Living away from home is such a wonderful opportunity. You get to embrace new cultures, meet so many wonderful new friends and eat lots of new foods.
However, there’s one time of year when you really wish you were home, slouched in the comfiest chair at your parents’ house and engaging in that great British Christmas past time: eating.
Kids getting ready for Christmas
Christmas in the UK is a lot about the gifts (especially if you have kids), a great deal more about the time off work and 100% about overeating.
There’s the main meal, of course: turkey with all the trimmings. There’s the traditional Christmas fruit cake (where the cake has been soaked in so much alcohol it’s flammable) and then there are the treats.
Let’s start with chocolate.
Roses or Quality Street
Where do we start? It’s got to be Roses. They’re the best IMO. Of course, there’s one or two in the selection that no one wants but generally: excellent work, Cadbury’s! I will literally fight my small children for the orange and strawberry fondants.
Yummy, yummy Cadbury’s Roses
No home is complete at Christmas without a decorative bowl filled with these chocolately treats. You can get them abroad, we saw them in various countries on our travels but at a staggeringly inflated cost.
We’ve been very lucky that my parents have managed to bring a stash of Roses to us for the past few Christmases and for that we are very grateful. I hide the stash until Christmas is upon us or otherwise they wouldn’t last five minutes in our house.
Now, this might be contentious but I am aware some families prefer Quality Street, a similarly themed box of treats. I wouldn’t turn down a shuffle through the box if offered but neither would I rush to buy them because my heart lies with Roses.
What do you prefer, Roses or Quality Street?
More Treats Please
What about Matchmakers? Another firm favourite I miss deeply. It’s got to be the orange ones. Sorry, mint flavour but that’s why After Eights exist. Another delicious treat perfect for snuggling up on the sofa with your family and watching a Christmas movie.
One of our favourites – Orange Matchmakers
Thank you also to Mum and Dad for the Matchmakers this year. So good! We devoured them while watching Night at the Museum on New Year’s Eve 🙂
Christmas Tree Treats
Something you just don’t see outside of the UK is chocolate Christmas decorations you hang on your tree.
We get candy canes here and the kids love them but seeing wrapped chocolates hanging on the tree reminds me of being little myself and decorating the tree with my Mum.
We’d put the chocolate decorations on last but inevitably they just wouldn’t last that long 🙂
Chocolate Christmas Tree decorations
No British kids Christmas is complete without a proper Christmas advent calendar.
Behind each door from 1 December to the 24th is a tiny piece of chocolate, usually shaped in an appropriately Christmas theme i.e. a stocking, holly, a gift, Santa etc.
Traditional British Advent Calendar – a great source of excitment every December morning
Honestly, apart from Easter, when is it totally acceptable to begin your breakfast with a piece of chocolate? No wonder the kids love them.
These are usually purchased from the specialist shop at an eye-watering price but Trader Joe’s do a lovely chocolate Christmas calendar and it’s really amazing they haven’t raised their prices on these calendars. They remain an incredible 99c which really helps out the Christmas food budget
Non Chocolate Treats
Of course, it’s not all about the chocolate. A great British staple at Christmas is the mince pies.
Hold on, no one panic. I know this doesn’t translate well. To be clear, it’s not mincemeat i.e. not ground beef (that’s a different type of British delicacy). It’s a mixture of fruit and spices delicately wrapped in pastry.
Alister’s homemade mince pies
In the UK when you see boxes of mince pies in the shops, you really know Christmas is coming. You can get them here in the US but again in specialist shops and at a painful cost so Alister makes his own. Even the pastry! Not a favourite of mine but they really do represent Christmas.
On the non-chocolate list must go the trifle. This is another classic British dessert that has to be made at home if you want it.
Alister was also in charge of making this (as I don’t like it) and had to hunt around for the right supplies, which consist of sponge fingers (usually drowned in alcohol but this version was child-friendly) layered with custard, fruit, whipped cream and topped with hundreds and thousands (or sprinkles).
Alister’s homemade trifle
You can also make it with jelly and/or cake – every family has their own recipe basically. Usually passed down through the generations and not to be confused with Rachel from Friends monstrosity that included ground beef.
Really the list could keep going. We’ve got Cheeseits, sweetie tubes (Gran and Grandad provide these for the kids as no stocking is complete without them), Milk Tray, Terry’s Chocolate Orange (“it’s not Terry’s, it’s MINE”), Walkers Shortbread, selection boxes, Bisto gravy, proper crisps- Oops, I think we’ve slipped into my general UK wish list. Let’s stop before diabetes sets in.
If you’re an expat living away from home at Christmas, no matter where you’re from, I’m sure you have some special treats you especially miss at this time of year because they remind you of family and home.
I hope Santa or someone special manage to make a few special deliveries this year. Merry Christmas!
There are wonderful Parks and Rec memes for every occasion 😉