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Festive treats for your Christmas fair

Sourcing the right refreshments for a winter fair can take some thought. A few items, such as mulled wine or turkey baps will be a given, but how can you make sure your getting the best from yummy yuletide fare?

Mulled wine

First of all, remember that if you're selling alcoholic mulled wine at your fair, you will need a Temporary Event Notice (TEN), assuming your venue doesn't already have a premises licence. Next, decide whether you want to make it yourself or buy ready-made bottles, and then work out how you will keep it heated.

  • Pre-made bottles can be sourced cheaply from wholesalers or local supermarkets and many will offer a sale or return option, meaning you don't have to worry too much about quantities. Buying your wine pre-mixed will save you time, but can often be more expensive. 
  • Homemade mulled wine should be advertised as homemade! It might take longer, but will save on cost. Jamie Oliver's mulled wine recipe has been recommended. Think about a balance of red wine and orange/cranberry juice so that it isn't too strong - especially for a daytime event!
  • Heating it, and keeping it warm, can be tricky. Slow cookers or a giant tea urn are great ways to keep it warm for customers. If you're near a kitchen, keeping a large pot on a low heat will also work.

Turkey

Yes, everyone loves a good barbecue, but if you REALLY want to tie in with the festive feel, provide turkey baps. Turkey, cranberry sauce and stuffing in rolls will go down a treat. For a vegetarian option, use brie instead of Turkey. Contact local butchers and catering companies to see what they can offer, and follow Food Standards Agency guidance on food preparation and storage.

Mince pies

As supermarkets start selling mince pies as early as September, asking for donations in advance shouldn't be a problem! Run a 'coffee/tea and mince pie' deal for attendees. Homemade mince pies are just as good, so if you're struggling with donations and have some keen bakers, ask them to help - try this BBC Good Food recipe for unbelievably easy mince pies!

Cakes

Cake stalls are a staple part of any fair, but give them a festive twist. Browse our Christmas fairs Pinterest board for some festive cake and cupcake inspiration. If you have enough volunteers, have several stalls... One with inexpensive shop-bought or home-baked items that can be sold for between 20p-£1. Then generate a little competitive spirit among those who are donating cakes, by running a cupcake competition. Decide which categories you want and recruit some judges! Have these on display and perhaps sell them at the end or auction them off in boxes of 4. Another popular idea is a 'guess the weight of the cake' competition. Christmas cakes are notoriously heavy, so print out a good spread of weight options and invite visitors to pay to guess, noting their name and contact details against their chosen weight. Keep your cake in a sealed see-through container. Not only will this keep it fresh and germ-free (while people are picking it up), it will also enable you to go mobile! Take the cake and a clipboard around your event, inviting people to participate.

Gingerbread decorating

If there will be a large proportion of children at your event, combine refreshments with an activity that will keep them entertained. Buy plain gingerbread men in bulk, as well as decorating accoutrements: different-coloured icing (pre-mixed in squeezy bottles), silver balls and other edible delights. Have some baby wipes ready to wipe any sticky hands!


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