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Christmas

Our favourite Christmas treats

We rounded up our colleagues to find out more about their Christmas must-haves.

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Christmas is fast approaching and with it comes the prospect of 'the big food shop'.

The important food shop ahead of the big day might strike fear into the hearts of people as they run around the supermarket stocking up like the Beast from the East is set to strike again.

However, we love that each family has a definite list of Christmas must-haves that are essential to make the perfect festive period. Whether it's a family-sized bag of Tayto crisps or the ingredients for your mum's delicious Christmas dessert, there are certain things that we require to ensure a special day.

According to Musgraves, Irish people will buy heaps of delicious treats over the next week, including one million Jacob’s Biscuits, 100,000 Jaffa Cakes, 839,682 bags of Tayto crisps and 46,000 boxes of Milk Tray! 

To find out if there were any Christmas must-haves in our own office, we spoke to our colleagues to find out their favourite Christmas foods.

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Jordan Mooney, FOOD AND WINE content creator

Christmas is always a big affair for us, between running around to relatives' houses, cooking enough food to feed the masses and trying to find some time to actually relax, but we have several traditions that I'm absolutely adamant that we keep.

On Christmas Eve, we gather together with my Dad's side of the family to hang out ahead of Santa's arrival and order a Chinese takeaway, which doesn't really sound too festive, but it was something we did when my Nana was still alive and I'm now very determined to keep it going – to me, it's one of our most important traditions. 

In terms of sweets, selection boxes are also a weirdly big thing with my family. Santa brings my sister and I a lovely one each, while my parents buy each other one. On my Dad's side again, my uncle always buys Cadbury's selection boxes for all my aunts and uncles as a special, extra gift, while my Nana on my Mum's side does the same for her kids and their partners. To me, it wouldn't be Christmas without this selection box exchange because, even though it's a simple gesture, I can see that it really makes my family happy. 

Kate Demolder, Irish Tatler staff writer

So, we're not huge sweet-tooths in my house, but my mum's Christmas cake is legendary. Considering it never gets eaten in our house, she swaps half of our cake with a neighbour for a portion of his incredible handmade potato croquettes, which we then fight tooth and nail for on Christmas Day. They're unlike anything I've ever eaten; fluffy on the inside, crispy on the outside, and filled with herbs and spring onions to give it a kick. I couldn't imagine Christmas dinner without them. 

Amy Heffernan, irishtatler.com editor

Ever since I was little, my Dad has always bought me a box of delicious Ferrero Rocher for Christmas. That's it, just a box of Ferrero Rocher! As a gift, it really should pale in significance to the effort my Mum puts into my present, but every year, it's up there with the best thing I open on the morning of the 25th.

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Emma O'Farrell, events manager

There are a couple things I have to have at Christmas. Firstly, Cidona as it's my Mum's tradition. She would always have it at Christmas when she was a child and she's brought the tradition to us. It wouldn't be Christmas without it! A large box of Tunnock's Teacakes are a must, as well as several tins of Jacob's Chocolate Kimberleys.

Emma Sutton, group head of design

I always make this Nigella Lawson cake, I am so into it that I bought the mould to go with it and everything! It's delicious and I make it on Christmas Eve while sipping prosecco and playing festive tunes. Whether we are at home or going somewhere for the big dinner, it's a great dessert and looks very impressive on arrival. There is a misprint in the ingredients in the Nigella christmas book, it doesn't mention baking powder, which took me about two Christmases to work out, but got there in the end!

Nigella Lawson's spruced-up vanilla cake. Picture by Lis Parsons.
Nigella Lawson's spruced-up vanilla cake. Picture by Lis Parsons.

Donna McCarthy, Irish Tatler editorial assistant

There is no point denying my chocolate addiction, especially around this time of year. The only problem I encounter when the supermarket makes the timely switch to holiday-themed sweets is that I simply do not have the capacity to try them all in one sitting, though I do try. My favourite Christmas indulgence would have to be Ferrero Rocher. From the taste, presentation to even the TV advert, this little Italian chocolate is such a luxury in my house at Christmas. We have gotten them every single year since I was a child, and I don't see them going anywhere. Also, I do want to remain ignorant about how bad they might be for me because they are way too good for my soul! 

Élodie Noël, FOOD AND WINE contributor

In France, we have these chocolates called Escargot de Lanvin which are chocolates in the shape of snails and covered in a golden paper. There is nothing really fancy about them, but my dad loves them so I buy him a box every year as a Christmas present and we all end up eating them. My other guilty pleasure at Christmas is Lindor chocolate. I usually make a point eating great quality dark chocolate but these are just too good, I love how creamy they are, they are a great treat for me with a nice cup of tea.

READ MORE: Festive baking for the whole family to enjoy

Aoife Carrigy, FOOD AND WINE restaurant critic

Funny, I'm realising that I really don't have a sweet tooth at Christmas, except when it comes to port. Christmas isn't Christmas for me without cracking open a bottle of port or tawny as the evening draws in, ideally in front of something totally cheesy on the telly – and paired with some plum pudding (fried in butter and served with brandy cream please!) or an Irish farmhouse cheeseboard. A vintage port is ideal – the fact that it needs to be drunk within a few days of opening makes things even more Christmassy – but a Late Bottle Vintage port (LBV) is also a great option if you want to stretch the indulgence out into January, as it will hold its own for several weeks. 

Mei Chin, FOOD AND WINE contributor

Guilty secret: Leonidas chocolates. When I was a child, my dad used to bring kilos of this back after his business trips in Bruxelles, and still, the dark chocolate orange rinds spell holiday. I know Leonidas are now 'high street' chocolates, but the elegance of their pralines and buttercreams endure for me.

Family rituals: As a family, we tend to combine Chinese New Year and Christmas, because it's the one time a year we can spend a few days together. So Christmas Eve, when everyone arrives, there's a pot of lu or braised meat, eggs and tofu. Christmas day is duck, game hen with wild mushrooms, rack of lamb, porchetta, fresh seafood lasagna and Maryland crab cakes.

Christmas cookies: My youngest aunt (who recently passed away) was an architect and obsessed with perfect festivities. For two to three nights, she would make these ridiculously delicate and fussy Christmas cookies. My favourites were her teeny-tiny white and dark chocolate brownies, and the almond and cocoa swirl cookies. Her daughter now carries on this tradition.

Emma Blanchfield, Irish Tatler content creator

In my house, we each take an aspect of the Christmas dinner as our own. My mam makes the turkey, my sister does the sides and my dad makes the starter whilst I look after desserts. Although there are many Christmas desserts to choose from, there's really only one that will always reign supreme. Mince pies are more of a snack, Christmas pudding is the marmite of the dessert world, but M&S' beloved Colin the Caterpillar has, for as long as I remember, always gone down a treat.

Once reserved for childrens' birthday parties, Colin has since become a Christmas staple in my home and this year, he's been given a serious Christmas makeover (or should that be cakeover?). Retaining the same deliciousness as always, he is covered in presents, snowflakes, holly and cand canes, and is even wearing a Santa's hat with matching slippers. Festive indeed.