I feel like I’ve got my Christmas dinner down to a tee now, we always have a huge turkey from the farm local to my Mum and Dad, we have to have Tom Kerridge’s polished carrots, goose fat on the potatoes (slimming’s out of the window on Christmas day as far as I’m concerned) and 2 types of stuffing. However, there’s a new type of Christmas celebration emerging in our lives, and it isn’t the one you spend with family on 25th December, it’s ‘Friendsmas’, a gathering of friends, in the weeks leading up to Christmas, where you share food, booze and music, and according to a global study by Sonos*, around the world more and more people are doing this, and most of us prefer it to our actual Christmas day with our families!
Our Friendsmas this year was with 6 of our lovely neighbours- we all live in various parts of a converted Victorian hospital and our group regularly get together for dinner- we all have small kids so it’s an easy way to have a social life- we pile the kids over to eachothers’ houses in their pyjamas, set up a massive sleepover (12 children between us, chaos!) and then have plenty of food, wine, music and catching up.
We got the most amazing Christmas present from our family last year – Sonos speakers for our house – and it’s really revolutionised our living space. All the speakers can be calibrated to the room in which they are located to optimise the sound quality (and setting it up via your mobile is really fun- sounds like an alien invasion!). Because the sound adapts to the environment so well, even moving from one room into another there’s no obvious transition from one speaker to the next- the sound fills the space perfectly and flows between rooms. The speakers are controlled from the Sonos mobile app which you can link to Spotify to have an endless choice of music and playlists. You can queue music, add to playlists, adjust the volume, group and ungroup multiple speakers- it’s really a million miles from what we had before (a 2nd generation ipod sitting on top of a tiny speaker!). The house has filled with music, and not only does it keep me happy when I’m cooking (I like to use that time to zone out from thinking about anything else), it has also allowed our girls to start to develop their own music tastes (to be fair Little Mix features heavily at the moment but they are only 6 and 4!). Our latest addition is the Sonos Play:3 which took pride of place in the kitchen ready for my Friendsmas meal.
A really fun function that Sonos, partnered with Spotify, has introduced this year is the Playlist Potluck – it’s a way of drawing in your dinner guests to collaborate on the music choices for the evening! You add your own top choices to the list, then send out a link via e-mail, Facebook or Twitter which gives your friends access to the playlist so that they can add in their favourites- and then you have your music all lined up for the night (although you can re-order and edit the music as you see fit). It’s a great way to keep everyone happy, discover some new music and is also a great talking point! Oh and if you like the idea of setting up your own Playlist Potluck, you can do so by clicking here and will also be entered into a competition to win a set of Sonos speakers and have a world-class chef come and cook dinner for 10 at your house!
We have become really big fans of Persian food after trying out some Persian street food at a local food festival and buying some new cookery books, so I was really keen to make a Persian feast for this gathering- not only does the food tend to look very beautiful and colourful, there are so many amazing flavours and it’s easy to keep it healthy (and no-one would ever know because it tastes so good!) I’ve outlined my full menu below (at the bottom of the post), and the recipes are on the blog for Pulled Persian chicken, Crushed carrots with harissa and pistachios and Persian cranberry rice pilaf
*Some fun findings from the survey commissioned by Sonos:
80% of us globally are celebrating Friendsmas
60% of people surveyed in the Sonos study said that music makes food and drink taste better
82% of people said that music helps them to relax!
Over 60% of people said music makes people more attractive
53% said it makes them more flirtatious
Sonos currently have a holiday promotion (click here to see it): which includes discounts on all their speakers:
Save £20 on the PLAY:1 (£149),
Save £30 on the PLAY:3 (£229), PLAY:5 (£429), PLAYBAR or SUB (both £569)
This offer runs until December 31st 2016
My Christmas dinner party menu:
Nibbles: Butterbean and Za’atar hummus ( with crudites and toasted wholemeal pittas)
Sides: Persian cranberry rice pilaf, crushed carrots with harissa and citrus yoghurt, green beans with preserved lemons and chillies, fresh baby leaf salad with figs, walnuts and pecorino, hummus, olives
Pudding: Meringue with vanilla cream, nectarines and tea syrup
Disclosure: I was invited by Sonos to throw my own Friendsmas celebration, and was gifted a Play:3 to enhance the music. I have had my own Sonos speakers for a year which I genuinely love and would recommend to anyone!