In contrast to the majority of ‘2016 Reviews’, I won’t reflect on Brexit/Trump, or even the truly phenomenal Olympics/Paralympics or Major Tim Peake. Rather briefly I will touch on the joys of Christmas centring on my four favourite ‘F’ Words: Family, Friends, Fun and Food.

Family, friends and fun

Fun social gatherings with family and friends throughout Christmas and New Year enable us to spend time with those we love. Many of our friends host unmissable annual “Open Door Parties”, which unsurprisingly feature lots of glorious food and drink. Often our international pals theme the celebrations to reflect their home nations. Fun-fact: Who knew Danish Glogg had such a high ratio of port and vodka to red wine?

I would encourage you to make time to enjoy your own quirky family traditions and rituals that you have formed over generations. My wife’s family always had fun Table Presents, which is something  I had never heard of. This was rather embarrassing at our first Christmas together when her place setting remained conspicuously empty. Another tradition from close friends, whose family live around the world, is to raise a glass and think of one another at 10pm Central European Time on New Year’s Eve. In our fast-paced world, the slow-paced comfort of family games, stories, long walks and ‘helping’ the children play with their new toys all form part of a family’s rituals. I recommend you relish, not disregard your traditions and pass them on as a gift for the next generation.

Our family typically celebrates with groups of families and I always get the privilege of reading “The night before Christmas” story to all the children. But as I’m often reminded “..it is to calm them down before bed”. Creating these magical and fun experiences for the children is one of life’s greatest joys.

Christmas food

Food ingredients in the UK have never been so varied, exciting and available. Regardless of budget or taste, the multitude of options available for your Christmas meal are amazing.  Whether traditionalists with Turkey, Game or meat-free options, the confidence of the British public to experiment with recipes should make for exciting twists for Christmas lunch.  Though Christmas breakfasts, brunches and dinners are all fast challenging the traditional Christmas day schedule, perhaps evolving to two large meals rather than three.

Given the volume of food at Christmas time, I am always impressed to see the different ways left-over turkey is used in dishes. Anything to reduce food waste has to be a good thing.

I hear people say that cooking the Christmas meal can be stressful. Can I can suggest you follow Pete’s Christmas Dinner Countdown Plan. Pete’s preparation tips will solve the potential stress or if all else fails, buy in some aspects pre-prepared. My preferred choice is share the work amongst the guests!

Our family traditions

This Christmas my family will be celebrating with our nearest and (rather raucous) dearest friends and family. We will also steal moments to contrast the revelry by tapping into our inner “Hygge”. This will be fireside, wine or hot chocolate in hand, after a hearty meal with a feeling of peaceful contentedness…

Thank you

I’d like to thank our amazing supply chain for providing us with great produce with provenance we are proud of. Thank you to our clients and customers who continue to support us by eating our delicious seasonal food. Finally, I send a heartfelt thanks to all our wonderful hardworking teams. Your unwavering passion and dedication continues to amaze and reassure me – thank you!

To conclude, enjoy your Christmas feasts with family & friends, relish your traditions but most of all have great fun! From the whole bartlett mitchell family we wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas!