Christmas Day Lunch - Our Flagship Event
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Beginning in 2013 with seven guests Christmas Day Lunch is now our flagship event.
For the past 6 years we have happily cooked and served over one thousand (1000) freshly home cooked traditional Christmas Lunch on Christmas Day to the residents of Derby. The majority of guests come to join us but some are unable to so we deliver Christmas Lunch to them.
Year by year the numbers grow as we now allow families to join us and as a result the challenge becomes more and more difficult.
Due to the increase in the number of guests each year we have to find larger premises to host the meal and to make this event happen, but we relish the challenge and find a lot of joy in the end results.
Christmas 2019 saw us serving 121 sit down meals, delivering 31, and feeding our 30 venue volunteers and team of 9 drivers at Alfie's Bar in Spondon
However, once the day is over the work still continues with thank you letters being sent to our donors and volunteers.
Planning for the following year begins at the end of January with a review of the day to ensure we are doing it right and to 'iron out' any issues that may have arisen and included in the review is 'what can we do better next year?'
Christmas Day Lunch Dining Room lay outs over the years
Some of our volunteers over the years
Is it 'just a meal on Christmas Day?'
Christmas Day Lunch for many of our guests isn't just about having a meal with us.
For many it means social interaction, meeting old friends and making new ones too, plus every guest that joins us becomes part of our 'caring, sharing network' which we don't shout about but we know many of our guests live a 'lonely life' with many only having interaction with their carer, who all too often are too busy to spend time with the people they are contracted to visit daily.
Not only do we provide our guests with a home cooked fresh traditional Christmas Day lunch, with a choice of starters, main courses and desserts, we aim to collect and return home those that need transport and entertain them whilst they with us but more importantly we keep in touch with them (within GDPR permissions) to do our best to see that they are content during the rest of the year.
Not only do we keep in touch with our guests we also try to have regular contact with their carers/family to try to ensure 'life is as best as it can be' for them.
The build up to the Big Day.
We pride ourselves on trying to get everything right for the Big Day which takes meticulous planning and hundreds of hours of 'unseen background' work.
Once the venue has been sorted and we have the bulk of our guests registered we send each one an invitation and cover letter giving them all the details for the day, included also are a menu and a RSVP with allows our guests to tell us what they have chosen to eat and if they have any dietary requirements or special requests, such as transport, disabilities etc. Also as part of the RSVP we request the age of all guests so we can tell Santa so he can match presents to the age and gender of our guests.
The closing date for RSVP's is typically 14th December,(requests to join us after this date are dealt by telephone) to allow us time to collate all the information and 'do what we need to do' for the Big Day, which includes a very detailed spreadsheet for the days chef, 'individual place mats' reminding the guests what they have ordered which are colour coded to help our volunteers served the courses quicker and the important bit....each guests is allocated a unique reference number which is used later in the day when we play 'our silly games' with one lucky winner receiving a large Christmas Hamper but we ensure every guest wins something. In addition to sorting the menu's, printing the place mats and organising Santa we also have the task of shopping for everything for the day, excluding the turkeys and beef, which are pre-ordered on the 16th, and collected on the 23rd.
Hover on a image to find out more
First job on Christmas Eve is to contact all of our guests who have requested transport and confirm when they will be collected and guests are told the security protocols we use.
Once all the guests have been contacted we do our last minute shopping and then begins possibly our busiest evening of the year. After all the last minute shopping and the shops are closed around 5pm we start by taking everything to the venue for the 'big day' where we are joined by our group of merry volunteers and this where our volunteers change Christmas Day for so many, as without them we couldn't do what we do. Some choose to start prepping the food, some choose to set up the dining room and for those re-joining us for the big day duties are allocated, where applicable and acceptable.
Sounds simple? By this stage of the proceedings last minute checks are completed to ensure everything runs as smooth as possible next day. If you have family coming to visit you know how much work is involved, now multiply that up to accommodate 120+ guests, collecting guests, then planning deliveries etc etc and you see how much goes into arranging this day, one Christmas Eve.
When we leave we are tired and almost ready for Christmas Day, but not quite.
When the big day arrives, sleep or no sleep, Kevin, our managing director is always first to arrive at the venue at around 7am, closely followed by the head cook for the day and a few volunteers that couldn't sleep due to being 'too excited'.
Once the turkey crowns and beef joints are in the oven we sit and have a cup of coffee or tea and a bacon or sausage buttie or a round of toast whilst discussing the plans for the day. Only at this point do we know exactly who is joining us and what we need to do to make sure the day runs smoothly. Other volunteers join us from 9am and are allocated duties for the day. At 10.30am the drivers are allocated guests to collect, with each guest receiving a phone call to tell them an approximate time when we will be collecting them.11.30am, crunch time and they day becomes real when our guests start to arrive and are welcomed with a drink and then they are guided to the dining room where they choose where to sit.
12.30pm, now it gets serious. Our volunteer drivers check and deliver the meals to our guests that can't join us ensuring they have everything that has been requested plus for those staying with our guests to provide some company, their own meal too and of course the presents for the guests.
At 1,20pm our 'sit down' guests are given another health and safety briefing, telling them what to do in case of a fire alarm sounding and where the fire exits are and, to some more importantly, a reminder of where the toilets are and a reminder that our volunteers are there to help.
1.30pm - we commence serving starters and the lunch begins in earnest, but we do not rush our guests, after all they are with us for as long as they want to be (subject to times we have the venue for).
Between courses we play silly games, sometimes it's a game of 'prize' bingo, other times a quiz or a random prize giving but after desserts and before Santa arrives (if he's coming) we randomly chose one winner to receive our Christmas Hamper.
However, Kevin has a habit of interrupting the day with his own silly 'prize' games, which can happen at any time, he is an elf after all and prides himself on making the day as much fun as possible for all our guests.
Watch the video for an insight of what the day is really like.
Video Copyright Peter Moggeridge 25.12.2018
Click the play button to enjoy some festive music
Video Copyright Pater Moggeridge 25.12.2018.
Christmas Day - continued
One of the important things to us on Christmas Day is that as little food is wasted as possible so we have a last minute food give-away, which always goes down well with the guests "That's Boxing Day sorted" - is the most common quote we receive.
Once all our guests have left or been returned home we can start and finish the final cleaning/clearing up which is always the hardest part because by now 90% of volunteers have gone home too and very few want to arrive late to volunteer to help after being at home with family for the day.
One of the big issues is that most of the venues we get offered for free (all are donated free of charge) are for hire the following day, so the venue has to returned to the condition we found it in on Christmas Eve, ready for the next day and after two very long days motivation is now lacking.
Only once in 6 years have been had the luxury of returning on Boxing Day to finish cleaning up.
Christmas Day - Overview
An incredible amount of work goes into organising this event every year. Last year (2019) over the year in excess of 4000 hours were dedicated to planning this event and more than 600 hours were donated by volunteers on either Christmas Eve and the day itself.
Without the dedication of our directors, committee and our volunteers, especially our chefs this day couldn't happen.
Since we have been hosting Christmas Day Lunch we have had the pleasure of serving more than 1000 guests a Traditional Christmas Meal.
We cannot forget the kind donations we have received, over the years from many sources whether they be cash donations or donations of presents.
We would like to thank everyone hat has either donated, volunteered or joined us for the day. We've had so much fun and will carry on doing so.
Due to COVID-19our plans have had to change. Click the button to find out more.