11 days to go – It’s the Festive Countdown

In domestic on December 13, 2011 at 11:54 pm

It’s T minus 11, so how are your xmas preparations going? Here’s mine, in rough order of priority:

1 mince pies

This is a bit of Christmas I like to start early. In fact I had my first 2011 mince pie in October when the Heston ones hit Waitrose (verdict: not amazing) and have been a conscientious consumer ever since.

For those SE22 residents who keep asking which are the best mincers in the area, I’d have to say that we are spoilt for choice (much better standards than the disappointing hot cross buns earlier this year). It’s only a personal preference, but I’m partial to the Blackbird Bakery crumble topped mince pies (50p, but you do need to eat two), and find the ultra-deep Cheeseblock mince pies, though lovely, perhaps ever so slightly heavy on the mince meat. EDD had some nice homemade ones in recently but seem to have changed supplier this week. And am yet to sample Jacks, Franklins or anyone else’s.

I was also pleased to read that it’s good luck to eat a mince pie every day during the 12 days of Christmas. So I’m reclassifying the next 10 days as ‘training’.

1b Christmas puddings

Have decided against eBaying my Heston ‘hidden orange’ xmas pudding on the grounds that a) the eBay stories are all hype anyway b) it’s only a mini one and 3) I’d quite like to eat it. Have also had nice puds from Cartmel (who the owner of Franklins is trying to convince me were the inventors of the sticky toffee pudding) and Dutchy’s originals, but the Christmas Pudding ice cream at The Actress pub, SE22 is a sensation.

2 Alcohol

Although I’m rubbish at making my own mince pies, or puddings, or cakes, or any of the other amazing things I keep reading about other bloggers doing, I have managed to make my own brandy butter (road tested last night with aforementioned Cartmel xmas pud – and no it’s not weird to just have a mini xmas pud for your tea). Plus I have finally got round to making limoncello to Silvana Franco’s recipe. It’s about priorities you see.

In fact, as I type, I’m waiting for the sugar syrup to cool so I can add it to my Kilner jar of lemon peel and vodka. 50/50 whether I can wait another 2 weeks for it to be ready to drink though.

I’ve also stocked up on half price prosecco for impromptu parties (three new ones have sprung up in the past week – thank you kind people, I will be attending them all), as well as a cheap blended whisky and an expensive ginger wine for whisky macs. (Why don’t bars, even good ones, have ginger wine?)

Silvana’s limoncello recipe

Blogger showing off by making own mincemeat

3 Presents

Having spent everything I’m likely to earn this month and last on getting the car fixed – and I don’t even like driving – my husband and I will not be buying each other xmas presents this year. Which is one less thing to do or, more positively, one more thing ticked off the to-do list. (It’s all about perspective)

3b Unfortunately my recession-busting policy of avoiding shops or magazines full of nice things is not proving conducive to actually buying presents for other people. Conversely I’m spending a week working on a glossy consumer magazine 1 min from Oxford St.

4 Christmas Radio Times

Yep. Even though it doesn’t actually kick in till next weekend I bought it last weekend. Got to get a head start on the rest of the family to go through it, annotate it, diarise Christmas specials and insert Post Its in order to ‘bagsy’ programmes/time slots.

5 Christmas end of  term concerts etc


Son’s school hasn’t twigged that if you put small people in front of rows of people who are taller than them when sitting down, only the people in the front row will be able to see anything at all. Nine years and two children and I reckon I’ve actually seen three of their shows.

At my daughter’s school concert last week, I was horrified to be handed a programme with 26 items on it… until I realised there were two sheets stapled together and that there were in fact 69 pieces (we snuck out after about 20)

6 Tree

To be honest, I’d have preferred to wait another week but my husband demanded one so my daughter and I carried one back from the high street and my son decorated it. And we’ve all been out  of the house since. Hmmm.

7 Turkey

First time I’ll have had turkey for about 3 years. Ordered early Nov so we could forget about it and not feel under pressure. Unfortunately this has backfired, creating a general complacency that has meant nothing much else has been done preparation wise. But whatever happens, we will have the turkey.

8 Cards

Back when I had the time and creative nous to make my own, this used to be a fun undertaking. Now it’s a race against time.

And although I have a basket full of end-of-packs and over-orders left from past years, convention seems to dictate that each year you choose a single design and send that to all your friends as sort of signature statement, not send different cards to everyone.

9 Proper xmas shows, in a theatre. with proper actors

Thanks to Southwark residents’ discount, I’ll be attending an Indian reworking of the Snow Queen at the Unicorn Theatre. (Curiously, this is one of a long list of great buildings that I have only ever visited as building sites, a list which includes the Bilbao Guggenheim and Hong Kong Airport.)

10 Reinforce Father Christmas myth in hope we can get away with it for another year

So far so good. Amazingly. Have even ordered a personalised letter from NSPCC (for a donation) as back up. Just shows that however old you are, you believe what you want to believe.

NSPCC santa letter

  1. I have also made limoncello but then got a taste for experimenting and made cranberry and orange vodka to have with prosecco…come and try!!

  2. Mince pies and mulled wine are top of my list so far. Everything else can wait.

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