Presentation is everything! The table is arranged with precision, wine has filled the glasses and the start of the feat, the Christmas turkey is brought out for everyone's approval.
Applause is short-lived, as the assembled host witness a calamitous case of what turkeyphiles call stuffing creep.
It's that moment when stuffing, expanding in the heat of the oven, rudely pushes its way out of the bird's rear end and spoils the cosmetic appeal.
After rigorous scientific experiments, four Swedish veterinary surgeons have found the answer: surgical staples.
Writing in the British journal Veterinary Record, the team report how they took 15 turkeys -- average weight 3.56 kilos (7.83 pounds) -- and randomly allocated the birds to five types of carcass closure before roasting them for exactly two hours at 180 degrees Centigrade (356 degrees Fahrenheit).
Among four types of suture, the most effective was the Utrecht Pattern, a stitching frequently used to close up the wombs of cows after Caesarean section.
The most effective technique of all was surgical staples.
They scored 0.3 for skin breakage on a scale of zero to three, where zero means no breakage, and a stellar 4.6 for appearance on a scale of one to five, where five is excellent.
"Using this technique you will be able to impress family and friends at a Christmas dinner, and finally show them your surgical skills," say the Swedish vets.
But for any turkey-lover tempted to order up a surgical-quality staple gun, they have a word of caution: "A potential drawback for the use of skin staples may be their indigestibility if one is forgotten in a served piece of turkey."