The Ultimate Guide to Festive Socialising this Christmas and New Year
Tips from Hawkes on how to see yourself through the party season.
Somehow, we are already charging towards Christmas, with invitations to lunches, dinners, drinks and parties coming at us left right and centre. While it’s wonderful to finally have an opportunity to spend time with the people we miss and to know they’ve been missing us too, trying to make time for everyone can become an added pressure, especially when we’re also juggling other festive responsibilities and – in some cases – the seasonal stress of getting everything wrapped up for the year at work.
“Bringing our favourite people together in the winter months is a sure-fire way to keep the mood up when it’s cold and dark,” says Elliot Allison of Hawkes, London’s first urban cidery.
“But while festive season partying can be a lot of fun, the constant stream of socialising can be hard work and can take its toll on wellbeing. It can also give way to dilemmas that can cause undue stress or conflict.
“How do I fit everyone in? How do I cope if I want to stay sober but everyone else is drinking? Will I be considered a Scrooge for requesting an itemised bill?
“And if you’re tackling hosting responsibilities, how can you ensure you don’t get too stressed with prep, the cost doesn’t spiral and you’re partying sustainably?
“Whilst the festive season is all about being joyful, hopeful and positive, it does inevitably come with a whole load of pressures, so it’s important we learn how to best manage those pressures before they manage us!”
Read on for Elliot’s tips for making the best of festive season social commitments…
Splitting the bill
It can happen to anyone. You’ve had a really enjoyable night with friends over dinner and drinks in that swanky restaurant you finally managed to book a table at. You talked careers, love lives, hopes and dreams for the New Year and a great time was had by all.
But when you decide to finally call it a night and pay, someone pipes up about splitting the bill equally because you all had “roughly the same”. Splitting equally is the simplest option and can work well depending on the group you’re in, but if you missed out on a starter or that extra cocktail, don’t feel you have to cover the cost for those that didn’t.
There are some straightforward ways to settle up without drama. Firstly, remember there is no shame in suggesting you each pay only for what you order. Making a collective decision at the beginning of the meal will ensure everyone’s on board from the get-go and will save difficult discussions in front of the waiter at the end of the night. It can also be handy to defer to technology to remove the awkwardness; dedicated bill splitting apps can streamline the process no matter how many diners and regardless of who ordered what.
Too many people want to see me!
So, you’ve got the obligatory work Christmas do (or three), two early Christmas dinners – one with your friends and one with your partners’ – a drinks meet-up with old colleagues and a catch up in the pub with your old uni pals… All people you’re keen to stay in touch with but struggle with the idea of fitting them all in to a couple of weeks.
Yes, it may be a first world problem having so many friends that it becomes a chore to make time for all of them, but social burnout is real, and if lots of food, drink and late nights are thrown into the mix, it can take its toll on our health. The impact of social burnout can affect us emotionally too if we’re racked by guilt when having to say no, so it’s important to be frank about – and at peace with! – the fact you are prioritising your wellbeing and not snubbing those you hold dear.
If it all starts getting a bit too much, it’s a good idea to step back and have a think about who you really want to see. It will be so much more enjoyable for you and the people you care about if you’re selective about who you get together with in the holidays. For a start, having fewer social outings will make the occasions you do attend feel a lot more special. And since you aren’t spreading yourself too thin, you’ll be able to have more genuine and rewarding chats and experiences with the select friends and family you choose to meet.
For any friends of family you feel you’ve left out, suggest some dates in the New Year instead. January and February can be pretty dismal months, so it’s a nice opportunity to schedule some (sufficiently spaced out) post-Christmas social engagements to brighten the winter gloom.
I can’t face all the hangovers…
Increased alcohol consumption is inevitable in the festive season so it’s important to find a balance.
In reality, whilst we believe we’ll be called out as a party pooper if we drink sensibly or abstain altogether, most people likely aren’t fussed whether we do or we don’t, so be sure to let friends and loved ones know that whilst you’d love to keep up every night, your body punishes you so you’re taking it easy to minimise the hangovers through the party season.
And choose drinks wisely. Try to not mix and match, opt for lower alcohol options (cider– chilled or mulled– is the perfect low alcohol festive tipple) and intersperse every drink with water. There are plenty of decent no-alcohol brands out there now if you want to embrace sobriety this festive season too.
If you’re in charge of organising festive get-togethers, include some activities that don’t involve boozing. Stroll around a Christmas market with a hot chocolate, get people round for a Christmas film marathon, visit a Christmas light show, or find an outdoor ice rink for an evening of skating…
Do I need to talk to everyone?
