Tis the season to be jolly….. and creative!
Christmas is a mere two weeks away. Its the time of the year when the decorations come out of the loft; you go shopping for the perfect gift and stress about how little time you have. How about this year, instead of going out into the hustle and bustle of the high street you create your own Christmas craft at home. You could make a unique decoration that you bring out every year or even a one of a kind gift for someone special – whatever you decide, your masterpiece will be a real showstopper!
Not sure what to make? We have compiled the perfect list of ideas. Take the pressure out of Christmas and get crafty with Collective Purchasing! These ideas are great to do together, young or old. So bake (or buy!) some cookies, pop on some Christmas music or a festive film and get your creative juices flowing!
These decorations are simple yet fun to make. Simply paint some lolly sticks and glue them into snowflake shapes and hey presto! Instant chic decor!
With a load of acrylic candy canes, make this mouth-watering wreath to hang on your door. Santa will know just how to find you!
Terracotta Christmas Tree
Clay pots make this Christmas tree decoration easy and fun, especially when topped with a bright red star.
Rice, socks and rubber bands are the keys to creating this adorable winter friend.
These cute jars will do all the talking. Start by coating Mason jars in glitter and then transform them into reindeers, snowmen and Santas.
None of these takes your fancy? Move on into the kitchen and give the gift of food! We all know the way to peoples heart is through their stomachs!!
Peanut butter fudge
This homemade fudge recipe makes an easy sweet treat or a stunning edible gift.
These easy, homemade version of the retro classic make delicious Christmas presents.
Chocolate fridge cake
A no-bake cake that’s perfect for making with children. You can also pick and mix the fillings to suit your taste.
Make sure you send us photos of your creations. If you need any stock in order to create these festive delights don’t forget to give us a call!
On 22nd October 4 members of the Collective Purchasing team ventured to the Hilton at the Ageas bowl in Southampton to attend the Bidfood winter food show.
Upon arriving Burt’s crisps, Honeybuns, proper corn and Cadbury greeted us! We indulged in some tasters (the Jim bean BBQ crisps from Burt’s crisps and all of the gorgeous gluten free goodies from Honeybuns were delish!) and took full advantage of the samples being handed out!
The main room
We then headed into the main room where there were loads of suppliers including;
- The Snaffling Pig company, who think the humble pork crackling is AWESOME. Their obsession has led them to launch a range of frankly delicious porky based items! On their table they were showcasing their piggin’ awesome advent calendar which we were very excited by! We also received a bag with a selection of flavours to take home and enjoy. These tasty snacks would make a great addition to any business looking for a more unique savoury snack!
- Innocent smoothie, who had a game of ‘smoothie pong’ set up; which of course we had to have a go on. We were given a selection of their new smoothies ‘Innocent Plus’ to try; a rainbow selection of juices, packed full of goodness and vitamins. They also have a wide selection of other drinks including dairy free options and coconut water. Perfect for the more health conscious customers out there.
- Moving Mountains® have created the most impactful food inventions of the century; plant-based meat that requires less land, water and produces less greenhouse emissions than what comes from producing a regular portion of animal meat. Moving Mountains® products are popular meat substitutes not just for vegetarians and vegans; but for flexitarians who have mixed feelings about their overall meat consumption. With texture so akin to animal meat, their mouth-watering meat substitutes converted us to their products!
Of course, as it was a Bidfood food show there was plenty of offerings from them. All four of us made a beeline for the dessert section and were treated to numerous options. After we headed to the next stand where they were showcasing their vegan and gluten free selections for Christmas. It was here we discovered Banana Blossom; a plant based protein is also known as ‘banana heart’. It is a purple skinned flower, shaped like a tear that grows at the end of a banana cluster. Traditionally used in south-East Asian cooking, it is now been seen as a fish substitute. They explained that this is because of its chunky, flaky texture. Although we didn’t get to try it; it was interesting to hear about it and I am sure we will see more of it in the future!
