December. It’s one of my favourite months. It’s packed full of some of my favourite things; fairy lights galore, crisp sunny days and plenty of chances to catch up with those I love. It’s another busy month for us, with Santa visits, shopping trips and the excitement of Christmas building. But my favourite thing about December? The food. Whether it’s a long awaited mince pie in the evening, a sneaky tipple whilst wrapping gifts or a table groaning with goodies as we chat with friends, the food is hands down the bit that makes Christmas for me. So you can imagine my excitement when Marks & Spencer Torbay offered to send us a hamper of some of their festive treats for the table… yep, Christmas made!
Now, in the interests of openness you should know that I love M&S food; it always seems that little bit more special than my normal food shop. And you know what? Their festive offering doesn’t disappoint at all. In fact, we’re planning a trip in to the Torbay store to re-stock. Well is it really Christmas if you haven’t re-bought the food over and over?! Anyway, I digress. Let me talk you through our Christmas Day with a little help from Marks & Spencer…
It’s just gone midnight on Christmas Day and we’re still up, frantically wrapping gifts. Once again, we’ve completely underestimated how long it takes to build a toy kitchen and wrap a miniature mountain of gifts which seem to have multiplied in the cupboard as I’m sure we didn’t buy this many. Safe in the knowledge that we’ll be up in just a few hours, we’ll be rewarding ourselves with a large Espresso Martini or two (caffeine and alcohol for the win!) whilst working our way through a pack of Mini Mince Pies and a bag of Glazed Gammon & Whisky Hand Cooked Crisps. Delicious.
Just a couple of hours later, we’re up for the day… hurrah for toddlers! Having given up on any pretence of sleeping, we’ve embraced the mayhem and are already breakfasting before 6AM. With a day of visiting family ahead, it’s Sparkling Alcohol Free Bucks Fizz for us although with sleep deprivation and all the excitement in the air I swear I get a little tipsy after it. All plans for a healthy start to the day fly out the window and we all have a munch on the Frosted Cranberry & Orange Tiffin Bites. Well, that’s the beauty of holidays; chocolate for breakfast!
Over to the In-Law’s house for the morning complete with two kids and a pack of Prosecco Mallows to cover the inevitable truth that we’ve forgotten someone’s gift (top tip: ALWAYS take a spare gift just in case). Spend a couple of hours sat playing with the little ones, opening the second lot of gifts and snacking on bowls of Goat’s Cheese & Rosemary Bites and Crunchy Parmesan Bites. Two hours later, we’re back in the car and over to my parents. By the time we make it there, the toddler’s passed out in the back and we manage to get the first bit of peace all day. Enjoying the calm, we stupidly stop the engine and just like that, he’s back in the room with a tonne of grumpiness to boot. Great.
Before we hit the third (and final) set of gifts for the day, it’s time for my favourite bit; the big roast dinner. Turkey and Cranberry & Port Sauce accompanied with a pile of vegetables that would make anyone proud all washed down with a tall glass of Alcohol Free Sparkling Botanical G&T Drink. Full tummies and wriggly children see us abandon the table for a ‘quick nap’ (I’m joking, they don’t nap. We just dream about the days we used to nap) whilst all declaring we’re never eating again. Yeah, right.
It’s only a short matter of time before someone pipes up about feeling a bit peckish. And by someone, it’s almost certainly me. Mum suggests we have pudding and there’s a chorus of agreement with little movement to actually get the sweet treats out. Eventually someone gives in and a tray of delights arrive; Intensely Fruity Christmas Pudding for the traditionalists, cheesecake topped with Morello Cherries In Kirsch Sauce for those seeking a lighter pud and Mini Reindeer Cupcakes for the children. Sweet treats done, we head out on a walk to attempt to burn off some of the gluttony of the day.
Fresh air and far too much excitement means bedtime with the kids is easy. Tucked into my old bedroom, they fall asleep whilst we continue the celebrations (very quietly) below. It’s board game time and as the competitive streaks come out, so does more food; chips complete with Truffle Mayonnaise for decadent dunking and Chilli Coated Peanuts for eating by the handful between turns. It’s universally agreed that someone will fall asleep during the game, (cough, Mum) but we’ll plough on regardless, knowing that they’ll wake the moment we mention the possibility of a final treat of the day. Milk Chocolate & Cinnamon Sugar Tortilla Rolls chased down with a well deserved glass of Chocolate Yule Log Flavour Cream and then to bed. Exhausted, happy and full to the brim with delicious food. Ahhh Christmas….
All of the (completely delicious) items in bold can be found in the Food Hall of Marks and Spencer Torbay throughout this festive period. If you fancy a bit of festive feasting like we’ve been doing then head down there as soon as you can to stock the cupboards. Just don’t take it all, I might need to re-buy some (ALL) of these again… well, those little tiffin squares are decidedly moreish!