Note: click on photos for a larger view, and click here if you’re wondering who all these people are.

We only had 20 people this year, which made it a relatively quiet Christmas dinner. Ha ha. (Read about previous Christmases here)

Really, 20 made for a more manageable group, but I wouldn’t say it was any less chaotic than usual. My mom wouldn’t have it any other way.

Dinner started with Crostini and three different toppings. A traditional fresh tomato topping called Piccanti, from the New Basics Cookbook. Muhammara, a Syrian spread made with toasted walnuts, roasted red peppers, tomato paste and a whole bunch of other yummy stuff. And a green topping, made with lima beans, mint and lime.

After crostini we had the Big Prize drawing for our annual Christmas Lottery. Christmas Lottery is not a Yankee Swap or a Secret Santa, like many think. It’s literally a lottery run by Shane, the kids and I.

There are two prizes, the Big Prize, which is the lesser prize, and the Grand Prize which is a big deal. Some of the Grand Prize gifts over the years have been: a whole prosciutto, a magnum of Jameson whiskey, an industrial bubble machine, Bacon of the Month Club, half a wheel of Parmesan cheese, you get the picture.

The Big Prize is a (much) lesser gift, that hints somehow at what the Grand Prize will be. This year the Big Prize was a $10 gift card for Dunkin’ Donuts. Can you guess what the Grand Prize was?

The main course followed the first segment of Christmas Lottery. We had pork, which I can’t tell you much about except that many people said it was the best pork ever.

Accompaniments were my late uncle Jerry’s stuffed peppers, made by his son Josh, buttery mashed potatoes by Shane, and later, a fennel and orange salad with spinach.

I loved that this meal followed my 5-dish rule, which is that no meal needs more than 5 different dishes. If you have more, you can’t really absorb all of the taste information and you recall it as a possibly delicious but generally un-remarkable “meal blur.”

(Note: there may or may not be some scientific evidence behind this theory, and dessert is excluded from the rule.)

The Grand Prize drawing for Christmas Lottery 2014 followed the main course. The lottery was won by Wayne who claimed the uncharacteristically un-foodie prize of a “Five Star Restaurant Fun Pack,” which is a pack of 5 chain restaurant gift cards including Olive Garden, Ninety-Nine, Outback, TGI Fridays and we’ve already forgotten the last.

Because my sister did not arrive early enough to make her Buche de Noel, Iris’ Kourabiethes and André’s Molases Chip Cookies were joined on the dessert table by a bunch of green-frosted donuts (from Dunkin’s!)

And that’s it, until brunch the next day (see last photo). Merry Christmas!