Whilst there we also had a great chat the guy from Simply Puree; a leading manufacturer of texture modified and specialist diet meals for the healthcare sector. They were showcasing their dishes for patients with swallowing difficulties, which in a care setting can be quite common. Click here to read a blog we wrote on puree food last year.
The dishes come in varying levels of texture depending on the residents needs. Ranging from level 6 which is soft and moist and can be broken down into pieces with a fork; all the way to level 3 which is a pureed food consistency, and requires no chewing. It was really interesting to chat to the company and see some of the examples of dishes that our customers use.
All in all it was a great day, in which we got to try some amazing food and potentially create some lasting relationships. Being able to experience the range that Bidfood is offering for Christmas and the range of products they sell year round means we are able to pass that knowledge onto our customers; hopefully encouraging them to try new products. Thank you to everyone we met and spoke to.
We are giving one lucky follower the chance to win a hamper of Halloween treats! To enter, tell us on Twitter your favourite treat, and follow us to be in with a chance of winning!
Terms and conditions
- Entrants must follow us on twitter.
- Tell us your favourite treat.
- Enter by 31st October.
- Claim prize by 8th November.
- One entry per person.
- Winner will be announced on 1st November.
- Collective Purchasing will use a random selector to draw the winner
- UK entrants only.
Whether you are ready or not the festive season is just around the corner. It is the time of year when the shops are filled with Christmas decs, festive food and all things indulgent.
The stresses of the gift buying, wrapping and the countdown until the big man himself comes will be over before we know it. However for businesses in the catering and hospitality industry, it is usually their busiest period.
Below we have some great tips to ensure you are prepared for the upcoming festivities.
As the saying goes, less is more. With so many ways to decorate, finding a way that compliments your business and location is important. Make sure you utilise areas of your building to help create that festive vibe. Don’t be tempted by tinsel and paper chains if it doesn’t fit in with your business style. Ensure you keep décor classy and subtle with hints of red and green dotted through your establishment.
The tree is the main event, but be wary of cluttering it with too many baubles and lights. Again avoid tinsel if you can and make sure the tree fits the space. If the tree is too big and it looks messy, too small and the area will look empty. Why not add some gift wrapped boxes under the tree to finish it off.
Add a wreath to your front door, but try and make it unique to you. I have a beautiful peacock themed wreath on my door as that was our wedding theme. There is no point having the same wreath that every Tom, Dick and Harry has. Why not try having one up with your branded colours, or with some reference to your business. They don’t have to be expensive, but they create a great first impression.
If you have a reception area, do not neglect it. Add some subtle lights to the desk, have a bowl of sweets to hand out and have some Christmas music playing softly in the background. This will create a warm and welcoming environment with a message of generosity. I mean, who doesn’t love free sweets!
Smells conjure up a lot of memories. Coconut always reminds me of holidays, and cinnamon of Christmas. Use scented candles, reed diffusers, potpourri or a simple air freshener. The wintry, spicy aromas will be sure to be welcomed by visitors.
Tables should of course have Christmas crackers, it wouldn’t be Christmas without them. However make sure they aren’t the cheap variety, where hats rip and prizes are left behind. Invest in some good ones, or make your own (if you have time!!) Why not also add some games or photo props to the tables. Guests will have fun using them and will ensure that you are talked about for months to come, with the hope of them returning next year.
Your waiting staff are another area you shouldn’t forget about. Let them wear Santa hats, Xmas earrings or festive button holes. They should be able to get into the festive spirit whilst at work in order to help your guests feel jolly too.
Finally, make sure you are not bringing out the same old tired looking Christmas stuff year after year. Customers will notice! Each year is an opportunity to freshen up your Christmas look.
If you need any help with décor or furniture, then call us on 01329 236821 and we will get you some prices!
Food and drink
From the turkey to the sprouts, the mince pies to the party puddings, whatever festive feast you’re throwing this Christmas, eat, drink and be merry!
