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a silent vegan for Christmas - how to welcome her

(36 Posts)
Failedspinster Mon 24-Nov-14 08:04:43

The thread title is facetious, but this is a genuine request for help.

Every year we host a big family Christmas at our house in the Midlands, for our DC (this year we will have a 2.8 yo and a 4 month old), my mum, my MIL (who are both single) and my two brothers, none of whom live near us. DB 1 sometimes opts not to come in favour of doing other things. DB2 always does come as SIL always goes to her parents in Italy for Christmas. We'd love to have her here too, and she knows she would be welcome, but understand that her parents rarely get to see her and she is their only child.

This year DB2 has opted to go with SIL to Italy to spend Christmas together for the first time. DB1, meanwhile, has invited his gf to come to ours. He didn't ask me, which I'm a bit cross about - silly of me, really, as I would certainly have said yes if he had.

I'm now very anxious to make it a lovely Christmas for her as she will be travelling a long way and hasn't met any of us before, nor are any of us near enough to London (where they live) to meet her first. She is vegan, so DB1 and I have already discussed Christmas dinner, but beyond that I know very little about her, apart from that she's very young (half DB1's age), speaks very little, works in retail and likes to craft.

So here's my query:

- can anyone suggest Christmassy treat food for vegan diets? I will buy nuts and we are doing some baking the week before, so have added a recipe for vegan chocolate fudge to the list. Grateful for any help though - I don't want her to get here and feel there's not much she can enjoy eating!

- more importantly, has anyone got any tips for making guests welcome? I've never spent Christmas outside my family before, or had (non-family)guests to spend Christmas with me. I don't want her to have a rubbish Christmas just because we haven't thought it through.

I've friend requested her on Facebook and have some ideas for presents, but any helpful suggestions greatly appreciated!

traviata Mon 24-Nov-14 08:12:34

Do you do board games? Something that everyone could join in could break the ice. Maybe something that your elder DC could have a go at as well?

I guess someone who doesn't usually speak very much won't want to be fussed over and made the centre of attention.

Have you got wine suitable for a vegan on the shopping list?

earlyriser Mon 24-Nov-14 08:24:32

If you go to the free from section in any of the big supermarkets you will find lovely treats like dairy free fudge, chocolate covered raisins, alpro gingerbread, chocolate and vanilla pots (good heated up as a sub for custard), and many other goodies.
One thing I would definitely find out before hand is her specific brand / preference of dairy free milk.

bronya Mon 24-Nov-14 08:24:45

I know a gorgeous vegan choc brownie recipe. Here: www.jamieoliver.com/magazine/blogs.php?title=vegan-brownie-recipe-as-seen-on-the-grah

PlumpingUpPartridge Mon 24-Nov-14 08:26:37

Ooh, well <rubs hands together>

- All the usual veg are fine as long as you don't cook the potatoes (or anything else) with animal fat - think sunflower oil, for example. There's a range of margarine called 'Pure' which is definitely dairy-free - they have sunflower or olive options. Good for adding to mash.

- Maybe (if you're feeling stongly motivated) make a side vegetable dish that can also serve as her main - this is what we do in my house (I'm vegan, DH tries to avoid dairy but eats meat, DC are omnivores). We had a lovely dish yesterday of jerusalem artichokes, new potatoes and olives. It was essentially a tray-bake and bloody lovely - would go well with pork grin don't get veggie sausages as they are often egg-coated.

- It sounds like you have snacks sorted (mmm, vegan fudge) so that is fab.
As extra options, Oreos are dairy-free and (I think) vegan, so get in a few; plus popcorn is often vegan, as are Tyrells salt and vinegar crisps (again, I think). Also, dark chocolate is often vegan if it's a good brand (although supermarket own brands are improving).

- Not sure about vegan desserts I'm afraid. If you want to make something, there's an egg substitute called Ogran which is excellent. Basically I'd make a dessert for everyone and make sure it's vegan by default - people can add cream/butter if they like.

- Importantly, wine is not vegan (or even veggie). I've done some extensive research and Sainsburys is excellent for vegan wine - check their website and pick up a few bottles if you want to impress. It's the same price as normal wine and just as nice.

