Tuesday, 2 December 2014
IT'S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS
With three immediate family birthdays in December, it's usually a sin to get my tree up so early. My house now feels truly festive with the tree up, lights on, candles lit, and crackers pulled - but it still feels premature. I know, I know, I'm a keen bean, but when your best friends live all over the country and only the last weekend in November suits everyone to get together before Christmas, I made an exception this year...
Our "Fake Christmas" was this weekend, and after some exceptionally good news at the end of the week (more on that soon enough), I had even more of an excuse to celebrate! My little house felt so homely with everyone pitching in to make the dinner. We exchanged presents, laughed our socks off playing Cards Against Humanity, and fell asleep on each other's shoulders watching Home Alone at the end of the day. I miss these faces so much throughout the year, and Christmas is the perfect excuse to get everyone together.
One of the best things about the festive period? The food! No-one judges you for eating an entire box of Quality Street on your own (well, not much anyway). You buy cheeses with names you can't even pronounce. And you finally find a use for that old bottle of ginger beer that's gathering dust at the back of your cupboard.
For my Fake Christmas, we were treated by a couple of brands who specialise in filling our bellies. First up - Henry Westons. I'm a cider drinker all year round, so when they got in touch with the lure of mulled cider, how could I refuse? Mulled wine is my absolute favourite on Bonfire Night, but I'd never had a cider version before. It came in big crates with a little nozzle to pour out, like a beer barrel. You warm it gently on the stove in a pan for big batches, or just zap in the microwave for a single mug. And it's absolutely delicious. It warms you up from the inside out, and tastes a little like that Turkish apple tea you can get. Yummy!
And Christmas would not be complete without some snacks. My pal Ivy is a snack connoisseur, and came armed with cheese balls, Twiglets and pannetone - and I brought out some fruit and nuts from the Marks & Spencer Christmas range. Because dried cranberries count as one of your five-a-day, right?