Within the care/catering/hospitality industry you need to make sure that all dietary and allergy requirements are met. With the increasingly popular vegan diet, it is essential to have plenty of vegan options. Make sure you have plenty of options so that no one feels left out.
Also ensure you have allergen information to hand and to include allergy free selections for those with allergies.
Keep it traditional, but also maybe create some more adventurous dishes for your menu. Below are a few of our favourite Christmas staples, but also some tasty dishes we want to try! Above all, make your customers feel valued and not rushed; Nobody wants to rush their Christmas dinner! Christmas is all about bringing people together; by having a warm and cosy space you will create a friendly, festive environment.
Christmas centrepiece recipes
If you want to save money this fesitive period, then call us to see how we can help save money on your daily food supplies.
This month is dedicated to raising awareness of cholesterol and funds to enable Heart UK to carry out their life-saving work.
This year you can help to make National Cholesterol Month 2019 their biggest ever campaign. by getting involved in their Great Cholesterol Climb.
The Great Cholesterol Climb is their flagship fundraising initiative this year and anyone can join in. It’s your chance to have fun and get fit whilst raising money to support the national fight against high cholesterol! They are challenging you, to take on their virtual challenge and climb a whopping 13,177 steps UP. This is the equivalent of climbing ten of Britain’s tallest buildings!
But don’t worry – if this target is a little too steep; you can take it on as a team or just choose which of the buildings you want to take on. The fundraising target is £150 and they are there to provide moral support to help you reach that target with ease. To find out more and request a fundraising pack email firstname.lastname@example.org
What is Cholesterol
Cholesterol plays a vital role in how your body works. There is cholesterol in every cell in your body, and it’s especially important in your brain, nerves and skin.
Cholesterol is a fatty substance which is made in the liver. It’s found in some foods too. We all need some cholesterol in our bodies just to keep us ticking over but having too much can clog up your arteries and lead to health problems in the future.
By getting a simple cholesterol test and making positive lifestyle changes, most people can keep their cholesterol levels healthy.
Cholesterol has three main jobs:
- It’s part of the outer layer, or membrane, of all your body’s cells
- It’s used to make vitamin D and steroid hormones which keep your bones, teeth and muscles healthy
- It’s used to make bile, which helps to digest the fats you eat
High cholesterol is very common, but most people don’t know they have it. This is why everyone should have a cholesterol check.
If your cholesterol is raised, there are treatments available if you need them. But it’s usually possible to lower cholesterol naturally with healthy lifestyle changes.
What does high cholesterol mean?
Anyone can have high cholesterol, even if you are young, slim, eat well and exercise. That’s because high cholesterol can be caused by different things.
High levels of cholesterol in your blood can clog up your arteries. Over time, this can lead to serious problems. If clogged, blood cannot flow around the arteries as easily. This increases the risk of problems such as heart attacks and strokes.
Many people believe that high cholesterol is due to poor diet and lifestyle. Whilst this can be the case, people who are slim and healthy can also have high cholesterol; it can be genetic!
However, living a healthy lifestyle can keep your cholesterol levels at the recommended level. Not only that but can reduce other risks such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. Cutting down on saturated foods, smoking and alcohol will all have a positive effect on your blood and heart health!
Basing your diet on the foods people eat in the Mediterranean is a great way to look after your heart.
We have known for some time that people living in countries along the Mediterranean appear to have less heart disease than people living in the UK and northern Europe.
Health professionals now believe that this may be partly due to the foods that make up the traditional Mediterranean way of eating.
The Mediterranean diet is high in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grains, fish and unsaturated fats such as olive oil. It usually includes a low intake of meat and dairy foods. This is now seen as a good way of eating – both for a healthy heart and for general well-being.
Why is a Mediterranean diet good for you?
- Much less of the fat comes from saturated sources like butter, fatty meats, pastry or dairy fat.