- I think that a general friendly attitude will go far towards making her feel welcome. If she's quiet, then just let her be - include her in all offers of drink etc and make eye contact during conversations, but don't press her for answers or anything. She will probably appreciate being allowed to just be present rather than having to do the usual social performance thing. Basically just act like you're in the presence of a group of family and let the friendly atmosphere do the job for you - assuming you all like each other of course!

- If you're getting her a gift, maybe a £10-20 gift voucher for Hobbycraft would be nice as she's a crafter.

Sorry, essay but I like to try and be helpful grin

girlywhirly Mon 24-Nov-14 08:37:58

Holland and Barrett have dairy free chocolates, some of which may be vegan. I have seen alternative 'ice-creams' in Waitrose freezer cabinets. Have some suitable non-alcoholic drinks available as well, in case she doesn't choose to drink alcohol.

I agree to encourage her to join in games, but it can be difficult with some quiet people.

flanjabelle Mon 24-Nov-14 08:49:36

I am no help on the vegan side of things, but with regards to her being quiet I think give her a really warm welcome when she arrives. Make it clear that you are so happy to have her with you, then give her a little space. As said above include her in all offers for drinks/food/activities, but don't push it or force her into conversation.

I think the warm welcome is key or you may just seem to be ignoring her. You sound like a lovely host and she will see you care by the amount of effort you are making to cater to her needs.

QoFE Mon 24-Nov-14 08:55:52

The Co-op give ingredients for all their own-label alcohol (not many places do as its not a legal requirement) so you can find which are vegan easily.

Lots of commercial mince pies are vegan. Can't think which offhand but I see our resident vegan teenager eating them all the time at the moment!

Our vegan Christmas dinner option is going to be homemade nut/chestnut pate with dried cranberries, wrapped in filo pastry.

stillnotsorted Mon 24-Nov-14 09:03:23

PlumpingUp - could you say what is it that makes wine not vegan? (Sorry to hijack)

LineRunner Mon 24-Nov-14 09:05:36

Whether you all slob around in pjs and dressing gowns on Christmas morning, or dress more formally, let her know . I had a horrible Christmas morning one year at a boyfriend's parents, because he didn't tell me about the 'pj dress code' and I couldn't dress down into pjs as I didn't bring any... I didn't think they'd appreciate seeing me in my t-shirt and knickers next to the Christmas tree so I had to get dressed and felt like a right bloody lemon.

QoFE Mon 24-Nov-14 09:06:57

Its the stuff they use for clearing it stillnotsorted - often either gelatine (bones) or isinglass (fish)

ThatBloodyWoman Mon 24-Nov-14 09:11:43

You sound lovely Failed.

With your concern about her comfort you will emanate the welcoming vibes I can sense you will give out.

Do you have pets? Great ice breakers.Does she have pets? If she has a dog,could it come too?

yomellamoHelly Mon 24-Nov-14 09:17:55

Before you get carried away, check that she does like all these treat kind of foods. The only vegan I know eats really well as grew up used to not being able to eat those kind of foods, so doesn't partake in them even if she can. (Have made an effort with cakes and biscuits in past for them to go untouched.)

Minion Mon 24-Nov-14 09:24:28

Can you make rice pudding with almond milk? I love a rice pudding when it's cold outside, so comforting.
If not, ignore me though I want it now too

I think she'll have a grand time with someone who wants to make it special for her too.

PlumpingUpPartridge Mon 24-Nov-14 09:31:42

YY to checking what sort of milk substitute she likes!

As for the wine, QofE is entirely correct. I was horrified to discover wine wasn't safe.

I must say I really hate Holland and Barrett's dairy free chocolate..... it's rank!

