Spending time with family? Watching old films? Charging around your local high street on Christmas Eve in a desperate hunt for last minute tat to give your Mum?
Maybe. But you probably also think of food. Oh yes, the food. There's the turkey, the potatoes, the pigs in blankets. The debates about which ingredient slaps hardest and Do Yorkshire Puddings Go On Christmas Dinner Anyway? Some food just taste like Christmas and that's what the occasion is all about - performing a series of rituals to hard-trigger nostalgia and that warm fuzzy feeling inside that is probably acid reflux.
But it is not enough nowadays to simply eat Christmas dinner on Christmas day then forget about it. No, now Christmas food seeps into every meal going from November onwards. We burp baubles, we exhale clouds of gravy. Our stomachs tighten every passing day like a tree wrapped in tinsel. It is the most wonderful time of the year - especially if you are a brand looking to flog some Christmas spirit, or high-street sandwiches.
We've succumbed to Christmas' gift-wrapped iron fist and rated a few festive offerings. Bon appétit.
Patisserie Valerie Christmas baguette, 8.5/10
Patisserie Valerie ticks all the classic Christmas sandwich boxes by gathering turkey, brie, cranberry sauce, mayonnaise, rocket and sage and onion stuffing together. Then they flip the script by shoving it all in a sourdough baguette.
Everything tastes great. But like a lot of baguettes, the filling squeezes out to the sides in a great escape that must be curtailed. Then there's the distribution of ingredients. Lots of my bites just had brie and cranberry (which was slightly sickly by the way). I love rocket but I forgot this sandwich had rocket in it - sad. It could also have done with an extra dollop of mayo, but that's just me, and overall it was a strong contender in the Christmas sandwich game.
Onwards, we chew.
West Cornwall Pasty Company, Roast turkey dinner pasty, 4.75/10
Brands are thinking outside the gift box this year - so time to eat a pasty.
What's it like? It is like someone has shoved their leftovers from Christmas into a pastry and the result is a baby food mixture in which it is difficult to distinguish individual ingredients. Apparently what is in the pasty is turkey, roast potatoes, parsnips, cranberries, pork and sage stuffing, gravy and brussel sprouts but I wouldn't be able to name them all at gunpoint.
When I come across a potato chunk it is far too salty. When I eat stuffing it has that unmistakable generic processed meat taste which isn't nice. When I get a cranberry it is wincingly sharp. It would cure any UTI.
But then again pasties are supposed to be mushy and full of potatoes so if you mix Christmas dinner and a pasty this is probably the right outcome. Christmas dinner also makes you want to take a nap afterwards, so again it is a success story based on that metric.
Whether you'd want to use those metrics to judge your lunch is a different question.
LEON Bauble & Squeak with Sage Mayo Grilled Wrap, 6/10
Look, not everyone eats meat, so it is important to look at plant-based options too. And so to a punny-named bubble and squeak fritter plonked in a flatbread wrap. The fritter is made with root veg, chestnuts, orange and herbs and is topped with caramelised onion and sage mayo, crispy onions and pickled red cabbage.
Or so LEON says. The reality? A dry fritter that tasted like a baked square of potpourri. The red cabbage heaped on top is smartingly bitter and there's barely a skidmark of mayo which is a real disgrace.
The bread is fine, though too thin to provide me with that comforting Christmas bloat, so overall it's an underwhelming affair.
And so we munch on.
The PAUL Christmas Turkey Sandwich, 8.75/10
PAUL takes Christmas seriously and makes it feel bougie by putting classic Christmas fillings, turkey, bacon and spinach, in an artisan sage and onion baguette, stuffed with cranberries.
It's great. Every ingredient in the filling tastes like quality, they are perfectly proportioned against each other, and the horseradish topping is a welcome change from all the mayo I've been guzzling.
There's just one problem. I want cranberry sauce so artificial, so drowned in sugar, that only the fading memory of the original fruit remains. Real cranberries embedded in real bread? Too grownup for me, alas. So armed only with a fork and culinary immaturity, I become a surgeon, carefully removing benign tumours, leaving the baguette with craters in their place.
But that I am occasionally guilty of having the palette of a child is my own cross to bear, not Paul's - it is still a delicious sandwich.
Eggslut Cranberry Turkey Sausage sandwich, 9/10
This was my favourite festive treat last year, so 12 months later I approach the burger anew with hungry anticipation. A brioche bun housing a turkey patty, cranberry sauce, rocket salad and a fried egg isn't exactly traditional and feels like it would be more appropriately accompanied with a pint than a yuletide sherry or something but it absolutely works.
The bun is so varnished it almost falls out of my hand. The patty is peppery and the sauce is sweet and balanced by bitter rocket. The egg yolk bursts and provides some extra sauce. It is a messy sandwich, but Christmas is all about gluttony.
But we're not done eating there.
Wahaca Turkey Taquito, 9/10
Crispy shell, soft pulled turkey filling, a bit of red cabbage on the top - there's nothing to dislike in this dance of textures and tastes from the Mexican chain.
It doesn't feel particularly Christmassey and I can see myself eating it all year round, particularly as the salad it comes with provides that fresh injection of vitamins I often crave after munching on something festive.
Marks & Spencer, Naughty And Spice Turkey Feast, 7.5/10
You see what they did here... This is one of many, many Xmas sandwiches the supermarket rolled out this year. It is a roll filled with peri-peri, turkey pieces, hot cranberry sauce, chorizo-style pork stuffing, cabbage slaw and a load of mayonnaise.
It gets all the usual Christmas flavours then, and spices them up a bit, just to make them more exciting.
It works, the slaw is crunchy and nice but the bread is a bit stodgy too. Meh.
Urban Eat, Turkey Feast, 7.75/10
Sometimes the most classic sandwiches hit the best. This is a no fuss and no gimmick option that hits the right notes - all the ingredients taste nice and it has a good amount of spinach, warding off that festive scurvy. It is just a tad too dry and could be packed out a little bit more generously but overall this is a sarnie that gets the job done.
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