The Pros and Cons of Dining Out at Christmas
Christmas is around the corner and we will soon be heading out with our families and friends for a festive meal.
Restaurants know that December means increased business, but there are also significant downsides to this which on occasions might outweigh the benefits.
Imagine yourselves on Christmas Day thinking back to this article and wishing you had just stayed in.
Before booking your table at [insert your favourite restaurant], here’s what you may want to consider:
You don't have to cook or clean up after your meal
I can hear a collective cheer from all of you. No washing up, no cleaning, no stress.
This is definitely one of the main pros of dining out at Christmas. It's especially great if you have a large group as there will be far fewer dishes for you to do afterward.
The food is usually better than what you would cook yourself
This is especially true if you go to a restaurant that is known for its good food. The chef has had more time to prepare and will know your taste preferences better than you would yourself.
You get to try new dishes
Restaurants often have special Christmas menus which include festive favourites as well as some more unusual dishes. If you're feeling adventurous, this could be a great way to expand your culinary horizons.
Celebrate with other families
This could be a pro or a con. However, if you're someone that likes to socialise and spend time with others, then this could be a big bonus.
Not only will you get to meet new people, but you also get to share in the Christmas spirit with them.
It can be expensive
Now you don't need me to tell you that dining out at Christmas time is likely to be an expensive affair, so you need to work out if this is really worth it or not.
Of course, the joy of going to a restaurant is that somebody else does all the cooking and cleaning up afterward. But I think we can agree that you probably don't want your family and friends to do too much for you at Christmas time, so maybe you should just put in some extra hours in the kitchen yourself.
You're surrounded by temptation
It's all too easy to be seduced by the delicious aromas coming from the kitchen when you're eating out.
If you're trying to stick to a diet or avoid certain foods, this can be quite difficult.
You don't get as much personal attention as you would if you were cooking at home
This is especially true if you go to a large restaurant. The chef and waitstaff will have their hands full and may not be able to give you the level of attention that you would receive if you cooked at home.
You miss out on the family atmosphere of cooking and eating together
This is one of the main reasons why many people choose to cook their Christmas meal at home. It's more intimate and cozy than eating in a restaurant, and you can avoid temptation if you're not constantly surrounded by it.
You have less control over what you eat
Restaurants often serve large portions, which can be difficult to resist. If you're trying to watch your weight or eat healthily, dining out may not be the best option.
Disturbed by other parties
When you are dining at home, the only people you have to put up with are those who are present in your house.
When you go out to a restaurant there can be a lot of noise and commotion from other tables if the place is full. This can be very distracting.
This could be the major stumbling block to enjoying a Christmas dinner out. It all depends on how well you can hear yourself think as to whether it's worth the risk or not.
The wait might be too long
Depending on how finely tuned the restaurant is a service, you may have to wait a while for your food. This is especially true if you go to a popular restaurant around Christmas time. You may have to wait for a table, order, receive your food, and then eat it – all within a two-hour window.
If you're not organised, you might miss your booked table
This is another potential pitfall of dining out at Christmas. If you're not careful, you might find yourself rushing to make your reservation on time.
Of course, several different things can happen at this time of the year so it's not always possible to plan ahead. But if you're someone that likes to have everything organised and under control, this could be a bit of a headache.
The larger the party the cheaper the price
Now, when I say "cheaper the price", what I mean is, "price per head" rather than "price per dish". In other words, it's not about how much the cost of the meal was but rather how much each person had to pay.
You can go to a restaurant with fewer people and risk being charged more. However, if you have a larger number of people in your party, you will find that you get a cheaper rate per head.
This is one not many people know about, so you could even benefit from doing some research on this before going out for dinner next Christmas. Just be sure to share it with all your friends over the holiday period!
Dining out Tips:
- Book early to avoid disappointment - If you're planning on dining out at Christmas, you should book your table as early as possible. That way you won't miss out or have to pay a higher price.
- The lack of personal attention might be annoying for some people, but that's just part and parcel of going to a restaurant instead of cooking at home. If this is a risk that you're willing to take, then all power to you!
- Book a fixed menu beforehand - If you're really unsure about whether you should book a table or not, then you could do worse than to go with a set menu. This will help reduce the risk of wasting money on courses that nobody wants to eat.
- The earlier, the better - If you can get your Christmas meal booked early enough, it may be possible to get certain perks. For instance, if there is an early bird offer available for booking in January, this might just give you the added incentive needed to get out and dine at Christmas time.
- Go to a restaurant where you have been several times before - This might sound a bit like cheating, but there's no harm in being safe. If you know the layout of the restaurant, the waiting time for food, and how noisy it can be, you'll be less likely to be disappointed.
- Book a taxi so no one has to drive - If you're visiting a restaurant you've never been to before this Christmas, it might be wise to book a minicab or taxi beforehand. This way no one will have to worry about drinking too much alcohol and getting behind the wheel of their car afterward. The last thing anyone wants around Christmas time is for someone else's carelessness to ruin somebody's day/night.
And finally, remember that Christmas is a time to relax and enjoy yourself - so don't worry if things don't go according to plan! Just have a laugh and order another drink. Merry Christmas!
So there you have it – some pros and cons to help you make your decision on whether or not to dine out at Christmas. Of course, there are other factors that I haven't mentioned here. Hopefully this will give you a good starting point, but please do your own research before making a final decision.
So, what's the verdict?
Dining out at Christmas certainly has its pros and cons, but it ultimately comes down to personal preference.
If you're looking for a festive meal with little hassle, a restaurant may be the perfect choice for you. However, if you prefer to cook and eat together as a family, then staying at home may be the better option.
Whichever route you choose, I hope you have a very Merry Christmas!