I'd quiz your DB for her actual likes/dislikes/allergies too; last year we had too vegetarians over for a Christmas feast and I was an omnivore then, so took it as a great opportunity to expand my repertoire. I carefully prepared a chestnut filo pie thingy and two options with blue cheese in, only to be informed when they arrived that one veggie was actually allergic to blue cheese. She was touched at having more than a single option though (in theory anyway) smile

KateMoose Mon 24-Nov-14 10:40:45

Here's an idea and it will be delish as Oh She Glows recipes always are:

ohsheglows.com/2013/11/26/3-course-vegan-and-gluten-free-holiday-menu-step-by-step/

Or: ohsheglows.com/2012/10/08/roasted-fingerling-potatoes-and-brussels-sprouts-with-rosemary-and-garlic/

Is they're staying overnight: ohsheglows.com/2012/01/03/top-15-vegan-breakfast-recipes-of-2011/

Vegan Eggnog: ohsheglows.com/2010/12/18/vegan-nog-classic-and-peppermint/

there are also lots of cake recipes where you make up a flax egg instead of a hens one. Its a great website that's quite inspiring. Check out Deliciously Ella too and Nutrition Stripped.

Welcome them through the door with a powerful vegan cocktail such as this one: ohsheglows.com/2013/11/29/my-go-to-holiday-cocktail-quick-easy-festive-and-low-in-sugar/

and a cracker. Festive hats on straight away, festive music and tell her straight away what vegan food you're having and sound enthusiastic about it. This will relax her and hopefully she'll get into the swing of it. If she's into craft, then perhaps she wouldn't mind doing something crafty with your toddler DD. If she's pretty quiet, maybe just leave her be to relax. Have a lovely day smile.

PixieofCatan Mon 24-Nov-14 10:49:05

Find out from your DB if there is anything she particularly doesn't like. As a veggie I hate mushrooms, couldn't even tolerate them until fairly recently, so it would have been a bit embarrassing to go somewhere and be offered mushrooms (luckily I wasn't!)

& YY to checking her preferred substitutes. I usually take anything special with me but it's nice when people have it in. I prefer nut milks or hemp milk over soy milk, but a friend of mine prefers it the other way. The alpro chocolate flavoured dessert pots are really tasty. I love them. The vanilla ones have the soy after-taste but the chocolate ones are so good.

merrymouse Mon 24-Nov-14 10:50:32

My biggest, biggest tip is don't say things like

"You must think we're all mad!!!"

or

"sorry about all the noise!"

or

"you must be really, really missing your family".

Just work on the premise that she wants to be at your house, join in and be included because she is there.

Christmases with non-family members can be better because it takes the focus away from the usual relationship dynamics and encourages people to behave better and actually play the new board game rather than slump in front of the TV.

stillnotsorted Mon 24-Nov-14 12:07:30

Thanks QoFE

Curiouslygrumpycola Mon 24-Nov-14 12:13:32

I just wanted to say that you sound lovely and I'm impressed you are making such a lovely effort.

WerewolfBarMitzvah Mon 24-Nov-14 12:18:04

I would do the warm welcome and make sure no one in the family starts grilling her for information! You seem really thoughtful so just do what comes naturally.
While it's lovely to make sure she's having a good time etc, don't go too far and make a fuss in front of everyone asking if she's ok (I'm sure you wouldn't!)

rastamam Mon 24-Nov-14 12:27:32

viva are giving lots of ideas for vegan christmas food this year www.viva.org.uk/ such as making vegan pavlova easily with these www.vivashop.org.uk/food-wine/confectionery
or you could get her a christmas gift tuck box www.vegantuckbox.co.uk/
id say to always let her know what is vegan and offer her things, like passing things her way at the dinner table, but dont make a big issue of the veganness as its v annoying & overwhelming to have everyone want to get into a vegan debate when you first meet them!

Waitingonasunnyday Mon 24-Nov-14 12:33:22

Awesome thread title.

I think you should play charades. I bet silent vegans like charades. Also get some Charlie Chaplin DVDs wink

MillyMollyMandy78 Mon 24-Nov-14 13:24:45

The dark chocolate Terrys orange is vegan and tAstes like the original but just slightly less sweet

rastamam Mon 24-Nov-14 13:32:46

beef bisto is vegetarian & i think vegan? and alpro do delicious custard that you can get in sainsburys/co op etc, and cream too, and their chocolate deserts are ammmazing. You can get Pure too instead of butter and make a crumble, and vegan icecream is easy to get and as delicious as dairy icecream. So many delicous options! You do sound very kind to consider her Im sure shel have a lovely christmas

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