If it’s a small gathering with immediate family, then it could be deemed rude not to catch up with your uncle or grandmother. But if you’ve got the entire extended family round – long lost cousin and all – just relax, don’t panic and work your way around at your own pace. The less you stress, the more likely you are to engage in meaningful and rewarding conversations. A simultaneous ‘hello and goodbye’ hug is perfectly acceptable if you weren’t able to get to chat in depth with everyone.
Likewise with friends. If you’re inviting a big group, with plus ones, there’s no way you’ll be able to have a deep conversation with everyone. And that’s okay, parties are meant to be fun not hectic or taxing.
Take the stress out of hosting
Rather than taking all the responsibility and adding unnecessary pressure, ask guests to bring a plate of something they’ve made at home. This will significantly reduce the cost, prep time and post-party clear up whilst also enhancing your spread with a variety of different dishes for guests to enjoy. And for your dish(es), go for comforting one-pot meals or traybakes to limit mess and washing up.
For further savings, guests will always be happy to bring a bottle (just be sure to specify you don’t want tabasco!). Fill a trug or even the bathtub with ice so that chilled drinks can be deposited there on arrival and make it clear that guests are welcome to help themselves to avoid having to serve them all night.
Get kids or friends to help out with decorating. If you, your neighbours or relatives have children, task them with making decorations – a great way to keep them entertained whilst they’re off school. Just remember to invite them to the party too!
How can I make sure my party is eco-friendly?
The best way keep your party eco-friendly is to keep plastic and single-use waste to a minimum. A number of supermarkets and drinks merchants allow you to hire crockery, cutlery and glassware, which is a much better alternative to plastic or paper partyware.
Reusable decorations made from paper or fabric look so much nicer and eliminate the need for plastic, so if you’re pushed for time to make your own, try and buy from independent makers or from brands who prioritise sustainability.
Warm LED fairy lights and beeswax pillar candles – as opposed to environmentally unfriendly paraffin-based candles – are perfect options to create an intimate and cosy party atmosphere. Just be mindful of where you place your naked flames.
And as far as heating is concerned, you can afford to turn the temperature down a few notches as the extra body heat from your guests will keep the room feeling toasty – especially once the dancing begins!
To find out more about Hawkes or to order some planet-friendly cider for your festive gathering, visit wearehawkes.com.
Notes to Editors:
- Elliot is available for comment or interview to discuss the topics of the national apple waste issue, about Hawkes’ mission to save the nation’s most wasted fruit, about it’s delicious real-apple, wonky-fruit ciders and/or about the current cider scene/industry.
- We can facilitate visits to the Hawkes Cidery & Taproom for a meeting with Elliot, a Cidery tour, Hawkes cider flight, and/or to witness the pressing process.
- We can also provide Hawkes cider samples for review or inclusion in features.
- The Hawkes Cidery & Taproom is available as a space for filming media or corporate content.
For further press information, please contact:
Will Challis | Elsa Findlay | Julie Aguilera Kemp
T: +44 (0)203 440 8930
E: [email protected]
Founded in 2013, Bermondsey-based Hawkes is London’s first urban cidery, turning unloved, ‘wonky’, or surplus apples, which are too big or small for the shelves but perfect for juicing, into delicious real-apple cider.
Using only natural ingredients and never apple concentrate, Hawkes currently produces three core real-apple ciders: The vibrant, fresh and bright, Urban Orchard (4.5% ABV); juicy, sharp and lush, Dead & Berried (4.0% ABV); and tropical, zingy and offbeat, Pineapple Punch (4.0% ABV).
Hawkes collaborates annually with The Orchard Project – the only national charity dedicated to the creation, restoration and celebration of community orchards – to collect surplus orchard apples, allowing the cidery to turn vast amounts of otherwise waste fruit into planet-friendly cider every autumn. In addition to stocks from The Orchard Project, Hawkes’ Apple Donors initiative brings in donations from all over the UK. In 2021 alone, the annual apple drive saw the cidery save over 130,000 – or 12 tonnes – of apples from going to waste.
Hawkes was acquired by craft beer giant, BrewDog, in 2018. It is available to enjoy by the pint or can in all BrewDog bars nationally, in a number of Independent London pubs and pub groups around the UK, and at Hawkes’ Bermondsey-based railway arch Cidery & Taproom. You can also enjoy Hawkes in your own home; Pineapple Punch and Dead & Berried are stocked in 150 Sainsbury’s stores across London and key UK cities, and packs of all Hawkes’ core ciders are available to buy via the Hawkes online shop wearehawkes.com.