More Brits Than Ever Are Dining Out on Christmas Day

Given the pressure of simultaneously cooking for a group of relatives and feigning excitement after unwrapping a “lovely winter scarf” for the third year in a row, is it any wonder Brits want to eat out on Christmas?

by Phoebe Hurst
Dec 3 2015, 11:00am

Photo via Flickr user Siri Schwartzman

Christmas isn't Christmas without turkey. And stuffing and roast potatoes and pigs-in-blankets and bread sauce. Oh, and the sweet stuff like Christmas pudding, brandy butter, chocolate coins, and those little German gingerbread biscuits. Even the fruitcake no one ever eats would be missed if your gran didn't insist on making one every year.

But as your harangued mother will no doubt tell you, Christmas catering takes work—before, during, and after the day's festivities. We may only be three doors down on the advent calendar but it's probably not too soon to start menu planning and working out whether a turducken will actually fit in your oven.

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Given the pressure of simultaneously cooking for a group of volatile relatives and feigning excitement after unwrapping a "lovely winter scarf" for the third year in a row, it's little wonder that more Brits than ever are choosing to dine out on Christmas day.

According to findings from restaurant booking site Bookatable (who else?), there was a 251 percent rise in reservations for Christmas Day between 2011 and 2015. The site also found that almost a quarter of Brits had eaten out on Christmas Day before and a further 35 percent would consider doing so in future.

Are your Aunt Cathy's Brussels sprouts really that bad?

Commenting on the stats, psychologist Corinne Sweet said: "It's no wonder so many of us are turning to alternatives, such as restaurants. It's important to remember what the festive season is all about: connecting and celebrating."

She's not wrong. It's pretty hard to ~connect and celebrate~ with the assorted family members assembled in your tinsel-bedecked living room when there are potential turkey disasters and burnt parsnips to worry about. The survey also found that 70 percent of the British public who cook Christmas dinner spend three to five hours in the kitchen, while nearly 80 percent spend up to three hours cleaning up.

"Ideally, Christmas should be all about spending quality time together as a family or with friends, but sometimes the hype, rush and stress of it all gets in the way," added Sweet.

As well as being able to spend more time with family, the research found that some people opt to eat out on Christmas day as a way to save money. Bookatable claims that over eight million Brits spend more than £500 on food for Christmas dinner. In addition, nearly 90 percent of those surveyed said that they felt they bought too much food that ended up being wasted, as well as ingredients not used at any other time of the year.

While not having to do the washing up or finding ways to use up the boxes of vacuum-packed chestnuts you find yourself left with mid-February is great, what about the restaurant workers forsaking their Christmases to keep your mulled wine topped up? For Robert Prendergast at The Waldorf Hilton, London, apparently it's all fun and games.

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He said: "Opening the restaurant on Christmas Day is a bit magical for us here at the Waldorf Hilton. There is always a sense of family resonating around the hotel amongst the team on Christmas morning, with the excitement that we are going to be looking after someone else's family, filling their day with warmth, service, good food, and creating memories."

Give over, Rob. Even the most sycophantic of Christmas elves wouldn't enjoy slaving away in a hot kitchen on the only day of the year when it's acceptable to be day-drunk in the vicinity of grandparents and eat your body weight in chocolate tree decorations before sitting down to a four course meal.

Stay at home and embrace the chaos of familial relations, dry turkey, and unabashed overeating. That's a really magical way to celebrate Christmas.