- It’s rich in monounsaturated fats which are heart healthy, such as olive oil and nuts.
- It’s a good source of omega 3 fatty acids from seafood, especially oily fish which are good for your heart health too.
- rich in potassium, which comes from wholegrain cereals, fruit, vegetables and nuts.
- It’s rich in fibre including soluble fibre from wholegrain cereals, vegetables, fruit, beans and peas.
- rich in antioxidants including vitamins E and C, carotenoids and flavonoids. rich in B vitamins including folic acid.
British food has long been associated with quality and trust; but with the option for cheaper imported goods, many consumers are choosing these inexpensive, more convenient products. 51% of people in the UK said they would buy British even if it meant having less choice of products available to them. However the global average for buying local is way above this, at 63%. Us Brits are at the bottom of the chart for wanting to buy local produce.
With Brexit looming over us and the weakened sterling, imported product prices are on the increase; as a result it may become cheaper and more cost effective to buy local.
Cost and convenience continues to dominate consumers purchasing decisions. Price is a big selling point and so British brands are trying to create an emotional connection between their products and the public to increase sales.
For example, Dairy Crests Country Life butter has a union jack on its
packaging; this highlights to the public where it is from, sparking an
emotional connection. All the milk for their butters and spreads, come
from British farms. The public in the UK like to support their farmers and
so by buying this product, they feel like they are doing just that.
Another example of a British brand focusing on its local roots and encouraging an emotional connection from its customers is Tyrell’s.
‘We’re still based on the same Herefordshire farm we began life on, and employ the same dedicated team of cracking crispaholics. So if it’s locally sourced British excellence you’re after, you need look no further.’ Read more here about what Tyrell’s do differently to make them so British.
Why should we buy British?
Choosing British means we are supporting British farmers and above all, we keep our countryside how we know and love. Think of it this way, no farmers, means no animals out in the countryside, meaning no countryside for us to enjoy!
Also supporting British food producer’s helps with the local economy and creates a smaller carbon footprint as the food does not need to travel as far. Eating food produced locally means eating seasonably, which is nutritionally better for you.
What is ‘eating seasonally’?
The concept of eating seasonally involves eating foods that are grown locally at the same time as you eat them.
Out of season fruit and veg can spend days and weeks travelling to get
to you and this comes with a price. Either they’re picked earlier than
they should be so that they are ready on arrival, or they spoil a little on
the way. Seasonal produce comes such a short distance that it doesn’t spoil on the way to you. It’s harvested at the very best time, therefore the taste
For the same reason seasonal fruit and veg tastes better, it is also
healthier. It’s no surprise that being locked in cargo holds and shipping
containers for days in order to reach us, does nothing for the nutritional
content of the food. In fact, in many cases it is detrimental.
As a rule of thumb; the fresher the better, and you can’t get much fresher than eating seasonally-grown local produce!
British Food Fortnight
British Food Fortnight held every September is a great way for us Brits to celebrate all the diverse and delicious local produce available in the UK! Now in its 18th year and organised by Love British Food, it encourages everyone across the country to use the high quality food produced in the UK. This year the dates are 21st September – 6th October.
This year Love British Food is focusing the 2019 campaign on catering in the public sector, with the aim for British food to be the first choice when it comes to catering in care homes.
Top Tips British Food Fortnight 2019
If you are already sourcing British produce then shout it from the roof tops, not only this fortnight but make it an addition to your menu! This could become a unique selling point for your establishment. Customers like to know where their food has come from and if the food they are eating is local, they may be willing to pay more. As well as British dishes, consider showcasing local dishes from your region. For some inspiration, check out this top ten list of regional dishes in the UK. Another way of getting involved is to offer tastings and samples of your British dishes. This will encourage customers to try something new and in turn hopefully create return business.
