavour, suggests Murrin. Chill the stock and skim off any remaining fat - which will have formed a skin on top - before serving to guests.

Delectable dessert

Can't face another Christmas pudding but need to serve one for the sake of tradition? Try a Douglas fir-infused white sauce, courtesy of two Michelin star chef Michael Wignall.

"It sounds unusual, but the tender tips of the fir infused in the sauce works really well," he says. Whip up a white sauce using 550ml of milk, 50g castor sugar, and 50g of the lightest green, tender tips (after washing). Sieve the mixture. Separately, melt 50g of butter, stir in 50g plain flour, and cook for two to three minutes and mix in the milk.

For Boxing Day, grab some ready-made pastry to wrap balls of leftover pudding in. Stick in the oven until the pastry is cooked and serve.

Finishing touches

In an age where everything is Instagrammable, the beige, green and brown of a Christmas dinner plate can look a little lacklustre, however tasty it is. First, decide what plates you will be using far enough in advance to avoid having to serve Aunt Vera her meal in a toddler's Paw Patrol bowl.

"A day or two ahead chop plenty of fresh herbs and put in the fridge in a small bowl, covered in cling film, to sprinkle over turkey and veg," says Murrin. Just don't forget to use them in the heat of the moment.

And don't hand out scalding plates from the oven to your guests - just stick them in the dishwasher beforehand for a quick rinse to heat them up.