I love Christmas food. I just love it. I don’t mean Christmas dinner particularly – although I do really enjoy that, but I’d be just as happy with spaghetti bolognaise (apart from Mams homemade apple sauce and parsnips… I love eating lots of those, I even like sprouts.) I mean sweet mince pies, Christmas cake, stollen, leibkuchen, chocolate coins, Christmas puddings, marzipan fruit – the sweet stuff I guess!

I start cooking for Christmas in October. I do this because my Mam always starts in half term and that seems like a good benchmark for when things should begin! This time round I started with stollen – which I’d made before a couple of years earlier – it takes time though. You have to put many ingredients in a big bowl and leave them there overnight and then you add the next stage of ingredients and leave the dough to rise. Then you have to transfer it to a tray and leave it to rise AGAIN before you can finally bake it! Which was where my stollen feel down. When I’d made it before it had been MASSIVE so this time I’d decided to make two stollens – but I completely forgot about altering the cooking times so they ended up a bit burnt (much to Dads delight!) still tasty though, but I’m definitely going to have to get a move on and do some more.

After this I made my mincemeat – which is ridiculously easy and so so worth it. This involves leaving ingredients in a large bowl for 12 hours and then adding stuff and popping it in the oven for three hours – that part being the hardest part because if the oven is going to be needed for something else or you’re not going to be in then you have to work around it! I think my mincemeat may have waited 24 hours before going in the oven! Once it’s out, it’s best to leave it for a bit before you start adding it to pastry cases and sampling it’s loveliness – preferably with a small scraping of rum butter. Mmm.

My Mam has made my Christmas cake this year (how good is that?!) so I didn’t have to attempt it (I’m not very good at fruit cake. Any other cake and I’m fine – but fruit cake always seems to get ruined!) and it’s sitting in a tin wrapped in foil until the time comes to decorate it. With Christmas cake there’s a lot of waiting around too. Just like mincemeat there’s the first 12 hour stint of waiting before you bake it – which takes 4 1/2 to 4 3/4 hours and then it’s best left for a bit before you eat it. Lots of anticipation!

Sometimes you have to wait for things to really take off. If you put in the effort at the beginning then it’ll be worth it in the end. If you spend time working on your brand then you’ll find over time that you’ll be recognised for it. You might find that you spend time working on your business image – nailing that logo, working on your guidelines, crafting your imagery and perfecting your copy, creating a website that sings about your business and exudes who you are – but you don’t always get results straight away.

So you’ve created a new brochure – brilliant – but you’re not going to get results from it if you keep them in the box under your desk which you use as a footstool. You need to get it out there in front of people and make sure that the right people are seeing it, taking it, opening it, getting excited about what’s inside and then ordering. All of this takes time. You create a new website – you might have an opt-in, so you create a Facebook ad – results might be a bit quicker than the offline version – but the ad could also be a total flop. You need to test things out and see what works. There isn’t an instant fix. Everybody has a different business and a different audience, so you need to see what works for YOU. If no one is seeing your website or visiting that page, then there wasn’t much point in doing anything about it was there?

Don’t just hand a load of leaflets in somewhere and then go home and twiddle your thumbs. Hand some more somewhere else. Go and check they’ve actually been put in the right place and see if you need to add more to the pile. Door drop them. Hand them out personally to people on the street. Have a digital copy made and distribute it around the internet. Email it out. Blog. Call people up and talk to them about what’s on the leaflet. Post it to people you think might benefit – do whatever you can think of to get your message out there.

Be pro-active. Provided that what you have to offer is actually good, then the waiting – will be worth it in the end.

Once you’ve made that sweet mincemeat you still have presents to buy and wrap, cards to write, meals to plan, decorations to put up, visits to arrange – all the other parts of Christmas to be getting on with – before you can make the pastry and bake the first sweet mince pies. It’s not about sitting still. It’s about waiting whilst taking action.

What actions are you taking?


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