Christmas Connections

Make time for your loved ones this festive season.

That’s it, another year gone in the blink of an eye, I can’t believe it. There’s so much to look forward to this time of year, from the mouthwatering dishes you can only enjoy around the holidays to some well-deserved time in the sun and, of course, the list of presents you’ve been dreaming about all year.

What really makes this time of year special however is the time spent with loved ones, something we rarely prioritise the rest of the year as much as we should. I’ve spent the better part of the last ten years living between France and South Africa and the result is that you often rely on this time of year as the only real chance to connect with your loved ones at home. The thing is that when we do finally get to spend time together our days can be filled with Christmas preparation promptly followed by the dreaded Christmas clean-up that saps time spent relaxing with the special people in our life, which is why I’ve decided to do things little differently this year.

Firstly, I’m taking the celebrations outdoors, so often we’re treated to the eurocentric idea of Christmas lunch around a fireplace while snow falls outside, while the reality is that the Southern Hemisphere is enjoying warm weather that is better suited to a pool day or braai. Why waste this beautiful weather by sitting inside? Take your meal outdoors and enjoy some Vitamin D!

Secondly, I’m disproving the idea that there’s only one kind of Christmas food to enjoy. I agree that the huge roast with accompanying seven side dishes and salads is absolutely delicious, but it’s also massively time consuming and usually means one or two members of your party will be locked up in the kitchen for an extended period of time while everyone else connects and relaxes. My solution this year is to embrace the cold meats and build-your-own-sandwich picnic approach. Not only is it economical, it’s a great way to simplify things and allow everyone to look after themselves while still tucking in to something really delicious. Sandwiches are a great way to incorporate your traditional roast like turkey or gammon, and you can bulk up the offering by opting for a few good cheeses (equal quantities soft, medium and hard cheese), fresh fruits and crudités (any veg that tastes great raw, like celery, peppers and carrots), a few dipping sauces (don’t underestimate a simple mix of plain yoghurt and mayonnaise with caraway seeds), sharp chutneys and atchars, depending on your taste, and of course, fresh bread, like baguette and ciabatta.

However you decide to celebrate this year, remember that the ultimate gift this festive season is enjoying time with the special people who have brought some light into your life this year. Happy holidays everyone!

Connecting with others and Stella Artois

Perfect for moments spent with loved ones, in every sip of a Stella Artois there’s a legacy of craftsmanship that produces the perfect beer to savour with those closest to you.