One of the things I will always miss about my previous job are the Christmas breaks. Office life never really got any better than that. Yes, they were a bit cheesy and kitchy, but all the same, as cheerful and festive as you can possibly imagine. They never got old, in fact, they got better every year. And everyone, even the usual office scrooges and humbugs, loved them, talked about them and looked forward to them.
The weekly festivities usually started at the beginning of December. The plan was simple yet elaborate. A week before the office was split into three or four groups – mixing the departments and combining the pods. Each group, who came up with its own crazy, creative and catchy name, was responsible for one of the weekly Christmas breaks providing treats and getting everyone into the mood. So each week for a Christmassy half an hour the office canteen turned into a little Santa’s Grotto – with fairy lights and tinsel, with wrapping paper tablecloths and crackers on the tables, with music on and the fireplace on the computer screen.The treats went far beyond shop-bought mince pies and always wowed and pleased the crowd- homemade scones with cream, gingerbread cake, strawberry Santa’s hats, Pretzel reindeer, rice crispies Christmas trees not to mention the whole selection of savoury snacks including cocktail sausages, nachos and cheese board.
There was a good dose of competition between the groups so people went above and beyond and thought outside the box to outdo the others and set the new standards. Then, to make it even more exciting and to boost the Christmas, and team, spirit there was a quiz. Each year three Wise Men aka the Quizmasters would volunteer to prepare the set of questions that challenged all- the Christmas experts, the news followers, the soap watchers, the sports maniacs, and the techy geeks. Any question could be expected – even one asking for a number of chairs in the office! Anyone could win and in a late last week surge the runner up often became a leader.
Throughout the eight years lots and lots changed. People got more and more creative and competitive. Once there was a real uproar about the Christmas jumper competition and a number of emails were exchanged questioning whether a gift-wrapped cardboard box can be classified as a Christmas outfit. The music moved from Christmas CDs to online playlists. Christmas jumpers started flickering and jingling. Lastly, people came and went, myself included, yet every single person to leave mentioned they would miss the Christmas breaks.
What I cherish a lot are the two recipes that bring back the memories of the Christmas breaks and remind me of the great people I met there. I am so very glad to have these two – simple and truly delicious – recipes at hand when it comes to busy Christmas preparations.
Sam’s amazing shortbread
1 lb butter, softened
8 oz icing sugar
1 lb plain flour
8 oz cornflour
pinch of salt
- Cream the butter together until all lumps are gone.
- Mix the flour, cornflour and salt together and then gradually add to the butter and sugar. Mix until it forms a soft dough.
- Roll into small balls, flatten and place on a greased baking tray.
- Bake at 160°C fan oven from 25-35 minutes until golden
- Sprinkle with icing sugar.
Michelle’s fancy mini-puddings
1 package of plum pudding (approx. 500 g)
8 g icing sugar
1 large bar of dark chocolate
1 large bar of white chocolate
cherries and /or red and green jellies
- Melt the dark chocolate.
- Mix plum pudding, icing sugar and chocolate together in a bowl.
- Make the mixture into small balls and put in the fridge until hard.
- Melt the white chocolate and dribble over the mini-puddings.
- Decorate with cherries.
Both recipes are super tasty while easy and quick to make. Hope you will enjoy and share them.