Are your festive rituals a bit stale? Want to break with tradition? Let Emma Freud show you how the cool kids are doing it at Christmas...
Hipsters love Christmas. You can understand why: the birth of Jesus was the first recorded fashionable glamping experience; the Three Wise Men had the sort of names millennials give their kids (Balthazar, Melchior and Caspar); candlelight is very hygge; and hipsters love anything to do with shepherds (beards, vintage clothes, crooks). But Christmas for this uber-cool, street-smart, indie generation comes with its own new traditions, and if you’re unsure of them, allow me to fill you in – I don’t want you putting your tastefully weathered Converse boot in it.
A hipster’s house is decorated with edge. Regular Christmas trees are old school: this generation create deconstructed ones from fir branches stuck in a tree shape to a sitting room wall, or build literary ones from decreasing piles of books. Radicals might risk everything with a tree decorated only in baubles of one colour – it’s almost retro enough to be back in – or choose an ironically small one and cover it with popcorn garlands and strings of coloured cereal (Lucky Charms work well).
A crib is on message, especially Modern Nativity’s ‘millennial figurine set’, which has Mary and Joseph taking selfies with baby Jesus, a shepherd playing on his phone and the Wise Men on Segways bearing boxes from Amazon Prime.
Millennials are excellent at finding fun things to do with alcohol – going in a whole new direction from the car-key games of their parents. Top of the chalk-board menu is a hot spiced drink made by infusing cider with star anise, bay leaves, clove-studded tangerines and bourbon. Beer will be flavoured with pumpkin (yuck) or maple (double yuck).
They’re fond of festival cocktails involving a bottle of vodka steeped with juniper berries, orange peel and a sprig from a Christmas tree (Blue Spruce ideally, but make sure it hasn’t been sprayed). Leave for two days, then strain into a Kilner jar before use. Forget about glasses – these drinks are served in mismatched vintage china cups, cans or American red plastic cups. For non-drinkers, Juice Club sells a seasonal Brussels sprouts juice – that’s a party on its own right there. In fact, you might be better off drinking that one on your own until it’s been fully digested.
A nibble (and more drinks)
For a pre-meal snack, soak red and green gummy bears in bourbon (hipsters love bourbon) for 24 hours, drain and serve as an aperitif. Mix the booze with apple juice, cinnamon and lemon to make festive whisky sours (served in copper mugs, naturally).
A full turkey dinner is too on-the-nose for hipsters – it has retro chic, but as it hasn’t yet been out of fashion, it can’t be sardonically levered back in. Instead, consider a table of freshly cooked ‘leftovers’ and a pile of sourdough or quinoa bread so guests can make their own turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce sandwiches. Or a big overstuffed brioche bun containing barbecued pulled turkey (ironic) with Brussels sprouts coleslaw (green) and beetroot pickles (red, tick).
The phenomenally successful food truck-turned-restaurant-chain Meat Liquor do an XXXmas dog: bacon-wrapped chipolatas with turkey gravy and stuffing in a hot dog roll. Their vegetarian option is Xmac And Cheese, which involves deep-fried stilton and a port and cranberry dip. They also serve a Pinot Grinchio cocktail (hipsters love puns), which has a stripey sugar candy cane for a stirrer.
Unadulterated Christmas pudding is too basic, so the culinary millennial might crumble it into vanilla ice cream along with a rippled shot of Baileys, or make Advocaat snowball jellies in mini Kilner jars, served with cherry brandy marshmallows. There’s a great recipe on Cookies, Cupcakes and Cardio for a lumberjack cake – a four-layered confection that looks like a log on the outside, with a bold tartan (hipsters love it) design of multicoloured vanilla sponge when you cut into it.
Of course, gifts will be homemade. Foodie ideas include a Mason jar of butterscotch sauce; hot chocolate powder using single origin dark chocolate and vanilla marshmallows; or my incredible Christmas cookie mix packed in a Kilner jar.
If you don’t have time to make something, a mini teepee for a dog is obviously the perfect present. If the recipient doesn’t have a dog, that’s fine – in fact it’s even cooler. It may be a lot of effort, but gifts should appear as though you haven’t tried at all (hipsters love trying hard not to try hard).
And a final word of warning: if hipsters are of the long-bearded persuasion, they may decorate their facial hair with small woodland animals made of felt, sprigs of mistletoe, or tiny, shiny, beard baubles – I’m not even joking – purchased for £4.99 on Amazon. Happy Hipmas.
See the full recipe for Emma's Christmas biscuit mix in a jar.
Read more articles by Emma Freud...
Good Food contributing editor Emma Freud is a journalist and broadcaster, director of Red Nose Day and a co-presenter of Radio Four’s Loose Ends.