If you are not yet sourcing British food, why not send your suppliers a copy of the menu and ask them if they can supply British ingredients. Use British Food Fortnight to see how popular dishes are or produce a special dish going forward that uses locally sourced ingredients.
Have a Picnic to remember this Summer Bank Holiday!
This month we have the summer bank holiday; the last bank holiday until Christmas in England. It’s a perfect opportunity to get your blankets and baskets out of the cupboards and get outside for a picnic. (Or if the British weather isn’t playing ball why not have an indoor one?)
Whether you opt for traditional picnic food or if you prefer something edgier here are ten ideas to create the perfect hamper of treats.
1 – Sandwich
No picnic is complete without a good ol’ sarnie. Whether you go for a classic sandwich or go for a bread less lettuce wrap, there are so many ideas out there. Here are just a few.
2 – Greek Salad
Healthy, quick and easily portable – a classic Greek salad makes an ideal packed lunch. Use the ripest tomatoes, Greek olive oil, beautiful olives, creamy feta and lovely herbs, perfect!
3 – Sausage Roll
Sausage rolls are infamous in Britain, making appearances at most parties, buffets and picnics. Follow this recipe for the perfect homemade pastry treat.
4 – Summer Pasta Salad
Step away from the traditional tomato and herb pasta salad and try this Broccoli, Grape, and Pasta Salad. Adding chopped broccoli, grapes, pecans, and bacon to cooked pasta and tossing with a sweet and creamy mayonnaise dressing makes a delicious alternative.
5 – Chicken Drumsticks
Eat these affordable and tasty dishes the right way…with your hands! With so many options of spices and marinades available on the market you can make several to choose from to make a perfect picnic selection. Check this list out for 25 ideas!
6 – Strawberry Salsa stuffed Avocado
Try this refreshing summer recipe with a difference. Cool and creamy avocado halves stuffed with a fresh and summery strawberry salsa!
7 – Crisps
It wouldn’t be a picnic without a packet of crisps. These snacks are available in so many flavours, the only decision you need to make is which one to go for. My personal fave are the veg crisps, using parsnip, beetroot and sweet potato instead of white potato, making a great summer alternative.
8 – Scones and Clotted Cream
This British favourite makes a great addition to any picnic. Easy, tasty and traditional; the only problem you may encounter is disagreeing about whether the cream goes on first or if it is the jam. (Definitely cream on first!!!)
9 – Melon Pizza
If you want to keep your picnic healthy but still exciting, why not try this watermelon pizza. Refreshing, healthy and fun, this is an ideal picnic treat that can be enjoyed by everyone.
10 – Lemonade
Finally, what’s a picnic without a fresh drink to keep you hydrated? Sure you can go for water, but what says summer more than some refreshing homemade lemonade. Find the perfect Lemonade recipe here.
Whatever you have in your picnic, we hope you enjoy the long weekend.
Fancy making your coffee mornings just that little bit more exciting?
We have recipes and games all to make your coffee mornings a little more interesting, why not add raising money for charity into the morning and you will feel less guilt for eating the cakes!!!
No Coffee Morning would be complete without some sweet treats to tempt your guests with. Sure, you can make a Victoria sponge or chocolate brownies; but why not opt for something more adventurous with one of these mouth watering delights? With Great British Bake Off back on our screens, it’s the perfect excuse to crack out the cake tins and try something new!
Add a twist
Eyes down! Have a bingo night instead of a Coffee Morning. (Or combine the two!) With over three million people regularly playing bingo in the UK, you’re sure to get a full house.
Add a little excitement to your workplace Coffee Morning. Try your hand at speed typing, synchronised chair swivelling or fast letter franking. Who will be your Office Olympics Champion?
Wine tasting evening
One for the adults! Unleash the wine critic within by holding a wine tasting instead of a traditional Coffee Morning. You could draft in a local wine expert to help train your taste buds. Ask for a cheeky little donation from the tasters.
