Present buying, returning, re-buying; Christmas card writing; wrapping; Christmas drinks, Christmas hangovers - the preparation can be gruelling. Sometimes, in the midst of the madness, the only thing to do is strip Christmas back to its very core, the part that truly brings us all together year on year - the food. And the best part about the following? You won't be cooking it.
For a guilt-free Christmas snack, look no further than Ethos, the vegetarian restaurant and cafe that also specialises in vegan, wheat free and dairy free food - nothing is too specific for this place. Conveniently located just off Oxford Street, its a perfect place to relax and refuel during a long day trawling the high street. Specialties include the Christmas Scotch Egg, served with roasted parsnips, pumpkin and cranberries. The cafe uses a pay-by-weight system, which, judging by the how delicious the food sounds, could be very dangerous indeed.
There are a few things Brits do very well; talking about the weather, The Arts, complaining about public transport, sarcasm, and afternoon tea. The team at Down's Hall in Essex know this very well and have created the perfect British afternoon tea with a Christmas twist. Think sandwiches of roast turkey and cranberry; Cumberland sausage with chestnut & apple stuffing; freshly baked Christmas fruit scones with Devonshire clotted cream & Tiptree preserves as well as petit fours of orange & cinnamon cupcakes. Complete with unlimited tea and coffee for £21.50 or if you're feeling festive, £26.50 including a welcome glass of Prosecco. It is Christmas after all.
There is something else us Brits pride ourselves on; tradition. But if you're more of a 'try something different' person then head to The Cinnamon Club in Westminster for unique and modern Indian cuisine that boasts slow braised shoulder of lamb with saffron sauce, black lentils, pomegranate pilau, burhani raita and coriander chutney amongst its special Christmas menu. Or try one of three Maze Grill restaurants for a beef burger with BBQ cranberry sauce and a salted beef brisket, from their specials menu. Expect festive flavours of orange and cinnamon alongside bursts of paprika for a spicy twist on tradition.
Sometimes, though, the only way to truly celebrate Christmas is with a good strong drink. TwoRuba, in the Hilton London Bridge, has launched their limited edition range of Christmas cocktails; The Snowballs. The Classic Snowball with lemonade and lime; The Lemon, featuring vanilla vodka with lemon curd; The Cinnamon, with a generous dash of freshly-made cinnamon syrup and finally The Raspberry Snowball with a fruity fresh purée.
Someone else who knows that Christmas and cocktails are the perfect match is Gordon Ramsey, who invites us to try a different festive cocktail in each of his restaurants, from the Christmas Pudding Hard Shake in Heddon Street to the Fir Tree Martini at London House, there’s a cocktail for every taste. And for the traditionalists, the old classic: Egg Nog at The Narrow. So, put down your shopping bags, hang up your coats and find the perfect place to eat and drink your way to Christmas Day! But.. Get prepared to exchange that skirt from mum for one size up come New Year.