Not everyone gets to spend Christmas Day on the sofa. Pack a lunchbox full of traditional festive food that’s been adapted for those who’ll be spending their day hard at work.
Picture the scene: a roaring fire, presents being passed around the tree, raising toasts at the big family meal and enjoying a snooze on the sofa. It's a dream Christmas, but for some, Christmas Day will be compromised by having to work.
From transport and hospitality workers to the emergency services, there are many who can't stop grafting because it's 25 December. So if you're foregoing Christmas dinner for business as usual, we salute your services with a portable meal that can be enjoyed at the workplace.
Winter warmers for your flask
Our ideas are based on there being nowhere to heat your lunch, but if you do have access to a microwave, invest in a good piece of Tupperware and take along a wintry soup. Our celeric, hazelnut & truffle soup makes a luxuriously silky starter, or dip into the cheeseboard early with a classic broccoli & stilton blend.
Stews also reheat well and often taste better the next day. Go vegetarian or add chicken, beef or sausage to your casserole, but do take extra care to ensure the meat is steaming hot throughout before eating.
The ultimate Christmas sandwich
Eating a full roast dinner is the focal point of Christmas Day for many, so a sandwich will struggle to compete. Hopefully you’ll be returning home to leftovers, so keep lunch light and festive with a seasonal sarnie.
We love a sandwich and relish the chance to practice our assembly skills. First, choose your bread wisely. A flimsy slice of white isn’t going to cut it – try sturdy sourdough or crusty ciabatta and toast to prevent sogginess.
Why not go for a Christmas dinner-inspired filling? If the joint hasn't been roasted, buy a small amount of turkey mince and make thin burgers the night before. Our easy turkey burger recipe contains carrots and apricots, but you could ramp up the seasoning with some sage or parsley. If you prefer slices of meat, pick up some ready-roasted chicken breast as an alternative.
Make up a winter slaw to add crunch using Christmassy veg. Shredded raw sprouts have a lighter texture than sliced cabbage, so they work well for a base. If stuffing balls are waiting in the fridge for the big day, you could nab one, flatten it and roast it, or make up a portion of shop-bought stuffing if you like.
When it comes to garnishes, there are plenty of chutney choices. But, some might cause the bread to get too soggy. You could try spreading cranberry jelly or relish between a meat and vegetable layer – our cranberry & sweet chilli jam is the perfect texture and gives extra flavour. Pick up some vegetable crisps to serve on the side.
Other great Christmas sandwich combos
- Give traditional Christmas flavours a twist in a vibrant Vietnamese-style turkey bánh mì. Pack a hearty baguette with cooked turkey, chicken liver pâté, pickled slaw, sauces and a hint of chilli for the ultimate mouthful.
- Dig into the smoked salmon and team it with rye bread, capers, lemon zest and cream cheese.
- A short blast in a microwave is all you need to bring this oozy camembert sandwich alive (pictured). Stack a wedge of cheese with zingy cranberry sauce and toast before you go, then simply reheat at work.
- We love these Christmassy chestnut & cranberry falafels. Serve in pitta bread with some feta cheese, hummus (homemade if you have time), grated red cabbage and fresh coriander.
Cold ham cuts
Put your ham in to roast a day early for your Christmas Eve meal – use our guide on how to prepare gammon and ham if you need advice. As well as tasting simply divine, our sticky stem ginger & mustard glazed ham will keep well for the next day. In the morning, assemble a Christmas ploughman's platter in your lunchbox including thick slices of ham, a winter slaw, slices of strong cheddar cheese, crusty bread and some pickled beetroot sealed in a food bag.
Get cooking in the lead up to Christmas Day and make yourself a pie for your lunchbox. Shortcrust or filo pastry works best here, as they'll keep their shape better than puff pastry, and are less likely to go soggy.
Our celebratory Christmas pie is a savoury sensation, but is one for those with time on their hands. Our cranberry-topped raised pie is another crowd-pleaser, or for a meat-free marvel, try our colourful veg-packed vegan pie.
If you don’t fancy rustling up a behemoth of a bake, try making individual pies, or use filo pastry to make a batch of samosas. Swap the Indian spices of these tikka samosas for festive cinnamon, rosemary and cranberries.
Get out the slow cooker
Create a Christmas Eve supper to remember with a slow-cooked joint to share, then take the leftovers to work the next day. Lamb shoulder with seasonal pomegranate will be just as tender and soft the next day, as will our slow cooker gammon in cola. Serve with portable couscous, slow cooked cabbage, apricots and crispy onions.
See more Christmas slow cooker recipes.
Don't forget dessert
Earn brownie points with your colleagues and take a batch of mince pies. Our puff pastry mince pies are easily transportable and should keep everyone happy. Our traybake of irresistably sticky Christmas buns is also perfect for sharing and can be baked the night before.
If edible gifts are in order, then our pretty homemade Christmas truffles will do the trick. Failing that, you could always share your selection box – Christmas is the season of giving after all!
Find more Christmas lunchbox inspiration
If you simply don't have time to prep any food, then read our review of the best Christmas supermarket foods, many of which can be packed in a lunchbox.
Are you working on Christmas Day and bringing a lunchbox along? Leave a comment below…