The allure of Christmas food

Unwrapping a festive feast: We explore what and who is inspiring consumers in the kitchen this Christmas.

December 08, 2023
David Gough
A family christmas dinner
December 08, 2023
David Gough

It shouldn’t surprise you to know that our favourite part of Christmas time is the food. And we know we’re not alone!

But with the media full of stories about rising prices,  watered down mulled wine, and sales of traditional Christmas puddings falling in favour of panettone,  we  set out to discover for ourselves what still excites consumers about festive food, and why.

Christmas is usually a time for innovation, with not only the release of foods unique to winter (anyone ever eaten Stollen in July?) but many brands also releasing seasonal flavours of classic favourites.  In fact, our Ceres Christmas research* shows that four in ten of us can’t wait to try limited edition crisps and snacks.

Oh and we couldn’t either…

Other eagerly awaited festive foods include cakes and pudding (36%) and canapes and party foods (35%), but, for younger consumers, Christmas is an occasion to be enjoyed on-the-go, as Christmas Sandwiches are the most anticipated by 18-24 year olds and 25-34 year olds (56% and 55% respectively). Long considered one of the leading symbols of Christmas time, the mince pie still remains an exciting treat for over 55s (47%) and men (46%).

But, with so many different versions available we had to see for ourselves which was best with a blind taste test (sadly we were disappointed by a lot of them – but not all!).

It’s not just the food we buy that can make (or break) Christmas, it’s food we create too. Half of those we surveyed said they like the perfect balance of ready-made and cooking from scratch, with the top dishes to make including:

1.       Pigs in blanket / stuffing – both 40%

3.       Sausage rolls 36%

4.       Vegetable side dish 34%

5.       Mince pies 29%

And it seems that while we all have different places we look to for recipes and ideas, family still rules when it comes to Christmas – with more than 1 in 3 of us listing it as our top inspiration (second only to retailers). For Gen Z and Millenials, families are even more inspiring – with 56% of 18-24 year olds and 48% of 25-34 year olds listing it top, but other newer sources are clearly important too. 3 in 10 18-24 year olds would consult TikTok for festive recipe ideas (being most likley to recreate the latest trend such as Christmas Tree Pastry), while more than 4 in 10 25-34 year olds would seek out a reel on Instagram.

Unsuprisingly, websites also proved poular amongst all ages, showing the clear benefit to posting and reformatting brand recipes across multiple channels.

Whatever you plan to cook, or eat and drink this Christmas, we hope your truly enjoy it.

Merry Christmas from us all! 

*This survey was taken by 209 respondents on both mobile and desktop devices and all were based in the UK.
The study ran between the 17th -22nd November 2023. The sample was nationally representative of gender, age and region.