The COVID-19 pandemic (and the nationwide lockdown) has spawned a whole host of exciting new businesses – launched in response to the simple fact that people have been unable to leave the house, or perhaps even more interestingly – as people have begun to realise the need to support your local producers and independents.
Huge supermarkets and Amazon are going to be fine during the pandemic, in fact, they’ve probably made MORE money this year than any other year before, and so the paradigm has shifted considerably, with people opting to spend their money on small, independent businesses (who need it more) and are more likely to innovate.
Here’s what’s available this Christmas…
Christmas Dinner DIY Kits
This Christmas is no exception, as a wealth of independent restaurants have started offering Christmas Dinner Delivery Boxes, where you get all of the ingredients needed to make an impressive 4-course meal, complete with all of the bells, whistles and gallons of booze that you’d expect if you were actually dining out.
Well-known names in the restaurant industry such as Simon Rogan, Six By Nico, The Lowry Hotel and Tom Kerridge are all offering up Christmas Dinner Delivery ‘kits’ where the restaurant prepares all of the dishes, and you simply finish them all off at home.
You’ll be treated to canapes, traditional Turkey dinners, delectable sides, desserts and if you pay a bit more – wine to wash it all down with.
As you’d expect, these Christmas Dinner DIY Boxes don’t come cheap, but they’re an excellent way for independent restaurants to still have an offering this Christmas – and to ensure that you have a choice other than grabbing a Pot Noodle and some Quavers on Christmas Day because you don’t know what you’re doing in the kitchen.
Food Delivery Boxes
If you DO know what you’re doing in the kitchen though, or at least want to get better with a roasting tin, there’s also an impressive selection of Food and Vegetable Boxes available this Christmas which can be delivered straight to your door without the need to trundle down to the supermarket.
Sourced from local farmers and suppliers, these boxes are a great way of supporting your independents while still getting the best produce possible – ensuring that your Christmas Dinner is the very best it can be.
Last week I took a visit to the excellent VEG BOX MCR, a family-run business offering up gourmet fruit and vegetable boxes with everything you need for the big day for just £25. On top of that you can ‘boost’ your box with even more ingredients for an extra £17.50 – with berries, smoked garlic, medjool dates, chestnuts and more to take your dinner to a whole new level.
On the meat side of things there’s MeatCo Manchester who specialise in sustainable, ethical and zero waste meat from local farmers in Greater Manchester and Lancashire. Their ‘Very MeatCo Christmas’ box comes in at £115 and includes a full rib of beef (which can feed up to 6 people), alongside wines, beers and chutneys from the team at Higher Ground.
There’s also the fantastic Grandad’s Sausages, where you can pick up some of the best bangers known to man, plus some bacon to wrap them in, and then there’s the Eat Well MCR Marketplace which is a true Aladdin’s cave of food and drink, who’ll repay your generosity with food for the city’s most vulnerable in return.
Christmas is NOTHING without booze and with us being mostly locked down, you may have to be a little bit more creative with your bevvies. As is always the case, the supermarkets do indeed offer up loads of booze, but if you really want to support your independents – head straight to the source.
Breweries throughout Greater Manchester are all set up now with online ordering and pretty advanced delivery systems, for example – you can get a crate of ShinDigger delivered to your door in about 45 minutes – and you know that they’re going to be the freshest beers you’ll probably ever taste.
Similarly with spirits, many of the cities distilleries are offering delivery options, including the likes of Manchester Gin, Diablesse Rum and The Public Spirit – all of which don’t just make for a jolly Christmas – they’re also great presents too.
For wines there are a wealth of independent wine shops in the city, such as Reserve, Salut and Vinyard leading the way in terms of selection, expertise and advice on what to order this festive period. In addition, many restaurants in Manchester have re-positioned themselves to offer their usual range of wines but for collection or delivery.
Venues such as ERST, La Bandera and Another Heart to Feed have some absolutely outstanding wines available for you to try and again – they make brilliant presents.
When I used to think of Hampers I’d remember the catalogues that my mum would have around Christmas, where you’d send some random company £6 a week for a whole year and then you’d get a rather sorry looking wicker basket filled with beans, bread and Lambrini on the 1st December.
Well, luckily for us all – that lot don’t exist, and instead the city’s many independent bars and restaurants have created hampers which are perfect as presents or just for scoffing over the Christmas period.
If you’re looking for some Italian treats then Don Giovanni and Salvis have you covered, Spanish – you can’t go wrong with cheese, meats and wine from La Bandera.
There’s also plenty of niche options, such as Sicilian NQ’s Sicilian offering, cheese hampers from Chorlton Cheesemongers, Festive Bakes from Pollen and even a hamper of spices from Dishoom.