Tradition is all very well, but you don't want to get stuck in a rut. So here are five old habits you might repeat year after year, and some interesting alternatives to refresh your parties, food and presents this Christmas. It may be months away, but there's no harm in planning in advance.
- Mulled wine:The last person to admit to enjoying mulled wine beyond that first nostalgic sip died three years ago. It was popular in the 1970s, but only because it tasted better than home brew. These days, people will sip a glass out of politeness, but secretly they’ll be wondering which plant they can tip it and ask for something drinkable. Try our Rosemary Livener instead (link here).
- Office Secret Santa: It's hard enough buying presents for people you know and like, the chances of getting it right for someone you barely know and may actively dislike are slim to none. Instead, agree your favourite charity at the start of December, and donate the tenners there. This makes everyone feel good and Jo from Marketing doesn’t have to pretend to be overjoyed with her gyrating desk Santa and bag of giant Buttons.
- Ecards: Yes, they are better for the environment. No, nobody feels a special rush of joy clicking on a link, so stick to real cards if you can. Book out two nights at the end of November and blitz the lot to get maximum smugness from knowing they have arrived on your family’s doorsteps first.
- Turkey: Suggesting ditching the Turkey is controversial but it's not as traditional as you think: it's only been a staple in the UK since the 1950s. Before then, goose was the prime festive table fodder. Much of the turkey meat we eat nowadays is heavily farm-bred and processed, meaning it's not great for the animals and the meat has little flavour and texture. Explore other, tastier meats: a return to the goose, perhaps, or a walk on the wild side with a leg of lamb or a pork roast. Your guests will thank you for the change, and you won’t be eating turkey sandwiches for the next month.
- Quality Street: As with mulled wine, just because Quality Street chocolates are only available once a year doesn’t mean we have to eat them. Yes, they do come in family size tins, but so do other sweeties made from better chocolate. Yes, their wrappers are brightly-coloured, and surprisingly inspirational in craft terms, but we spend much of January and February rooting them out from behind the sofa. They are a handy gift for people you don’t know very well, but then so are our lovely Pools of Light and they aren’t going to add to the festive sugar haze.