Chocolate stockings, naughty gnomes and Guinness for horses: NGF’s staff Christmas traditions

December 21, 2017 7:03 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Ever wondered what the staff of NGF get up to behind closed doors at Christmas? We decided to spill the (organic) beans… We’re a mixed bunch at NGF and between us, take part in pretty much all possible weird and wonderful Christmas traditions. Of course, most of us consider ourselves to be completely normal. You can judge for yourself.

We take a look at the NGF Christmas traditions.

What do the NGF staff get up to at Christmas?


Maria’s half-Swedish, so Christmas in her house takes place on Christmas Eve, rather than the 25th, with presents in the evening. There’s a Christmas Eve smorgasbord, which takes several days to create, and plenty of ‘glogg’ – a form of Swedish mulled wine.

Around 3pm on Christmas Eve, Maria and her family tuck into rice pudding. There’ll be a whole almond hidden somewhere inside the pudding, and whoever finds it will marry that year (completely guaranteed).

Maria’s also a vegan, so adapts traditional Swedish meals to exclude animal products. She loves Jansson’s Frestelse – a dish made up of layered potatoes, anchovies (with a vegan alternative), non-dairy cream and peppers, topped with breadcrumbs. Swedish potato balls made with mashed potato, egg and flour (Maria uses Orgran egg replacer) are also popular, served with lingonberries (or, in the UK, cranberries).

Maria’s always mindful of the need to put on a good show, as like all Swedes, she has an abiding fear of the ‘Tomte’. He’s a naughty Christmas gnome that needs to be bought off with a cinnamon and saffron bun, to prevent him plaguing your cattle.

Maria works hard to keep the Tomte happy at Christmas

Tomte: the stuff of Maria’s nightmares

(It probably goes without saying that Maria doesn’t have any cattle, but still. You can’t be too careful. Or as they say in Swedish: Alla känner apan, men apan känner ingen.)


There is one member of staff who does have her own cattle, and that’s Helen, who’s a dairy farmer as well as a packer at NGF. The cows come first in Helen’s Christmas, with food and presents fitted in around the two milking sessions. I like to think that each cow also wears its own Christmas cracker hat, but Helen refuses to confirm this.

Helen's cows keep her busy at Christmas.

Where’s my hat, Helen?


Staying with our animal theme, we move onto Tony, the Operations Manager. Tony’s a man for sausage rolls and Bucks Fizz on Christmas morning, but he also makes sure that all his family’s many animals get a treat, too. The horses, apparently, never miss their pint of Christmas Guinness.


Keith’s Christmas is a storybook affair. His wife, the lay minister in the village church, will be organising the Christmas Day service. Keith will be ringing the bells. There’ll be snow, holly and mistletoe and rosy-cheeked children. Then it’s home to a vegetarian Nut Roast Wellington with gravy – and an organic Christmas pudding from Naturally Good Food.

We've got a great range of Christmas goodies.

Keith will be enjoying an NGF organic Christmas pudding


Yzanne’s hoping the kids will stay rosy-cheeked throughout the day. Still with (reasonably) young children, she’ll kick things off with the church Crib Service, featuring (as usual) 40 angels and around 20 wise men and shepherds. There’ll also be chocolate stocking frogs, a tree that’s far too big for the house, carrots for the reindeer, over-excitement and a regrettable episode with a sound-effect machine.


Przemek helps us out in the packing department at busy times. He’s Polish (and vegan) and will make sure he sets a spare place at his Christmas table, in case any traveller should visit (having said which, he has steadfastly refused to give any of us his address). He’ll be eating vegan burgers and a meal made from sauerkraut, smoked tofu, prunes, aubergine and mushrooms, which he has foraged himself, in the wilds of Warwickshire. There’ll be different types of dumplings too, with various savoury fillings, including lentils.


Unless Gary can discover Przemek’s address, he’ll be spending Christmas in Melton Mowbray. There’ll be plenty of stilton cheese and nuts – and, as a vegetarian, a chance to finish up everyone else’s sprouts.

Mixed nuts are great at Christmas.

Lovely mixed Christmas nuts!


Janice is going for a traditional family Christmas, with a pudding, Christmas cake and mince pies. She’ll have a proper Christmas tree too, festooned with decorations from when her children were tiny.


Christmas means chocolate in Rachel’s huge family. Every mother in the family buys their daughter a full-length lady’s stocking and fills it with chocolate. After that, she says, ‘we’re a typical family’.



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This post was written by Yzanne

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