Have your colleagues, friends or family contribute their old paperbacks and hold a book sale at your Coffee Morning. Who knew all those old holiday page turners and unread classics gathering dust on your shelves could turn into cold hard cash?
Everyone loves a good ol’ raffle or even a traditional tombola. Whatever you decide to do, get people to donate to the prize fund by bringing in any unwanted gifts they may have at home. Then you can raise extra money on the day by selling raffle tickets. It’s win win!
Our dedicated furniture and equipment department can supply competitive prices for anything from towels and bed linen to care equipment and beds.
Make us your first stop – Whether you know the exact make and model you are after or need greater assistance on what to choose, we will give a no obligation quote on any item.
We work with a number of suppliers to bring you the best quality items for your businesses.
Our prices are competitive with a huge range of available suppliers to choose from.
Find out what else we can offer here. We can save you money on all your daily consumables including housekeeping. Check out our focus on housekeeping here – Still not sure? Read why you should look into using a buying consortium.
Give us a call on 01329 236821 to have a chat and let us know what it is you need!
Getting outside can make us healthier!
Most of us spend the majority of our time inside, sat under fluorescent lights and staring at computers or televisions. Even when we do go outside we are on our phones.
Yes in the Summer months we do spend more time outside; heading to the beach, having barbeques and doing some gardening. But too much time inside isn’t good for us and getting outside isn’t just about beaches and barbeques. Science shows that spending time in the great outdoors can actually make you healthier.
Here are our top 3;
It has a de-stressing effect
It has been proven that being outdoors has the ability to change the levels of the stress inducing hormone cortisol present in the human body. One study found that students sent into the forest for two nights had lower levels of cortisol than those who spent that time in the city. Even those working in offices with a window overlooking nature had lower stress levels and higher job satisfaction.
Spending time outside reduces inflammation
Increased levels of inflammation can create many problems for the body. Spending time in nature may be one way to help keep it in check. In one study elderly patients who had been sent on a weeklong trip into the forest showed reduced signs of inflammation as well as some indications that the time spent in the great outdoors had a positive effect on their hypertension.
Spending time outside lowers blood pressure
So if being outside has a de-stressing effect and can help reduce inflammation, it’s no surprise that outdoor time can also lower blood pressure. One intensive study of 280 participants in Japan found that along with lowering the levels of the stress hormone by more than 15 percent, a walk in the forest lowered average pulse by almost 4 percent and blood pressure by just over 2 percent.
The Elderly outside
The studies above talk of spending time in the forest, but we know it can be difficult for some people to even get outside, let alone go for a walk in the forest. Plus the Great British weather often means the chances of getting outside can be limited. So below we have some tips on how you can bring the benefits of the great outdoors to them. Whether it be an elderly person in your care or a family member. These ideas could have a positive effect on their lives.
Sit by an open window
If someone is house bound, try sitting them near an open window. As mentioned above, people who were able to look at nature from a window, had lower levels of cortisol. You could put a bird feeder nearby and they could do a spot of bird watching; all from the comfort of their home. A cosy seating area like below would a perfect spot for de-stressing.
Smell the roses
Science shows that you really should stop and smell the roses, as the smell of them promotes relaxation. Other flowers, like lavender and jasmine, can also lower anxiety and up your mood. Bring the flowers inside by creating beautiful bouquets of stress busting flowers for the house.
Short walks outdoors
Getting outside doesn’t have to involve a mammoth hike in the forest, it could simply be a walk in the garden, a walk to the local village or even just popping to the post box down the road. Short walks outside will still have a positive impact on the individual. Even if a wheelchair is needed, the benefits of getting outside are sure to be felt.
Everyone loves to think they are young at heart! So why not get the grandkids over to play. You don’t have to play chase or run after them. Seeing the joy of them playing in the garden, whilst you sit and watch is enough to boost the happy endorphins in our body.
Do you have any tips on how to make use of the great outdoors at home? Let us know! @collectivePurch