Posts tagged with: Christmas. lunch

Festive Fun – English Style – Quick Five!

IMG_1839Yes, it’s ‘the most wonderful time of the year’! Only two more sleeps! (Assuming you can sleep on Christmas Eve!)

I know it’s fashionable to be all ‘bah humbug’ about Christmas (or Hannukah/Festivus/Kwanzaa etc), but I really do love this holiday season. From the twinkling lights, the decorated tree and house, the festive food, the cheesy, schmaltzy films to the presents, celebrations and traditions. Speaking of traditions, I thought it would be fun to share with you some our English Christmas traditions.

Because we don’t have Thanksgiving over here in England, the period between Christmas and New Year is extra-special for us. It’s a time when most people try to have a few days off, so they can do the rounds of the family and also chill out!

Also related to not having Thanksgiving, we don’t decorate until the 1st of December at the earliest. And we’re very strict about decorations having to be down by midnight on twelfth night (Jan 5th) – it’s believed to be unlucky. Unfortunately, as we’re away at a new year wedding, we’ll have to take them down on the 6th this year. Hopefully, if it’s still the 5th somewhere in the world, we’ll be okay!

DSC_2272We’re very traditional about our food too. Yes, some people do actually make a point of having goose or try to be different with turducken or beef, but most of us stick with turkey. It’s always served with sage and onion stuffing, bread sauce, brussel sprouts, roasted parsnips and roasted potatoes. Often, there will be added accompaniments like pigs in blankets (little sausages wrapped in bacon) or a chestnut dish and even Yorkshire Pudding. In recent years cranberry sauce has made an appearance on many tables. Most families also have their own traditional extra dish. In our family, it’s cream cheese stuffed mushrooms.

Another one of our traditions is Christmas crackers. We all pull crackers, wear the silly paper hats, share the terrible little jokes  and laugh at the usually useless prize inside. (That’s me pulling a cracker with Doc Cambridge’s dad!)

DSC_0077 - CopyAfter lunch, or as dessert if you have room, there is the flaming Christmas pudding (often with a sixpence or silver treat inside – the person who finds it is very lucky!), Christmas cake and/or mince pies with brandy butter or cream. I’m not one for Christmas pudding, but I love Christmas cake and mince pies. My favourite dessrt, though, is trifle!

In the past, everyone listened to or watched the annual Queen’s Speech. Even those Brits around the world and people in Commonwealth countries would tune in to the BBC World Service, to hear what she had to say. These days, with social media, the internet and everyone needing to have a scoop, the text is available in advance. Also in the past, because we had very few channels, and no videos or DVDs, there would be a battle between the two major stations (BBC and ITV) for the big Christmas blockbuster movie premiere – which was usually at least a year old! These days, everything gets to TV so quickly and there are so many other options available, that the Christmas line-up, while still featuring a movie premier, concentrates more on Christmas specials of favourite shows like Call the Midwife and Downton Abbey, and the evening soaps.

A Perfect CatchMany families also avoid the TV and play board or card games! I find it’s the perfect time to sit down and read a book, uninterrupted except for someone handing you a mince pie or a drink!

And then there is Boxing Day – but those of you who have been with us in the Lair, know all about that! One of my old Boxing Day posts – which includes my famous Boxing Day Soup is here.

So, without further ado, it’s time for you to share your holiday traditions in the special festive edition of Quick Five! As part of the annual 12 Bandita Days of Christmas, not one, but two lucky commenters will win a signed copy of A Perfect Catch – and receive it before it’s released on Feb 1! If you’ve also signed up for my newsletter, you can receive a bonus exclusive Anna Sugden keyring (let me know in your comment).

1. Let’s talk lights – coloured or white, twinkling or static, just on the tree or elsewhere too?

2. Christmas lunch – what do you have and what’s your family’s traditional extra?

3. Christmas dessert or sweet treats – what’s your favourite?

4. Traditional Christmas activity – watch TV, play games or something else?

5. Do you open presents on Christmas Eve, in the morning or in the afternoon? Are you a rip into them all at once, or savour each one carefully? Does everyone open all at once or do you take turns?

The Best Part of Christmas

by Donna MacMeans

Do you know what the best part of Christmas is?

PRESENTS !!!!!!!!!!!!! (and you were expecting something less materialistic?)
Okay…while presents are awfully good, they’re not the best part of Christmas. But before we get into that discussion — I wanted to remind the five winners of Dianne Castell’s book, Star Quality, to email her at Those winners were: Helen, Jo, Dina, Terrio, and Michele L.

Looking back over the various December blogs, we’ve talked about cookies and crafts, movies and snow but we haven’t mentioned one of my favorite aspects of the season.


Seriously. This is the season for friends to gather for a holiday celebration so there’s lots of well-attended luncheons and parties.

Why is that?

Not the gathering, I mean – I’m always up for a fun gathering – but why do we do it so frequently at Christmas? I met a group of writers at a Chinese Restaurant last weekend, and am meeting a writer for lunch later today who is in-town visiting in-laws. (She’s from California and in for a wintery shock when she steps outside in our chill temps). Last weekend, it was another larger group of writers and before that – the red hats. (Have to love the Red Hat groups. Their sole purpose is to party *g*). Before that it was the Investment group and the Gourmet crowd. Obviously, the extra pounds swallowing my waist aren’t all from Christmas cookies!

My husband has been going out for annual lunches with his golf buddies and with his co-workers…but have you noticed that men lunch differently than women? I mean, when he comes home, he isn’t gripping a bunch of brightly colored gift bags with inexpensive ornaments or cute notepads or homemade goodies or such. When men exchange gifts – they exchange gift cards. That way gift parity is maintained and wrapping is minimal. The only variance is in the vendor. Love it!

Maybe that’s why holiday lunches are so prevalent…gifts are involved. So maybe presents are the best thing of Christmas (though I tend to think it’s the friendships behind the glitsy bag with the cute notepads).

Merry Christmas to my fellow banditas and bandita buddies! I wish we could all meet in the lair for lunch (and drinks and Sven…) Thank you all for your friendship, not only over the holiday season, but for the whole year through. Friendship is the best gift of all.

So on this note I’d like you to tell me either your favorite gift of all or your favorite part of Christmas. I’d also like you to give me the name of someone whose friendship is a gift (first name only, please). One poster will receive the special bandita prize for the twelve days of Christmas and their friend will receive an autographed hard cover of The Trouble with Moonlight with an appropriate inscription.

Merry Christmas All!